Some 40 people attended Railfuture's High-Speed Rail conference in Birmingham on 26th April. Attendees came from far and wide: Cardiff,
Glasgow, Gloucester, Norwich, Maidstone, Cambridge, London and Norwich and so on. An active team has been formed to campaign for a High
Speed rail link, possibly London-Birmingham-Manchester The most popular destination from Heathrow Airport is New York. In third place is
Manchester! However, Railfuture is eager that money is not taken away from existing lines to build a new link.
Branch secretary Nick Dibben gave a successful talk to 25 members of the Sandy Transport Society on 30th April about the East West
Rail Link. If anyone has ideas of other organisations, especially non-rail ones, that Railfuture can give a presentation to, please
Snippets 115 will include latest passenger figures for the Bittern and Wherry lines, plus news from the Cambridge-Sudbury Rail
SRA issues Greater Anglia Franchise Consultation document for stakeholders
On 17th April the SRA published a consultation document which asks for comments on its proposals for the 7-10 year franchise. The 23-page
document is available on the web-site under "Publications/Consultations" (see link below), although crucially it is missing the Service
Quality Standards and the First Iteration of the Timetable, which are the most important parts!
It is believed that the SRA is proposing:
* All stations between Whittlesea and Wymondham to be taken over by the new franchisee, and this probably includes Ely and Cambridge;
* Class 90 ex-WCML stock for the Great Eastern main line - i.e. no new trains;
* Refurbish the class 150s at some time;
* 3 trains per hour on GE main line to Ipswich (i.e. loss of one train per hour);
* New standards for stations i.e. cleaning, information (part of the six Key Performance Indicators regime);
* Possibly consider replacing lightly used late/early trains by buses to extend engineering time;
* Peterborough-Ipswich expanded to hourly but Cambridge-Ipswich to be truncated to a Cambridge-Bury shuttle service.
Whilst the document envisages some enhancements such as extending platforms to 12-coaches on the Braintree branch with a passing loop at
Cressing, plus an extended bay platform at Cheshunt, it is the 'cuts' which are likely to receive most attention. For example, a study by
Cambs County suggests the route with the greatest potential is Cambridge-Ipswich, and it wants a better not a worse service.
The document asks bidders to consider the impact of large projects such as Thameslink 2000 and Crossrail, even though the former is on
hold and the latter is likely to be shelved since costs are now estimated at £15,000 million.
Considerable thought has gone into the consultation, not just in terms of passenger service levels. For instance, it asks what should
become of the Hornsey depot? Would it be able to carry out maintenance for both WAGN (GN) and the Greater Anglia TOC, or would that work
move to Ilford depot, leaving Hornsey under-utilised?
Much of the consultation document focuses on cost savings. It asks the bidders to identify how costs would be reduced by merging the
operations and management of the railway companies, although it does not consider the inefficiencies that may be created by splitting WAGN
or the likelihood that costs will rise as unions insist their members receive the better conditions of the merged companies.
The consultation with stakeholders ends on 13th June. The contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.
SRA consultation: http://www.sra.gov.uk/sra/publications/consult_docs/
SRA asks Cambridgeshire County Council to identify ways of funding Chesterton Interchange Station
According to the CEN on 25th April the Strategic Rail Authority has urged Cambridgeshire County Council to explore ways of raising the £18
million needed to build Chesterton Interchange railway station. It has also formally asked Greater Anglia bidders to take account of the
station in their proposals.
Alan Browning, rail development manager for the county council, was quoted: "As owners of the land (where the station will be built) we
hope Network Rail will also be putting their hands in their pocket. And we'll be making bids to the Government for funds." The council have
only undertaken a preliminary feasibility study at the moment. It showed a high benefit-to-cost ratio. The station would be built on the
existing sidings forcing the current freight facility to be reorganised to make room for it. Any remaining land on the site would be
released for mixed-use development as part of a wider redevelopment of the site.
Work on the interchange is expected could start in 2004 with the first services operating in 2007.
GB Railways proposes new rail freight depot and warehouse near Stowmarket
GB Railfreight is proposing to build a major rail freight depot and warehouse (plus other buildings and offices) next to the A1120 at
Creeting St Peter, near Stowmarket, which could create 350 full-time and 150 part-time jobs. The site is being looked at owing to a shortage
of land near the dockside at the Felixstowe.
GB Railfreight Ltd says that a substantial rail connected depot close to the port would allow containers to be swiftly removed from the
congested dockside and roads, creating somewhere for them to be sorted and repackaged for onward transit. A formal planning application
has been made to Mid-Suffolk District Council: reference OL/65/03, and comments are required by 7th May.
Network Rail reinstate the points at Potters Bar
Just before the first anniversary of the Potters Bar accident, the points upon which the train derailed, have been reinstated. Trains on the
down main will initially be reducing speed considerably when going over the points.
Bittern line tracklaying proceeds
Track on the Bittern line is being relaid in three possessions over a six week period. Relaying has taken place between Whitlingham and
Salhouse. Between 12th and 16th May the relaying of track between Cromer and Sheringham will be completed.
LOCAL AUTHORITY CONSULTATIONS
Cambridgeshire County Council launch consultation on new Local Transport Plan
Cambs County Council are asking for comments on their new Local Transport Plan, which includes a proposal for the new Chesterton Interchange
railway station (good!) and the guided busway (bad!). Replies are needed by 7th June 2003. It is possible to enter comments through their
web-site, though a postcode is required: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/sub/consult/ltp/index.htm.
Everyone who completes the form and chooses to leave their name and address is entered into a prizedraw, which offers: a folding bike; one
month’s free bus travel; five days worth of train tickets.
A roadshow will roam the country in May. It will offer people a chance to look at the plans and talk to those who drew them up. Venues
* St Neots Library - 8th May, 10.00-1700
* St Ives Golden Lion Hotel - 9th May, 10.00-16.30
* Huntingdon Library - 10th May, 09.30-16.00
* Cambridge Grafton Centre - 11 May, 10.00-17.00
* Bassingbourn Village College - 12th May, 16.00-20.00
* Comberton Village College - 13th May, 16.00-20.00
* Impington Village College - 14th May, 16.00-20.00
* Cambridge Lion Yard - 15th May, 10.00-15.00
* Cottenham Village College -15th May, 16.00-20.00
* Sawston Village College - 16th May, 16.00-20.00
* Cambridge Lion Yard - 17th May, 10.00-17.00
* Soham Library - 19th May, 14.30-19.00
* Whittlesey Library - 20th May, 12.00-17.00
* March Library - 21st May, 10.00-17.00
* Wisbech Rose and Crown Hotel - 22nd May, 10.00-16.00
* Chatteris Town Hall- 23rd May, 09.30-14.00
* Littleport Library - 28th May, 17.00-19.00
* Ely Waitrose - 29th May, 10.00-17.00
* Huntingdon Commemoration Hall - 31st May 10.00-17.00.
SRA allows GNER to abandon improved compensation for late trains
The SRA has quietly dropped plans to increase compensation for GNER passengers because of the SRA's cash shortage. GNER will now not
increase refunds from 20% to 50% if its trains are delayed for more than an hour, as intended from its extended franchise. There is still
no standard compensation amount: Anglia offer 20% after 45 minutes whilst Midland Mainline gives a full refund after an hour's delay.
Anglia Railways launches competition to visit as many stations in one day using Anglia Plus ticket
Anglia Railways have launched the 'Anglia Plus Challenge' to encourage passengers to visit as many town centres as possible in Norfolk and
Suffolk in just one day using only one Anglia Plus train ticket, which entitles the holder to take bus into town and back for free from
many local stations.
Competitors must collecting a post card from each place visited and keeping a log of the trains they have travelled on and send evidence,
along with the used ticket, to: 'Anglia Plus Challenge', Corporate Affairs Team, Anglia Railways, St Clare House, Princes Street, Ipswich,
IP1 1LY by 30th June 2003. The person who visited most town centres will win a First Class family return ticket to London. Communications
manager, Kerri Howard, said, "The competition is a bit of fun but it highlights a very important investment by Anglia Railways in improving
and encouraging integrated transport links in the region and offering a great value alternative to the car for days out this summer."
Anglia press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=418.
Ipswich's Evening Star newspaper promotes special Northumbrian train to North East
Some regional newspapers have a healthy pro-rail attitude. Ipswich Evening Star has again teamed up with Nenta Traintours to run a special
InterCity train from Felixstowe and Ipswich to the North East of England on 19th July. The train go from Felixstowe (picking up at Trimley,
Derby Road, Westerfield, Ipswich, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds) to York, Durham and Newcastle-on-Tyne.
Central Trains to launch Commuter Club
Central trains has plans to introduce a Commuter Club - similar to that pioneered by Anglia Railways - which is exclusively for its most
regular travellers. The scheme, which is till to be finalised, is likely to let club members pay for season tickets by direct debit, send
then regular newsletters, give special offers to them and their family and send train running updates direct to their mobile phone.
Central has also been busy getting the opinions from all types of passengers. Over 5,000 of the commuter surveys have now been
Commuter Club: http://www.centraltrains.co.uk/_travelling_for_work/commuting.htm.
Central trains offer return journeys for £10 to under 25s and over 50s
Central trains is offering special £10 bargain fares on many routes, for unlimited journeys, between 21st April and 31st May 2003. Some fares
are as little as £5 (e.g. cheap day return from Norwich to Cambridge, with voucher, on any train after 09:30). It is only open to
those under 25 or over 50. The general offer of "ten destinations from each of ten starting points, each for a tenner" has received extensive
media coverage and Central have taken out large newspaper adverts, e.g. in the Cambridge Evening News, to list possible destinations, such as
Cambridge to Liverpool for £10.
Over 50s offer: http://www.centraltrains.co.uk/_10traveloffer/10traveloffer.asp.
Under 25s offer: http://www.centraltrains.co.uk/_10traveloffer/10traveloffer_hfwygo.asp.
Bury Valley holiday passenger figures nearly rival those of the Bittern Line
The 15" narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway, which runs between Aylsham and Wroxham, reported a 15% increase in passenger figures over the
Easter 2003 period. Between 13th and 27th April, more than 8,700 journeys were made. By comparison the much longer Bittern Line would
expect to achieve 30,000 passengers for the whole of April.
The North Norfolk Railway reported a 25% increase in takings over the Easter period compared to 2002.
Norfolk County Council launches new passenger transport web-site
Anyone who is planning to make a journey in Norfolk by public transport can find out information from a new web-site set-up by Norfolk
County Council's Passenger Transport Unit. The http://www.passengertransport.norfolk.gov.uk
site is designed to be a useful 'one stop shop' for information about getting around Norfolk, with links to journey planning websites and
up-to-the minute timetable information.