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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 66 - 28th July 2001  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

This edition of Snippets focuses mainly on the future of the St.Ives line. Please write to the district and county councillors who will be influencing the regional planning body to support the rail reopening.

Cambridgeshire County Councillors can be found on http://www.camcnty.gov.uk/sub/cg/loc.htm.


Cambridge guided busway companies join forces to promote Cambridge Area Metro
The two guided busway schemes for Cambridge - Cambridge Rapid Transit System on Cambridge-Trumpington and the Stagecoach venture with Gallagher Estates on the St.Ives line - have come together to form the "Cambridge Area Metro" - a pun on the City's famous River Cam.

The consortium claim that their "trams on tyres" could travel between Cambridge and St.Ives in only 25 minutes. They are careful not to say whether this means the outskirts of the St.Ives and Cambridge or the town/city centres.

Details of the scheme were revealed in the Cambridge Evening News on 18th July.
Report: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/archives/2001/07/18/lead1.html.

Gallagher Estates, which hopes to obtain planning permission to build a major housing development at Oakington Barracks beside the railway line, have set-up a web-site to promote the idea. Their web-site is focused around the housing development, and gives the impression that the guided busway will only be funded if the hours are built.
Gallagher Estates web-site: http://www.gallagher-cambridge.co.uk.

Huntingdon's Conservative MP holds public meetings to discuss A14
Nick Dibben represented Railfuture at the public meeting in St Ives Corn Exchange on 20th July chaired by Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly [jonathan.djangoly@conservatives.com] with Councillor Ian Bates [Ian.Bates@cambridgeshire.gov.uk].

Much of the meeting concentrated on the merits or otherwise of road based solutions. Various people spoke in favour of the St.Ives line reopening, but not a single person voiced approval of the guided busway plan.

Article in Hunts Post by John Souter criticising guided busway plan for St.Ives line
The Hunts Post newspaper is printing six articles about the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study. The first, by John Souter, former Liberal Democrat councillor for St.Ives South, (working from notes by Fenstanton parish councillor Mark Rainer) explained why the busway is mis-guided.
Article can be found on-line: http://www.huntspost.co.uk/News/27_07_01/souter.asp.

Public backlash against guided busway proposals continues
The Cambridge Evening News [letters@cambridge-news.co.uk] and Hunts Post [editor@huntspost.co.uk] have published more letters favouring rail over the proposed busway, apart from one writer who wanted to turn the railway line into a road!

Railtrack board baffled by busway
The St.Ives line was mentioned at Railtrack's AGM in York on 24th July when Railfuture member Jerry Alderson asked question 34: "Why does Railtrack, a rail company, want to become a bus company, by ripping up the Cambridge to St.Ives line, concreting it over, and building a guided busway?". Despite Railtrack's involvement with this project appearing in the 2000 and 2001 Network Management Statements, all of the 12-strong Railtrack board denied any knowledge of it!

Cambridge City Council unlikely to refuse planning permission for Trumpington guided busway
It is believed to be unlikely that Cambridge City Council will refuse planning permission for the Trumpington guided busway application submitted by CRTS earlier this year, as there appear to be no valid grounds for refusing it.

Transport 2000 reaffirm commitment to Cambridge-St.Ives-Huntingdon rail route
Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk branch of Transport 2000 believe that the CHUMMS conclusions are "very unsatisfactory". They particularly object to the guided busway proposal on the St.Ives line, and believe that the line should be used for the East-West Rail Link to the ECML, with a more direct busway built adjacent to the proposed local road and using one carriageway of the section of existing A14. A letter by co-ordinator Simon Norton proposing this appeared in the Cambridge Evening News.
Transport 2000 (Cambs) July Newsletter: http://www.nenie.org/t2000cam/newsletter76.html


RPC July meeting held in Cambridge
The Rail Passenger Council for Eastern England met on Tuesday 24 July at Queens College Cambridge (in a building which Nick Dibben helped to design!). It was attended by members of the rail industry, councillors, rail pressure groups (including Railfuture) but few members of the public, who were unaware of it because time constraints had prevented the committee publicising the meeting at stations. Poor attendance was not helped by the Cambridge Evening News giving the wrong date!

Recent train performance [http://www.sra.gov.uk/news/releases/2001/July/20010727_ppmfigures.htm] and quality of service for each TOC were discussed in the morning session:

* WAGN - Current time keeping on outer suburban routes is grim (West Anglia route - 76%, Great Northern Route - 85%). There are problems with many speed restrictions. WAGN have 50 drivers short with 25 sick!. 75 new drivers are being trained, the first batch will have completed their training in September. WAGN are also looking at part time drivers, who would work limited hours, to help fill requirements for the peak periods.

Items raised with WAGN include poor visibility of display screens at Cambridge, and the need to promote bus/rail projects.

* Central Trains - Major concern on trespass and vandals. This applies not just to the West Midlands but also to places like Boston where trains were being attacked. All the class 158s are now fitted with TPWS, fitting to class 150 to start in September.

Items raised with Central - Poor timekeeping to Stansted where only 77% trains arrive within 10 minutes, 90% in 40 minutes, 6% over an hour late. CT would like to replace the long distance train fleet with something similar to Virgin's cross-country fleet but all depends on franchise replacement.

* c2c - 44 of 46 new trains now available for service. Failure rate improved from every 300 miles!!! to every 9000 miles. The target is every 60000 miles. Problems with RMT union who have broken their agreements on driver only operation.

* Railtrack - There are currently 15 gauge corner cracking sites and 40 other temporary speed restrictions in the EA zone. Railtrack and contractors are short staffed. There is a £2.2m budget to clear trackside rubbish, several teams have been set up to do each route. Over 6 tonnes of junk is being removed each day.

West Anglia resignalling is on target - Seven Sisters route should be done November 2001, Lea Valley route June 2002, up to Bishops Stortford by November 2003.

The afternoon saw an open discussion on the future of rail services in the Cambridge area.

Railtrack are looking at a new island platform at Cambridge. Cost is £15-20m (up from £10m) but the timescale will depend on train operator expansion. WAGN noted that unless other capacity issues were addressed the extra platform at Cambridge would not allow more trains to be run. Plans for redeveloping the area around the station were reviewed. The idea is for a new multi-storey car park, extra cycle spaces and better bus interchange, there will also be new offices and shops to pay for it all.

Brain Smith of Cambs County Council reaffirmed the county's wish list for new stations at Addenbrooke's and Chesterton. Roger Cutting, planning officer at Addenbrooke's noted their plans would increase the number of workers on the site from 10,000 to 15,000. The new station could (would?) be part of those plans.

A number of members of the public called for the St Ives line to be reopened and questioned the benefits of guided bus.

The next RPC meeting is on Tuesday 4th December in Newark.
Cambridge Evening News report: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/archives/2001/07/25/lead9.html.


Anglia Railways spends £100,000 to improve performance on Norwich-Ipswich-Liverpool Street route
Anglia Railways is spending £100,000 (with Railtrack) to operate an 11th train set on the Norwich-London route. This will increase the ‘turn-round’ time for trains operating Anglia’s half-hourly mainline service at Norwich from 15-20 minutes to either 40 minutes or one hour. Extending the lay-over time at Norwich increases the time available for minor servicing and cleaning of the trains, and enables the service to recover following a delay. The week of 22 July has been designated a performance week with extra managers looking at causes of delays.
Anglia Railways press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=201


Government abandons new 20-year ECML franchise and offers 2-year extension to GNER
Transport Secretary Stephen Byers announced on 18th July that the government will not award a 20-year London to Scotland ECML franchise. Instead he has told the Strategic Rail Authority to negotiate a 2-year extension (from April 2003 to April 2005) to GNER's franchise in return for new trains and an improved service between London and Leeds plus station refurbishments on the Kings Cross to Edinburgh line. "The passengers have to come first and the changes we are announcing will secure the interests of the travelling public" he said. However, it has been claimed that Chancellor Gordon Brown would not sanction the investment required for a 20 year franchise until projected costs of all other franchises were known.
A Virgin Trains spokesman said: "After an 18-month process, we are disappointed that there has not been a clear commitment to the replacement plans of either bidder... We remain confident that our medium/long-term plans are the best way forward for East Coast."

ATOC director general George Muir said: "We understand there are practical difficulties, but on the face of it this looks like a return to the stop-go investment decisions which have caused so much damage and which we thought had been ended with the publication of the government's 10-year transport plan."
BBC News story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_1445000/1445398.stm.


CfIT calls for greater care for customers following MORI survey showing dissatisfaction
The Commission for Integrated Transport has invited public transport operators to a seminar on customer care later this year.

In a large survey by MORI, 2,200 people, said that service on buses and trains was worse than in banks, supermarkets and garages. Supermarkets received an 83% satisfied score, buses 56% and rail bottom at 46%. Dissatisfaction scores at 25% for bus and rail were five times higher than supermarkets. Approximately 20% of travellers rated front line staff as poor. A full copy of the survey can be found at http://www.cfit.gov.uk.


Warwick Parkway proves that rail can produce modal shift away from car use
A study carried out by independent consultants Halcrow, has revealed that Warwick Parkway station opened last year has produced a 15% modal shift from car to rail. This will mean a reduction of some 1.75 vehicle Km a year and 30,000 new train trips. Fifteen per cent of weekday trips from the station were previously made by car and 30% were new to rail.

Ivan Ivanovic says: "It just goes to show rail can do the business. Its tried and tested, unlike a certain other technology...".


NEXUS plans street-level trams to extend Metro
Tyne & Wear passenger transport Executive, NEXUS, has launched a public consultation exercise on proposals to run trams on streets in the city. The plan is for a network of street level trams serving 13 residential areas in and close to Tyne and Wear and linking them into the Metro network.

"Project Orpheous" envisages low-floor trams travelling on-street on dedicated road space along with track sharing with the Metro system where practical. A business case will be prepared and presented to DTLR probably in 2003.

NEXUS is currently building the first example of a Light Rail/Heavy Rail track sharing arrangement in the UK as part of the Metro's extension to Sunderland. The present Tyneside Metro runs on former rail alignments, with no on-street running, and the vehicles used although classified as light rail are more akin to conventional rolling stock.

Ivan Ivanovic suggests that three of the four rail routes leading into Cambridge are relatively lightly used. The opportunity to track-share light rail with heavy rail might provide the type frequent local public transport service which the Cambridge sub-region badly needs, without the necessity to build an entirely new infrastructure for the entire length of routes. Similar arrangements could be introduced on a re-built Huntingdon St Ives Cambridge railway.




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


Snippets 66


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