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Taking Part in Railfuture  East Anglia Branch Activities

The easiest way to take part is to attend one of our PUBLIC MEETINGS.

The East Anglian branch of Railfuture has four branch Meetings every year, which are announced in the branch's RAIL EAST newsletter three or four weeks before. The meetings are held in different venues around the region, all located near to railway stations. The locations are normally (but do change, so see the individual meeting details below) in the following order each calendar year:

  1. Bury St Edmunds
  2. Cambridge
  3. Ipswich
  4. Norwich

Locations are usually in libraries or church halls, as these are ideal for the forty or so campaigners and members of the public who attend. Most branch meetings start at 2pm, but are occasionally scheduled for the morning (e.g. 10.30am) especially in the summer, to allow members to use the rest of the day. The branch committee usually meets before or after the meeting.

There is an invited guest speaker - either from the rail industry or a rail campaigner - on nearly every occasion. For instance, guests have included speakers from:
* NXEA/'one', WAGN, First Great Eastern, Anglia Railways, Central Trains, East Midlands Trains, Arriva Cross Country
* Strategic Railway Authority, GB Railfreight, Rail Freight Group, East West Rail Link, Rail Passengers Council
* STEER, Ipswich County Council, CAST.IRON, North Norfolk Railway, Green Party, Friends of Brandon Station.



National Conference - Several speakers including Network Rail and MD of First Capital Connect

In addition to the local meetings, the East Anglia branch of Railfuture will be hosting the national summer conference on 21st June 2014, which will be held in Cambridge. Click HERE to see the speakers, venue etc., and to book a place.


AGM - Speaker to be confirmed

This branch meeting, which is also the AGM, will be held at 14:00 on Saturday 22nd February 2014 at the Friends Meeting House, St. Johns Street, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1SJ.



Speaker to be confirmed

This branch meeting will be held on a Saturday in late November or early December. Geraint Hughes from Greater Anglia has been invited to speak.


David Reed, Managing Director of Track Access Services Limited

David Reed
David Reed

This branch meeting will be held on Saturday 28th September from 14:00 at Chapelfields Methodist Church, Chapelfields Road, Norwich, NR2 1SD. See Meeting Flier]

The speaker is David Reed, the Managing Director of Track Access Services Limited (TAS), which is an established company based in Shepreth (just south of Cambridge) that specialises in writing rail route simulators used by train operating companies in Britain and Ireland for driver training.

They also produce signal sighting systems, intended to ensure that signals can be seen by drivers in all conditions. In fact their products are designed to support renewal and enhancement schemes for many rail projects.

More information about what they do can be seen from their www.trackaccess.co.uk web-site (follow them on Twitter @trackaccess). David Rees will be giving a totally different type of presentation compared to branch meetings and it should be fascinating.


Speaker from Essex County Council was planned

This branch meeting was be held at 14:00 on Saturday 15th June 2013 in Colchester at the YMCA at 159 Magdalen Street, Colchester, CO1 2JX. The venue was only five minutes' walk (or for our intended speaker [see Meeting Flier] a three-minute 'wheel' - you wouldn't have caught him!) from Colchester Town station.

We had hoped that Dominic Lund-Conlon, a very impressive and entertaining speaker, would talk to us about accessibility issues on the railways and how they could be improved. Unfortunately because of another commitment he could not attend and so branch committee member Andrew Gee, who works for a neighbouring local authority and knows Dominic well, was able to give a presentation on the same subject using Dominic's prepared slides.


AGM - Speaker from Norfolk Orbital Railway

This branch meeting, which is also the AGM, was held at 14:00 on Saturday 23rd February 2013 at the Friends Meeting House, St. Johns Street, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1SJ. The guest speaker was Derek Haynes, of the Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway, which promotes the Norfolk Orbital Railway scheme. He has been Chairman for the last year or so, having taken over from Trevor Bailey, but has been involved with the organisation for about six years. See Meeting Flier. He spoke for half an hour about their aims and progress so far with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation that includes a series of maps of the proposed route through Holt. He then answered a series of questions and stayed to talk to members during the tea break.

Some slides from a similar presentation about the scheme given a year earlier, in March 2012 in Norwich, can be viewed at http://play.goldmail.com/umihtiubv0cq. These contain some useful diagrams of the route through Holt and some photos of that stretch of former trackbed.



Speaker: Richard Eccles, Network Rail, Director of Network Strategy and Planning, on Felixstowe to Nuneaton route upgrade

A capacity audience of 50 people attended the branch meeting on Saturday 8th December 2012 at the Central Library in Cambridge. They were not disappointed by the very interesting and humorous presentation by Richard Eccles, who is the Network Rail director in charge of its Network Strategy and Planning team, which conducts the Route Utilisation Strategies. It is responsible for liaison with the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland in the development of passenger franchise specifications. It acts as client for enhancement schemes funded by Network Rail and liaises with customers and stakeholders with regard to the scope of future renewals programmes and the opportunities for enhancements. Mr Eccles is also chairman of the West Coast Events Steering Group, NR's first ESG. He makes occasional appears on television, such as July 2012 when the Ely North Junction improvements were announced. During his presentation he explained that every minister had been sent to a railway location and a Network Rail representative attended with them to answer technical questions.

Mr Eccles had come to talk about Network Rail's plans and progress of the nationally important upgrade of the railway through East Anglia (from Felixstowe to Nuneaton) to take the increasing amount freight being carried between Felixstowe and the inland terminals - see Meeting Flier. Not only will this also lead to a better railway for our vital passenger services, it will give the railway much more capacity to take HGV traffic off the increasingly expensive and dangerous A14 trunk road.

He began his presentation by mentioning how the railway had spent 28 years closing things and selling them off, but for the last eight years he had been doing exactly the opposite. In the past he had been a director of Silverlink passenger trains and had also run inland freight terminals for British Rail's Railfreight Distribution (RFD). He had done his signalbox training at Whittlesea. Today he lives just outside Cambridge.

He was very optimistic about further infrastructure improvements in the future. Citing the Felixstowe branch, which he said was "the single greatest constraint on getting containers out of Felixstowe", he was confident that Network Rail would upgrade the line. At Ely he revealed that he personally had cancelled the two freight loops as the full double-tracking from Soham means they are no longer needed. However, this relies upon Ely level crossing being closed, and therefore the planned bypass being opened.

Some of the numerous facts that he revealed during the presentation include:

  • Network Rail has around £240m to spend on the Strategic Freight Network between 2009 and 2014 (CP4)
  • Between 2014 and 2019 (CP5) the railway will have a budget of £9,421 million for enhancements, with £200m for freight schemes
  • Gauge enhancement on the route from Southampton has seen rail increase its share of transporting 9'6" containers from 12% to 30%
  • Network Rail has around £3,800 million of electrificaiton schemes 'on the go'
  • DfT, Welsh Assembly government and the Scottish Government all use different appraisal systems to decide what schemes should go ahead
  • Biomass is much lighter than coal and therefore we could see fast freight trains in the future
  • HS2 would take fast trains off the WCML creating paths that would allow freight ttrains to travel at a more constant speed.


Speaker: David Horne, MD East Midlands Trains

This branch meeting was held on Saturday 29th September 2012 at Chapelfield Chapel, Chapelfields Road, Norwich, NR2 1SD. See Meeting Flier.

David Horne
David Horne

David Horne had been highly recommended as a speaker by the Railfuture Lincolnshire branch and did not disappoint. A packed room of more than 30 people listened to an hour-long presentation by the East Midlands MD who clearly has a thorough and unchallengeable knowledge of the railway his franchise covers. He provided many illuminating and honest answers to the flurry of questions he faced. A summary of the information he provided is listed in Snippets 233.

He began his railway career in the ticket office at St Austell in the British Rail era. In June 2006 he became Stagecoach's bid manager for the East Midlands Trains franchise. They signed the 2,000-page franchise agreement in June 2007, around five months before it commenced. He was initially the Commercial Director for EMT before succeeding Tim Shoveller as Managing Director.


Main Speaker: TJ Noomen of Greater Anglia

This branch meeting was held on Saturday 23rd June 2012 in Colchester.

TJ Noomen
TJ Noomen

The main speaker was Thijs Jan Noomen, the Project Manager at Greater Anglia, which took over the main East Anglian train franchise in February 2012. There were also two speakers from rail user groups: Derek Monnery from the Essex Rail Users Federation and John Smock of Ontrack, which represents users of the Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton-on-Sea, Kirby Cross & Thorpe-le-Soken Rail lines. See Meeting Flier.

John Smock talked in detail about the aspirations for the Clacton line, such as a new park and ride station at Gorse Lane, as the expanding population is not well-served by the current Clacton town station. OnTrack also hoped for a connecting curve that would join the Clacton and Walton/Frinton lines.


AGM - Presentation and discussion on the East West Rail Link

More than 30 members attended the AGM on Saturday 25th February 2012 at the Friends' Meeting House in Bury St Edmunds. The branch didn't manage to get a speaker from new franchisee Abellio, as had been hoped, but committee member John Henderson gave a presentation on East West Rail link, which was followed by a discussion on possible routes for the 'central' section between Cambridge and Bedford.



Julie Houghton, Network Rail East Anglia Route Enhancement Manager

Julie Houghton, Network Rail East Anglia Route Enhancement Manager, was the guest speaker at the branch meeting on Saturday 3rd December 2011 at Little St. Mary's Church in Cambridge. CB2 8AE.

Julie Houghton
Julie Houghton

She replaced the planned speaker, Andrew Munden, who was Network Rail's East Anglia Route Director prior to a reorganisation and is now working in London on special projects. In the past it has been difficult to persuade Network Rail to provide a speaker, so Railfuture is particularly pleased that Julie gave a presentation, which was enjoyed by to an audience of more than 30 people.

Julie had only been in the role for 12 weeks, having transferred from being Network Rail's senior project sponsor in the Kent region. However, she had made a real effort to find out about enhancement schemes in the East Anglia region and came armed with a stack of notes from her colleagues. Her presentation included schemes announced just days earlier by the Chancellor in his autumn statement.

Julie works at Liverpool Street and commutes in from Folkestone, having previously worked for Southeastern. Her team of five people have around 100 projects on the go and she reports to Dave Ward, who is the new Route Managing Director for East Anglia.


Discussions amongst members about important railway matters in East Anglia

This branch meeting was held on Saturday 1st October 2011 at Chapel Fields Methodist Chapel. NR2 1SD.


Discussions amongst members about important railway matters in East Anglia

This branch meeting was held on Saturday 25th June 2011 at the Friends Meeting House, Ipswich. IP1 3JH.

The meeting focused on two important matters for the East Anglian railways. The first is Railfuture East Anglia's top campaign, the East West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge. John Henderson, who is leading the campaign for the branch, gave an update on progress (with a PowerPoint presentation) and showed a video from the EWRL consortium.

Branch secretary Nick Dibben then lead a discussion on Railfuture's aims for the new Greater [East] Anglia franchise, which will commence in 2014, when the two-and-a-half-year interim franchise ends. Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation, who has met all three bidders for the interim franchise, gave his personal observations and views of each parent train company, based on the company culture and background.

Nick Dibben also provided plus some thoughts on Network Rail's recently released draft RUS (Rail Utilisation Study) about Stations. Nick presented some slides on the latter. Click on Network Rail Station RUS Overview which was a high-level look at what the RUS is intended to achieve and focused on East Anglia stations.

During the interval attendees had a chance to look at a larger-scale diagram showing Network Rail's design for the new Ipswich chord, which will allow freight trains to avoid reversing in Ipswich yard.


Annual General Meeting - discussions amongst members

This branch meeting, which will also be the AGM, will be held on Saturday 26th February 2011 in the Conference Room (on the 3rd floor) at the Central Library, 7 Lion Yard, Cambridge, CB2 3QD. The library had recently been reopened after a major refurbishment and was a superb venue for holding the meeting.

On this occasion there was no speaker, which allowed plenty of time to review the branch's activities in 2010, report on current rail campaigns and for branch members to take part in discussions on several matters. This included at explanation of Railfuture's stance on High-Speed 2 by national vice chairman Jerry Alderson, and a presentation on the East West Rail Link by branch committee member John Henderson.

Railfuture's eagerness for the return of a "7-day railway" was raised, with praise for Network Rail in keeping the East Coast Main Line open using just a single line operated in bi-directional mode, but criticism for the railway bustituting services between Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds because there were engineering works at Stowmarket.



James Steward, Norwich Area Station manager for National Express East Anglia

This branch meeting was held on Saturday 4th December 2010 for the second time at the Friends Meeting House in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1SJ. (The venue has swapped with the Cambridge meeting, which was then held in February 2011.)

James Steward
James Steward

The speaker was James Steward who explained the work he undertakes at the NXEA local stations in his charge. As Area Manager Rural routes he controls six of the eight rural routes - his remit does not cover Ipswich to Cambridge/Peterborough - being responsible for 40 stations and eight staff reporting directly to him along with 50 station adopters. These routes see 250+ trains a day and 2.3m passengers a year. An IT graduate, he has worked on the railway for nine years, with First North Western, First Transpennine Express and First Great Eastern staying on to join National Express. He works out of Norwich and lives in Lowestoft.

James explained that Great Yarmouth has really benefited for 'staycations' with summer Friday/Monday trains full to capacity or overflowing. There has been a 10% passenger increase in 2010. He praised the station adopters at Cantley who took over in 2009 and have painted the station. Punctuality is good with rural routes' moving annual average at 91% against 90.4% across the NXEA franchise. Rolling stock has high utilisation with just one train of each type planned to be unavailable each day.

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures can be a problem for the railway with pointwork especially vulnerable as point blades can stick to rails, and ice moisture in the air can freeze electronics and overhead wires.

He reminded attendees that NXEA provided 3,500 extra peak-time seats from December 2009 and would add a further 4,000 from December 2010. The ending of through trains from Lowestoft to London, whilst not popular, has released units to work Ipswich-Saxmundham, and longer trains on Ipswich-Cambridge and Cambridge-Norwich. Car park capacity is a problem with Attleborough amongst the worst, being absolutely full. Despite the NXEA franchising ending in October 2011 (although it might be extended again), he assured Railfuture that NXEA would not use the ending of the franchise as an excuse not to do something, although it clearly could not be expected to provide major funding.

In his spare time, James is also a member of the trust council of the Mid-Norfolk Railway and is its Operations Director. He was able to tell Railfuture how the MNR had achieved some notable successes in the past three years and described what the railway hoped to achieve in the next five years.


Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of "Shaping Norfolk’s Future"

This branch meeting was held on Saturday 25th September 2010 at Chapel Field Methodist Church, Norwich.

Mr Starkie explained that Shaping Norfolk's Future key objectives for rail are:

  • A 90-minute schedule between London and Norwich
  • More reliable services; new inter-city style trains
  • More capacity; station improvements; steadily improving cleanliness
  • Added comfort; better on-board facilities
  • Action to reduce engineering disruption
  • Improvements to rural lines.


    Philip Smart of Ipswich Borough Council - talking about the proposed Ipswich Chord

    This branch meeting held on Saturday 26th June 2010 at the Friends Meeting House, 39 Fonnereau Road, Ipswich, IP1 3JH heard a presentation from Coumcillor Philip Smart of Ipswich Borough Council. He talked about how he had pushed local rail schemes ever since he arrived at the council, and described in detail the proposals for the Bacon Factory Curve, which is now known as the Ipswich Chord. Showing plans of the extent of the curve, he outlined the pros and cons of whether it should be built as double track or a more basic single track. He also encouraged Railfuture members to take part in the public consultation meetings.

    Councillor Smart replaced the expected speaker John French, who is advising First Group on their bid for the Greater [East] Anglia franchise, which the government announced on 17th June would be delayed. Ian Dinmore, of Norfolk County Council was advertised as the second speaker, talking about his role promoting community rail partnerships, but owing to his unavailability Peter Lawrence, Railfuture president spoke about his role in the Wherry Lines CRP.


    Annual General Meeting - Speaker was NXEA's Area Station Manager, Alan Neville, based at Ely station

    The branch held its AGM on Saturday 27th February 2010 at the Quaker Meeting House, St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1SJ. (The usual venue, the Library, was unavailable because of refurbishment works.) Details: http://www.burystedmundsquakers.org.

    Alan Neville
    Alan Neville

    The speaker was Alan Neville, who has been involved in East Anglia railways for decades, has been responsible for NXEA's 10 stations between Whittlesea and Audley End since February 2009. He is very much a problem-solver rather than an excuse-giver. As a hands-on manager he has taken an active part in the March station clean-up activities, which has been supported by the council and local volunteers, as well as leading clean-ups by NXEA staff at Newport and Whittlesford Parkway.

    Alan's team will be having a 'big push' on marketing initiatives in 2010, aimed at getting people to use trains for journeys they would not previously have considered. For example, a poster at Ely will promote Audley End and nearby Saffron Walden whilst a poster at Audley End station will promote Ely. In the future Bury St Edmunds will be promoted.

    Alan was responsive to the concerns that Railfuture members raised, such as incorrect passenger information and had some good news to give his audience. Staff at stations will be given radio microphones so that they can make announcements from the platform. like London Underground staff do, and he is proposing to change the station signs at Audley End to include the suffix 'for Saffron Walden', although the station name will not be altered on timetables.



    Mike Lamport on Rail for the Olympics

    This branch meeting was held on 5th December 2009 at the Alex Wood Hall, Norfolk Street, Cambridge, CB1 2DL. Mike Lamport of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) gave a very impressive talk about the rail services that will be provided for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, and described the infrastructure improvements being made, especially around Stratford, to increase capacity and make the railway more attractive to passengers. His presentation included a wealth of high-quality photos of the work done so far.

    Although Stratford in not in the East Anglia branch area, it is an area of London that many people East Anglia visit, and is a key interchange (e.g. for Jubilee line) on the route into London. Railfuture is also campaigning for direct trains from Cambridge to Stratford. Occasionally trains take the route via Stratford on diversions to avoid engineering works but do not stop there.


    Steven Ashling - on his career working on the 'big' railway and is life-long interest in the railways

    Steven Ashling
    Steven Ashling

    This branch meeting was held on 26th September 2009 at Chapel Field Methodist Chapel, Chapel Field Road, Norwich, NR2 1SD. Steven Ashling, who is an Operations Manager for Network Rail in East Anglia, gave a talk in a personal capacity about local railway infrastructure, its strengths, weaknesses, problems and prospects, as well a history of his career and his interest in railways.

    Steven Ashling (pictured left, photo Jerry Alderson), is also a director of the North Norfolk Railway, and is chairman-elect. He has been involved with its project to reinstate the level crossing at Sheringham, which took a great leap forward when a Network Rail 'retirement and long-service day' was held on the NNR in October 2007. Steve had just come from a board meeting and was able to reveal to Railfuture that the NNR's directors had agreed to go ahead with the level crossing for a 2010 opening date subject to the remaining £30k (approx.) of the necessary £140k funding being found. March 2011 update: The level crossing completed on time and on budget and was officially opened by Pete Waterman on 11th March 2010 in front of an audience of 5,000 people.


    Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs at National Express East Anglia

    This branch meeting on 20th June 2009 at Ipswich Institute Reading Room and Library saw a return visit by Jonathan Denby who gave an update on NXEA's current performance and then focused on plans for the future, highlighting the new trains that would be brought into service over the next two years. He pointed out that a 17% increase in the fleet size at once was unprecedented in the history of the region's railways.

    Jonathan took a series of questions from the 25-strong audience, which included the recent introduction of barriers at Ipswich, delays in the introduction of lifts at Ipswich and the aspiration for improved services on the East Suffolk Line.


    Annual General Meeting - Guest Speaker Jonathan Tyler of Passenger Transport Networks

    The branch held its AGM on Saturday 28th February 2009 in the Library in Bury St Edmunds. Prior to that there was an excellent presentation about the Swiss Taktfahrplan rail timetabling system from Jonathan Tyler, who is an independent railway consultant specialising in strategic timetable research and planning. Copies of his reports can be found athttp://passengertransportnetworks.co.uk/reports. His company Passenger Transport Networks is based in York.



    Arriva Cross Country service from Stansted to Birmingham

    Gilly White, External Relations Manager for Arriva Cross country, was the speaker at the branch meeting in Cambridge on Saturday 29th November 2008 at Alex Wood Hall, Norfolk Street, Cambridge, CB1 1LD.

    Arriva operate the Stansted to Birmingham route, which was previously part of the Central Trains.


    John Hillman of East Midland Trains

    John Hillman
    John Hillman

    The branch had its Norwich meeting on Saturday 27th September at 2pm at Chapel Field Methodist Chapel, Norwich.

    John Hillman (pictured left, photo Jerry Alderson), then Stakeholder Relations at East Midland Trains, spoke about the heavily used - and heavily overcrowded - Norwich-Liverpool service and the problems caused by a desperate shortage of rolling stock.

    2008 - AGM

    Chris Wright of OBRAC on the East West Rail Link

    As it was not possible to get the normal Bury St. Edmunds venue, the branch held its Annual General Meeting on Saturday 23rd February at Little St Mary's Church Hall in Cambridge. Chris gave an update on the slow progress of the East West Rail Line, which seemed to be going through a never-ending loop of studies to prove what everyone in the audience felt was obvious, that a link was desperately needed.



    Replaced by Rail Users' Conference

    There was no November/December branch meeting in 2007 because the branch organised the annual Railfuture Rail Users' Conference at the Maltings in Ely on 3rd November 2007.


    Andrew Goodrum of 'one' Railway

    The branch had its Norwich meeting on Saturday 29th September at 2pm at Chapel Field Methodist Chapel, Norwich.

    Andrew Goodrum of 'one' (since rebranded as National Express East Anglia) spoke about the Norwich-Liverpool Street inter-city service and the challenges that the TOC faced.


    No speaker - branch discussion

    The branch meeting took place Institute Reading Room and Library in Ipswich, on Saturday 16th June.


    No speaker - Annual General Meeting

    The branch held its AGM on Saturday 24th February 2007 in the Library in Bury St Edmunds.



    Larry Heyman of First Capital Connect

    The branch held its Cambridge meeting on Saturday 2nd December at Little St Mary's Church Hall in Cambridge.

    Larry Heyman, Integration and Partnership Manager, of First Capital Connect (FCC) gave the 25 or so people present a long and detailed explanation of FCC’s first eight months in business. Larry is responsible for initiating better coordination with other transport modes, as well as nurturing close relationships with local authorities and user groups.


    Denise Carlo of STEER (Sustainable Transport Eastern England Region)

    The branch held its Norwich meeting on Saturday 9th September at 2pm at The Greenhouse, 42-46 Bethel Street, Norwich, NR2 1NR. Tel: 01603 631007.

    Denise Carlo of STEER and other organisations was the speaker. She is also the national TAR (Transport Activists Roundtable) co-ordinator, and has professional expertise of land-use planning especially in relation to roads.


    Friends of Brandon Station

    The branch held its Bury St Edmunds meeting on Saturday 24th June at 2pm in the Library. Ken Drane and Jenny Ahern of Friends of Brandon Station (http://www.brandonstation.co.uk) were the speakers.


    Jonathan Denby from 'one' Railway

    The branch held its 2005 AGM in Felixstowe to mark the 'retirement' of Railfuture member Charles Taylor from active campaigning. Jonathan Denby of 'one' Railway was the guest speaker.



    Stuart Towler, Cambridge Station Manager for 'one' Railway

    The branch held its Cambridge meeting on Saturday 10th December at Little St Mary's Church Hall in Cambridge. The station manager at Cambridge spoke about the plans by Ashwell to redevelop the area around Cambridge Station.


    Mike Young of Norfolk County Council

    The branch held its Norwich meeting on Saturday 1st October at 2pm at the Assembly House. Mike Young of Norfolk County Council gave an update on the county's rail freight strategy.


    No speaker. Meeting dedicated to planning branch campaigns

    The branch held its Bury St Edmunds meeting on Saturday 25th June at 2pm in the Library (upstairs).

    2005 - ELY MEETING

    Jonathan Denby from 'one' Railway

    The branch held its 2005 AGM at the Maltings in Ely on Saturday 19th February 2005 at 2pm. The guest was Jonathan Denby of 'one' making a welcome return visit to speal to the branch. The venue was shared with STEER (Sustainable Transport for the East of England Region), who held their AGM at 4pm.

    Lord Berkeley
    Lord Berkeley


    Lord Berkeley, Chairman of the Rail Freight Group

    Tony Berkeley spoke to more than 40 members of the branch for the first time in five years. The meeting was held on on Saturday 4th December at 2pm at Little St Mary's Church Hall in Cambridge. His presentation included PowerPoint slides.


    User group forum - speaker from each group

    The meeting was held at the Assembly House in Norwich on Saturday 18th September. Representatives of various user groups gave a 5-minute presentation about their concerns and issues with the railways in East Anglia:
    * Jerry Alderson of CAST.IRON repeated a 10-minute speech given to the Rail Passengers Committee for Eastern England;
    * Peter Downs, chairman of the March-Wisbech Bramley Line, revealed positive news from Network Rail and their hopes to lease the northern most 1.5 miles of track very soon;
    * Trevor Garrod of ESTA talked about the Beccles Loop, estimated to cost £6m. and called upon everyone to focus on the loop and not get sidetracked by alternatives;
    * Derek Monnery of Manningtree Users told how patronage on the Grerat Easatern line has grown massively with an urgent need for infrastructure enhancements;
    * John Smock of On-Track (Clacton/Walton users) expressed his serious concerns about the December 2004 timetable;
    * Acting-chairman Peter Wakefield led a discussion about the Snoasis Project near Claydon on the GE Mainline;
    * John Saunders of Peterborough-Norwich Rail Users (PENRUG), explained some of Central Trains' recent controversial actions, including changes to fares.


    Peter Meades of National Express' 'one' Railway

    Peter Meades
    Peter Meades

    Peter Meades from 'one' Railway, operated by National Express, spoke to the branch about plans for service improvements on Saturday 12th June 2004 at 2pm, in the County Library in Ipswich.

    Peter has worked in East Anglia's railway for more than a decade, previously with Anglia Railways. He writes a regular column in the ESTA Felistowe's newsletter.


    No speaker - significant branch business

    The branch were unable to get a speaker from National Express, then preferred bidder for the Greater [East] Anglia rail franchise, at the meeting on Saturday 21st February 2004 at 2pm, in the Library in Bury St Edmunds. As well as the AGM, the branch focused on the GAf service and defeating the guided bus TWA Order application submitted by Cambridgeshire County Council.



    Tony Brown of Central Trains

    Tony Brown gave an informative talk about the new Citylink rebranding of the Stansted and Norwich train services, and the improvements that passengers will notice from January 2004 on these trains.

    Jerry Alderson, executive from CAST.IRON

    Jerry gave a short summary on recent progress on reopening the railway line between Cambridge and St. Ives.

    The branch meeting was held at Little St Mary's Church Hall on Saturday 22nd November at 10.30am.


    Ingo Wagenecht from Green Party in Norwich

    Ingo is one of the Green Party's Eastern Region European election candidates. He spoke about various transport issues with Norwich, including ideas for a tram system.

    Jerry Alderson, executive from CAST.IRON

    Jerry gave a 50-minute presentation about the Cambridge And St. Ives Railway Organisation.

    This meeting was held at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Thorpe Road, Norwich, NR1 1RU on Saturday 20th September at 10.30am.

    This was a new venue, and it is within 10 minutes' walk of the railway station entrance. Simply turn right when coming out of the station, along Thorpe Road, past the Royal Mail and Le Café Maison. It is a very gentle climb. The hotel is on the left. For further details, see http://www.pc.activehotels.com/THE.


    Tim Robinson, Commercial Director of GB Railfreight

    Tim Robinson
    Tim Robinson

    This meeting was at the earlier time of 10.30am on Saturday 7th June, allowing members the chance to take a train to Lowestoft, Felixstowe or elsewhere after the meeting, which will end by 1pm. The meeting was held in the large room upstairs on the first floor using the entrance on Old Foundry Road.

    Tim Robinson, commercial director of GB Railfreight, gave a very interesting and warmly received speech. Details of what he said can be found in Snippets 118 (under "Freight").


    Journalist Christian Wolmar

    Christian Wolmar
    Christian Wolmar

    Respected journalist, columnist and author Christian Wolmar - he of Broken Rails, Down the Tube and Stagecoach amongst other books of the time (and may more since) - spoke to around 40 people, mostly Railfuture members. about the state of the railways, including the London Underground, of which he has become an expert on the PPP.

    Christian always has something to say on the news of the day. A few weeks earlier he had written an article for the New Statesman titled "Wrong kind of Prime Minister on the line", which accused Tony Blair of ignoring transport issues, in favour of core policies such as education and health.



    No guest - discussion about Government's airport strategy

    Shortly before this meeting on 9th November, the government launched its "predict and provide" consultation document on the supposed need for massive airport expansion in the south east of England (SERAS). Comments had to be submitted imminently.

    The airport expansion strategy has many negative impacts on rail transport and the environment. Branch vice-chairman, and CPRE transport spokesman, Ivan Ivanovic led a discussion on the issues of airport expansion.


    Barry Woodgett of Ipswich Council Council

    Barry spoke on 13th July about the transport strategy produced by Ipswich County Council, and what this meant for the rail and bus services in the short and longer term.

    Barry is also a volunteer on the Mid-Norfolk Railway.


    John Brodribb of STEER and RPC

    John Brodribb, who is a member of the Strategic Transport for the East of England Region organisation and also the Rail Passengers Committee for the East of England, gave an entertaining talk on 23rd February about rail issues in the branch area.



    No speaker - debate on guided busway

    At a meeting entitled "CHUMMS...a discussion and branch action" on 17th November, the branch discussed at length the progress of the Cambridge-Huntingdon "rapid transit" system (a guided busway), which threatens the Cambridge to St. Ives railway line.

    This was also branch chairman Peter Wakefield's last meeting before starting his two-year work project in Africa.


    Richard Stuart of the Strategic Rail Authority

    Richard Stuart from the Strategic Rail Authority gave a presentation to around 20 members at the Railfuture branch meeting in Ipswich on 29th September.

    He talked about the current work of the SRA in East Anglia, including franchise replacement and the East-West rail link.


    Geoff Gowing of North Norfolk Railway

    At the time of the meeting on 9th June, the North Norfolk Railway faced eviction from its Sheringham Station as it was being sold by its owners. Geoff talked about the station appeal, and the future plans for the railway. The NNR was able to buy the station a few weeks after the meeting, thanks to people supporting the appeal and a lottery grant.

    Jonathan Denby, Corporate Affairs Director of Anglia Railways

    Jonathan has worked in the rail industry since 1990 and was previously Anglia’s Business Manager for Planning & Corporate Affairs. As Director, he is responsible for leading the company’s public relations strategy, service development opportunities and franchise compliance issues with the Strategic Rail Authority.


    No guest speaker

    Branch Secretary Nick Dibben presented a slide show on 24th February of his recent trip to the United States and Mexico. He talked in length about the railways that he visited.



    Bob Breakwell of First Great Eastern

    This meeting took place a month after the Hatfield accident, and FGE managing director Bob Breakwell, a career railwayman, spoke informally about the state of the railways.


    Chris Hayward of East West Rail Consortium

    Chris Hayward of Ipswich Borough Council, who was then the project officer for the East West Rail Link consortium, gave a presentation about the East West Rail project at the Assembly House on 30th September.


    Public Meeting on Cambridge to St. Ives Railway Line

    This special meeting on 17th June had only one purpose, to discuss the use of the Cambridge to St. Ives railway line. The branch chairman, vice-chairman and secretary each spoke about the major transport issues to the sub-region and explained how the railway offered, in their opinion, the best solution. Over 100 people attended, which resulted in many people writing to politicians in support of the railway.


    Malcolm Hill of Cambridge Sudbury Rail Renewal Association

    The Reverend Malcolm Hill spoke on 26th February at the Library about the proposal to reinstate the railway between Cambridge and Sudbury (in Suffolk) which had been closed in 1968.


    Speaker from WAGN

    A representative from WAGN spoke to the branch meeting at Little St. Mary's Church on 27th November.




    Branch Meetings

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