East Anglia Branch News - Snippets Issue 207 - 26/07/2010

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

Railfuture News Snippets 207 - 26/07/2010



The Railfuture East Anglia Branch meeting in Ipswich on 29th June had a very interesting presentation from Councillor Phil Smart about the Bacon Factory curve to allow freight trains to travel from Felixstowe Docks to the Midlands via Ely without having to reverse in Ipswich yard. He urged everyone to complete the Network Rail consultation survey cards to show their support as the scheme is subject to planning permission and positive feedback is needed.

The Railfuture East Anglia branch will be conducting an all-day footfall count at Dullingham station on Thursday 16th September 2010. Several volunteers have been found. Anyone wishing to help count the number of people boarding and alighting each each train should contact branch chairman Peter Wakefield.

The inquest into the 10th May 2002 Potters Bar train crash is due to finish by the end of July.

The MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, will be leading a debate in Westminster on Tuesday 27th July about the best strategy for solving the Cambridge's transport problems. According to his press release, he will be calling for increased access to public transport, support Chesterton station (to take cars off residential streets and away from the city centre), back freight on rail via Ely to get lorries off the road, criticise the planning of the guided busway project and will claim that the 1,300m A14 widening (costed at 1,000 per inch) would "wreak havoc on Cambridge".

The Transport Select Committee's new members, following the general election, are: Louise Ellman MP (Chair) [Labour Co-op Liverpool Riverside], Angie Bray MP [Conservative, Ealing Central and Acton], Lilian Greenwood MP [Labour, Nottingham South], Tom Harris MP [Labour, Glasgow South], Kelvin Hopkins MP [Labour, Luton North], Kwasi Kwarteng MP [Conservative, Spelthorne], John Leech MP [Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington], Paul Maynard MP [Conservative, Blackpool North and Cleveleys], Angela Smith MP [Labour, Sheffield Hillsborough], Iain Stewart MP[Conservative, Milton Keynes South] an Julian Sturdy MP [Conservative, York Outer]. None are from the Railfuture East Anglia branch area; the nearest MPs represent Luton and Milton Keynes.

Ideas for saving money, such as cancelling the unpopular Luton-Dunstable Guided Busway (on the railway line) can be submitted to the government using http://spendingchallenge.hm-treasury.gov.uk/.

The "White Elephant" charter over the Bletchley Flyover, which is an integral part of the East West Rail Link, has had to be cancelled because the open weekend at Wolverton has been postponed. UK Railtours hopes to include the flyover in a future charter.

The 10th Anniversary of the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership was celebrated by NXEA, Norfolk County Council and partners in Cantley on Friday 9th July 2010.

Every day of the week between 14th August and 5th September First Capital Connect will be offering Super Off-Peak tickets for return trips to London with at least a 20% discount off the usual off-peak return train fare. The ticket is usually limited to the weekend. FCC hopes that families will use the rain during the school holidays.

Anyone considering as trip to the south west this summer might wish to consider the Night Riviera Sleeper service. Fares are as little as 49 for berth and travel when booking online. First Great Western has increased the number of sleeping cars on each train from three to four every night, allowing up to 60 customers, with a fifth carriage on Friday night from London and Sunday night from Cornwall to cater for 75 customers.


RAIL FREIGHT
Disused Barrington Cement Works railway line could be refurbished and reopened to serve quarry-fill materials

Keywords: [BarringtonBranch]

A public exhibition was held in Barrington, Cambs, on 20th July to give locals the chance to find out about a planning application by Cemex UK Operations Ltd, which has permission to use the Barrington cement works site until 2042 before it has to restore the landscape (under a "restoration obligation").

Barrington cement works was used until 2008 when the manufacture of cement was "suspended". The planning application has nothing to do with cement manufacture, which might be reinstated in the future (as there is still good quality chalk to be quarried there) but is to allow two million tonnes of 'inert construction, demolition and evacuation waste material' (originating from London) to be placed in part of the quarry over a five-year period (500,000 tonnes per year at the peak). It will be transported via the disused 1.9km railway (previously used to bring in coal to heat the cement kiln) to bring in the 'landfill' materials. The railway will be extended into the quarry site.

The railway will only be in operation for five years: for the quarry-fill over a four-year period, with the fifth year used for restoration of the landscape (re-profiling and landscaping the 2margins of the lake"). There will be up to four trains per day (consisting of loco and up 23 JNA type wagons), which will normally arrive and depart around 07:00-20:00 but there will be 24-hour operation on occasions. The route will be the Great Eastern to Cambridge then taking the up main to Foxton and using the existing crossover. No changes to junction (which the notes claimed is 100 metres to the west of Foxton Level Crossing).

The current private freight-only track is not considered usable for the heavier wagons (with axle load of 25 tonnes, a total of 100 tonnes gross). The line requires a high proportion of new sleepers and therefore it has been decided to replace all of them rather than spot re-sleeper. Wooden sleepers (about 4,000) will be disposed of and replaced by concrete ones, which will be placed closer together to give more support to the rails. The existing ballast will be retained as a base but will be topped up with new ballast. It will not be continuously welded rail, but every second joint will be welded in order to reduce noise. Line speed will be a maximum of 15 mph. The sidings will be retained to allow for a run-round at another train (or wagons) to stand, as was the case previously.

It will take about 20 weeks to reconstruct the railway. Concrete sleepers for the northern end will arrive by road, but the track materials for track at the Foxton end will arrive by rail. Lights will be introduced on all of the level crossings, but there will be no barriers. Trains will stop before the crossing where one of the train crew will get out and make sure that the LC is clear before signalling to the driver to cross - this is the same procedure as used previously. The 1926-built viaduct over the River Rhee will need strengthening.

The Railfuture East Anglia branch has already written to Cambridgeshire County Council to support the proposal. Anyone wishing to do so can visit http://planapps2.cambridgeshire.gov.uk - planning application "S/01080/10/CW". The deadline is 9th August 2010.

Transportation report identifies cost of moving raw sugar by rail from Great Yarmouth to British Sugar's Cantley factory

As part of the planning approval for raw sugar processing and energy saving improvements British Sugar has had to commission a report into the options for transportation of raw sugar from Great Yarmouth's outer harbour to the factory. One of the options was, obviously, by rail. However, as expected over such a short distance, rail was not considered economic. The main capital costs for rail were 3.4 million, broken down as follows:
* Great Yarmouth ? remedial and enhancement work on loading area = 50,000;
* Cantley ? provision of connection on main line including associated signalling = 2,500,000;
* Cantley ? provision of rail siding, cripple siding, hardstanding, roadways, lighting = 850,000.


RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE
Clacton maintenance depot reopens for permanent train maintenance for first time since 1994

On 2nd July the former Clacton maintenance depot, which last saw permanent regular maintenance in January 1994 when the last Class 309s were withdrawn, was officially opened after a 1.5m investment by NXEA to refurbish and reopen it to service Class 321 trains. The depot is located adjacent to the station, and had been dormant apart from some short-term work when First Great Eastern commissioned the new class 360s in 2003 and TranSys hired the facility in 2007/8 to refurbish CrossCountry and TPE trains. The depot originally opened in 1959 to service new EMUs on Colchester-Clacton line.


STATIONS
Cambs County council acknowledges that public money for Chesterton station may not be available and considers private funding

In March 2010 Conservative party literature suggested that the 24m Chesterton station would not go ahead following the demise of proposals for congestion charging in Cambridge city. This led CAST.IRON to propose a much cheaper interim solution of a 3m single-platform station at Milton Road, which the county council immediately rubbished. However, the regional funding allocation is no longer available and the council is now seeking private funding, perhaps from the train operating companies and Network Rail, to construct the station. The council has also agreed to revisit CAST.IRON's proposal, which has been independently reviewed and found to cost between 3m (as CAST.IRON suggested) and a maximum of 5m, compared to the 16m that the council suggested. CAST.IRON believes that a Milton Road station could be funded from private companies including Trinity College, which owns the Science Park, and the backers of a proposed 20m 296-room Radisson hotel and conference centre on the Science Park.

New island platform at Cambridge station is still on track for 2011

Keywords: [CambridgeStation]

On Tuesday 6th July Rob Fairhead, who is Network Rail's West Anglia Senior Commercial Scheme Sponsor Manager based at, Liverpool Street gave a presentation to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign about the Cambridge station island platform. He confirmed that the plans are on course for delivery in 2011 and he could not see how the construction would be affected by any spending cut as it was a part of HLOS/CP4. He also stated that there is provision for an extension of the covered footbridge to an east side station entrance, whilst the platform appears to have a canopy along at last half its 12-car-plus length.

Buses at Cambridge to be diverted away from Station Road to reduce congestion

Keywords: [CambridgeStation]

On Monday 12th July work commenced on a new 'Cambridge Gateway' road connecting Cambridge railway station to Hills Road. The 3m government-funded project, which is being constructed Balfour Beatty and is due to be finished in February 2011, will allow buses to enter and leave the station area without having to use the congested junction at Hills Road and Station Road. It will also provide a new access point for pedestrians and cyclists.

Temporary cycle spaces to be created at Cambridge station in 2011

Keywords: [CambridgeStation]

The new cb1 development around Cambridge station should eventually provide 3,000 cycle spaces compared to the 800 available now. To overcome the demand for more spaces that a recent survey said are urgently needed 172 temporary bicycle spaces will be created at the old bus stop, probably in early 2011. Whilst welcome, it does not meet current shortfall of more than 200.

Work should commence once the nine-stop bus interchange on the new access road from Hills Road is completed, and will also include the construction of a drop-off point with space for four cars. A line of giant granite cubes capable of preventing a terrorist attack will be planted in front of the main building. However, their purpose is to prevent motorists stopping on the roundabout to pick up and drop off passengers.

25,000 grant awarded for Soham Station reopening survey

Keywords: [SohamStation]

According to the Newmarket & Soham Journal on 14th July Cambridgeshire Horizons has given East Cambridgeshire District Council 25,000 towards a 40,000 feasibility study by the Network Rail Fast Track team to look into the re-opening of Soham's station. External funding is also required. The study will assess the infrastructure requirements, conduct timetable modelling and will produce a report setting out various costed options with a draft report ready by January 2011 and the final version completed in March 2011. It is hoped that a commercial business case for the station in terms of development plans and projected growth can be developed. Apparently meetings have been held with Network Rail, National Express East Anglia and the ATOC about the station, which is featured in Soham's Masterplan.

Until 1965, Soham had a railway station which linked the community to Ely, Cambridge and Newmarket. Today trains operating between Ipswich and Peterborough passes Soham every two hours.

Work to install lifts at Ipswich station finally commences

Keywords: [IpswichStation]

Work was due to start in July on the long-awaited passenger lifts and extra footbridge at Ipswich station and should be completed by 31st March 2011 if Network Rail's schedule is adhered to. Rail user group ESTA, Railfuture, Passenger Focus and others have been campaingning for step-fee access for many years. Network Rail have told us they expect the work to be.


RAIL FRANCHISES
Government reveals NXEA one-year franchise extension to allow review may cost taxpayers 18m

In a parliamentary written answer on 24th June, transport minister Theresa Villiers MP revealed that the theoretical cost of extending the NXEA and c2c franchises under the current franchise terms (i.e. without being able to go out to tender to maximise premium payment) is 18m and 6m per annum respectively. Naturally the government claims that this up-front cost will be more than compensated by increased revenue or improved passenger services over the length of the new franchise.


ROLLING STOCK
New Stansted Airport trains are under construction with first unit due for testing in autumn 2010

Bombardier Transportation has announced that testing will begin in September on the first of NXEA's 30 four-car Class 379 160 km/h Electrostar electric multiple-units, which will be used on services from Street to Stansted Airport and Cambridge. The trains will include on-board Wi-Fi as well as larger than normal luggage racks for airport traffic. The cost is 173m, which includes three years of maintenance. The majority of the trains will be delivered between March and June 2011.

GUIDED BUSWAY
County Council decides to stop chasing BAM Nuttall to fix northern section defects and wait for southern section to be handed over

Because no significant progress has been made by contractor BAM Nuttall on six 'defects' notified to it by Cambridgeshire County Council, the council has now decided (at a cabinet meeting on 5th July) to stop chasing the contractor and to wait for the whole scheme to be handed over, which is likely to be in December 2010, and then get the defects fixed itself. This means that there is now no possibility of any part of the busway opening to passengers before 2011.

Delay in opening the guided busway causes council's consultant's to escalate as well

Atkins, who are the consultants representing Cambridgeshire County Council's interests when dealing with the contractor, have already invoiced more than 2.5 million than expected (almost 5.5m rather than the budgeted 2.9m) owing to the delays in the guided busway with more quantity surveyors from Atkins needed to deal with the large number of contractual claims submitted by BAM Nuttall. Atkins have been paid 'time and materials' rather than a fixed price (unlike BAM Nuttall) since the start of the project.

Bus oprators may reduce service on busway because of delay in building Northstowe new town

Bus operators Stagecoach and Whippet have warned Cambridgeshire County Council that they are likely to run fewer buses than originally intended as demand is predicted to be lower than forecast owing to the delay in building new houses along the route, especially at Northstowe. Their current contracts run until January 2011, which gives them the ability to re-negotiate their service.

Fallen tree on guided busway track confirms critics view that bus services will not be free from disruption

In July a fallen tree blocked an entire lane of the guided busway. Once the busway has opened a similar incident would close the busway for the whole section between the nearest entry and exit points (as buses will not be able to steer around it) for hours until it could be cleared. Although one might assume this would be the same for a train, buses can't even use the other busway track to keep services going as the busway entry and exit points are one-way only (entry funnels only on entry points). Critics warned that bus passengers may be stuck for a considerable time in the middle of nowhere whereas trains could reverse.

Work continues to roll in for BAM Nuttall despite its serious problems on the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

As well as winning the contract to build the Luton-Dunstable guided busway (where the old railway track is expected to be lifted in August 2010), BAM Nuttall has made the shortlist of three companies to build the Edinburgh-Tweedbank "Waverley" route railway line, which is estimated to cost between 235m and 295m and open 2014. Clearly its reputation has not been severely damaged by its contractual difficulties with Cambridgeshire County council.


PRESERVED RAILWAYS
Mid-Norfolk Railway to be featured in second series of Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys TV programme

Keywords: [MidNorfolkRailway]

On Sunday 18th July Michael Portillo Visited the MNR travelling from Dereham to Thuxton with MNR driver instructor Peter Eyre as part of the filming for the second series of his BBC-2 travel documentary "Great British Railway Journeys" (due for transmission in early 2011), which is based on places to visit as recommended by a 19th-century edition of Bradshaw's Railway Companion.

The purpose of the visit was to reach Thuxton, home of Peele's Norfolk Black Turkeys, and to talk about their history and links with the railway. Norfolk is the final destination of a trip that starts in Brighton and finishes in Cromer.

Work by offenders on non-operational section of MNR's line deemed very productive

Judge Jacobs, staff from Norwich Crown Court and representatives from the Norfolk Probation Service recently visited the offenders who were working on the MNR's line north of Swanton Road to see the progress that they had been making. The party was impressed by the work done and ended its visit to the MNR by travelling to County School.

MNR receives footbridge for Dereham station

An update from [Snippets 206]: the former Whittlesford station footbridge was delivered to the MNR from the Whitwell and Reepham railway on 14th July. This will be erected at Dereham station in the same location as the original footbridge, although the timescale will depend on volunteer effort. Once in place the second through platform would be available for passengers to use allowing Dereham station to function as a passing loop when the northern section is opened.

Holt Town Council meets with railway directors to discuss extending North Norfolk Railway into Holt Town

Keywords: [NorthNorfolkRailway]

David Bill, director of the Norfolk Orbital Railway, and Steve Ashling, chairman of the North Norfolk Railway met members of Holt Town Council on 25th June to discuss a rail route from the NNR's terminus on the outskirts of Holt into the town, which is about a mile away. Currently the town and railway are served by a Routemaster bus but it does not operate every day. The NOR hopes to ultimately create an orbital railway linking the North and Mid-Norfolk railways via Fakenham and Melton Constable.


WEBSITES
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway uses website to appeal for public to sponsor sleepers to complete its reopening

The http://www.one-last-push.org has been set-up by the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, near Derby, to appeal to the public to urgency provide money for the completion of its railway extension to Duffield to connect with mainline trains. They have already changed 4500 sleepers and need to change 1,500 more by Sept 2010.


Railfuture East Anglia Branch News Snippets 207 - 26/07/2010

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