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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 141 - 23 September 2004  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

The branch meeting at the Assembly House in Norwich at 2pm on Saturday 18th September has seven speakers:
* 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 Great Eastern 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, explained some of Central Trains' recent controversial actions, including changes to fares.

It was felt that the format worked well and should be repeated at a meeting in 2005. Nick Dibben would like member's views on this. The next branch meeting - Cambridge on 4th December - will have Lord Berkeley of the Rail Freight Group as guest speaker.

Correction to RAIL EAST 124: the reference to ESTA's new booklet about "East Coast Walks" should have referred to "East Suffolk Line Walks".

On Saturday 9th October at 14:00 the Mid-Anglia Rail Passengers Association (MARPA) will be holding a meeting at Bury St.Edmunds Library. Their speaker will be Clive Morris, rural Business Director of 'one' He will also be attending the ESTA (Felixstowe) autumn meeting on Tuesday 12th October at 19:30 held at St.Andrew's Hall. Anyone wishing to join ESTA (Felixstowe) can do so by sending 2, payable to "ESTA (Felixstowe)" to Jean Tricker at 35 Westmorland Road, Felixstowe.

The next public meeting of the Rail Passengers Committee for Eastern England will be in Lincoln on 15th March 2005.

A 4-part history of Britain's railways starts on Channel 4, at 17:30 on Sunday 26th September. The presenter is Pete Waterman. The series is new but was made more than a year ago.

The Health and Safety Executive has issued an 81-page bulletin that explains how Britain's railways are moving in the right direction in terms of safety - see http://www.hse.gov.uk/railways/railpublic3.pdf.

If anyone wishes to comment about the format of Snippets, and whether it would be more readable in a slightly different format (e.g. lighter background), please send an e-mail to Jerry Alderson (address at top) with your thoughts.


Manningtree, Clacton and Walton-on-the-Naze users very concerned about December 2004 timetable
The December 2004 timetable has been circulated to user groups for consultation, though not announced publicly. The Clacton/Walton-on-Naze Rail Users (On-Track) is just one group that is pleased about improvements:
* Earlier first train from Walton-on-Naze on weekdays
* Faster journey times to/from Lowestoft
* Much improved services to/from Peterborough and regular hourly service Ipswich Cambridge
* Cambridge arrival before 09.00 from Walton (was possible from Clacton).

However, for residents in the Clacton and Walton area there are major downsides:
* Extended journey times to/from London. * Loss of morning and evening peak-hour through trains between Walton-on-Naze and London
* Poor late evening train service to Walton-on-Naze on weekdays, even worse on Saturdays
* Poor mid-evening connections at Thorpe-le-Soken when travelling from Walton-on-Naze towards London.

There are also extended journey times, partly owing to trains making additional calls at intermediate stations and an increased looping of trains to allow fast trains to pass, notably at Witham and Colchester.


National Express Group cleared to run the 'one' franchise
National Express's monopoly of train services in East Anglia has been given the green light. The investigation by the Competition Commission has provisionally cleared NEX's takeover of the Greater Anglia franchise ('one'). The CC undertook two surveys of users and an analysis of the potential profit incentives of NEG after the merger. Because rail fares are regulated it concluded that price competition on rail has not been reduced and it does not feel that existing coach travellers will be forced onto trains. It is rumoured that National Express spent about 700,000 in legal fees to state its case.

New offices for 'one' franchise
As suggested by Peter Meades at the branch meeting in Ipswich, 'one' is merging its Norwich and Ipswich offices into a new centre in Colchester housing 70 people. In addition 50 staff in human resources, marketing, corporate affairs and IT will move to a building near Liverpool Street station. Business route directors and customer service staff will continue to be based at appropriate locations around the 'one' network.


Atkins Rail produces 74-page critique of CAST.IRON rail scheme for Cambridgeshire County Council
Atkins Rail are the consultants that Cambridgeshire County Council have used to discredit CAST.IRON's plan for a rail service on the Cambridge-St.Ives line, which would ultimately extend to Huntingdon and link up to the East Coast Main Line. The huge effort put into this exercise shows that the County sees a rail scheme as a serious possibility.

They have produced a 74-page critique from CAST.IRON's costed plans that it gave Cambs County a first look at on 2nd December 2003. They have assessed the 20-minute timetable as unworkable, conveniently having got the distances between stations wrong, and therefore costed additional infrastructure and train sets to provide the commuter service. On top of this they added 57% for maximum "optimism bias" onto all of CAST.IRON's figures despite CAST.IRON having received written quotations from rail infrastructure companies to perform much of the work. In total, Atkins has claimed that it would cost 354.5m to reinstate a 19-mile Chesterton Junction to Huntingdon ECML railway. The route mile cost is the same as the major West Coast Main Line upgrade, and is twice the cost per track mile!

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway Inquiry extended by three weeks
It was intended for the CGB public inquiry to be complete in six weeks, however, owing to the number of individuals who wish to speak, a schedule has been produced that sees the inquiry sit for 32 days, from 28th September to 2nd November. This is likely to delay the inspectors report by at least six weeks.

Railfuture/St.Ives 'et al' have been allocated about a day, with CAST.IRON receiving more than two days. Both organisations are among the five groups given a 10-minute allocation in the opening and closing speeches. The other three are Save the Lakes, Trumpington Environmental Action Group and Histon/Impington Parish Councils.

Cambridgeshire County Council votes to spend 3m on guided busway even though scheme may be refused
Despite the risk, some would say probability, that the guided busway will not be given approval, Cambridgeshire County Councillors have decided to risk 3m of the public's money - 1m from government and 2m from Section 106 funds - of progressing the guided busway scheme, so that if approval is given, its construction can take place as soon as possible. The money may also be wasted if the scheme is approved but with substantial changes.
News item: http://w3.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge/story.asp?StoryID=61110.


Bedford-Bletchley modernisation completion is major stage in East West Rail Link
On Monday 6th September the Bedford-Bletchley "Marston Vale" line, which is a crucial part of the East West Link, reopened after a 6-week blockade that saw the time-warp line move into the 21st century. All manual gated crossings have been replaced by barriers, and all semaphores with coloured light signals. A new 24x7 operated control centre behind the Bedford-direction platform at Ridgmont allows two signallers to control the whole line. Previously, when there were four signal boxes and several gatekeepers, 9 people were required to keep the line open.

Freight lines operate on Sundays, but no passenger trains. Since there will be no additional line costs, Silverlink or their successor may be able to introduce a Sunday and Bank Holiday service in the future. Line speed is currently still at 40mph for DMUs and 20mph for freight. Network Rail intends to upgrade the line to 60mph, as it was until the early 1980's.

The line was officially reopened on Friday 17th September, at an event jointly staged by Silverlink and Network Rail. The Bedford-Bletchley Rail Users Association, and its chairman Richard Crane, were praised as the saviours of the line, when it looked like closure was inevitable.


New autumn timetable sees launch of 'one's improved compensation policy
As part of its franchise, 'one' has been required to offer increased compensation to passengers whose trains are delayed. From 26th a new 'one' passenger charter treats all ticket holders equally, whether single-journey or season-ticket holders. Passengers delayed between 30 and 59 minutes will receive a 50% refund in the form of travel vouchers, and those delayed over an hour get vouchers for 100%. How this will work for an Anglia Plus ticket is unclear - it seems unfair that someone who has travelled on six trains and just one is delayed gets free or half-price travel all day.


Half a million pound marketing campaign by 'one' promotes leisure travel to London
"Enjoy London" is the new TV, radio and bus side advertising marketing message from 'one', which is designed to encourage people from to visit London. It reminds them of the reopening of the Great Eastern Mainline through Ipswich and the ease of getting to London on its many frequent services.

Leaflets are being delivered to 500,000 houses near the railway, offering two-for-the-price-of-one entry into London attractions, hotels and restaurants, effective from 1st October 2004.
Press release: http://www.oneanglia.com/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=607.


North-Norfolk Railway extends its line a little towards the level crossing
North Norfolk District Council has agreed, subject to minor conditions, that the North Norfolk Railway can use part of Ottendorf Green for its run-round facility. This will enable Sheringham station to handle six-coach trains. Although it uses part of the land leading towards the road where a level crossing is desired, this extension is purely to improve the NNR's operations, and track changes would be needed if the level crossing were built. It is hoped that work will be completed by early-summer 2005.

The NNR has bought the entire green except for the Tourist Information Centre, the bus shelter and the surrounding pavement. However it will still allow public access to the Green. Only the extension itself will be fenced off.





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


Snippets 141


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