Railwatch is the quarterly magazine of Railfuture, which is free to members.
Non-members can subscribe to Railwatch, receiving it by post.Subscribe
I recently received a glossy information pack from a hotel on a greenfield site close to a new road four miles from the nearest railway station, inviting us to hold meetings and conferences there. In my reply I pointed out that, as the Railway Development Society, we normally use venues at, or close to, railway stations.
I have also been in contact with a company hoping to build more hotels near stations; and in our dialogue with Railtrack we have pressed them to encourage businesses to locate at stations or on adjacent railway land. We urge members to support such travel agents as Deltaplan at Saxmundham station in Suffolk, because that sort of enterprise helps put the railway at the centre of the community, not at its margins, and is good for railway business.
These are examples of being positive and practical about rail. That has to be a central plank in the RDS platform. Our organisation is not one that just stands on the sidelines and criticises; nor do we just sit in an ivory tower and philosophise.
Of course, we have to criticise where appropriate, and we have done so when, for example, staffing cuts led to problems of security, vandalism or loss of revenue. As your general secretary, I wrote to the relevant bodies protesting at the price increase and restrictions proposed for the Network Card in South East England. Our chairman was recently quoted in the Daily Mirror questioning the need for the chairman of the British Railways Board (which no longer operates trains or track) to be paid £271,000 a year plus car.
When we criticise, however, we must keep a sense of perspective, and we must endeavour to say something positive and constructive as well. If I am asked by a radio interviewer about fare increases, I obviously condemn these; but I also point out how it is often possible to obtain good bargains by booking in advance. I have explained to media people how my own local operator, Anglia, has boosted usage by 10% in the past year, partly through some good promotions aimed at the leisure market.
The fragmented structure imposed on our rail system does not make for good marketing of the train as a means of transport. It merely encourages each operating company to give its own particular trains the hard sell. There is, however, the Association of Train Operating Companies, which has the potential to market the whole concept of rail travel.
It recently produced a little leaflet advertising the All-Line Rover, which should be attractive for both foreign and domestic tourists and is on sale until the end of the year. In contrast, the Deutsche Bahn publishes a free 16-page booklet packed with information about rail travel for tourists in Germany.
We should like to see ATOC taking a higher profile in the future and hope to share constructive ideas with them, in addition to our discussions with the individual operators, Railtrack and anyone else, in the private or public sector, who is or should be interested in promoting the railway.
Note: contact details (postal and email addresses, along with telephone numbers) in old editions of Railwatch out of date. Click CONTACT US for latest contact details.
Rail users are encouraged to join Railfuture to help us campaign for a bigger and better railway - membership for individuals is just £20 per year
Railfuture is an independent, voluntary group representing rail users in Britain with 20,000 affiliated and individual members. It is not funded by train companies, political parties or trade unions, and all members have an equal say.
Railfuture campaigns for cheap and convenient rail services for everyone; better links for buses, bikes and pedestrians; policies to get more heavy lorries on to rail; new lines, stations and freight terminals. In short, a better rail service and a bigger rail system for both passengers and freight.
Railfuture is pro-rail but not anti-road or anti-air. However, we campaign for a switch from road and air to rail. We do not interfere in the running of the railway - we campaign for the quality and range of services provided, not how they are delivered. We are the only champion of all rail users.
Railfuture is the campaigning name of Railfuture Ltd.
A not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee.
Registered in England and Wales No. 05011634.
Registered Office: Edinburgh House, 1-5 Bellevue Road, Clevedon, North Somerset BS21 7NP (for legal correspondence only).
All other correspondence to 14 Ghent Field Circle, Thurston, Suffolk IP31 3UP
© Copyright Railfuture Ltd 2024.
Railfuture is happy for extracts to be used by journalists, researchers and students. We would, however, appreciate a mention of Railfuture in any article, website or programme. Except with Railfuture's express written permission, no one should distribute or commercially exploit the content.
Privacy StatementClick Privacy to read Railfuture's GDPR statement on how we treat your data.
This site does not use its own cookies, although Google Analytics does. Hosted by TSO Host (cPanel) and maintained for Railfuture by Billing Specialists Ltd.