Activists Briefing - Issue 35 - 17th February 2008

Activists Briefing

Issue 35


Town 102 a local radio station in Ipswich telephoned Railfuture President, Peter Lawrence, prior to the Network Rail report on over running at Liverpool Street Station and sought views of Railfuture.

A Welsh Business Magazine telephoned Peter for Railfuture views on proposed rail investment and the effect on business between North and South Wales.

Newcastle Journal telephoned Peter for views on the frequent changes to Transport Ministers.

The Eastern Daily Press has been running a series of articles on transport using the A47 corridor following the announcement that the A47 road has been dropped from TENS(The Trans European Network). The EDP published Railfuture comments on the new Stagecoach services and the concerns of reducing capacity and the refurbishment of Class 158 units which could make the comfort of the units unacceptable.

On 14th February we issued a press release pointing out that since 1st January 2008 over 200 travel agents have stopped selling domestic rail tickets. “Rail campaigners put the blame on train operating companies who have cut their commission progressively from 9% to 5% over the last ten years.”

A belated mention that Railfuture Director, Andrew MacFarlane, appeared on BBC1 North West Tonight re the Rugby engineering over-run. He was interviewed by Colin Sykes, BBC North West's Environment correspondent on the concourse at Manchester Piccadilly. Andrew mentioned the availability of a diversionary route from Nuneaton via the Wigston South curve to St Pancras which BR would have used but the privatised industry can't (or won't) but that part of the interview was not broadcast.


On Wednesday, 9th January 2008, there was an informal meeting between Anthony Smith, Chief Executive Passenger Focus, Peter Lawrence, President Railfuture and Dr. Michael Caton, Vice-President Railfuture.

In the meeting lasting 75 minutes the subjects discussed were wide ranging and very positive but the two most important topics were fares and availability of rolling stock.

The Railfuture view that rolling stock availability is unacceptable was well received. While there may be 1,300 new carriages to be built, we were advised to lobby strongly for as big a build as possible. We must not of course ignore local rail services. We need additional units to strengthen rural routes. (PL quoted the problem when Norwich City play at home. Fans on the Sheringham route are left behind at Norwich Station because of the shortage of available stock). Easing of rolling stock is not likely before 2013 when cascading will take place.

Other issues discussed included electrification (there are signs of more rail electrification on the way); Growing the Railway; concerns that DfT is relying to much on figures from "Lennon" (not on actual passenger loadings) thus giving unrealistic passenger growth projections.

(At a recent meeting PL attended a representative of DFT was present who said that only 30 new carriages would be built for rural services. TOCs would have to bid for these.)


Railfuture London & SE Chairman, Keith Dyall, and Norman Bradbury met with Tram Power on 21 January to learn about their system. They had just been talking to TfL about a possible route in London. They hope to have a system installed and working in Galway by 2010 and are currently talking to Middlesborough regarding installing the system there. Middlesborough could cost as little as £4m per km. The track is novel and cheap to install and the trams are very light and economical to run. See their website www.trampower.co.uk for more information about their system.

On 11th February the Lincolnshire Echo front page and page 2 were taken up with a story headed 'Laughing Stock'. This was based on the DfT Rolling Stock Plan (see DfT below) and highlighted the 'generous' allocation of 3 vehicles (out of 1,300) to East Midland Trains. Railfuture Lincolnshire Vice Chairman, David Harby, had discussed the likely allocation of these 1,300 vehicles with the journalist in late 2007 and David's comments from that time were quoted extensively in the article.

The meeting of the Railfuture Freight committee provisionally scheduled for 5th April 2008 has been cancelled.

On behalf of Railfuture Wales branches Railfuture South Wales have responded to the Welsh Assembly Government’s proposals for establishing a Public Transport Users Consultative Committee for Wales as required by the Transport (Wales) Act 2006.


The Railfuture Thames Valley AGM will be on 8th March at the West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Road, Oxford at 11 am. The speaker is Adrian Saunders, the rail transport representative from Oxfordshire County Council.

Railfuture Scotland are still trying to find a speaker for their AGM so no final arrangements have yet been made.

Railfuture Devon and Cornwall Branch AGM will be held in April (12th or 19th and venue subject to confirmation). Details will appear on the Railfuture-sw.co.uk website.


This year nominations exceed the number of places available on the 2008-09 Board of Directors so there will be an election. It is expected that voting papers will be sent out to members with Railwatch 115. This year nine directors will be elected with the three receiving most votes serving for three years, the next three serving for two years and the final three serving for one year. From 2009 onwards three directors will be elected each year. There is only one nomination for Chairman so no election is needed.


David Harby has been acting Railfuture Sales Officer for the last two years. He has been selling off the remainder of the book stock but, due to spending time on more pressing tasks, he has not purchased any new sales items except for a supply of envelope re-use labels. We are therefore making an appeal for a volunteer to come forward to take over as Sales Officer and expand the range of items on offer.

We do not expect that any new books will be purchased as many can now be bought on Amazon for less than we could buy them wholesale. However there is probably a market for Railfuture branded key fobs, pens, ties etc plus conference reports and similar. All it needs is someone with some free time to organise supplies and then deal with the sales. With no heavy books to transport the role could now probably be done by someone using public transport. To find out more please contact david.harby at ntlworld.com.


The DfT published their Rolling Stock Plan on 30th January. This sets out how rolling stock will be used to deliver the increased capacity promised in the White Paper “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”. The plan sets out a base strategy within which detailed rolling stock plans can be made. A table indicating the number of additional vehicles required by English TOCs by 2014 is included but it does not specify what the vehicles are to be.

The paper discusses the vehicles required for Intercity Express Programme, Thameslink and Crossrail. Mention is also made of the next generation of Multiple Units and a project to establish a trial in the UK for a tram train. The paper predicts that if successful the tram train could lead to wider introduction on urban, rural and Community Rail routes.

Despite the recent unenthusiastic pronouncements by DfT on more electrification this paper is more positive. The paper envisages that when the new EMUs for Thameslink are introduced in 2015 this will generate a cascade of existing EMUs and says “This presents a significant opportunity in considering the business case for incremental or infill electrification schemes.” New regulations in 2011/12 for Non Road Mobile Machinery will make the design of underfloor diesel engines more difficult and expensive thus also making electrification more competitive. DfT are also investigating with industry the potential for on-board energy storage so electric trains can operate “off the wires”

In the tables setting out where new rolling stock is needed Birmingham, Leeds, Cardiff and Manchester are specified along with “Other Urban Areas”. The paper also mentions Nottingham, Leicester, Bristol, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester as having significant rail commuting.

For the full report see: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/rollingstock/rollingstockplan

On 31 January Rail Minister, Tom Harris, announced additional “Access for All” funding for upgrades to railway stations across England and Wales, to make rail travel more accessible for disabled and older people and parents with pushchairs.

Forty more stations will benefit under Main Scheme funding. A new selection of stations in Scotland will also be announced by DfT in due course. The upgrades are planned for completion between 2012 and 2015. Stations from 15 TOCs are included but conspicuous by their absence are East Midlands Trains.

In addition, the Department will contribute £6.5m from the Small Schemes fund towards a £16.7m total investment, match-funded by train companies and local authorities, to upgrade facilities at a further 223 stations during 2008/09. This funding is set to deliver a wide range of infrastructure including more ramps and lifts, blue badge parking spaces, and improved passenger information systems. The Small Schemes programme is forecast to continue every year until 2015.

Details of the 223 stations to receive Small Schemes funding can be found at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/rail/railstations/ssf/smallschemes08.xls
The list of 40 stations to benefit under the Main Scheme funding can be found at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/rail/railstations/access/accessforallstations

DfT commissioned MVA Consultancy to undertake a research study to improve its rail demand forecasting capability. Phase 1 of the scheme consists of 4 workstreams, namely; Identify any elements of the existing forecasting framework that can readily be updated; Prepare a specification of a dataset of rail demand that will be internally consistent and can form the basis of detailed research in Phase 2 of the study); Consider the differences that there appear to be between the standard rail forecasting procedures and those more generally used in the context of multimodal forecasting); Prepare a work programme for Phase 2 of the study).

The results of this study were published on 6th February.
Source; DfT website http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/researchtech/research/railpassdemandforeresearch/


A lot of new material concerning the Crossrail track access application is on the ORR website. This includes a transcript of the hearing on the Crossrail track access option application which was held on 1st February 2008. There are also new submissions and comments from freight operators etc. See http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.00100b00j00c for the files.


According to the Network Rail website the ECML RUS is due to be published in February 2008.


Rail freight in Germany is going through an impressive renaissance. Since 2001, this mode of freight transport has been continually recovering market share. The reasons for this reversal in trends are diverse, as are the examples given in the booklet "From Truck to Train", which show how 12 companies have shifted the equivalent of altogether around 200,000 truck journeys onto the railways.

In the booklet managers from differing sectors of industry explain why their companies have given preference to rail freight in the last few years. Often rail transport is cheaper than transport by truck, or companies are simply fed up with traffic jams and trucks arriving late. Some on the other hand prefer rail transport for environmental reasons. In almost all cases, the autobahn toll, imposed on heavy goods vehicles in Germany since 2005, played an important role in the decision to switch to rail freight.

The Booklet, by the German Pro-Rail Alliance, is available in English to download free of charge from: http://www.allianz-pro-schiene.de/english/Brochures/

About the Pro-Rail Alliance:

Allianz pro Schiene is the German alliance for the promotion of environmentally friendly and safe rail transport. It unites 16 non-profit organisations: environmental organisations, consumer groups, automobile clubs, rail unions and other rail organisations. Its member associations represent more than 2 million individual members. Allianz pro Schiene is supported by 76 companies that operate in the rail sector. More under http://www.allianz-pro-schiene.de/english/

Rail User Express Rail Action