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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 143 - 25 October 2004  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

Members will have received with Railwatch a booking form for the Railfuture Rail Users' Group Conference at Carrs Lane Church Centre in Birmingham on 6th November. Speakers include Adrian Lyons of the Railway Forum, David Keay, principle inspector of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate, Richard Carr of Orange who will be talking about mobile data solutions for rail, Tony Smale, Railfuture's rail users groups liaison officer, Sheila Dee of the Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Partnership. Also, John Balmforth will talk about proposed changes to the Rail Passengers Committees. Details from John Lee john.lee@rdsadmin.freewire.co.uk.

From 11th October 2004 there has been a single point of contact for passengers to seek help form the Rail Passengers Council/Committees: Tel: 08453 022 022, Fax: 0845 850 1392, e-mail: info@railpassengers.org.uk or write to Freepost WA1521, Warrington, WA4 6GP. The new RPC contact centre operates from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. The committee for Eastern England now has a new phone number: 0870 336 6065.

Anyone who has access to the Discovery Home and Leisure satellite/cable channel may be interested to know that the second series of Trainspotting is being broadcast. For broadcast times, see http://www.trainspotting.tv/main/transmission.htm.

The "ONE Life" programme on Tuesday 26th October, 22:35 - 23:20, entitled "Asleep at the Wheel" features the Great Heck rail accident caused by car driver Gary Hart, who fell asleep whilst driving.


Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association plans talks with prospective partners
The Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association and its Cambridge to Colchester Railway Development Company are planning to hold a meeting with other interested parties with a view to forming a line partnership for their project.


Government announces that Central Trains franchise will disappear
On 19th October Alistair Darling announced the first set of franchise mergers following publication of "The Future of Rail White Paper (Command paper 6233)" in July 2004, which are intended to better align franchises with Network Rail's regional and route structure to encourage joint working between infrastructure owner and train operators.

WAGN's remaining services will be merged with Thameslink. An invitation to tender is expected to be issued in Summer 2005. The Central Trains franchise will be dissolved in 2006, with services distributed into the Silverlink, Chiltern, Virgin Cross Country, Midland Mainline and Northern franchises.

Elsewhere an enlarged Great Western will be created as planned and South West Trains will include the Island line assuming the latter is not run as a community railway.

At the same time Mr Darling confirmed that Network Rail will be taking over responsibility from the SRA for producing route utilisation strategies, although not before the SRA has published the RUS for the ECML.


Public Inquiry for Cambridgeshire Guided Busway ploughs on
The public inquiry has now sat for four weeks during which time Cambridgeshire County Council has inundated objectors with piles of papers, seemingly providing an answer for nearly every criticism, and offering revisions to much of its own figures, which had been proved wrong. Railfuture amongst others noticed that the original forecast of bus patronage had 2,600 passengers leaving St Ives every day and just 783 returning. "At that rate," CAST.IRON's Dr Stephen Ades said: "St Ives would be empty in about a month".

Dr Alan Brett, an Atkins Transportation consultation commissioned by the county council, told the inquiry that using the rail trackbed for a conventional (unguided) bus alternative would be slightly less expensive to construct, but attract fewer people from their cars because conventional buses were perceived as a last resort by people with cars.

Inspector shown revolutionary road-rail vehicle giving flexibility of bus but preserving railway
Objector, and CAST.IRON executive, Jerry Alderson brought in expert witness Carl Henderson of Silvertip Design to describe how his BladeRunner dual-mode invention allows road-rail vehicles to run switch between road and rail without having to slow down, giving all the advantages that the Guided Bus can supposedly offer, and a whole lot more. Mr Hendersonís dual mode concept has been given financial support by the Department of Trade and Industry, and he brought an £80,000 8-ft-long model vehicle to show the inspector.

Blade Runner would give users a more comfortable ride than a guided bus as it is guided at both the front and rear - a Guided Bus is only guided at the front which means it can sway from side to side - and it is also able to reverse so that it will not get stuck behind a broken down vehicle, unlike a guided bus.
SilverTip Design web-site: http://www.silvertipdesign.com.


SRA passes the buck to Central Trains for loss of Cheap Day Returns
When a passenger complained to the SRA about the recent abolition of cheap day return fares on certain Central Trains routes he received the following reply: "... About 40% of train operatorsí fares revenue is generated by fares regulated by this Authority. Regulated fares include Saver tickets, unrestricted standard returns where there are no Savers, and all standard weekly season tickets. Train operators offer unregulated fares at their own commercial discretion in order to attract passengers to the railway and make use of seats which would otherwise remain empty. Whilst fares like these are widely available, operators have the freedom to withdraw them or alter their conditions of use. This Authority does not regulate the [cheap day return] tickets you refer to. Therefore the decision to increase the prices was made at the operator's discretion."


Waterbeach station car park extension finally starts after three-year wait
The extension of Waterbeach Station car park was due to start on Monday 18th October. This would see more parking spaces, improved lighting and a bus stop in the car park area. The work is planned to allow the current 40-space car park to remain open. Cambridgeshire County Council intends to paint double yellow lines on some of the local roads to reduce inconsiderate parking. Although work was estimated to take eight weeks to complete the extension is unlikely to be open until early 2005 when charging will recommence. After 09.00 there will be a nominal charge to make sure it is known whether the car is parked before of after that time - at present it is not possible to tell.

Dedicated bus-rail interchange planned for Huntingdon Station to reduce congestion caused by buses
A £100,000 scheme, jointly funded by Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, to provide a dedicated bus-rail interchange at Huntingdon station should be constructed in 2005 if planning permission is granted. There will be a parking area for buses under the A14 flyover, a waiting area for passengers and a possible direct link through to the platform.

At present there are major problems with buses using the site, especially during the evening rush hour period when there is significant congestion. In future buses that stop to let off and take on passengers would be able to keep out of the way of other station traffic.


Trains returns in time for Christmas mail
Royal Mail is to recommence rail deliveries prior to Christmas, less than a year after axing the service to save costs. As a trail, from November four mail trains operated by GB Railfreight will run between London and Scotland carrying up to 5m items of post. Two of the services will run until March 2005, when Royal Mail will decide whether to continue. No trains are planned to run through East Anglia, yet.

Local authorities invited to see rail freight in action at Ely
On Thursday 21st October 2004 in Ely an event staged by Freight on Rail and the East of England Regional Assembly was held to demonstrate to local authorities the opportunities for switching freight from road to rail. It was chaired by John Reynolds, a Cambridgeshire county councillor and chair of the Regional Planning Panel. Mr Reynolds, who supports his council's plan to destroy the St.Ives railway line, said: "Regional policy promotes the carriage of freight by rail and water. We want to explore ways in which this can be done most effectively."

Delegates also visited the Ely rail freight terminal run by the Potter Group, which is a leading independent UK road and rail logistics service provider with 160,000 sq metres of warehousing in five regional distribution centres.

Rail Freight Group holds members meeting in Peterborough
The Rail Freight Group's next members meeting will be held in the Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough on 3rd November and will discuss the current situation with rail freight, particularly in respect of the outcome of the Rail Review. Alan Curtis of Prologis, the developers of Alconbury Freight distribution Centre, will present the scheme and discuss issues surrounding rail freight. There will also be a site visit to Whitemoor Yard, Network Railís new maintenance and renewal centre, operated by GB Railfreight. The event is open to non members, but is expensive.


Mid-Norfolk Railway northern extension now a quarter of the way to Hoe
The Mid-Norfolk Railway volunteers are continuing to replace sleepers and chairs on the northern extension at least one day a month, and have now run trains a quarter of the distance to Hoe, where a station will be built. Saturday 23rd October saw the first locomotive - as opposed to DMU - to cross Swanton Road level crossing since 1989. It was a works train. No passenger trains are planned until Hoe is reached.


Government transport statistics now available from Department for Transport web-site
The Department for Transport has published National Statistics on a range of topics relating to transport. The "Transport Statistics Great Britain 2004" data is available at http://www.dft.gov.uk/transtat. It includes section on Modal Comparisons, Energy and Environment, Freight, Public Transport, Roads and traffic, Transport accidents and casualties; and International Comparisons".




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


Snippets 143


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