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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 90 - 15th April 2002  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

The Railfuture national AGM on Saturday 27 April 2002 will have a welcome by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham (not the Sheriff!) and guest speaker from Nottingham Express Transit, probably Stephen Barker. It will be possible to see the track laying work on the NET which is taking place near to the Nottingham Trent University venue.

The Railfuture Reopenings Conference is being held on Saturday 25 May 2002 at the Waterfall Centre, Railway Terrace, opposite Derby Rail Station from 11:15 to 16:15 - free admission but coffee/lunch/booklet is 12.

A date for the 24th National Conference of Rail Users has been set. This is Saturday 5 October 2002 at the Scientific Societies Lecture Theatre in London - same venue as 2001.


Greater [East] Anglia franchise progresses
The SRA will start consultation at end of April. They are looking for general comments (i.e. not: the 0836 must stop at...) and enhancements should be rated in terms of priority. The franchise specification will be issued in summer 2002 and the winner announced in summer 2003. The new owners are likely to take over in 2004 when existing franchises end - although Anglia is on 6-months notice.

The SRA will produce a Core Specification of must have items plus a list of other possible enhancements to be costed and will be agreed subject to a value for money review. The core specification will be based on the existing train service - with possible exception of London CrossLink which is subject to review - and some service/quality/rolling stock enhancements. Given the large profits being made by FGE at present many bidders are expected.

Current RPP applications will continue to be processed and if awarded will go into the specification.


Anglia Railways to refurbish class 86, 150 and 153 trains
Anglia Railways announced at the Colchester RPC meeting that money is being spent on class 86s and class 150 doors to reduce failures. Door problems have reduced from 9 to 5 per month. Class 153 refurbishment will restart in May with each unit being out of use for 6-8 weeks.

The SRA has instructed Anglia and FGE to work together to reduce delays at Liverpool St. There is now a daily conference between the two operators and Railtrack.


ATOC attempts to justify 10 minimum fare for network cards
Railfuture chairman Peter Lawrence has received a letter from Philip Benham, Director Commercial Services at ATOC regarding the 10 minimum charge for Network Railcard. He says: "The main comment made is that the change would discourage travel, which we should be encouraging. ATOC are the first to agree that rail, particularly off-peak travel, should be encouraged. The industry has vigorously marketed rail and introduced a huge range of attractive tickets for this very purpose, but we must encourage rail travel in ways which increase and do not reduce total industry revenue. Any decision to do the opposite is strategic and would require Government decision.

"It was also said that the change would particularly disadvantage some people. We understand this, and we specially promote discounted travel arrangements for key groups: for young people, for people over 60, for families and children, for job seekers. But against this background, the extensive discounts from the current Network Railcard could not be sustained."

ATOC have realised, through the letters and emails received, that many people are unaware of the tickets and discounts already available to encourage off-peak travel. ATOC will work closely with TOCs to market these services (e.g. group travel) more widely in the future.
ATOC press release: http://www.atoc.org/communications/press/press/25_03_02.htm.


Anglia Railways to extend Anglia Plus card to Cambridge-Norwich service
Anglia Railways confirmed at the recent RPC meeting in Colchester that the new Cambridge-Norwich service, which begins in October 2002, will be included in the Anglia Plus travel area. It was not stated whether the 9 price (already increased from 8.50 in 2001) would be increased.


First Great Eastern claim that punctuality is improving - but do the public realise?
Performance figures for punctuality on First Great Eastern trains over the last few months have been around 92%. FGE say that despite their recent television adverts, there is a difference in public perception between those who use the service who think it's good and the the general public who think railways are still awful.

FGE took the opportunity to run longer trains on 13th/14th April whilst the A127 between Rayleigh and Basildon was closed for essential road works. They strengthened the train service to Southend from four coaches to eight all weekend to relieve the pressure on the roads.


Wisbech branch feasibility study planned for Greater [East] Anglia franchise
Conservative M.P. Malcolm Moss [MOSSM@parliament.uk] has been attempting to find funding (believed to be 30,000) for a "pre-feasibility study" for the reopening of the March-Wisbech rail line to passenger services.

The finance has now been achieved by requesting W.H.Atkins (who are doing the A47 corridor "multi-modal study" for the Government) to bring forward a study of the rail link in good time for the decisions on the new franchise arrangements in Autumn 2002. Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council are providing the funding for this additional work.

The first station reopening of 2002 took place on Monday 15th April, when Beauly in the Scottish highlands reopened after 42 years.


Dates announced for London Ipswich Multi-Modal Study exhibitions
LOIS exhibitions are planned for:
* Colchester on 15th/16th April 1630-1900 (15th) 1000-1700 (16th) at Quality Hotel, East Street, Colchester
* Ipswich on 26th/27th April 1000-1700 (to 1600 on 27th) at Corn Exchange, Ipswich
* Harwich on 24th April (1400-1900) 25th (0900-1300) at Cliff Hotel, Marine Parade, Dovercourt.
LOIS web-site:


Railfuture interviewed on BBC local radio
Nick Dibben, Railfuture East Anglia Branch Secretary, was recently interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on plans to put a new road over the former March-Spalding line. He stressed the need to ensure that the rail route could be used for freight in the future if needed.


Norfolk protestors stage demonstration at Thetford station
Members of the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People recently staged a protest at Thetford station demanding that Central Trains provide access to disabled people and those with pushchairs and luggage to cross from one platform to the other. Campaigners have wanted action for twenty years and they plan another protest in three months time.


Windermere branch receives new 10 miles of new track for just 6m
When costing rail reopenings, such as Cambridge to St.Ives, and estimating time scales, it is useful to have figures for similar schemes.

Railtrack has just completed work on the Windermere branch. Ten miles of jointed track was replaced with continuously welded rail and steel sleepers in only 16 days for 6m - just 0.6m per mile. The new track is expected to last 50 years - considerably longer than a concrete busway!


Bedfordshire Railway and Transport Association launch new web-site
The BRTA, which represents Beds - North Bucks - Northants - West Cambs, has launched its first web-site: http://www.brta.org.uk/. The web-site contains a large feature on the East West Rail Link, and the Bedford-Northampton link, including a list of people to lobby.
Membership details: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sbates/brta/join.htm.



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


Snippets 90


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