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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 91 - 6th May 2002  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

The guest speaker at the Railfuture national AGM on Saturday 27 April 2002 was Colin Lea, Communications Officer from Nottingham Express Transit (NET). Following an excellent presentation on NET Line One, and a question and answer session, Mr Lea led a guided walk along part of the route near the Nottingham Trent University venue.

During the AGM, the results of the postal ballots were announced. The majority voted to approve the new constitution and also supported the abolition of the post of General Secretary. The 14-member National Executive now comprises the following people:
CHAIRMAN - Mr Peter Lawrence (East Anglia)
VICE-CHAIRMAN - Mr Ray King (London & South East)
TREASURER - Mr Tony Sheward (East Midlands)
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Mrs Elisabeth Jordan (East Midlands)
Ms Clara Zilahi (East Anglia)
Mr Andrew MacFarlane (North West)
Mr Ian McDonald (London & South East)
Mr Alan Bevan (Midlands)
Mr Keith Dyall (London & South East)
Mr Richard Pout (London & South East)
Mr David Redgewell (Severnside)
Mr David Harby (Lincolnshire)
Mr Peter Kenyon (North East)
Mr Mike Crowhurst (Yorkshire)

At the AGM Peter Lawrence announced that Alix Stredwick, who had recently been working just one day a week for Railfuture, had resigned. Railfuture has recruited a replacement, Jen Glavovic, who is now working in the London office, and can be contacted via phone or e-mail: [info@railfuture.org.uk]. Jen is currently trying to gather together details of Railfuture's recent campaigning and fundraising activities, both successful and not. In the near future she hopes to put together a questionnaire in order to gain a detailed profile of exactly who Railfuture's members are. This should help ensure that Railfuture is reflecting the issues important to members.


Investors "eager to fund" East West Rail Link
According to the Hunts Post, major investors have jumped aboard the 150 million plus project to reinstate the Cambridge-Oxford direct rail link.

It quotes East West Consortium Project Manager, Chris Hayward: "We are looking to put in a Rail Passenger Partnership bid by the last week of May, and we understand it will be favourably received. We have a greater understanding of the rail authority's view on the matter now and have addressed all their concerns."

He continues: "We are looking at private investors paying for the infrastructure - the track and signals - with the SRA contributing funding to operate the train services. Our bid is for not less than 100,000 but not more than 5 million over three years. I am about 70 per cent confident that we can deliver the whole route by 2006 but very confident that the first trains will run from Oxford to Bedford and back to Bristol by September 2003."

In August 2001. the SRA claimed the scheme was "uneconomic in terms of value for money and likely usage, even taking into account reductions in road congestion."


Anglia Railways offers improved services in summer 2002 timetable
Anglia Railways has already (early May) started distributing the summer 2002 (2nd June to 28th September) timetables for its local and mainline services. One of the Basingstoke to Ipswich Crosslink trains will be extended to Norwich; an additional Liverpool Street to Norwich serviced will run to Great Yarmouth and the mid-afternoon Norwich-Cromer service introduced in 2001 will be extended to Sheringham.

The Cambridge-Bury St.Edmunds cheap day return fare has been cut from 7.50 to 6.50 according to the timetable brochure - Anglia's enquiry service at Norwich have confirmed that this is not a printing error.

Remarkably, Anglia have failed to take the opportunity to announce to travellers the imminent start of the Cambridge-Norwich service (commencing October) in the brochures.


WH Smith launches '2 for 1' rail voucher in association with train operating companies
The first national rail promotion for over ten years allows customers of WH Smith spending more than 10 (from 22nd April to 21st May) away from the railway to obtain a 2 for 1 rail voucher.

In order to attract non-rail travellers to the rail network, the vouchers are not available from stores at stations. Tickets can be used for travel between 22nd April-30th May and 10th June-7th July 2002.


WAGN claim that driver training is on target
Following a large amount of critical correspondence, WAGN have produced some answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" about on-going problems.

WAGN say that they are 20 drivers short amongst those based at Hitchin, Peterborough and King's Cross but have 38 in training, of which 23 will have begun driving by the end of June. WAGN blame 32 speed restrictions as the cause for poor punctuality, but hope that Railtrack's plans to introduce preventative maintenance will reduce the number of new restrictions added.


Budgens store to open at Norwich station
A new Budgens outlet will be opening in two of the retail spaces adjacent to the ticket hall at Norwich station on 17th May. The store will be open from 06:00-23:00 on Monday-Saturday and 07:00-22:00 on Sunday.

There are still many unused retail spaces at most of Anglia's larger stations, though a dry cleaning service "Pressed Express" [www.pressedexpress.co.uk] opened at Ipswich a few months ago.


Lorry jumps lights at ungated level crossing is hit by train
Fifty-six passengers and two crew members were aboard a two-carriage 09:05 Lowestoft to Ipswich train which hit the rear of a lorry at Blaxhall level crossing on the East Suffolk Line in April. It was reported that the lorry driver told police the sun was in his eyes, and he could not hear the warning siren.
News article: http://www.railnews.co.uk/2002/05_may/news/news02.html.

Man on line at Great Shelford hit by train
A man died when he was struck by the 21:45 Stansted Airport to Cambridge in Great Shelford on Saturday 20th April.


Stephen Byers "excited" by guided busway proposal
Transport Secretary Stephen Byers - the man assigned the task of rejuvenating Britain's railways - is reportedly going to back a proposal to close them down!

According to the Cambridge Evening News, Byers has hinted that he will back the "exciting plans" for a Cambridge-to-Huntingdon guided bus on the St.Ives railway line. Cambridge MP Anne Campbell [anne.campbell.mp@dial.pipex.com] promoted the plans in Transport Questions in the House of Commons in late April, and urged the Secretary of State to back the plans for a guided bus. He reportedly said "We are looking carefully at the proposals that have come from the multi-modal study and will make decisions shortly. The proposal...is exciting."

CPRE raise questions about viability of St.Ives line busway
The leading article in the magazine of the local branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England was recently mentioned in the Cambridge Evening News.

The CPRE say there are still many questions to be answered about how the scheme will work: "The guided buses will run on a segregated busway as far as Cambridge Science Park but will then use local roads to access the city centre. It is here that they will get caught up in traffic, unless clear bus lanes are provided.

According to superCAM it will take just 42 minutes from St Ives park and ride to Trumpington park and ride. This includes nine stops on the route. These timings are theoretical and assume that local councillors will agree to provide adequate priority measures within the city." In response, a superCAM spokesman said "we are confident we can achieve the 42-minute run providing the necessary traffic management measures are in place".

The CPRE also questions the wisdom of locating a proposed 1,000 space park and ride site at St Ives on the flood plain.

Nottingham ruled out "tram on tyres" busway in favour of proper tram system
At the Railfuture AGM, the NET representative was asked why Nottingham did not go for a guided busway system.

The spokesman said that the busway was not any cheaper. Buses consistently failed to attract car drivers. Only a tram could carry the number of people that they need to get off the roads. Tram lines down the street gave people the confidence that the service would be permanent, whereas a bus service could be withdrawn at any moment.


Rail Passengers Committee for Eastern England criticise Cambridge and Huntingdon stations
The RPC's Integrated Transport Station Survey has criticised Cambridge railway station for poor signs, the lack of a left luggage office and no tourist information. Brian Cooke, RPC member, commenting on the November 2001 visit said: "Given that Cambridge is a popular tourist destination, we are astonished the station does not have a left luggage office, luggage trolleys or cash machines."

Mr Cooke added: "We found Cambridge station to be well-kept and the recent introduction of a waiting room will be of benefit to passengers. But, there is no signage at the station for the pedestrian route to the town (sic) centre. This must be improved - simple and effective signage is one of the key elements integrating the station with the community it serves." A WAGN spokesman said they have "70,000 for extensive redecoration of which 20,000 will be used to improve signage."

The survey also found that information at Huntingdon station was poor: a limited map on platform two with no sign to the bus station. The route from the station was poorly lit and only partially covered by CCTV, with no see passenger lifts provided on platform three. Although there are pedestrian crossings not all had drop kerbs to help disabled travellers or families with buggies.

RPC member Peter Bayless praised Ely station for "a step free route to the Way Out, clear signage and a good level of passenger facilities on all platforms, which helps to make Ely welcoming and easy to negotiate."


New method for modelling freight techniques worldwide
Trumpington transport consultancy ME&P is leading a consortium commissioned by the Government to review freight modelling techniques worldwide. The aim is to find out the best route for Britain and the review will focus on road and rail freight, but taking into account air, coastal and international shipping, inland waterways and pipelines. Special attention will be given to light goods vehicles, modelling for which is still in its infancy in the UK, ME&P says. Results will be presented to the Integrated Transport Economics and Appraisal division of the Department of Transport this summer and are likely to form the basis for the nation's new national freight model.

Neil Raha of ME&P explained that the exercise was about working out infrastructure needs, for instance what would happen if more town centres were barred to trucks and road charging introduced.


Web-site set-up to promote station reopening at Deeping St.James, Lincolnshire
There have been plans to reopen Deeping St James station since 1992, but only lately has Deeping St James Parish Council started the ball rolling. Railtrack estimated the reopening at 1 million but this has since been lowered. See [http://www.reginaldparm2u.supanet.com/] .

Friends of the Earth launch web-site to campaign for more funding for Britain's railways
Friends of the Earth have launched a web-site [http://www.stoptrainrobbery.com] for their campaign to persuade Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to release more funds for investment in Great Britain's railways.

ATOC encourages movie buffs to visit railway locations
A new web-site [http://www.reeltorail.co.uk] from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) offers movie buffs the chance to visit, by rail, the locations of their favourite films across the UK.



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


Snippets 91


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