Summer Conference

Stoke 2006

Railfuture staged its Summer "Campaigners" Conference in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday 1st July 2006 - 11am to 8.15pm. Feedback from the 70 attendees (including speakers) has been very positive and fortunately there were no problems on the day.

In 2006 it was jointly sponsored by Grand Central Railway and Fraser Eagle.

A Conference for Campaigners

The "Campaigners' Conference" was a chance for active rail campaigners to meet each other and share their experiences of campaigning.

Some sessions were about fighting station closures and/or service cuts, along with fare hikes. Other sessions covered service improvements, new stations and line reopenings. Some of the presentations were about new techonology. Campaigners had the opportunity to decide if they approve or disaprove of some new ideas, such as lighterweight rail vehicles.

The conference concluded with a "QUESTION TIME" expertly chaired by Michael Willmot, Chair, North Staffs Rail Promotion Group and the North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership. Questions were set by the audience with the panellists having no advance sight of them, just like the BBC show.

Railfuture expresses its grateful thanks to Voluntary Action Stoke-on-Trent for help with organising the conference, and the excellent conference team at Staffordshire University led by Ron Alcock.

Guest speakers

The Lord Mayor of the City of Stoke-on-Trent, councillor Jean Edwards, opened the conference with a speech about the history of the railways in the area and expressed concern about the threat of closures to local stations whilst confirming the wish to see improved rail services.

The speakers for the day, some taking part in more than one panel and also the Question Time, were

  • George Watson, MyTestTrack.Com and vice-chairman of WyvernRail PLC
  • Ian Yeowart, managing director Grand Central Railway
  • Caspar Lucas – Technical Services Director JPM Parry & Assoc (Parry People Movers)
  • Carl Henderson - Managing Director Silvertip Design (BladeRunner road-rail concept)
  • Manuel Cortes, Asisstant General Secretary of TSSA rail union leaindg an interactive session on "What rail staff want from the railway".
  • Andrew Roden, Joint Chairman of "Save Our Sleeper" (Paddington-Penzance 'sleeper') and rail journalist
  • Stuart Walker, Railfuture Devon and Cornwall branch - former branch secretary
  • Ruth Annison, chairman Wensleydale Railway PLC
  • Graham Halty, Railfuture high-speed rail expert.

Download Profiles of some Speakers (PDF format).

Conference Fee

The fee in 2006 was £10 for Railfuture members and £15 for non-members (with two free copies of Railwatch magazine given away).
Up to two members of affiliated user groups are always eligible for the Railfuture member rate.

The fee included tea/coffee at arrival time, afternoon break and also for those staying for the evening session. There was also a machine serving free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cold water throughout the day. Many attendees made use of the two PCs with internet connection to read their e-mail.

A post-conference report will be dispatched by the end of August. This is still available for £2. Please send a cheque payable to "Railfuture" to
Railfuture, 32 The Oaks, Milton, Cambridge, CB4 6ZG.
(Please only use this address for conference correspondence.)

The fees are likely to be the same for the summer 2007 conference, when it is hoped that Railfutrue will stage a Reopenings Conference in Scotland to celebrate the reopening of the Larkhall-Milngavie line and Stirling-Alloa.

Non-members: Save yourself £5 and join Railfuture! Download membership form (PDF format).


A finger buffet and tea/coffee was provided at lunchtime. This is traditional at Railfuture conferences.

Evening Meal

About 12 people attended a pre-confernece meal on Friday night at the North Stafford Hotel opposite the station.
After the conference ended on the Saturday around 22 people dined at the Victoria on the Square restaurant.


For the first time ever, Railfuture arranged accomodation, including a cooked breakfast. This offered a great chance for fellow Railfuture members to get to know each other.


Railfuture can highly recommend the conference facilities at:
Staffordshire University
Ashley Building
Tel: (01782) 294000

10 minutes walk from Stoke-on-Trent railway station. Turn right out of the station towards Leek Road. Turn left into Leek Road and Staffordshire University campus is on the right hand side. If travelling by car continuue driving until the campus entrance on the right hand side is reached. If wealking, then it is possible to use one of the side entrances on the right hand side.

See Map of University Campus (PDF: 1.9MB) to see the building location, marked 'A'.

See Map to University by Car (PDF: 34KB) if driving. Map of campus above is also needed.

Click MAP for www.streetmap.co.uk map. See arrow.

Click MAP for www.multimap.com map. The cmapus is below the word "TRENT" is larre writing.

Click Lecture Theatre to see a photo of the superb venue for the conference.

Other Activities

On the Sunday morning around 12 members visited the nearby Churnet Valley Railway, which could - one day - provide an invaluable rail link to Alton Towers. The CVR's very friendly Brian Dunn gave an informative talk abnout the railway and escorted members for the whole of their four-hour stay.

Reports from Previous Conferences

Reopenings Conference - 2005 - Barry, South Wales.

Other Events

Railfuture Annual General Meeting: Annual general meeting

Railfuture-organised Rail Users' Conference: Rail Users Conference

Full list of events: events