The next East Anglian branch meeting will be held on Saturday 20th September at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Thorpe Road, Norwich.
This is 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. Note: the branch meeting coincides
with a "1940's weekend" at the North Norfolk Railway, which is less than an hour away on the Bittern line.
At the branch meeting in Ipswich on 7th June it was suggested that the East West Rail Link may be aided by a plan from Shanks and
McEwan to open a landfill site just south of Bletchley in old clay pits from a brickworks, and that the conditions attached to the
application stipulate that equal amounts of rubbish must be brought in by road and rail. However, according to a Milton Keynes Green
Party source, there is no condition about bringing in equal amounts by rail and road. He claims that the planning application for the
rail access was turned down because it went across part of a nature reserve. So as it stands at the moment there will be no rail
connection and hence to no waste by rail.
Branch secretary Nick Dibben is meeting Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly on Friday 13th June to talk about the East-West rail link
and St.Ives line guided bus. He also asks members to write to their MP calling for the link to go east of Bedford as soon as possible
to link up with the East Coast Main Line. Please write as individuals, not as Railfuture members.
The Railfuture National Rail Users conference will now be held on Saturday 1st November at Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London
WC1H 9BD (off Euston Road). The date has been moved in order to fit in with guest speaker Chris Austin of the SRA. The other known
guest is Theo Steele of First Great Eastern.
For those who made the long trek to Cardiff for this year's Railfuture National AGM, hopefully next year's journey will be a little
shorter. The Branch has suggested to the National Executive that the 2004 AGM should be in Peterborough, the first in the branch area
since the Norwich AGM on 3rd May 1997. If the idea is accepted the branch will be looking for help in making the arrangements. Please
contact Nick to offer to help.
Anyone who wishes to express their disgust/disappointment at the Royal Mail's recent announcement that it "may" end transportation
of mail by rail can write to Royal Mail Group plc, 148 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HQ, or send them an e-mail by clicking the "Feedback"
link on http://www.royalmailgroup.com/contactus/contactus1.asp. EWS
press release http://www.ews-railway.co.uk/pages/displaynews.php3?storyid=282
contains useful information.
RAIL LINE CLOSURES
Scaremongering tabloids suggest Beeching Mark II is on its way
On 9th June the Mirror ran an unsubstantiated scaremongering article suggesting the Government was considering a massive closure
programme of rural routes, and listed all of the branch lines from Norwich and Ipswich claiming they faced potential closure. Other
newspapers, including the Daily Mail, also ran line closure stories.
However, a spokesman for the Department for Transport said there was "no truth in the story. The Government is not planning to
make huge cuts in the railways." Peter Meades, spokesman for Anglia Railways reiterated this, saying: "There is absolutely no truth
in it whatsoever. As far as we are concerned the passenger numbers on branch lines in East Anglia are growing considerably. The Wherry
Line and the Bittern Line has been transformed by the community's support and the services to Lowestoft and Yarmouth are more than
branch lines, they are part of our inter-urban network."
Railfuture issued a press release on 9th June, affirming a resolution passed at the national AGM a week earlier, criticising the
Government's rail and transport policies, arguing that whilst high-speed links are desirable they must not be at the cost of rural
branch lines. Railfuture said: "Remember Beeching? Subsidies went up - not down. Money was not saved."
Newspaper report: http://www.seriousaboutnews.com/cgi/xtranews/viewnews.cgi?newsid1054422000,80481,.
GREATER [EAST] ANGLIA FRANCHISE
Greater Anglia timetable sees cuts in services according to local newspapers
According to newspapers, such as the East Anglian Daily Times (9th May 2003), services will be cut soon after the Greater [East} Anglia
franchise comes into operation in April 2004. The SRA's proposed timetable would see off-peak London-Ipswich trains cut from four to
three while all services take in extra stops in Essex, with the number of mainline services from East Anglia to London cut from seven
an hour to five. This reduction is supposedly to improve punctuality and stop overcrowding on the tracks, but wasn't the merging of
TOCs into one London terminus supposed to overcome the punctuality problems?
Two trains an hour from Norwich to London, all stopping at Diss, Stowmarket and Ipswich as well as more stations in Essex including
Colchester, Chelmsford, and Witham will be significantly slower for passengers. This has met with criticism from the Rail Passengers
Committee, whose secretary Guy Dangerfield said: "We are very anxious to maintain an InterCity service – and if so many trains from
Norwich have to stop at every station the times will not be good enough", although he was "relaxed" about the reduction of services
between Ipswich and London.
Railfuture members urged to write opposing possible "bustitution" in Greater Anglia area
Railfuture is especially concerned that the SRA wants to replace some underused train services on some rural routes with buses in
order to save money. It is known from past experience that passengers do not generally transfer from train to bus; they either don't
travel or go by car. National Chairman Peter Lawrence has already had a letter in the Eastern Daily Press on this, another has been
sent to the East Anglian Daily Times.
Members are asked to look out for these letters and encouraged to write in to the newspapers agreeing with the contents and perhaps
adding further comments. Letters to your MP expressing concern over what the SRA is doing would also be useful. Please let Nick Dibben
have copies of any replies. Please write as concerned rail users not as Railfuture members.
Work finally commences on Waterbeach station car park
On Monday 9th June, some 18 months after the SRA granted funding, work finally began on extending Waterbeach station car park from
40 to 60 spaces. It will include a turning circle for buses, and is due to be completed on Friday 29th August.
The only other Fen Line station being improved at the moment is Downham Market, which will have improved facilities including a
Anglia Railways to stage "Adopt-a-Station" gathering at Norwich station
Congratulations to branch committee member Ben Walsh who is Anglia Railway's "Adopt-a-Station" volunteer for Newmarket station.
On Tuesday 24th June all volunteers have the chance to meet the Anglia management team at Norwich station between 15:30 and 19:00,
where there will also be a press photo call.
Post-Snippets publication news release (25th June 2003)
Anglia Railways press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=440.
First Great Eastern offer free travel from any FGE station to Adventure Island
Anyone who buys their admission ticket to Southend's Adventure Island at a First Great Eastern station get free return train travel
to Southend Victoria. Passengers exchange their outward bound ticket for a wristband in the park.
South Cambridgeshire MP finds that his constituents use rail, value it and want better services
Jim Paice, MP for south Cambridgeshire, asked his constituents what they thought of transport in his previous newsletter, and has
published the results in the latest edition published in June 2003:
* Nearly 62% use the railways - a much higher figure that might be expected;
* More people see the transport priority as "More investment in the railways" (30%) than anything else; runner up was 28% wanting
extra buses. Greater spending on roads was 16%;
* To improve public transport (all types), 46% wanted better frequency, 27% better reliability, and 17% lower costs;
* The majority of people support lower speed limits on residential and minor roads but not on trunk roads and motorways.
Anglia's Mark 2 and 3 mainline trains receive new air conditioning
Anglia Railways are spending £250,000 in a major overhaul of the air conditioning equipment on its Mk2 coaches and Mk3 restaurant
vehicles operating on the Norwich to London, and Harwich International to London mainline service. It aims to improve passenger
comfort and the on-train environment for summer.
The fleet of 126 coaches has received a thorough overhaul by Anglia technicians at Crown Point in Norwich in conjunction with air
conditioning contractor Techtrain, including modifications to improve reliability, thus reducing the number of air conditioning
failures in service.
Anglia Railways press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=436.
Local NIMBY opposition to plans for freight depot near Stowmarket
Proposals for a rail-served freight depot near Stowmarket on the Great Eastern Main Line are being opposed by a group called Action
Committee Against Containers (ACAC). A petition has been produced and 500 letters of objection have been received by Mid Suffolk
District Council with only two in favour.
The proposal for a freight depot and warehouse at Creeting St Mary will enable the crowded quayside at Felixstowe to be used more
efficiently. Containers will be hauled straight from the quay to the new depot by train, where the containers will be stripped and
goods repacked for onward transit. The £50m scheme will provide several hundred jobs.
Residents' main objections seem to be concerned with possible damage to the Gipping Valley and road traffic on the A1120 and A14.
The developer, who has support from GB Railfreight, is preparing a full Environmental Impact Assessment, which will be considered by
the Council when determining the application.
GB Railfreight director speaks at Railfuture East Anglia branch meeting
Tim Robinson, commercial director of GB Railfreight, gave a very interesting and warmly received speech at the Railfuture branch
meeting on 7th June. Below is a summary for those who were unable to attend.
Railfreight generates £700m per year, of which EWS gets 80%, and GB Railfreight a mere 2%. There are 8,500 train services per week
(of which EWS has 7,500) utilising 500 locomotives and 20,000 wagons. Around 4,000 people are employed in rail freight. The rail
freight market fully recovered from the post-Hatfield crisis after about four months. The coal business is the main growth area: it
has the same tonnage as before but now travels a longer distance.
GBRf, which was founded in 2000, ran its first revenue earning train (for Corus) in September 2001 and in 2002/3 will turnover £10m
(EWS £550m). In 2002 it won "Rail Freight Operator of the Year" and in 2003 "Rail Business of the Year" awards. Railtrack underwrote
its purchase of seven locomotives in an eight year £39.4m deal, in order to introduce competition into the rail infrastructure market,
allowing GBRf to use the locos when Railtrack didn't need them. It has now run 3,500 trains and has not cancelled a single one through
its own fault (though customers have cancelled trains), giving it a reputation for proven performance as well as reliability, on-time
delivery, availability and cost efficiency. The latter is achieved through very efficient stock and crew utilisation, helped by very
flexible employee contracts, rather than undercutting the competition. It pays its 61 drivers £35,000, the highest after Eurostar. They
are on call at home - not sitting around at the depot - getting paid only when they work, and are expected to stay with the train until
the job is done. It also spends over £100,000 on keeping staff happy, including 2-day breaks at Alton Towers for staff's families. It
is about to start a five-year training programme, where raw recruits will be taken off the street and taught everything about rail
freight gradually moving through the grades.
It has a £19.8m 5-year contract with Medite shipping to run two trains per day from Felixstowe to Hams Hall and Selby. It brands the
two locomotives in Medite colours and will do the same British Gypsum, for whom it has a £10.4m 5-year contract, which is GBRf's first
bulk haulage contract, shipping 320 tonnes a year. It is about to start a Felixstowe-Manchester service - its 3rd daily run - with a
In East Anglia, where its drivers have 100% route knowledge, it has one-year contracts with the rail industry including loco
sub-leasing and crew provision for tamping and rail test equipment. It will also operate Network Rail's high-speed track recording
It now has 17 Class 66 locomotives, with five more on order, and will possibly order a further six, since banks are willing to
purchase and lease them to freight operators. Unfortunately banks are less willing to purchase wagons, which freight companies have to
fund out of their reserves. GBRf have a customer who wants several daily trains from Daventry through the Channel Tunnel, but this will
not happen unless SNCF reduce their rates, or alternative arrangements can be made. GBRf would like to purchase a European (Dutch,
Belgian or German) railfreight operator.
Tim Robinson also revealed that the company would like to have a major involvement at Network Rail's planned distribution centre in
March, possibly operating it for them. They would also love to run rail mail, if EWS and the Royal Mail cannot reach agreement.
Bedfordshire Railway and Transport Association launch new web-site
Local campaigning organisation Bedfordshire Railway and Transport Association (BRTA) have just launched their new web-site
http://www.brta.org.uk, their third in just over a year, and definitely the most professional
yet. It has a wealth of campaign material, including people to lobby, plus plenty of information about the East West Rail Link.
If only the EWRL Consortium's web-site were so well put together!
The old web-site (www.brta.info) is no longer available.
Carsharing on National Liftshare Day made easy on Liftshare web-site
National liftshare Day will be taking place on Saturday 14th June 2003. The aim of the day is to promote car-sharing as a cost
effective and environmentally friendly form of transport, which is available to everyone free of charge. And this year the day will
be used to raise funds for the National Asthma Campaign, to assist research into the links between vehicle pollution and asthma.
To join the scheme simply Register at http://www.liftshare.com and enter your journey
details. Drivers can search for people to give lifts to, whilst passengers can search for lifts to any destination in the UK.
London location web-site "vicinitee.com" has webcams at London terminals showing departure boards
The http://www.vicinitee.com web-site which offers maps and web-cams of well known London
locations now has a web-cam within Liverpool station that points at the departure boards. Members need to register by supplying
their e-mail address to use the service, which is free.