Activists Briefing Issue 41
17th January 2009
IN THE NEWS
The major news item this month has been a press release about the inflation busting fares increases and urging the government to invest in rail projects. We said that "The time is right, and passengers deserve more now in return for their inflation busting fare increases. Gordon Brown is promising 'green' projects as part of his recovery plan, and these must include rail projects such as electrification. if the government is serious about its green agenda, it needs to be investing heavily in rail, not expanding airports. A few extra coaches are not enough to cure present overcrowding, let alone provide us with a decent railway for the future."
Pressure is also coming from the European Passengers Federation. In a letter to the Prime Minister, they call for "substantial investment in improving public transport" arguing that this will retain and create skilled jobs in the rail industry, and "making greater contribution to tackling environmental problems"
EPF chairman Trevor Garrod said "We are working with MEPS to improve public transport across Europe. There is a real need for better rail infrastructure and increased capacity, especially in the UK. "
On the 2nd Jan Railfuture media spokesman, Bruce Williamson, was interviewed for Radio Five Live about fare increases, and clips of the interview were used in a couple of news bulletins.
On the same day Norman Bradbury spoke for Railfuture in an interview on BBC News Channel (formerly News 24) about fare increases. Norman pointed out that along with the money government spend on rail they also receive substantial sums from the rail industry (Corporation Tax and VAT for example).
Bruce Williamson was interviewed on BBC News Channel (formerly News 24) and on BBC 3 Counties Radio regarding the WCML upgrade.
NEWS FROM RAILFUTURE BRANCHES AND COMMITTEES
Railfuture Wales have submitted a response to the Arriva Trains Wales Consultation on the May- December 2009 timetable. They have also submitted a response to the DfT Minor Modifications consultation.
Ian Jenkins, Railfuture West Midlands Chair, was on ITV Central News on November 26th when he was interviewed by Keith Wilkinson re the closure of the Walsall-W'ton Railway link. Keith is also interested in other ideas by Railfuture, across the Midlands Region.
Nigel Bray, Railfuture Severnside secretary, had two interviews with Gloucestershire Newspapers Group about the fares increase. This resulted in articles in two local papers, which included comments from Nigel. They also had detailed editorials on the intricacies of rail funding which were mainly based on information provided by Nigel. Nigle has also had letters printed in both Gloucestershire Standard and Stroud News and Journal about the ORR refusal to authorise doubling of Kemble to Swindon. Nigel pointed out that this is an essential diversionary route when the Severn Tunnel is closed and that with plans for major housing developments along the route the decision shows a lack of joined up thinking between government bodies.
David Eldridge, Secretary Railfuture Thames Valley, had a letter published in Oxford /times on 15th January pointing out that the plan to link Oxford and Heathrow by rail in 10 years time, via a £4.5 billion station north of the airport is very short on detail. He went on to say “Remember the Oxford-Milton Keynes rail link? Over the past 20 years, 26 consultancies costing £millions have recommended reopening this existing line - enough money to have restarted the trains!”
ELECTION FOR RDS LTD BOARD
Have you thought about standing for election as a director of The Railway Development Society Ltd? The Board meets 4 times a year. In addition directors are expected to take an active interest in some other aspect of the organisation such as committees etc. In the 2009 election the 3 candidates with the highest number of votes will serve for 3 years and the 4th and 5th placed candidates for 1 year. As from the 2009 election all ties will be resolved at the AGM by drawing lots. Nomination forms are available for download from the Railfuture website or by post from Railfuture Returning Officer, P.O.Box 7690, Hinckley, Leicester LE10 9WJ. Completed forms must be returned to the Returning Officer to arrive by 1st February 2009.
YEAR END AND OTHER FINANCIAL MATTERS
David Harby thanks those branches who have already sent him their accounts. The remainder are reminded that your deadline for submission of branch accounts is 31st January 2009. Branch subventions will be paid in late January provided that your branch accounts have been submitted.
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT NEWS
Plans by South West Trains to reduce the opening hours of ticket offices have in large part been rejected by Ministers following public consultation. The rail company had wanted to make radical cuts in its ticket office opening hours at 114 stations.
Transport Minister Andrew Adonis said: "We have acted to protect passengers from unacceptable cuts, ensuring that tickets continue to be easily available and that ticket offices are staffed during busy periods. We have rejected many of the proposed cutbacks in opening hours because we were not convinced they were in passengers' interests. We have also sought an assurance from South West Trains that, where ticket office hours are reduced in periods of very low demand, passengers can still buy a wide range of tickets from machines, with easy helpline support where necessary. In addition we have agreed that there will be no charges for tickets purchased in advance over the internet or phone. I now expect SWT to staff their ticket offices to the agreed level."
South West Trains had wanted to reduce ticket office opening hours at 114 stations across the network, including in many cases over week days, as well as weekends. The Government has rejected proposals by the rail company to reduce hours at offices during times when on average 12 or more tickets are issued hourly. This includes the rejection of around 80% of changes that would have seen no Saturday openings and around 65% of changes that would have seen no Sunday openings.
South West Trains had also proposed altering hours at 105 stations during the midweek period - 53 of these proposals were rejected by Ministers, 14 wholly and 39 in part. Source: http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=389455&NewsAreaID=2
However on 16th January the BBC were reporting that 251 ticket office and platform jobs are to go at SWT. Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7834665.stm
There are some new documents on the DfT website. The following can all be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/results?view=Filter&h=m&m=4552&pg=1 pages 1-5
The container freight end-to-end journey: Analysis of freight through UK international gateways (5 Mb). This analysis illustrates the end-to-end journey of container freight from origin to destination through UK international networks. The report lays out some of the qualitative and quantitative data collected by the Department for Transport and its strategic partners. Published: 22 December 2008
Roll-on roll-off freight end-to-end journey: An analysis of freight through the UK Int gateways (2 Mb). This analysis illustrates the end-to-end journey of roll-on roll-off freight from origin to destination through UK international networks. The report lays out some of the qualitative and quantitative data collected by the Department for Transport and its strategic partners. Published: 22 December 2008
Transposition to the Channel Tunnel of the EU Passenger Rail Liberalisation Directive. This consultation presents and seeks views on a draft Statutory Instrument to implement Directive 2007/58/EC on the liberalisation of international passenger rail services in the Channel Tunnel. Closing date: 17 March 2009
Delivering a sustainable transport system: the logistics perspective (1 Mb). This document follows on from the departments Delivering a Sustainable Transport System. It looks in more detail at the issues concerning the movement of freight within Great Britain. Published: 16 December 2008
Details of the funding and governance arrangements for the Crossrail Project.
There are also numerous documents about the Thameslink project.
The ORR website has more copy letters about ECML service revision. Some recent letters have important points about ECML services and how they impact on other services over a wide area (Liverpool – Norwich, Cross Country etc). All branches with an interest in any service which uses or crosses the ECML are recommended to look at the late 2008 and 2009 letters. http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.9242
PASSENGER FOCUS NEWS
Passenger Focus issued a press release saying that the 2009 rail fare rises were unacceptable and unjustified. A copy is on the PF website. Other recent additions to the website are letters regarding installation of ticket gates at Sheffield and York. See http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/
PF are currently running a poll on their website to find out if you claim compensation when your train is significantly delayed. To take part please follow this link http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/research/polls-and-surveys/?dsid=2094
HOUSE OF COMMONS TRANSPORT COMMITTEE
On 18th December 2008 the House of Commons Transport Committee announced that it will conduct an inquiry into the future of aviation. This will be a strategic inquiry that focuses on the economic, environmental and infrastructure issues. One of the issues they will be addressing is to what extent can rail provide an alternative to short-haul flights. Interested parties are invited to submit evidence by Monday 23 February 2009.
MEGA TRUCKS - THE QUIET BEFORE THE STORM
The No Mega Trucks Campaign newsletter advises that silence from the Europaen Commisiion on the mega trucks issue is a false impression. They say that “The EU-Commission wants to assign another study concerning the admission of mega trucks in Europe. This study shall be available in the second half of 2009 - after the elections in the European Union and during the Swedish EU council presidency. The Swedish government has already announced to use its presidency for an approach in favour of longer and heavier trucks.”
The use of even longer and heavier Gigaliners has recently started in Sweden. The mega trucks, which are used for timber transports, are 90 tons heavy and 30 meters long. Denmark is another European country that sets the Gigaliners free. Since 24 November 2008 the 60 tones heavy and 25 meters long mega trucks are driving across the country. The road transport association Dansk Transport og Logistik (DTL) is expecting 1000 participating longer and heavier trucks. Switzerland and Austria have rejected Gigaliners.
You can subscribe to the No Mega Trucks newsletter from their website. Source: www.nomegatrucks.eu
ATOC have a website outlining the National Pilot Programme for Station Travel Plans. On the website, in the News and Resources section, are the results of the surveys at the pilot stations and a copy of the survey form that was used. See http://www.stationtravelplans.com/
Transport Times the UK’s leading magazine for the transport professional will hold their “Time for High Speed Rail?” conference on 25th March 2009 at the CBI Conference Centre, London. Featuring Lord Andrew Adonis, Minister of State for Transport this event could not be timelier as the Government prepares its proposal for a high-speed rail network. This event will provide delegates with the perfect opportunity to discuss and debate the Government’s thinking on this critical area. If you would like to attend please contact Jane Wilson at Transport Times Events on 0131 556 1500 or to view the full conference programme go to www.transporttimes.co.uk
The RAIB has released its Annual Report which covers the operational period of 2007. This can be found on their website at http://www.raib.gov.uk/publications/annual_report/annual_report_published_in_2008.cfm
A group of Liberal Democrat councillors is urging Lancashire County Council to buy some disused trackbed before it is too late. British Rail residual property company offered the track between Colne and the former county boundary, near New Hague, to the County Council in July 2008. Source: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/pendle/4010645.Council_urged_to_buy_disused_railway/
7th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the European Passengers' Federation will be in Berne, Switzerland on March 14th 2009, The conference in “Integrated transport for passengers”. Details and booking form on the EPF website http://www.epf.eu/
The launch of the Cambridge Misgiuded Bus has been delayed until late summer. Source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=380357
"Spain's High-Speed Trains Win Over Fed-Up Flyers" A headline from the reliably sympathetic Giles Tremlett in Guardian newspaper on 13th January. The Spanish Prime Minister wants to beat the slump by spending on rail. Policy is that 90% of the population should be within 30 miles of a High Speed Rail Station. While the British recently tied themselves in self-defeating knots about whether modal split between Manchester and London is the business of government, the Spaniards are getting on with returning the long distance (300mile +) passenger market to rail.