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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 97 - 25th July 2002  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

Railfuture members will have recently received a letter from marketing director Kate Tudor-Pole about the Rail Users Conference and leaving money to Railfuture. Although Kate left Railfuture a few months ago, she has returned on a temporary basis, since her replacement Jen Glavovic (mentioned in Snippets 91) did not take up a permanent position.

The GB Railways PLC AGM has now been confirmed for Wednesday 21st August, 11am at the offices of Investec Henderson Crosthwaite, 2 Gresham Street, London, EC2. This is the same venue as last year.

There is a Rail Passengers Council public meeting on Wednesday 11th September at Congress Centre, London, which will discuss the RPC response to the SRA's consultation on fares (see below); the best time for possessions and implementing European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

The next RPC Eastern England public meeting will be on Tuesday 10th December in Lincoln at the White Hart Hotel.

The branch have been offered a free indoor stand at Impington Village College on Thursday 12th September between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. This should provide an opportunity to help promote the St.Ives railway line to villagers.

On Saturday 23rd November 2002 at the Ely Maltings, there will be the Peterborough-Norwich Rail Users Association meeting at 11:15 and the Fen-Line Users Association AGM at 14:00. at the latter, Chris Austin of the SRA will be the guest speaker and James Adeshiyan, WAGN's Great Northern route director, will be part of the question and answer session afterwards.

Tony Albert hopes to provide future editions of Rail East by e-mail in PDF format. Anyone wishing to receive it this way - which will save the branch money - should contact Tony at the address at the top of this newsletter.

Chris Hayward, who is the project officer for the East West Rail Link, has recently been ill and is not yet back at work, hence anyone who recently wrote to him will not have had a reply. At the meeting in Ipswich the branch agreed to send a message wishing him a speedy recovery, via Ipswich Borough Council.


ST.IVES LINE

Cambridgeshire County Council completes six-month study of guided busway and comes out in favour!
Cambridgeshire County Council has completed the six-month study of the superCAM guided busway proposals on the Cambridge-St.Ives railway line, as requested by the government, and has unsurprisingly found overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals. The safest bet of the year! In a council meeting on 23rd July it met to approve the proposal.

The Cambridge Evening News, in the hype of the century, has claimed that "the guided bus is set to make Cambridgeshire's rush-hour gridlock a thing of the past". The Cambridge Town Crier, its sister paper, claimed the busway was a "high-speed link", despite the superCAM web-site stating it would travel at only 70km/h, which is 43 mph.

The County Council believes that "by 2016 it will transport 18,000 people a day." Assuming that means 18,000 different people, so 36,000 journeys a day, that would be 3,000 people per hour from 7am to 7pm. At peak time there could be 6,000 travelling, which would require a minimum of 100 buses. It is claimed that buses could potentially leave St Ives or Trumpington every 30 seconds if there was sufficient demand.

The county council have now dropped any pretence of a "phase II" to the Cambridge station running along the mainline ever happening. An on-road section will be used, but in order for the promoters to get their buses into Drummer Street, councillors have alleged that pavements will be removed from in front of people's houses and part of Christ's Pieces will be taken.

Following fierce criticism from Huntingdon, the proposed busway will now go to Huntingdon from day one and councillors there have called for links between guided bus, normal bus and trains at the railway station. But Coun Shona Johnstone, county council cabinet member for environment and transport, said the present intention is for guided buses to go to the current bus station, where there is limited car parking.

The scheme is now expected to cost 73m (of which 8m is contingency), despite the superCAM promoters sating 55m just four months ago during their public consultation. Furthermore, government will be expected to find all of this money, rather than just half as the promoters previously claimed. The scheme will be independent of the proposed Oakington development and will go ahead even if the new town does not.

It is claimed that journeys from Huntingdon to Cambridge city centre will take 45 minutes, with an extra four minutes to Cambridge station. It will supposedly have "advanced traffic lights that know when the bus is coming and change so that the bus jumps to the head of the queue".

The council claim the guided bus will be "quick, safe, and capable of running at a profit and would certainly not become a drain on the county's tax payers, becoming cost-effective by 2011".

According to councillor Johnstone, "Cynics have compared us to other parts of the country where rapid transit hasn't worked, or ask why can't we have a tram like Croydon or Manchester? It is like trying to compare apples and pears, Croydon and Manchester are not Cambridge and Huntingdon and this is the best thing for the area." She did concede that "here is a huge amount still to be done, especially with the finer detail of the plans."

However, the rail route is not lost, yet. In the same week, a new passenger airport at Alconbury was proposed. Rail access will be essential, and the government proposes a spur from the ECML. Since it is just north of Huntingdon, it would make much more sense for a Cambridge-St.Ives-Huntingdon-Alconbury rail route to be opened. This will offer a fast simple connection with Stansted. An East West Rail Link from St.Neots to Bedford would also allow good connections between Alconbury and Luton Airport.

Cynics have claimed that the Labour government have chosen Alconbury because it is in a rock solid Conservative constituency so there are few votes to be lost by putting it there.
Cambs County busway details: http://atoz1.camcnty.gov.uk/external/resources/commins/
reptrack.nsf/c3cf865e3cc1131380256a6b0037e439/857afceaa17f563b80256bf800517c0c?OpenDocument

Alconbury airport proposals: http://www2.aviation.dft.gov.uk/aviation/consult/airconsult/se/pdf/summary.pdf.


TRAIN OPERATING COMPANIES

Potential takeover causes GB Railways share price rise
GB Railways share price rocketed from 45p to 80p almost overnight following speculation of a takeover. The price leapt on 9th July and reached a peak of 80p on Monday 15th July, though the mid-price now stands at 72.5p.

Freightliner's holding company, Management Consortium Bid Ltd (MCB), held preliminary talks with GB Railways to tie up with GB Railfreight, but talks had ended, and it was now talking to a small number of potential partners about a possible joint bid for the whole of GB Railways. However, a spokesman for GB Railways said: "You can never say never, but GB railways is not up for a sale."

Around the same time GB Railways and Connex Transport UK Ltd announced that they are joining forces in partnership as Rail Wales Ltd to bid for the Wales & Borders passenger rail franchise to be submitted to the SRA on 12th July 2002. Rail Wales Ltd Managing Director, Jim Morgan, a senior executive of GB Railways will lead the bid team. Both companies had already pre-qualified for the bidding process.


SRA REPORT

SRA publishes annual report for 2001/2002
On 18th July, the SRA published its annual report for 2001/2002 (120 pages), which covers SRA and rail activity for the past year, plus financial details of all the TOCs, and a section on British Railways Board residual property.

The report shows that the SRA made a 280,000 severance payment to ex-chief executive Mike Grant. It made 1,088m of payments to the TOCs and received 211m back, making a net payment of 877m. One of the largest net contributors was First Great Eastern who made a net payment of 25.1m. Anglia paid 2.3m whilst WAGN received 15m.

The subsidy per passenger kilometre in East Anglia was: c2c 2.1p, WAGN 1.1p. FGE paid the SRA 1.1p and Anglia paid 0.3p. In the previous year, Anglia had received a subsidy of 2.5p, and the change was a result of declining subsidy over the life of the franchise, which was unsustainable, and next year Anglia will receive a subsidy once again. The average subsidy across the country is 3.3p per passenger kilometre, with the most expensive TOC being Island Line at 36.9p, which Stagecoach wishes to replace with a guided busway.

In the year, there were 2,053m passenger kilometres on WAGN services (328,148 trains), 1,785m on FGE (257,937 trains), 799m on c2c (99,518 trains) and 774m on Anglia (70,076 trains).

The report also lists enforcements of franchise agreements made against the TOCs. There were no significant breaches of franchise by the TOCs in the Railfuture East Anglian branch area, although the SRA made two against FGE (for changes to the timetable with insufficient notice and not providing timetable details to Anglia at Ipswich station early enough) and one against WAGN (failure of staff to use public address system at New Southgate). FGE and WAGN each also committed one breach which did not affect passengers. Anglia Railway escaped without any enforcement order.
SRA 2001/2 annual report: http://www.sra.gov.uk/sra/publications/annual_reports/2002/report_index.htm


GREATER [EAST] ANGLIA FRANCHISE

Rail Passengers Committee ignores feedback from public consultation on new franchise
The Rail Passengers Committee for Eastern England received 34 responses to its consultation draft on the Greater Anglia franchise, but the final version, forwarded to Richard Bowker at the SRA, contained virtually no changes.

Apart from the word 'should' being replaced by 'must' throughout, the only significant change was that the RPC has now decided that Ely station should remain under WAGN's management, contrary to its earlier view. The final document has a few subtle changes, such as improving capacity at "a number of stations" rather than just Cambridge and Ipswich; running earlier as well as later trains; suggesting some improvements "within 10 to 15 years" instead of "within 15 years"; clarification of the need for both regulated fares and conditions to be maintained and additional obligations upon the TOC to operate rail-link buses.

No infrastructure enhancements, new stations or new services were added, despite Railfuture members suggesting them. According to secretary Guy Dangerfield, the RPC did not snub these views. They were merely "not relevant" to the highly-prescriptive "core franchise proposition", which is what the RPC document was intended to cover.

The SRA have announced that the formal specification for the Greater [East] Anglia franchise has been delayed by two months.


RAIL PASSENGERS COMMITTEE PUBLIC MEETINGS

Rail Passengers Committee meeting held in King's Lynn on 23rd July
The Rail Passengers Committee for Eastern England was held at King's Lynn Town Hall on 23rd July, with around 31 members of the public in attendance. Guest speakers were Nick Brown, newly appointed managing director of Central Trains (previously at ScotRail), Dominic Booth, MD of WAGN, c2c (and Silverlink), John Wiseman, Railtrack General Manager for West Anglia and Chief Superintendent Peter Hilton of the BTP, making their first visit to an RPC EE meeting.

Little newsworthy information was revealed at the meeting. Central Trains have been losing money against their plan, partially because of strikes by Arriva, which affect other operators owing to lack of passenger confidence in rail and lack of connections. Whilst they have been losing off-peak travel (i.e. discretionary travel), the peak-time travel is still growing. This is causing overcrowding and Central intend to revise fares to encourage people to shift from peak to off-peak, though this might merely reduce rail travel overall.

WAGN will have 20 new drivers being productive in August and September and they finally expect to have a full contingent of drivers by September 2002, providing that drivers on long term sick leave are back at work. WAGN have recently recruited 60 revenue protection officers. Mr Booth revealed WAGN performance figures for the last three periods, the last of which, upto 22nd June are:
* GN Inners: 84.52% punctuality, 98.98% reliability
* GN Outers: 69.37% punctuality, 98.82% reliability
* WA Inners: 77.20% punctuality, 99.50% reliability
* WA Outers: 80.12% punctuality, 98.83% reliability

In terms of station improvements, WAGN have obtained land from Railtrack for more car parking at Sandy and intend to repaint all stations before the end of the franchise. WAGN are discussing a two-year franchise extension with the SRA. Whilst four years would make more sense, to coincide with the start of Thameslink 2000, the SRA is only legally allowed to offer two year extensions.


RAIL SERVICES

Anglia Railways unveil new rolling stock for Cambridge-Norwich station
The first of the new 100mph Turbostar diesel trains was unveiled on 9th July by Anglia Railways at Norwich station. Members of Railfuture leaving the branch meting at Ipswich on 13th July were able to see one of the new 2-car trains at Ipswich station.

Additional early/late services on Stansted Express
From the start of the summer timetable, WAGN have been starting the Stansted Express service from London to Stansted at 04:30 from Friday to Monday, and finishing at 23:30 on Thursday to Sunday. In the other direction there are now 00:30 and 05:30 services from Friday to Monday. On Sundays the every 15-minutes services starts earlier in both directions.

Central Trains conducts its biggest ever survey of passengers
Central Trains are sending mailshots to 500,000+ homes along the Liverpool to Norwich route both to help publicise the service and also to obtain comments from existing and prospective passengers.

They have also undertaken a week-long on-train survey, the biggest ever carried out by Central Trains, on passengers travelling between Peterborough and Norwich. Around 2,250 passengers were able to comment on and prioritise various aspects of the train travelling experience including customer service, cleanliness and station facilities.

Lynne Andreae, head of marketing at Central Trains, said: "Punctuality, more information about connecting services, temperature control on trains, cleaner carriages, more space for prams and even televisions on trains were all mentioned. However, we were also pleased to see comments about the politeness and helpfulness of our staff and on the excellence of the service."

Central Trains also have an on-line feedback questionnaire: http://www.centraltrainsfeedback.co.uk which can be filled out until 31st August. One lucky respondent will receive free train travel on Central Trains services for a year, with four runners-up receiving six months travel.

Central are also promoting visits to Ely in Partnership with East Cambs council, Peterborough via its city council, and also visits to 13 market towns in the east. It has also appointed a batch of student ambassadors.

Various RPP bids being progressed
First Great Eastern have submitted an RPP bid for an all year round Sunday service on the Sudbury branch. Meanwhile, WAGN are progressing bids for car parking at various Fen-Line stations. The SRA are increasingly looking for match funding for all RPP bids.

There is no news yet on Anglia Railways' bid for increased services on rural branch lines including the Cambridge-Ipswich route. However, the mothballed Kennett signal box has recently had new PVC wall covering and double-glazing, and it is now open most days, allowing more than one train on the line between Chippenham Junction and Bury St.Edmunds.


GOVERNMENT FUNDING

Gordon Brown announces Comprehensive Spending Review
On Monday 15th July, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced to the Commons his future spending plans. He pledged a 12% annual real-terms jump in transport spending by 2006 and promised that ministers would make it a priority to speed up the planning process in building new roads, improving rail lines and extending airports. Total funding for transport will rise from 7.7bn in 2002 to 11.6bn by 2006.

Stephen Joseph of Transport 2000, said: "At first glance transport seems to have done well out of the spending review. But this is money simply recycled from previous announcements."

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said: "This settlement will allow us to take forward the delivery of the government's Ten Year Plan for transport and the safe, efficient and reliable transport system the public demands." Rail campaigners should note the lack of a specific mention of 'rail' in that message.

The spending review also allows for a 125m cash injection for voluntary groups across the UK, which could include pro-rail groups such as Railfuture. Before this money can be given, a new legal framework must be put in place.
BBC News Article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_2129000/2129368.stm.

Imbalance between road and rail funding
Richard Bowker has, in a recent interview, expressed doubts that East West Rail east of Bedford could be justified financially. He looked only at farebox revenue and not financial benefits to UK PLC or quality of life improvements for travellers, or environmental benefits

His colleagues in the Highways Agency have no such doubts about their current project in the same corridor i.e. the so-called Great Barford Bypass A428. A visit to the Highways Agency website, shows that the scheme is justified because 23,000 vehicles a day pass through the village. What it fails to justify, according to Ivan Ivanovic, is why a single carriageway road passing though the village less than two kilometres long should be supplemented by a dual carriageway of 7.8 kilometres.

Readers may wish to note that, this "bypass" is part of a much bigger "Motorway by Stealth" scheme: The recently published LSM-MMS recommends a dualling of the A421/428 all the way from Cambridge to Milton Keynes.
Highways Agency bypass info: http://www.highways.gov.uk/news/press_releases/a421/25_02_2002.htm.


STATIONS

St.Neots South station proposed by Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrats on St Neots Town Council want the East West Rail Link to run from Bedford to St Neots to serve people in the town who commute to work and also to cope with future demand from new houses east of the railway line at Cambourne. Ian Taylor, spokesperson for St Neots Lib Dems, said: "We will be preparing a full submission arguing for the northern route with a rail/bus interchange at a new St Neots South Station."

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrats on the town council have called for a multi-storey car park for St.Neots station on land east of the railway near the station, which will soon have houses on it. They say that the developers have an obligation to build local amenities - under the so called 106 agreement rule - and should be made to build a multi-storey car park. However, the Conservatives oppose this and say "the rules are very strict about what you can ask developers to build as part of the 106 agreement and you can't ask them to provide a solution to a problem that already existed before they arrived."


RAIL FARES

SRA undertakes review of rail fares as cheaper option to upgrading rail system
The Strategic Rail Authority has initiated a rail fares review, precipitated by the RPC, which it says is needed to tackle over-crowding on some routes and raise revenue for investment. Richard Bowker writes in its "Future Fares Policy - seeking your views" consultation exercise that "A coherent and transparent fares policy that balances the different needs of policy, (both passengers and operators) and funders, including taxpayers is critical to any plan for any development of the national rail network."

The SRA suggests raising fares on the busiest lines at the busiest times, and cutting fares on of off-peak commuter routes. It believes that sustained 1% below inflation caps may have contributed to overcrowding, and proposes relaxing these price controls, claiming that taxpayers have been increasingly subsidising commuters. The consultation period lasts for three months (to 11th October, 2002). No decisions will be made until summer 2003, and changes would be effective from 2004.

Railfuture has already sent out a press release calling for more fares to be reduced - to enable rail to be competitive with cars - rather than returning to BR-style increases to damp down demand, and a more simplistic fare structure. Railfuture also called for improved marketing of rural routes, upgrading of routes to increase capacity, and reopening of lines. Transport 2000 has condemned fare increases as "outrageous".
BBC News article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_2137000/2137104.stm
SRA Press Release: http://www.sra.gov.uk/sra/news/releases/other/20020719_bowker_initiates_debate_on_fares_policy_.html.


BENEFITS OF RAIL TRAVEL

Steer Davis Gleave argues that railways saves Britain 3bn a year
According to a report called "The Case for Rail" by Steer Davis Gleeve released on 21st July, the railways are 'saving Britain 3bn a year' through environmental and safety benefits. The railways help to reduce both road congestion and the number of car crash victims.

The report - the first to quantify the huge hidden advantages of rail - says passenger services are worth 1.9bn in social benefits and freight trains a further 1bn. It estimates the rail industry directly provides 130,000 jobs, with another 800,000 employed in dependent businesses.

Stephen Joseph, director of Transport 2000, which commissioned the study said: "This report shows that the railways are often the key to economic growth and an enhanced quality of life. For too long rail has been the poor relation, considered to lack the importance of road transport and the glamour of air. It is time to realise that rail is fundamentally good for us."

The Association of Train Operating Companies, which is not known for commissioning pro-rail studies, said "The industry has always known that it has a much more important role than carrying passengers and freight around the UK. This report finally puts a robust numerical value to the importance of rail in building our economy, protecting the environment and encouraging social interaction."

Earlier in 2002, the Institute of Directors called for the closure of large stretches of the country's railways, saying that the only way to make the network viable was to shrink it, but "The Case for Rail" claims the IoD's findings that "railways are marginal to the economy, transport and tourism, are used mainly by the well-off" run "against assertions made by some analysts and academics".

Whilst condemning low-used rail services to closure, the Institute of Directors made no mention of closing little used roads on economic grounds - the sort that connect country mansions to the rest of the road network!
Independent article on study: http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=316982.


RAIL ACCIDENTS

Cyclist dies after being hit by train at Bottisham Lock level crossing
Late on 6th July, a cyclist was killed when he was hit by the 11.15 King's Cross to King's Lynn WAGN train at the AHB level crossing at Bottisham Lock just north of Waterbeach station. The line was closed for around two hours.

WAGN arrange for replacement for train involved in Potters Bar accident
WAGN have hired a Class 365 replacement from Connex. It is currently being converted for overhead power, and will be deployed in early August. The three largely undamaged carriages will be repaired, and a new fourth carriage will be added, using a spare Class 365 trailer.

Railfuture national chairman interviewed by region's media following recent rail accidents
Peter Lawrence was interviewed by BBC Radio Essex and BBC Radio Norfolk (twice) also Anglia Television about the Manningtree freight train/lorry Crash. His comments were reported in the Eastern Daily Press. Peter also recorded a radio interview with Star Radio of Cambridge on the HSE report following Potters Bar crash.


RAIL FREIGHT

More freight from Felixstowe
It has been reported that Maersk Sealand the international shipping company based at Felixstowe, will use Freightliner to send an extra 16,000 containers by rail to Widnes each year. This will increase the independent rail freight operator's services from the port to 14 each day. The train will consist of 12 standard flats and 12 low platform wagons. This additional flow will raise Maersk's rail shipments from the port to over 100,000 boxes each year and take 16,000 lorry journeys off the road network.


RAIL JOBS

Cotswold Rail looks to recruit loco fitters for a site in Norwich
Cotswold Rail, the private Company which specialises in refurbishing old mainline traction and multiple units for use on Network Rail, recently placed an advertisement in the Cambridge Evening News for fitters to work in Norwich.

They claim to offer an excellent salary and package, a company vehicle (presumably road based - the ad isn't specific; although a Class 47 sitting on the drive at home would certainly upset the usual Mondeo versus Vectra competition!). Those interested can apply by calling 01453 544704 or e-mail jo@costwoldrail.com.


WEB-SITES

All recent editions of Railwatch magazine now available on the Railwatch web-site
Railwatch back issues have been updated (after a long period) on the Railwatch web-site. All editions are now n PDF format. Copies of each page of Railwatch in colour. See http://www.railwatch.org.uk/backtrack.

"Transport Briefing" web-site provides newsletters which promote non-road based transport
Free weekly newsletters, updated every Tuesday, promoting non-road based transport can be obtained from http://www.transportbriefing.co.uk, by registering your e-mail address. The web-site also has back issues dating back to March 2002.

Train-Taxi web-site receives funding from National Express and SRA
The http://www.traintaxi.co.uk web-site guided to taxis serving all train/tram/metro/underground stations in Great Britain, which has been around for a year or two, has been awarded 48,000 of funding from National Express and the Strategic Rail Authority.

Those travelling within London may also care to consult the index of licensed London minicab operators (arranged by Borough) recently compiled and publicised by the London Mayor and Assembly. See: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/pco/ph_ops_list.shtml.
SRA Press Release: http://www.sra.gov.uk/sra/news/releases/rpp/20020709_sra_funding_for_traintaxi_scheme.html.

Voluntary and Community Sector Grants website launched in UK
A "pilot" UK Government website http://www.volcomgrants.gov.uk provides information for voluntary and community organisations on the grants available from five Government Departments:
* Home Office
* Department for Education and Skills
* Department for Transport
* Department of Health and the
* Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

New web-site for kids who love trains
A new web-site called http://www.trakkies.co.uk has been launched, by the National Railway Museum and ATOC, for kids who love trains. Definitely for those kids under the age of ten.

 
 
 


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  Railfuture  is the campaigning name for
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Snippets 97

 

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25-JUL-2002