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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 72 - 22nd September 2001  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

This edition of Snippets is, not for the first time, heavily focused on the St.Ives line. The next few weeks will be critical for the future of this line, as CHUMMS will be considered by the Regional Planning Panel on 2nd October.

STEER - which is the officially recognised Transport Activists' Roundtable (TAR) for the East of England region - are holding a public meeting on CHUMMS, with high-profile people including key decision makers. It is on Thursday 27th September at 7.30pm at the Guildhall, Cambridge, CB2 3QJ. Doors open at 7pm for informal discussion. The Guildhall is by the Market Square, just five minutes walk from Cambridge Bus Station (via Bradwell's Court and Petty Cury) and 20 minutes walk from Cambridge Railway Station. Click HERE for map.

Anyone who has sent an e-mail to Cambridgeshire County Council's "CHUMMS Letterbox" is requested to send a copy to STEER's own e-mail address [chumms-response@cambuc.org.uk] so that they are aware of public opinion. Any submissions sent to this e-mail address before the 2nd October meeting will be welcome.

The CHUMMS final report is available online on: http://www.go-east.gov.uk/envnrur/chumms_final_report.htm. This comprises a series of PDF and Excel files.


Rail Freight Group makes strong attack on CHUMMS in its newsletter
The Rail Freight Group responded to the CHUMMS recommendation, and has also dedicated an entire page to the CHUMMS study in its September 2001 newsletter.

It says that "The proposal to construct a guided busway on an existing rail track bed is unacceptable and is, we suggest, contrary to Planning Policy Guidance Notes PPG13." It also criticises guided busways as a concept saying "It appears to us that guided busways are now seen as being less efficient in attracting drivers out of their cars than tramways/light metro and we therefore believe that this [tram/light rail] must be the preferred solution retaining the trackway for the potential for railfreight as well."

The newsletter rubs further salt into the wounds saying "We understand that Edinburgh is abandoning plans to use guided busways ("CERT"), because they are expensive to build, become quickly rutted. We believe that guided busways are based on unproven technology and we find it surprising that this is the highlight of the CHUMMS plan." [Note from webmaster: In 2004 Edinburgh opened a "Son of CERT" guided busway, although only a stop-gap measure until a full light rail system was opened.]

The RFG has previously criticised multi-modal studies as being a tool for getting road schemes built, and it believes that CHUMMS proposals will, if acted upon by government, call into question the policy of the SRA and government to seek to transfer freight from road to rail.
RFG September newsletter (all 16 pages): http://www.rfg.org.uk/ftp/rfgnews36.pdf (4.4Mb! - page 11 is CHUMMS).
Newsletter - page 11 only: http://miltonstation.members.beeb.net/CHUMMS_criticism_by_rail_freight_group.pdf.

STEER urges regional planning body to fight for expanded rail links
In its response to CHUMMS, STEER, the Sustainable Transport for the East of England Region, has urged the regional planning body to stress to the Secretary of State the need for new (or reopened) rail routes offering an attractive alternative to the A14 for long-distance traffic, particularly freight.

Passing comment on CHUMMS, it says "The role of new or reopened railways has been virtually ignored and railfreight interests have been marginalised in the consultation process."
STEER web-site on CHUMMS: http://www.cambuc.org.uk/steer/chumms.htm.

Transport 2000 calls for East West Rail Link to run along St.Ives line
In its response to CHUMMS, Transport 2000 (Cambs and West Suffolk branch) has called for the East-West Rail Link to run via Huntingdon, with interchange with Inter-City trains at there. This would reduce operating costs by partly replacing existing services from Ipswich and Stansted Airport to Peterborough, and by avoiding the need to run separate trains from Bedford and beyond to Peterborough and to Ipswich/Norwich via Cambridge.

They have also called for new stations at Offord and at either Abbots Ripton or Wood Walton to help relieve traffic problems caused by park and ride rail traffic at Huntingdon.

Transport 2000 believe that any new town in the Cambridge area (e.g. on the Oakington/Longstanton site) must have its own main line station if it is to be considered as a place of significance in its own right, rather than just a satellite of Cambridge. They ask the regional planners to reject any proposal linking the construction of the guided busway with a new town, unless a cost-effective way is found for putting the new town on a Cambridge-Huntingdon main line. They call on Gallagher put forward such an option or to modify their plans to enable this to be done.
Transport 2000 (Cambs/W.Suffolk) September Newsletter: http://www.nenie.org/t2000cam/newsletter77.html.

Architect of Adelaide guided busway calls for rail - not busway - on the St.Ives line
According to an article in the Hunts Post, Arthur Henderson, the architect who designed the guided bus developed by Mercedes for use in Adelaide in Australia where it has run since 1986, is firmly against a busway on the St.Ives line.

Mr Henderson, who lives in Cambridge, heads the Traffic Research Centre, a charitable trust which examines transport issues. He says "Essentially, the CHUMMS scheme is an engineering exercise with no proper planning. It is a bit of a bodge job. It does not take account of Peterborough and Cambridge as regional centres. These places need to be linked by rail, for passengers and freight, as soon as possible. The guided bus would not be of any benefit in this area. Once the bus leaves the line, it will be stuck in the same old traffic as cars are now.”

Mr Henderson says a railway line is needed now to link Peterborough and Huntingdon with Cambridge. The route could include Godmanchester, St Ives, Swavesey, Longstanton, Oakington, Histon, The Cambridge Science Park, Chesterton, Cambridge Regional College, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Trumpington.

In the same article, Robert Stripe, committee member of Railfuture said: “The guided bus system would cost almost twice the price of reopening the railway line and it will block the track for future development. It will be a white elephant and expensive when it comes to taking it all up again. I am told we don’t have money to play with – so why are we playing with it?

“A tremendous amount of thought and work has gone into the CHUMMS project but it is local and parochial. The guided bus is not going to tackle the freight problem. It is not going to take traffic off the A14 that is national and international. If the Alconbury freight development takes off, there will be another 200 lorries an hour on the A14 travelling to the docks. It is ludicrous to suggest solving this by putting a guided bus down part of an old railway line. That that is hardly integrated transport. It splits up the transport network yet again."
Hunts Post news article: http://www.huntspost.co.uk/News/14_09_01/bus.asp.

Histon and Impington parish councils strongly against the guided busway
In a joint response from Histon and Impington Parish councils to the CHUMMS recommendations, Mrs A Young, clerk to the councils wrote on 25th August: "The councils are deeply concerned about the public transport strategy and do not support the proposals for Guided Bus".

The councils say that the guided bus:
a) does not address the problem of cross-city journeys, especially to Addenbrooke's hospital;
b) is privately funded and will only be built if development arises in the area - which will make the A14 problems worse;
c) has not been successfully implemented anywhere in the UK and was abandoned in Edinburgh, Liverpool and Northampton.
They make several other criticisms and are disappointed that rail was ruled out, especially as over two million journeys annually start and finish at Cambridge Station - more than all existing park and ride sites put together.
Councils response: http://www.camcnty.gov.uk/partners/parish/histimp/docs/chummsres.doc.

Labour's preference is for rail but will support "SuperCAM" guided busway if congestion problems can be resolved
According to the Cambridge Evening News, Councillor Colin Shaw [colin.shaw@cambridgeshire.gov.uk], the Labour group's environment and transport spokesman, says the party's preferred option for easing traffic on the A14 was to improve rail services

However, Labour will support the guided busway, but are eager that the buses do not get stuck in the city's notorious traffic. They insist that a dedicated bus route is made from the St.Ives line intersection with Milton Road to Cambridge Station from day one, rather than in stage 3 as proposed by CHUMMS.

Since there is insufficient room to have a two track busway beside the Fen Line they suggest a circular one way system. Buses coming from St.Ives would continue on the St.Ives line to Chesterton Junction and then follow the route of the railway line. However, buses returning from Cambridge Station via the City Centre to St.Ives would use a bus lane on the existing road - probably Milton Road, perhaps Histon Road - and then join up with the busway on the St.Ives line again.


Report "Beeching in Reverse" calls for East-West Link and other railway routes to be reopened
As mentioned in Railwatch 89, a report by the Transport, Research and Information Network (TR&IN) called "Beeching in Reverse" urges the reopening of rail lines, including the East West link from Felixstowe to Oxford. The report says that reopening of tracks is often cheaper than building major roads. Groups supporting the report include the Rail Passengers Council, Transport 2000 and the rail industry umbrella body: Railway Forum.

Stewart Francis, chairman of the Rail Passenger Council, said: "At a time when the public is deeply sceptical about the future of the railways there can be no greater symbol for a wider rail revival than putting back the tracks to those towns for which there are viable and cost effective proposals."

The document will be used in a conference in Nottingham on 27th September by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) to make the case for line and station re-openings, and highlight successful examples.

Norfolk railway groups welcomed the report which calls for reopening of the Dereham-Wymondham, March-Wisbech and the Holt-Fakenham-Dereham routes. Pete Eldridge of the Mid-Norfolk Railway, welcomed the calls for the lines across the region to open fully saying "We believe that there is potential for freight and potential for passenger traffic between the market towns of Dereham, Wymondham and Fakenham. If we could get the right level of speed allowance - 60mph - or main line speed, that would create a very viable commuter market between the three towns and into Norwich and when the new service to Cambridge opens it will be a link to that too."
ACoRP web-site: http://www.acorp.uk.com


WAGN relaunch web-site
As mentioned in Snippets 65, WAGN have relaunched their web-site - well before the "end of year" as promised. Visit http://www.wagn.co.uk to read news items, check the route map, get a quick summary of fares, find out about the towns and cities where WAGN have major stations and view the first issue of "Tracking" magazine, from June.

You can query timetables and buy tickets on the web-site, but unfortunately it has never heard of King's Cross station, though it does know about King's Cross Thameslink!

WAGN have also set-up an e-mail address: email@wagnrail.co.uk, as well as a page where you can enter "Feedback". Quite why "Your feedback will be forwarded to c2c Customer Services" is not entirely obvious.



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


Snippets 72


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