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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 100 - 21st September 2002  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

Railfuture had a stall at Impington Village College enrolment evening on 12th September. As well as raising awareness of the organisation and handing out leaflets for the new Cambridge-Norwich direct service, several new members joined. St.Ives line campaigner Dr Henry Tribe had an adjacent stand showing photographs present and past of the line. Of the dozen stands, his undoubtedly attracted the most visitors of the evening, with many people staying to talk for 10 minutes.

Cambridgeshire County Council hope their request for funding for the guided bus will win favour with government by December. Anyone wishing to influence that decision in favour of heavy rail/light rail, a non-rail route for the busway, questioning benefits of busway over buses on normal roads, or to suggest delaying a decision until the future of Alconbury or EWRL is decided, etc., should write to Alistair Darling, Department for Transport, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU. The department has an e-mail address [rail@dft.gsi.gov.uk] but letters tend to be taken more seriously.

The 2002 Light Rail Conference and Exhibition will be held from 22nd to 24th October 2002 in Manchester. Exhibiting companies will include those electrifying urban transport; manufacturers, designers, engineers, consultants, promoter and contractors. For info, Email: transport-science@rapid.co.uk.


Anglia railways launch Norwich-Cambridge service in a blaze of publicity
Anglia Railways ran two round trips of its new Norwich-Cambridge service on Thursday 12th September for the press, councillors and rail user groups, including several Railfuture members. Charles Clarke MP, Lord Mayor of Norwich and many councillors were joined on board by BBC, Anglia, Star Radio and newspaper# representatives. On the first train there was standing room only. Anglia lined up a Jazz band at both ends. Surprisingly there was no significant SRA presence at the launch, despite this being the largest RPP award ever.

On the following day trains were run for invited guests from businesses along the line. Anglia are also running a pre-launch service for just 5. From 16th-20th this required a voucher from local newspapers, but will be available without from 23rd-27th. There are fewer trains running than for the full service. For the 5, you are entitled to a free cup of coffee or tea and a croissant.

Media coverage has been very favourable, but in the Norwich area there is concern about overspill from Cambridge will cause house prices to rise. Richard Cardem, leader of Norfolk South Council, said: "I'm totally delighted with the new service but I'm concerned that, because of the difference in property values in the immediate area around Cambridge, people will start using places along the line as a commuter area."

Anyone wishing to take the new train service to Wymondham for the Mid-Norfolk Railway now has a connection from Ely. Arrive at Wymondham 14:11, depart Wymondham Abbey 14:30. On the return arrive Wymondham Abbey 16:23, depart Wymondham (for Ely) 16:45. It's a 15 minute fast walk between the two stations, so it doesn't allow much contingency. The MNR are planning to revise their timetable in 2003 to improve this.
Anglia press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=343
BBC news report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2252985.stm.


SRA reveals latest quarter's "Rail Trends" - best since Hatfield
According to the SRA latest performance figures, punctuality of rail services gradually improved over the spring despite unusually wet weather, although the the rate of progress was slow. Nationally, 83% of trains were on time in the three months to June, compared with 80.9% in 2001. Intercity had the biggest improvement. In the branch area, both WAGN and FGE improved, but Anglia's local trains had a 4% setback, averaging mid-80's, down from being amongst the best in Britain.


Proposal for regular rail link from new Waterbeach settlement to Cambridge
Developers Turnstone, with landowners RLW Estates, St John's College and pensions giant Royal London, who are hoping to build a major new settlement to the north of Cambridge have unveiled plans (again) to run a rail shuttle to Cambridge. It wishes to build a second station at Waterbeach plus the two proposed by Cambs County Council: Chesterton Interchange and Addenbrooke's Hospital. It claims the service, which would cost 16m, would whisk people from the new settlement into Cambridge in nine minutes and Addenbrooke's in 13. The 16m cost is not believed to include a third track from Shepreth Branch Junction, which apparently Railtrack are insisting on.

Waterbeach is one of a series of possible development locations, the favourite being 'Oakingstanton' (between Oakington and Longstanton). A detailed planning inquiry (an "Examination in Public") to decide the location should start in October 2002.


Cambridge station area 250m redevelopment proposed
Ashwell Group, which bought Great Eastern House in Station Road in early 2002, has agreed a deal with Railtrack to build around 400 luxury apartments, plus shops, offices and other facilities costing 250m on railway land near to Cambridge Station. The Grade II listed station building will be retained, but will work to upgrade it may commence within the next two years.


Yet another guided busway scheme hits the kerb
Although it doesn't help defeat the St.Ives line guided busway proposal, yet another UK guided busway proposal has been called into question. The ruling Tory group on Cheshire County Council, which recently took power, has abandoned the controversial 17m Chester Deeside Transit Scheme (CDTS) for a busway on the old Mickle Traford-Dee Marsh (Shotton) rail trackbed, despite 3m having been spent developing proposals.

In contrast to the Cambridge scenario, where the County is pro-busway and the City is less so, Chester City may decide to fund the busway itself, which it claims has the backing of local people, the business community, a local inquiry, government ministers and - until now - the county council.

In a separate busway proposal, apparently Stagecoach-RTI have also shown interest in building a guided busway on the corridor of the former Honeybourne rail line (Cheltenham Landsdown-Bishops Cleeve).

Cambridge residents continue to oppose SuperCAM bendy buses
Cambridge residents against the SuperCAM scheme claim the guided buses will be up to 58ft 6ins long, compared with a 40ft standard length single-decker bus. According to a front page article in the Cambridge Evening News, campaigners claimed that "Whenever we have asked them to describe what these buses will be like they have refused. They just don't want people to know how big they are going to be. Everywhere else they've been used in big cities or outside the centre. But here they are looking to drive them right through the city centre. Cambridge will not be able to cope."

East of England Local Government Conference looks at transport, airports and housing expansion
On Saturday 21st September, the East of England Local Government Conference took place, at which "Options leading to RPG14" was launched. Around 300 delegates discussed housing and population growth, transport links, green belt and environment, climate change and flooding, airport expansion. No outcome known at time of writing Snippets.


Liberal Democrats in Hunts call for straight line route from Cambridge to Bedford
Liberal Democrats in Hunts have called for the East West Rail Link to take a fast route between Cambridge and Bedford, rather than the dog-leg north of Hitchin. They wish to see it run adjacent to the A428, linking with St.Neots station, with a new station at the new super-village of Cambourne. They intend to submit this plan to the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study (LSMMS), which is taking account of EWRL in its proposal.

LibDem transport spokesman Councillor Mark Rainer, referring to rail travel from St.Neots, said "Cambridge by train (just 21 miles by road) takes 70 minutes changing in Hitchin while the 12 mile trip from St Neots to Bedford takes two hours 14 minutes including a short walk between stations in London". The proposals made the front page of the Hunts Post, and included a quote from Nick Dibben that "St Neots to Cambridge would be 20 minutes (assuming a stop at Cambourne) and Bedford would be under 15 minutes. It is certainly something that should be considered: taking a fairly straight line route has a lot of appeal."


Tractor on level crossing hit by train in Essex
On 14th September a commuter train from Liverpool Street to Southminster carrying around 100 passengers and running at 45mph hit a tractor towing field rolling equipment across the ungated level crossing at Hogwell Farm in Essex. The drivers of the train and the tractor were taken to hospital suffering shock after the incident. A passenger was also slightly injured. According to Railtrack, the tractor driver should have telephoned to ask permission to cross the line, but failed to do so. Rail services were suspended until repairs to the track and overhead power lines were carried out.


GNER save 'thousands of pounds' by reintroducing ticket checks
GNER claims that it is "saving thousands of pounds a week" after reinstating ticket inspectors at the platform entrance at Peterborough station. This measure will have also helped WAGN, though they have not announced how much extra revenue has been earned.


Anglia Railways' sister company Hull Trains signs contract to acquire 125mph trains
GB Railways Group Plc has signed letters of intent for a 36.5m programme of new rolling stock for its Hull Trains subsidiary. It will acquire 4 Bombardier class 222-type 125mph four-car sets for 22m, for delivery in mid 2005, to reduce the current journey time between London Kings Cross and Hull from 2 hrs 50 mins to 2 hrs 30 mins. It will also acquire 4 Bombardier class 170 three-car sets for 14.5m deal, for delivery in early 2004. There is speculation that these will be for a London-Lincoln-Cleethorpes-Grimsby service.

Hull Trains Managing Director, Jim Morgan, commented: "We have been delighted with the growing popularity of our current services, and the introduction of 125mph trains in 2005 will enable us to provide a high speed service - throughout the day to and from Hull and Humberside."


Disused rail line in Wales planned to be reopened to test ERTMS level 2
Railfuture campaigns passionately for the reopening of lines to passenger trains and freight trains, which rare success. In Wales, the 17-mile line from Gaerwen to Amlwch on Anglesey (last used in 1995) will be reopened to test the ERTMS level 2 train management system which operates using GSM-R radio signals, giving in-cab signalling and eventually leading to the removal of lneside signalling completely. As the ERTMS project, which recently received endorsement by the Rail Passengers' Council, progresses, it is possible that more disused lines will be used.



  Railfuture  is the campaigning name for
the Railway Development Society Ltd (RDS)


Snippets 100


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