Fliers for Railfuture's rail users' conference in Birmingham
on 3rd November 2012 were sent with the latest edition of Railwatch. The event
will include a look at the transformation of Birmingham New Street station - see http://www.newstreetnewstart.co.uk.
During an event held in Parliament on 3rd July to discuss the East West Rail line project at which rail minister
Theresa Villiers was present, it was revealed that an announcement confirming approval for the Oxford/Aylesbury to Milton
Keynes/Bedford link is expected during July.
The 8-day reconvened public inquiry for Chiltern Railways Evergreen 3 project ended on 15th June having dealt
with the four matters identified by the Secretary of State, which related primarily to noise or vibration. Chiltern's closing
statement (document CRCL-RI-30) can be read at
In June Railfuture East Anglia had a meeting with local authority and railway representatives on-site at
Newmarket station to discuss improvements to make the station more attrractive. The meeting was a follow-up to the report provided
by Railfuture and MARPA after their station count conducted in September 2011 (as mentioned in Snippets 222).
Network Rail has confirmed that following pressure by the train operator, which wishes to run longer trains at times of peak demand,
an extension from two to three platforms planned for early July.
The new modular signalling between Ely North Junction and Thetford, which was oringally due to be commissioned around 23rd
June has deen shifted to the weekend of 7th/8th July (although this may be further delayed) for the stretch between (roughly) Ely
North Junction and Thetford. The remaining section between Thetford to Trowse Junction stretch, which was originally planned for 30th
June is now scheduled for December 2012.
Once again additional trains were provided to cater for visitors to the Lowestoft Airshow, which normally attracts
200,000 people. However, this year's show on 23rd/24th June is the first time that the two-day show was held over a weekend and so
Greater Anglia expanded the service by providing two rakes of loco-hauled trains.
New super-sized Thameslink franchise may see Great Northern train services moved to the East coast franchise
The DfT has previously announced that the new Thameslink franchise that succeeds First Capital Connect would take
over all services that Southern currently run, and would later take over some of the South Eastern services as well. This would
make it the largest franchise in Britain. However, the DfT's consultation on the Thameslink Franchise has suggested that it is
considering transferring to the East Coast franchise those Great Northern services that would continue to terminate at King's
Cross station (i.e. the services that would not be re-routed through the centre of London). This would, in effect, continue
the approach launched by the former SRA of having a single franchised operator at each London terminal station. The coming
together of inter-city, commuter, regional and rural services under a single franchisee was pioneered with the National Express
East Anglia service (originally branded as 'one') and followed two years later with the Great Western Franchise.
Whilst Peterborough station would simply see some FCC services transferred to East Coast, Cambridge would then
be served by four operators (Greater Anglia, Cross Country, the new Thameslink franchisee for the through-London services and
the new East coast franchise for those temrinating at King's Cross) potentially causing confusion. Passengers already have
different fares to London with Greater Anglia have recently started promoting its new Greater Anglia-only off-peak day returns
from Cambridge to London, which are not only cheaper than the "any route" off-peak day returns to both Liverpool Street and
King's Cross but are also exempt from the weekday evening peak restrictions coming back from London.
The DfT's Thameslink consultation was launched on 31st May and responses must be submitted by 23rd August.
DfT consultation: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-23.
East Coast consultation document released by the Department for Transport
The East Coast franchise has now been run by the government (via its company Directly Operated Railways) for 30
months. It aims to let it as a 10- or 12-year franchise from December 2013. This is less than the maximum 15 years possible because the
government wants to ensure that it ends before any HS2 phase 2 works on the extension to Leeds begin, which would require works at
key stations on the route to integrate with it. One of the challenges the new operator will face is the introduction of the IEP
trains from 2018 to replace its HST fleet that dates for the 1970s, but no decision has been made on the electric Mark IV fleet
that came into use in the early 1990s. It is assumed that the incumbent, Directly Operated Railways, will not bid to run the
On 26th June the DfT published its consultation document for stakeholders and the public about the new franchise.
Responses must be received by 18th September 2012. Representatives from Railfuture East Anglia attended a presentation by
the DfT to learn about the likely expectations of the franchisee, and how the consultation process operated.
Responses should be e-mailed to ICEC@dft.gsi.gov.uk.
|The 13 questions asked by the DfT are:|
|Q1.||Do consultees agree that the proposed franchise objectives are an appropriate expression of the priorities that should apply to the new ICEC franchise?|
|Q2.||Are there any other issues that consultees believe the Department should take into account in determining the length of the new ICEC franchise?|
|Q3.||What are the consultees' views on the principle that the new ICEC franchise become a multi-purpose train operator along the route of the East Coast Main Line rather focusing only on the Inter-City services provided by the current operator?|
|Q4.||Do consultees have any comments on which services might be considered for inclusion in the new ICEC franchise and how they might be specified?|
|Q5.||Are consultees aware of any other rail or non rail major development schemes that are likely to have a significant impact on the ICEC franchise?|
|Q6.||Are there any research findings, evidence or other publications that consultees wish to bring to attention of the Department as part of this refranchising process?|
|Q7.||Consultees' views are invited on train service specification, including which parts should be mandated by the Department and which can be left to commercial discretion; and also on whether or not there should be a change in the specified minimum service when IEP trains are introduced.|
|Q8.||Consultees' views are invited on the potential for the franchise to serve locations accessible to the East Coast Main Line which currently have limited or no direct services to London.|
|Q9.||Are consultees aware of any ways in which improved ticketing, smart ticketing and passenger information might be improved?|
|Q10.||Do consultees support the use of NPS scores to monitor and improve service quality of the ICEC franchise? Are there any other approaches that might be more effective in securing improvements in customer experience?|
|Q11.||What are consultees' priorities for improvements to the stations managed by the ICEC franchisee?|
|Q12.||What do consultees believe are the most important factors in improving safety and security (actual and perceived)?|
|Q13.||Are there any increments or decrements to the DfT's proposed specification that stakeholders would wish to see and would be prepared to fund?|
Postal responses should be sent to:
ICEC Franchise Consultation Manager, Department of Transport, Zone 3/15, Great Minster House, 33, Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR.
Railfuture will, as usual, produce a single response to the DfT, after consulting the relevant branches.
The East Anglia requirements for the franchise consist of:
- Better connections at Peterborough to/from East Anglia to West Yorks, Tyne/Tees, Edinburgh
- Better connections to/from Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire via Grantham, Newark, Retford by running an hourly emu service from/to KX calling at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford, to Doncaster and providing tight connections every hour to the likes of Lincoln, Gainsborough, Worksop.
- Three fast trains (in each direction) evenly spaced every hour between King's Cross and Peterborough continuing to/from Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland.
Railfuture members are encouraged to respond with their own personal submission, which should not mention Railfuture.
Hitchin Flyover bridge across the East Coast Mainline lifted into position on 1st July
In the early hours of Sunday 1st July the 30-tonne main span of the new Hitchin flyover was lifted into place,
uisng a a 120-tonne crane. This is a major milestone in the project's construction. A possession saw early Peterborough-bound
trains diverted to Letchworth Garden City wherer they terminated. It took just an hour and a half to drop the span and bolt it
into place. The lift had been scheudled for the previous weekend but it clashed with a late-night Red Hot Chili Peppers’ concert
being held at nearby Knebworth Park, which attracted 80,000 people who would have been inconveniened by the closure of the
The new 2.5km stretch of line (1.5km embankment plus 1km of viaduct built on 30 piers, piled up to 20 metres
in the ground) is now expected to cost £47 million, down from £65 million. The cost reduced as Network Rail switched the work
to use an alliancing process in line with their change in supplier/client relationships, rather then the originally-planned
design-and-build contract under their normal competitive tendering process.
In November 2012 a turnout is scheduled to be installed on the East Coast main line (making use of the former
Bedford line) to the viaduct. This will be used at Christmas to allow a track-laying train to enter the site for two weeks of
track installation. The line will be commissioned in June 2013 so that driver training can take place. Although the timetable
from December 2013 will be the first to take account of the new timings, it's probable that it will be used from August 2013.
Previous opening dates have varied betwene 'some time in 2013' and 'early 2014'.
News article: http://www.rail.co/2012/07/02/hitchin-flyover-marks-main-span-milestone/.
East Anglia MPs launch 20-year "Once in a generation - a rail prospectus for East Anglia" master plan
As mentioned in Snippets 229, the region's MPs (working with local authorities,
Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chambers of Commerce) have produced a "Rail Prospectus for East Anglia" that is to be used to
lobby the goverment for much more investment to upgrade East Anglia's 'outdated and unreliable' rail network. It was discussed
during a parliamentary debate on 3rd July.
The MPs claimed that economic growth in the Cambridge region is being held back because of the unreliability of
train services (they cite ovderhead line caused by obsolete post-war infrastrcutree on the Great Eastern Mainline), trains that
are too slow (London-Norwich in 90 minutes is one of their aims) and overcrowding on many routes. They have called for "realistic
and technically feasible" improvements which could help create thousands of jobs and unlock billions of pounds of investment."
Naturally their aspirations include many of the things that Railfuture has been campaigning for, such as
"the reopening of a direct line from Cambridge to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford" although their timescales are "within the next
two decades" whereas Railfuture belives it should be by the early 2020s. The list of short/medium-term improvements include:
* Double tracking the Ely junction bottleneck - a priority as it allows half-hourlty trains to King's Lynn and Norwich
* Third track north of Chelmsford on the Great Eastern Mainline
* More seats on the Cambridge-Stansted Airport-Liverpool Street route to cope with projected 42% increase in passengers
* Faster journey - with one-hour the target for Cambridge-Liverpool Street, and 110mph trains on the Great Eastern mainline
* More arrivals at Stansted from 4am for early morning check-ins
* Improvements to Bow Junction in London to increase the number of trains able to travel out of London.
News article: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Call-to-upgrade-outdated-and-unreliable-rail-network-01072012.htm
Record-breaking container movements by rail from Felixstowe
The number of containers moved by rail at the UK's largest container port, the Port of Felixstowe has, reached
an all-time high. In June 11,474 containers (17,211 TEUs) were handled in a single week from its two open-access, common-user
rail terminals. This achievement is certain to be exceeded, especially once the all-new third rail terminal, which has been
under construction since March 2012 is opened. It has been co-financed by the European Union from the Trans-European Network
budget, and will allow longer trains (30 wagons carrying up to 90 TEUs) to leave the terminal.
Felixstowe already has more trains to more destinations more often than any other UK port Daily connections are
available to and from Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Cleveland, Birmingham, Doncaster, Tilbury, Selby, Hams Hall, Wakefield,
Ditton (Widnes), Birch Coppice, Scunthorpe and Bristol. Freight trains are operated by Freightliner, GB Railfreight and DB Schenker.
Network Rail's route managing director attends public meeting to hear concerns about Foxton level crossing next to the station
Clearly demonstrating Network Rail's concern about the safety risks possed by level crossings, its Route
Managing Director of the Eastern region, Dave Ward, attended a public meeting in Foxton on 14th June organsied by county
councillor Susan van der Ven, who runs the local rail user group. One might assume it concerned the high number of drivers of
road vehicles that abuse the crossing - often coming close to hitting the barriers as they descend - who are then taken
to court. However, the meeting was concerned with the risk posed to pedestrians crossing the line via the wicket gates, many
of whom are using boarding or alighting from trains at the station.
There have been a number of incidents where pedestrians have been caught inside the self-locking gates on
the two pedestrian paths on either side of the level crossing. Network Rail has said that a footbridge may be considered,
although this will depend on the outcome of a full feasibility study that it intends to undertake. However, in the short-term
the locking mechanism on the gates will be upgraded by the end of July, with lights and CCTV due to be installed later in 2012.
Longer term Network Rail would like to see a road bridge replace the level crossing has 16,000 vehicle movements
Spate of bicycle thefts at guided busway stops
Whilst secure cycle parking is common at railway stations it is rare to have cycle racks near to a bus stop,
never mind secure ones. Following a series of bicycle thefts at several busway stops including Longstanton and Fen Drayton,
police are advising cycle owners to use better quality cycle locks and to lock their bike to an immovable object and placing
the 'D' lock through the wheel and frame. This is sound advice for cyclists at railway stations as well.
News item: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Spate-of-cycle-thefts-on-guided-busway-19062012.htm.
Trimley Station Community Trust produces professional-looking proposal to rejuvenate derelict stationm building
A detailed business plan produced by the Trimley Station Community Trust to bring the long-closed and currently
derelict former railway station building back into full community use can be found read at
document was produced in December 2010 for the station which lies between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
New charter train operator launches with offering based on Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys television series
A new charter operator is offering Great Railway Journeys of Britain - a brand worded carefully not to infringe
copyright with the BBC's similarly named television series presented by Michael Portillo. It offers some charters to East Anglia
and also trains calling to other parts of some of which call at Peterborough. With Britain back in a recession and other operators
such as UK Railtours offering discounted seats to parties, some commentators have asked if there is room for yet another charter
train operator. Their web-site is at http://www.greatbritishrailway.co.uk.
Mid-Norfolk Railway pushes its rail card for residents
The Mid-Norfolk Railway will always be destined to lower patronage figures than its long-established near neighbour
the North Norfolk Railway, which is in the tourist hotspot. Therefore the MNR must rely more on galas, special services (such as the
Santa Specials and Fish & Chip Trains). It is also trying to encourage locals to use its services for making necessary trips by
providing a Local Resident's Railcard - see http://www.mnr.org.uk/visit/railcard
- to reduce the cost of travel. Fares are generally 25% cheaper and just £2 for children. The £10 railcard lasts 12 months.
Mid-Norfolk Railway earns £40,000 from unclaimed bonds
The ten-year bonds issued by the Mid-Norfolk Railway expired late in 2012 and it is now too late to claim them. It
is understood that around £40,450 was unclaimed so the MNR effectively (and gratefully) recieves this as a donation.
Donation of redundant track allows Bramley Line to lay sidings at Waldersea
In February 2011 the Bramley Line received permission from Network Rail to use the former goods sidings at Waldersea,
on the March side of the level crossing. The group had repaired fences there and also installed a shed to use as their office.
Following the recent donation of track from a redundant spur to the sand qaurries at Middleton Towers (on the old King's Lynn to
Dereham branch) by Sibelco Quarries, the Bramley Line Heritage Railway Trust volunteers plan to to lay sidings again at Waldersea.
Their plans, subject to funding, are to to build a shed there to keep its trains under cover and secure.
At the moment the Bramley Line, which appears to have little money and few volunteers, does not have a lease on the
Wisbech line and therefore is unable to repair the track or use it.
If the group gets off the ground then according to its web-site, which is rarely updated, Waldersea station would
be a new single-platform station on the Wisbech side of the crossing, providing "a quiet rural fenland station" as an "intermediate
stopping point on the line and is ideal for Friday Bridge and some cycle routes." It also hopes to provide a "picnic and garden area"
next to the station.
Railfuture's view is that the mothballed railway line should be opened as part of the national rail network
with a direct service to Cambridge. This is a view that is shared by local authorities.