East Anglia Branch News - Snippets Issue 63 - 27/06/2001

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News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture, Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson.

Railfuture News Snippets 63 - 27/06/2001

Much of this edition is Snippets is taken up with the week's main news that despite the branch's twenty-five year campaign, the Cambridge to St.Ives rail line risks being lost to a guided busway.

An internet discussion area [http://pub.alxnet.com/forum?id=1002296] for this branch has been set-up if you wish to discuss this and other rail issues.

GO-East and Mouchel announce guided busway as preferred solution for A14 congestion at press conference

On Monday 25th June, Caroline Bowdler, director of planning and transport for the Government Office for the East of England and a director from Mouchel Consulting Ltd announced the preferred solution from the CHUMMS study. It recommends that the A14 should be widened near Cambridge and then re-routed from Fenstanton past Huntingdon and that a new guided bus system would run on the "redundant" Cambridge-St Ives railway line.

The recommendations - estimated to cost £261 million to implement, comprising £192 million to build the extra lanes and new stretch of road, £56 million for the public transport schemes, and £13 million in other costs - allow for:

  • Widening the A14 to three lanes each way on its existing route westwards past Bar Hill
  • Widening the road to three lanes along the Cambridge Northern Bypass as well, as far as the Fen Ditton junction
  • Re-routing part of the road with a new three-lane stretch running south of Fenstanton, Godmanchester, Huntingdon and Brampton
  • Using the Cambridge-St Ives railway line as a guided busway, with extensions to Godmanchester and Huntingdon and through Cambridge itself to Trumpington and Addenbrooke's Hospital
  • Creating new roads parallel to the widened A14 to the west of Girton interchange for local traffic, with modifications to junctions 13 and 14 of the M11
  • More investment in promoting the use of public transport, cycling and walking, in preference to cars.

Mrs Bowdler, who chaired the steering group that has overseen the study team's work, said: "The full study report is not due to be issued until the end of July. It is our preferred plan for what should happen in the A14 transport corridor. This is the end of the study, but not the story. The Regional Planning Body will be considering the plan over the next few months and will decide in the autumn whether to recommend it to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Councillor Shona Johnstone, Cambridgeshire County Council's cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "We welcome the proposals, including using the redundant rail line as a busway. I hope the Government will press on and put these measures in place as soon as possible. We have wasted enough time."

Ivan Ivanovic, representing the CPRE, briefly appeared on both BBC East and Anglia TV news bulletins on Monday 25th June. He raised issues about road building and criticised the decision to build a busway rather than rail which would serve freight.

Timescales before implementation of CHUMMS recommendations and the public's chance to change outcome

The Steering Group (chaired by GO-East and supported by a Technical Consultative Group) will present the Preferred Plan to the East of England Local Government Conference (the Regional Planning Body) on 27th June at the meeting of the Regional Planning Panel. The Panel will not be making a decision on the Plan at that meeting but will simply be asked to agree the process for handling the recommendations. The Steering Group will then formally sign off the full study report by the end of July.

If the study plan is approved by the Government, work could start within five years on the guided busway and extensions to other public transport provision like extra park-and-ride facilities. Then work would start on sorting out the local roads. Widening of the existing A14 would follow that, and finally the new road-building work would get under way. That could all be 10 years or more away.

The city council, district councils and county council will all be asked for their views on the plan by the Regional Planning Body, which is composed of elected members (councillors) representing District, County and Unitary Authorities in the East of England. It is responsible for producing regional planning guidance, including a regional transport strategy, which set the frameworks within which all major planning and transport decisions for the region should be taken

The public can pass on comments by writing to the councils. Around 95,000 households and 8,000 businesses in the study area will receive details of the plan, by post, in a special newsletter in the week beginning 22nd July.

The Regional Planning Body will consider the Preferred Plan in the context of the emerging regional transport strategy and current regional planning guidance before making recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, which is likely to happen in Autumn 2001.

Railfuture issues press release to media prior to CHUMMS announcement of preferred solution

On Wednesday 20th June, Railfuture pre-empted the CHUMMS announcement with a press release to media in East Anglia.

Railfuture argued that the reopened railway linked into the national railway network along with improved bus services provides the best option for improving public transport for both local and long distance journeys, but feared that the recent disruption on the railways and lack of interest by Railtrack in reopening the line will mean that the CHUMMS study will favour guided bus instead.

Railfuture wants to see evidence that the following issues have been addressed:

  1. Route into Cambridge: The CHUMMS options showed the busway running adjacent to the railway from Chesterton into the station. Railfuture do not believe there is room to do this.
  2. Busway technology: Earlier this year the new busway in Nancy, France had to be shut down after just a few weeks following a series of failures in the guidance system which resulted in buses running out of control.
  3. Serving the villages: The high cost and long length of the guided busway vehicles may make it uneconomic and impractical to run off the main busway to serve the villages along the A14.

Further information is available online

Eastern Daily Press newspapers now available on Anglia Railways' London-bound trains

Keywords: [AngliaRailways]

Commuters travelling from Norwich to London can now catch up with all the region's news, as the EDP takes to the train. From the end of May, EDP teamed up with Anglia Railways so that passengers on all morning services out of Norwich to the capital can buy a newspaper from the buffet car and the trolley. Anglia Railways spokesman Peter Meades said "If people are rushing to get to the station they can relax and buy the EDP from the comfort of the train."

Threat to future of Norwich to Great Yarmouth line

It has recently been suggested in a newspaper that if the A47 Acle Straight is dualled, consideration should be given to using the rail track as a base for the second carriageway. It is claimed that this would mean minimal disruption to the ecological environment, the loss of the minimum amount of land, and a rail line which is "unnecessary as there is an alternative rail link from Norwich to Yarmouth, and the villages on the Acle line could be served by a bus route".

Although not suggesting the above, Charles Reynolds, chairman of Yarmouth Borough council's economic policy committee, was quoted in the Eastern Daily Press (19th June) as saying: "I get fed up with people talking about improving the rail network. What we need is a decent road to our town."

Michael Palin television programme promoting alternatives to the car

On Wednesday 20th June, BBC-2 broadcast a programme in the "Counterblast" series entitled "The road to Hell" in which Michael Palin (President of Transport 2000) gave a personal view on alternatives to the car, including heavy and light rail. The programme included in interview with Derrick Potter of Potter Group PLC at Ely.
Transport 2000 website http://www.transport2000.org.uk contains more information.
You can write to: Counterblast, The Road to Hell, Community Programme Unit, P.O. Box 5045, London, W12 7TS for details.

Thorpe Bay and Wickford named as most vandalised stations

In a report by Railtrack, Thorpe Bay and Wickford have been named as two of the worst in East Anglia for railway vandalism. Thorpe Bay was the most affected in the region with Wickford coming in 12th out of 20 in the list of shame.

Incidents of stone-throwing, putting objects on the track and even firing at trains with air rifles have all happened at the stations. Last year there were only four incidents of vandalism at Thorpe Bay but this year there have already been 17. In Wickford, there were five last year but eight so far this year.

Peter Maynard, Railtrack East Anglia spokesman, said: "We are looking into taking preventative measures in these areas, such as putting up fences and going into schools with the train companies to address the youngsters and bring home the dangers of their activities."

Alan Wheeler, spokesman for c2c which runs trains through Thorpe Bay station, said: "Regrettably the railways can act as a magnet for children during the school holidays. We do a lot of proactive preventative work to try to combat this problem. "We visit local schools to tell children about the dangers. We also run regular Q-trains which are normal passenger trains, but only have transport police on board. If they see anybody on the tracks they will jump out and arrest them."

Website shows recent photographs of St.Ives line

There is a website [http://www.railwave.homestead.com/closedlinesandstations.html] which has some good photos of the St.Ives line taken in the last 12 months - some in May 2001. Double click on the photos to see the full size picture.

Improved website for Railtrack

Railtrack have relaunched their website [http://www.railtrack.co.uk]

Plan and book rail trip on Central Trains website

Keywords: [CentralTrains]

Central Trains have added a booking facility to their website [http://www.centraltrains.co.uk]

London to IPSWICH MULTI-MODAL STUDY (LOIS) Newsletter 2 distributed

The London to Ipswich multi-modal study is progressing, with newsletter 2 having just been sent to 200,000 homes. The core area is focused on is the A12 from the M25 to Ipswich, the A120 between Colchester and Harwich and the Great Eastern rail line, but the website includes a map of road and rail lines which fails to include the Harwich branch!

Draft report on reinstatement of level crossing at North Norfolk Railway produced

Keywords: [NorthNorfolkRailway]

A draft report from consultants Arup on the proposal to re-instate the level crossing at Sheringham has been received by the NNR for comment. The details have not yet been published. Meanwhile, the North Norfolk Railway's station appeal takes place on Sunday 1st July, and there are likely to be items on local television on 1st or 2nd July.
The appeal website is at http://www.stationappeal.co.uk.

Railtrack prosecution for endangering safety near Chelmsford

Railtrack is likely to be prosecuted for an alleged breach of Health and Safety legislation in Essex. The Health and Safety Executive had ordered removal of scrap and other surplus materials from the trackside in the Chelmsford area by 12th January. HSE has alleged that Railtrack failed to meet the requirements of the notice in time.

Railfuture East Anglia Branch News Snippets 63 - 27/06/2001

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