This edition of Snippets focuses on the East West Rail Link, using information obtained at a presentation
by EWRL project officer Chris Hayward to the BBRUA AGM in Bedford on 20th March.
At the Railfuture branch committee meeting on Saturday 23rd March it was requested that members should:
* complete their SuperCAM comment forms, if they visited the exhibition
* write to their MP (especially Anne Campbell, for Cambridge residents) to push for Channel Tunnel freight
to be restarted.
EAST WEST RAIL LINK
Consortium members and activities so far
Luton Borough Council joined the consortium in January 2002 and Luton Airport will be joining in their new
financial year. Around £1m has been spent so far by consortium members to develop and support the project,
including by Railtrack.
Route for 'missing link'
Nine and 15-mile long routes, costing over £150m, are being studied to link the ECML with Bedford Midland
station, but the north facing curve north of Hitchin is looking less likely. Skanska are concerned with the
long term operational cost of the chosen route rather than the lowest build cost, and are due to announce
the preferred route in April 2002. They have put aside £5m for the TWA application and intend to have the
full route open by the end of 2006.
Initial East-West services
There will be a Bedford-Oxford stopping service, possibly using a class 165 2-car train, with 16 trains on
Monday-Saturday and nine on Sundays. There will also be a fast Bristol-Bedford service, which will only
stop at major stations: Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester, Bletchley and Bedford. This will run 13
hourly weekday stops and 12 on Saturday but none on Sunday. This service will be designed to get BMW drivers
out of their cars, and will offer wide aisles, an information centre, television - showing BBC News 24 (or
similar), like Heathrow Express - and a café/bar. Trains will be 3-coaches long initially, but will be
extended to meet demand.
It is planned to start a western service - utilising the closed Bletchley-Bicester route - in Summer
2003, and the SRA are, according to Chris Hayward, "now supporting the western initiatives". A
Western RPP Group has been set-up, with local authority financial support, to help fund the western
infrastructure, with an RPP bid planned for April.
It is anticipated that passenger numbers for both services will be low initially, with very high growth
for three years, and will then level off. The main EWRL corridor should see 500,000 new homes built by
2016, and it is believed that the EWRL will speed up economic growth in the area. The consortium have been
in discussion with Cambridgeshire County Council to provide a high quality Cambridge-Bedford bus link once
the Oxford-Bedford rail service starts, until the full link opens.
EWRL promotion and web-site
There will soon be a major revamp of the EWRL web-site [http://www.eastwestrail.org],
which has not been updated since August 2001. It will promote the services to the general public, with the
aim of building passenger demand, and to invite financial support from companies.
Marston Vale resignalling project
The EWRL has been helped by the resignalling project currently taking place on the Bedford-Bletchley route,
which is due to be finished in January 2003. All first generation signalling (semaphores) will be replaced
with colour signals; all manual level crossings will be replaced with CCTV controlled barriers (though the
three existing automatic half barrier [AHB] crossings will remain); and TPWS will be introduced at all
"relevant" signals, with AWS added at all signals. Currently there is no safety system. Track has been
replaced and eventually the line speed will rise from 40mph to 50 and ultimately 60mph. However, Railtrack
are merely carrying out renewals, deferred because of the Hatfield rerailing project, rather than
enhancements. Double tracking of the section from Bedford St.Johns station to Bedford Midland will be
funded by the EWRL project, if it is needed.
ST.IVES LINE GUIDED BUSWAY
Cambridge 'superCAM' guided bus will "destroy wildlife habitat"
The NIMBY lobby have already started protesting against the SuperCAM guided bus. It is claimed that Mere
Fen, Holywell Lake, Swavesey Lake and the surrounding area has valuable wildlife which will be disturbed,
and "fantastic views" will be ruined by passing buses!
There have been complaints from residents in Swavesey that the SuperCAM promoters are not initially
planning to stop buses there.
Hunts Post "Let's boot out the bus": http://www.huntspost.co.uk/man/community/Hunts/asp/BootOutBus.asp.
Cambridge 'superCAM' guided bus may be affected by lack of congestion charges
CHUMMS had made assumptions about congestion charging when identifying benefits of the guided busway,
but Cambridgeshire County Council chairman Keith Walters has announced that London-style congestion
charges will not be levied on Cambridge drivers. However, office parking charges are being considered,
but if employers simply pay the cost on behalf of their employees, it is unlikely to change driving
habits. Parking charges might be reduced out of peak hours.
The idea of charging people less for using the park and ride the more passengers they have in their car
has been suggested by the county council. Pedestrianisation of more city centre streets has been ruled out
because of the problems of deliveries and older people being forced to walk long distances.
Anglia and GB Railways publish "What do you want from your railways in the future?" brochure
The document can be obtained from http://www.anglia-railways.com/brochures/greaterleaflet.pdf
and feedback - plus ideas for service improvements - should be sent by 30th June to Greater Anglia
Franchise Ideas, c/o Jonathan Denby, Anglia Railways, St. Clare House, Princes Street, Ipswich IP1 1LY, or
e-mailed to: email@example.com
A new Anglia/GB Railways brochure for passengers, stakeholders and interested parties asks them what
they want from the new Greater [East] Anglia franchise. The feedback will be used to "ensure that
GB Railways' bid for the franchise reflects the regions and passengers needs".
Anglia press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=278.
Bookshop at Gt.Yarmouth station closes following retirement of bookseller
Anglia Railways are looking for a new tenant for the vacant bookshop at Great Yarmouth station, which
has closed following the retirement of David Watson, who had run the bookshop since 1970.
Hot french fries on sale at Cambridge station
A new "FastFry" vending machine has been installed at Cambridge Station - the first station in the UK -
which dispenses hot french fries, in a paper cone for £1.30, complete with salt and vinegar or ketchup.
The frozen McCain chips are cooked in hot air in just 45 seconds.
Special fares promotion to mark 125th anniversary of the Ipswich to Felixstowe line
The line from Westerfield to Felixstowe Pier opened on May 1st 1877 - 125 years ago. There is to be a
fares promotion for one week to celebrate this and a special train (a Class 170) on Sunday 29th May from
Felixstowe to Sheringham via Ely!
Another vehicle fouls railway line - this time a hot air balloon
Only a few weeks after a microlight landed on the line, on Sunday 24th March a hot air balloon landed near
to the railway at Ashwell and Morden. As the balloon was deflated, a gust of wind blew the canopy onto the
track and a passing train dragged it down the line. Rail services were stopped for a few hours. Richard
Branson was not involved!
RAIL IN THE MEDIA
BBC East programme goes behind the scenes at Peterborough station
On Thursday 28th March at 7.30, the regional BBC-2 programme "Matter of Fact" will look at the "secret
life of Peterborough station" according to the Radio Times. This edition of the programme is sub-titled
Media just loves to bash the railways?
Only a few weeks ago, newspaper front pages reported a train driver who "got lost" - he actually lacked
the route knowledge to proceed over a diversionary route. Last week a similar story involving the pilot
of an aeroplane was relegated to the middle of those newspapers that covered the story.
A new GO pilot travelling from Newcastle to Stansted was unable to land because there was too much fog.
He hadn't been trained to land in fog by his new employer. After circling the airport for an hour, he was
diverted to East Midlands airport, where he landed, another pilot boarded, and flew the aeroplane back
to Stansted. Passengers were many hours late arriving.
North Norfolk Railway to improve parking access at Holt
The North Norfolk Railway have agreed a deal with Gresham School at Holt to purchase a strip of land
on the western boundary of their Holt terminus. This allows the NNR to widen the current track down to
the car park so that two cars can pass.
Royal Scot steam engine awarded lottery grant
According to BBC Ceefax, a National Lottery grant of £300,000 has been awarded to bring the Royal Scot
engine back into working life. It is currently kept at the Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk.
RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS
Costs of redoubling track
Redoubling of some East Anglian lines is required (e.g. Fen Line) but it could be very expensive if Chiltern's
experience is typical.
In 1998 it cost approximately £30m for the redoubling of Chiltern's Princes Risborough to Bicester route
(18 miles), but the Bicester to Aynho line (10 miles) currently being doubled at a cost of £60m.
The line is not electrified, there are no bridge replacements or major tunnel repairs to be carried out.
However, embankments are being repaired and widened; existing track is being realigned, and 15 new signals
are being introduced to reduce the headway to five minutes. Line speed will be raised to 90mph (up) and
The cost allows £7.5m for contingency - so it should cost less than £60m - and
reflects the unusually fast pace at which work is being carried out, says Railtrack engineering manager
Shaun Winfield, in order to have the new line in operation by 10th August, when the southern section
of the West Coast Main Line will be shut for upgrade work.
RAIL ROUTE EXTENSION
Docklands Light Railway extension to city airport given go ahead
Transport Secretary Stephen Byers has given the go ahead to the 3-mile DLR extension from Canning Town to
North Woolwich which will serve London's City Airport. There will be four or five stations on the extension
for which the government has allocated £30m. The operator Serco Docklands Ltd hopes to increase passenger
numbers by 50% to 60 million by 2006.