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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 87 - 18th March 2002  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  


SuperCAM guided busway criticised by transport experts
According to the Hunts Post of 14th March, Dr Lewis Lesley, Professor of Transport at John Moore's University in Liverpool has labelled the SuperCAM a "super con", describing it as "the transport equivalent of a sixties tower block" because "in the end, it will have to be demolished." He believes the system "could end up a tremendous embarrassment."

Neil Mackenzie, a retired director of the abandoned guided bus scheme in Edinburgh and member of a delegation who went to Essen in 1999, commented: "The technology is crude. The tracks also form a trough which collects litter so the bus can be bouncing over tin cans. If there is a fall of snow, it compacts into ice, and you have to have special vehicles on the guideway to de-ice it, which is more expensive. It will work no better than an ordinary bus and a light railway system would be better still. Trams are non-polluting in streets, quiet and clean."

Mackenzie continued: "The question is: What are the guided buses for? Why do you need the track? You've got a driver, he can drive a bus, so why build a track? A guided system does not make for a noticeable increase in capacity, speed or safety. With guided bus, the public image will continue to be 'these are the same old noisy, smelly, uncomfortable, polluting vehicles we can ride on any day of the week' and there speaks a busman of 44 years' experience."

The Hunts Post produced a cut-out-and-keep guide to the key issues and questions to ask superCAM people at the exhibitions, which have now closed. It is believed that around 90% of people attending the public exhibitions support superCAM, though that is hardly surprising when there was no-one available to give impartial advice.
Hunts Post "Let's boot out the bus": http://www.huntspost.co.uk/man/community/Hunts/asp/BootOutBus.asp.


Railfuture opposes Network Card 10 minimum fare restriction

  Railfuture nationally (and the RPC) will be opposing the plan by ATOC to impose a 10 minimum adult fare on weekdays for network cards as mentioned in Snippets 86.

Anyone wishing to convince ATOC to change its plan must contact them direct, or through a TOC by 25th March.
ATOC press release: http://www.atoc.org/communications/press/press/01_03_02.htm.


Wisbech branch now officially closed to traffic
According to Northern Rail Tours, who are organising a train tour of East Anglia this summer, the Wisbech branch is now officially closed to traffic owing to the large amount of work that needs to be done to it. The closure occurred in February 2002.

Although Railtrack had spent money remodelling the curve into the branch, a further inspection of the line indicated that over 700 sleepers needed replacing. Since there are no current users of the line to contribute to this, Railtrack see little point in replacing them for the time being. However, in April, London North Eastern zone and East Anglia zone are being merged into Eastern Region, which might affect the maintenance regime for the branch.


Overgrown dock branch being cleared
The King's Lynn dock branch beyond the buffer stops, where the new run round loop for the Middleton Towers sand train finishes, and the dock gates on John Kennedy Road has recently been cleared of vegetation and rubbish. Sadly, the clearance is not for a restart of rail freight into the docks, but due to the local council's environmental department serving a section 16 notice due to the general condition of the line. People had been fly tipping rubbish along the sections that are accessible.


SRA announce further poor performance results
The SRA announced that nationally 71.2% of trains ran on time between October and December 2001 compared to 79.0% in the previous quarter. Figures for TOCs in the branch area are:
* Anglia (InterCity) 73.7% (down 4.2%)
* Anglia (Locals) 83.6% (down 1.9%)
* Central 67.3% (down 7.9%)
* GNER 69% (down 4.5%)
* FGE 80.5% (down 5.4%)
* WAGN 65.3% (down 13.1%)

SRA chairman Richard Bowker described the figures as "disappointing", while Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa May blamed Stephen Byers for putting Railtrack PLC into railway administration. Guy Dangerfield, secretary to the Rail Passengers' Committee Eastern England, said: "The proportion of delays which are attributable to Railtrack is now coming down. It is now up to the train operators to make sure their bit works properly".

Alan Wheeler, spokesman for WAGN, claimed performance figures for 2002 showed improved punctuality and First Great Eastern claim that 92 per cent of trains ran on time in February 2002.
BBC news item: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1877000/1877881.stm
SRA press release: http://www.sra.gov.uk/news/releases/2002/mar/


SRA begins consultation on combining rail franchises
The SRA has begun a formal consultation on its proposal to combine rail franchises that share major London stations. The RDS branch committee will be discussing aspirations for the Greater [East] Anglian franchise at the next committee meeting. Send comments to Nick Dibben.

Those wishing to comment direct, should write to the Rail Support Officer, London Transport Users Committee, Clements House, 14-18 Gresham St, London EC2V 7PR. Tel: 020 7505 9000. Fax 020 7505 9003. E-mail: franchise@ltuc.org.uk.
SRA press release: http://www.sra.gov.uk/news/releases/2002/mar/


South Cambridgeshire District Council proposes bridge over Foxton level crossing
At a recent meeting of South Cambridgeshire Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee, members decided to pursue a proposal for a bridge over Foxton level crossing, but rejected an alternative proposal for a tunnel as it would not attract the necessary Government funding. They will bid for funding in the next Local Transport Plan to build the bridge in the 2006-10 period.

Traffic using the crossing on the A10 at Foxton suffers massive tailbacks during peak hours. Fowlmere councillor Deb Roberts said: "It will be beneficial for all who use the A10. But it is going to affect a lot of people and it is important that we get the villages on side with us."


British Chambers of Commerce organises online poll of business views on the railway
The British Chambers of Commerce is organising an online poll to identify the impact to businesses of the problems in the rail industry. It hopes to use the results to pressure the Government into action.

John Clayton, of the Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: "It is only by demonstrating the scale of the problem to the Government and the rail industry watchdogs that business can ensure that maintenance of a sustainable, successful, economy remains at the heart of the rail transport debate."

To take part, visit http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/railpoll which will be operation from 1st March until 2nd April 2002.


North Norfolk Railway progresses with station building at Holt

  The EEDA (The East of England Development Agency) has verbally confirmed a grant of 20,000 to reconstruct the station building at Holt. Norfolk County Council has confirmed that the NNR will be offered the old Stalham Station building, free of charge, and the deadline for dismantling and moving it to Holt by 31st March has been put back until mid-summer. The process had been put on hold when a Stalham councillor objected to the removal of the building.

Nene Valley Railway celebrates its silver jubilee on the Queen's golden jubilee

  The Nene Valley Railway, whose line between Wansford and Orton Mere was officially opened on 1st June 1977, will be holding its 25th year celebrations between Saturday 1st June and Tuesday 4th June 2002, over the long weekend for the Queen's golden jubilee. There will be seven trains on each of the four days.
NVR 2002 timetable: http://www.nvr.org.uk/2002cal.htm.



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


Snippets 87


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