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Railwatch 074 - December 1997

The Sidings

Bittern line

East Anglia branch press officer Ken Burton attended the launch on 25 September of a new guide to the Norwich-Sheringham line, recently named the Bittern Line. The guide was published by the Sheringham Line Partnership of local councils, preserved lines, Anglia Railways, Railtrack and businesses and voluntary bodies. Town criers rang bells, and a group of gentlemen in fishermen's garb sang a song of welcome before the party enjoyed a ride and lunch on the North Norfolk Railway - one of those preserved lines that is easily accessible from the Railtrack network. Mr Burton commented, "There was much appreciation of all the effort that had gone into the launch of the guide, which not only gives details of the country through which the route passes, but also of towns and villages on the way. A series of walks Off the Bittern Track are shortly to be published."


Deltaplan which has in the past arranged rail tickets for many RDS members has ceased trading.

Volvo rules

Volvo reportedly has a special department issuing propaganda about how "marvellous" buses are compared with trams and light rail. Passengers disagree.


The whole future of the American long-distance passenger railway is in jeopardy. Even though Amtrak receives less government funding for investment than the railways of Bolivia, the road lobby has scented blood. America, the world's greatest polluter, is also refusing to cut back on emissions from road transport.

Pollution city

London is one of the worst polluted cities in the world but whereas Athens and Paris have admitted their problems and are doing something about it, Londoners are not told when World Health Organisations guidelines on pollution are broken - as they are regularly. The people who run London remain firmly wedded to polluting road transport. Londoners are fed up with it. Levels of nitrogen dioxide in London broke government guidelines for the whole of 1996.

One in 50 heart attacks in London can be directly connected to poor air quality - and then there's asthma!

Well-paid researchers are busy seeking out triggers other than traffic pollution. Meanwhile traffic pollution is blighting everyone's life.

Talks with MEP

A whole series of European issues were discussed with MEP Alf Lomas at a meeting in Stratford, London, in September, reports John Barfield of the RDS international committee.

He raised the continued threat of VAT on rail fares, disabled access to Eurostar, rail privatisation in European countries, rail freight freeways, rail route protection, closures in Eastern Europe, Channel Tunnel freight, the 44-tonne lorry and the inequality of funding between road and rail.

RDS passenger survey

Thanks to everyone who responded to this, our third such survey, but the first one aimed at a wider audience than just RDS members.

Provisional findings from the 2,000-plus responses show that 90% of people found the choice of tickets difficult. And considering that the survey was among rail users, we found a high perecentage - 41% of people - who believed rail was "not affordable".

The importance of a turn-up-and-go service was important to 72% of people which is a warning to operators who are pressing ahead with pre-booking initiatives. Half of the recipients said the railway was less of a network than it was a year ago and half were unhappy with the response to complaints.

Reopen the railways

A new edition of the RDS book A to Z of Rail Reopenings should be published early in 1998, according to the RDS Reopenings Committee. Next year's reopening conference could be held in Bedford which is one of the many towns that may benefit from a reopened east-west rail link.

The committee is also producing two new leaflets. If you want to contact the reopenings committee, please contact David Soames, 158 Atherstone Avenue, Peterborough PE3 9UN (Tel: 01733 757070).

RDS appeal

Thank you to all members who responded to the cash appeal launched by executive officer Nat Taplin with the last Railwatch. In the next issue, we shall give information about how it is being used.

RDS lottery winners

AugustDon Fifer, Chorley £75, Martin Meredith, Kidderminster £46.89, James Macnair, London SW10 £28.12, Brian Hastings, Scunthorpe £18.75, Michael Griffiths, Market Harborough £9.37, Mrs A Lockhart, Bradford £9.37.

September John Eddleston, Ash £72.80, G Larkbey, London N6 £45.50, R Burrows, Hurstpierpoint £27.30, K C Burton, Thetford £18.20, Elisabeth Jordan, Corby £9.10, L Corbett, Alloa £9.10.

October Jim O'Neill, Hinckley £70.40, J P Randall, London E7 £44, Philippa Hamlyn, London W8 £26.40, F R Strutt, Birmingham £17.60, Andrew Bull, Macclesfield £8.80, Eric Johnson, Winchester £8.80.

Write to Dave Finch, 105 Meadow Hill Close, Kidderminster DY11 6JY if you would like to join the lottery, help RDS funda - and win yourself.

Help! Volunteers needed

We need the following people to help in producing Railwatch: production assistant, advertising canvasser, circulation assistant, computer owner with knowledge of maintaining a database and a photographer. If you can give some of your time and expertise, please contact editor Ray King.

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.

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