On 1st February Rail minister Tom Harris announced that the Norwich-Lowestoft Wherry Lines (both the Acle
and Berney Arms routes) have been designated 'Community Rail' lines. It should allow 'one' to adopt a more flexible approach
and manage the services with greater emphasis on meeting local needs. No additional funding is provided.
ATOC estimates that 1,147m train journeys were made in Grest Britain in 2006. This represents an increase of
6.7% over 2005's total of 1,075m. However, the growth over the last six months of 2006 was around 10%, which means that the
number of train passengers is accelerating and is now at an annual equivalent of 10%. If this growth were to be sustained,
almost twice as many – 2,000m or more – would be using rail by 2012.
'one' announces a programme of actions to improve punctuality
Train operator 'one' has seen punctuality improve from 84.96% to 87.47% in the three years since the franchise
commenced but like the rest of the industry it wants to achieve 90%. With Network Rail It aims to improve punctuality by doing
things differently and improving both the rolling stock and the route infrastrcuture. The following are some of the actions that
are to be implemented:
- Close doors on trains at Liverpool Street 30 seconds before booked departure time
- Liverpool Street is to receive a new public address system allowing passengers to hear information clearly
- More efficient despatch of trains into traffic from depots so that they depart from the station on time
- Modifications to Class 317 units and upgrades to the power supply system on Class 90 locomotives
- Network Rail is to renew 60km of track and introduce fortnightly monitoring of OHLE on the London–Norwich main line.
Grand Central puts back launch date to September 2007
New open access operator Grand Central, which has had a licence to run trains from King's Cross to Sunderland
since December 2006 does not expect launch until September 2007. It blames delays in refurbishing its Class 43
HSTs, which belong to its sister leasing company Sovereign Trains. In the longer term, Sovereign plans to procure
new Chinese-built Polaris hybrid traction units.
ROUTE UTILISATION STUDIES
Railfuture attended a stakeholder briefing on the Greater Anglia RUS on 27th February in Ipswich. The
draft report for consultation is due out April 2007, but Network Rail presented a summary of the key issues and possible options
they are looking at. This consists of the following:
|Issue A - Peak Capacity|
|Lengthen services on the Fenchurch Street main line to 12 cars|
|Extended paltforms and services on the Tilbury Loop|
|Replace London-Norwich trains with EMUs to provide more seating (replacing the locomotive and driving trailer with coaches
creates more seats without need to lengthen platforms)|
|Additional Great Eastern services during peak|
|More trains to call at Stratford Regional Station|
|More local peak trains from Gidea Park|
|Longer trains to Chingford and Enfield Town|
|Lengthen services on WA route to Cambridge and Stansted|
|Peak hour shuttle to Seven Sisters|
|Increase capacity on Lea Valley route|
|Issue B - Rural & Interurban routes |
|Enhance Peterborough - Ipswich service|
|Hourly Ipswich to Lowestoft (Beccles Loop) or Hourly Ipswich to Saxmundham|
|Longer trains generally at peak times|
|Issue C - Freight|
|Increase gauge and capacity between Felixstowe and Nuneaton|
|Remove speed restrictions for freight trains|
|Issue D - Improve performance - Options include:|
|Close level crossings on Lea Valley route|
|Review timetables and recovery margins|
|Replace overhead line equipment on GE route|
|Improve turnarounds on rural services|
|Other performance enhancements such as Ely Curve|
|Issue E - Engineering access - Options include:|
|Longer operating hours to Stansted|
|Longer operating hours on suburban routes to match the Underground|
|Reduce impact of possessions on depots|
|Imrove engineering access on Cross Country route|
|Issue F - Power supply|
|Look at future power requirements to suit demand|
|Issue G - Improving access to stations (Passenger Focus looking at this)|
|Car park capacity, DDA, interchange, station crowding, possible new stations|
|Issue H - Berthing capacity|
|Review capacity/locations to store trains overnight and between the peak hours|
The East-West Rail Link was raised as a solution to capacity issues. Alternative routes and turnback options
in case of disruption were also being considered.Network Rail confirmed that unlike other RUS, this one would not be suggesting
service cuts of lightly used services.
Train operators in branch area need to drastically improve their service according to Passenger Focus
The Passenger Focus survey published on 29th January shows that value for money is still the big railway issue for most
travellers with fewer than half happy with the cost of their journeys. It also found wide disparities between regions and
operators, which is partly caused by different expectations by passengers: commuters often being the most demanding.
The survey found that 76% of First Capital Connect passengers are satisfied generally, but just 19% statisfaciton for
staff availability - still better than the 10% for 'one', which scored 31% for value for money and 28% for dealing with
PF survey: http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/your-experiences/content.asp?dsid=496.
On 16th January First Group subsidiary GB Railfreight has also announced a second contract to move recycled rail ballast
from London to East Anglia. It will operate eight trains for Mendip Rail, each made up of JNA big-box wagons. They will
carry a total of 10,000 tonnes of ballast from Acton to Yeoman Aggregates at Parkeston, near Harwich.
Press release: http://www.gbrailfreight.com/news_archive.php?newspage=1&newsid=167.
RAIL STAFF COSTS
Latest Central Trains pay increases give indication of expense of running a train service
Anyone trying to promote new services and stations ought to be aware of the costs of providing the staff. The
revised pay Schedule from 1st April 2007 for Central Trains (which is at the higher end of the "Regional" pay
rates, average compared to London & South East TOCs and rather lower than the Intercity TOCs) makes interesting
Station Staff (including ticket offices and revenue protection):
* RPI (Reveue Protection Inspection) West Midlands: £20,505, RPI New Starter Rate: £18,701
* Station Staff/West Midlands ATE (Assistant Ticket Examiner) £16,693-£17,266
* Ticket Checkers at barriers: £15,490 (New Starter Rate: 13,662 - ticket checkers and station staff)
* Station Staff Allowances - Wide Area Relief: £1,228, Local Area Relief: £615, Night Shift Allowance: £7.37 per shift
* Bands are: £18,879-£19,437 (C); £20,714-£21,728 (B); £23,271-£25,783 (A)
* Supplements per shift - Sunday Shift: £26.83, Night Shift: £13.43, Xmas Day/Boxing Day: £20.25
* Roster Clerk: £31,554, Duty Traincrew Manager: £35,127
* Delay Resolution: £21,309; Information Coordinator: £21,309; Route Controller: £31,094 (East) / £32,366 (West)
* Fleet Controller (B): £35,366, Duty Control Manager: £37,196
* Senior Conductor: £22,010 (trainee £16,718); Senior Conductor Coach £22,922
* Senior Conductor Allowances: Xmas Day/Sunday Supplement: 20.25 per shift
* Driver: £35,059; Newly Qualified: £26,295; Trainee: £19,143; Driver Instructor: £37,005
Station Maintenance Staff:
* Senior Maintenance Technician: £25,563; Technician: £23,931
Clerical Support Staff: (Not ticket office staff, who on CT are counted as station staff)
* Head Office/Outstation Clerical: £14,863 (A1), £18,581 (A2).
Staff change at 'one'
'one' has appointed James Reeve as Group Station manager based at Cambridge. He will be repsonsible for the stations
at Cambridge, Shelford, Whittlesford, Great Chesterford, Audley end, Newport and Elsenham. He had previously been
the Travel Centre Manager at Norwich.
'one' has also announced that Ben Rule has joined the company as Head of Performance and Planning, which means that
Phil Barrett has become Head of Operations and will be leading the Challenge 90 initiative, a joint project between
'one' and Network Rail which aims to raise the PPM figure to 90% or higher.
Construction commences on new carriage sheds at Holt on the North Norfolk Railway
Work has begun to construct new carriage sheds at Holt on the North Norfolk Railway. Concrete has been poured on
the levelled site and the steel framework is expected shortly. The sidings will be formed of bullhead rail track
panels from the Bittern Line which were replaced over Christmas as part of Network Rail's renewal programme. It is
hoped that the shed will be completed and the panels during 2007.
Virgin web-site aims to improve the train ticket purchase experience
Virgin Trains has revamped its http://www.virgintrains.com website to "make
searching and buying the cheapest possible ticket far simpler". It claims to offer a one-stop-shop from enquiry through
to ticket purchase thanks to a brand new search engine (developed with its TheTrainLine.Com subsidiary) that enables
passengers to identify and purchase the best rail fare available quickly. Whislt showing both APEx and walk-on fares,
unlike existing web-sites it will only show fares that are still available. It will also allow people to by an APEX
for one leg of the journey and a Saver Half Return (at half the price of a Saver Return) for the other. This ticket
combination is only available for website bookings. Virgin hopes that the new web-site will improve the perception
that rail fares are expensive espeically as a recent Passenger Focus survey found that only 58% of its passengers
felt the ticket was value for money. Virgin has also been trialling the print@home e-ticketing system, which it
plans to relaunch later in 2007.
Virgin's train partner Stagecoach has recently combined the megabus and megatrain websites in order to strengthen
the 'mega' brand.
Web-site promoting the creation of a "Railschool" on the recently closed railway branch to North Woolwich
The http://www.railschool.org website promotes the transformation of the now
unused section of the North London Line to North Woolwich into a Railschool and ultimately a heritage steam line.
The company behind the project held a Meet-the-Team community day at North Woolwich on 24 March which gave anyone
interested, including potential volunteers, a chance to meet the team and discuss the plans for RailSchool and the
Royal Docks Heritage Railway. The web-site has further details of the project.
Web-site for TrainsEurope international rail travel service
The TrainsEurope company serving the international rail niche market on platform 4 at Cambridge station has a web-site:
Web-site for new charter operator UK Railtours
Now that Hertfordshire Railtours is in the hands of Victa Westlink Rail following the collapse of FM Rail, the former
boss of that company, John Farrow, has returned to the former Welwyn address of Herts. Railtours, but trading under
the name of UK Railtours with a website http://www.ukrailtours.com featuring
the popular Forgotten Tracks enthusiast trips. Meanwhile http://www.traintrips.co.uk,
the Hertfordshire Rail tours web-site continues under new maangement.