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Railwatch 076 - July 1998

The Sidings

Rail users unite

The Rail Users Conference takes place on 26 September in London. The Association of Train Operating Companies will be providing a speaker and there will be workshops on lobbying local government and transport integration. See enclosed leaflet for details.

Warning for bridge bashers

Road hauliers are not noted for their respect for the the law. We have all seen the cracked pavements caused by lorries mounting footways, damaged bollards and gateways.

More serious damage is regularly caused by heavy lorries "bridge bashing" which causes major expense and delay to rail operators and passengers. Often the lorry driver fails to report damage

After representations from RDS, Railtrack has started to put up signs asking people to report bridge bashers. A small step in making road hauliers pay some of the real costs they impose on the community.

Give way!

A four-page leaflet produced by RDS, Transport 2000 and Friends of the Earth makes the case for reopening the railway between Boscarne Junction and Wenford Dries.

The bulk of English China Clay International's 100,000 tonne output could be removed from narrow Cornish roads. But there is opposition to the reopening from cyclists and walkers who use the Camel Trail.

The TR&IN consultancy is considering how they could be accommodated if the trains return.

Copies of the leaflet and details of how you can help can be obtained from RDS, 2 Clematis Cottages, Kidderminster DY14 0HF.

Meeting the regulator

The next meeting between RDS and the Rail Regulator will be taking place on 15 July, about the time this Railwatch should reach you.

The RDS delegation is being led by national executive member Peter Lawrence.

Peter also produces Local Lines, the RDS newsletter for user groups and is editor of the Directory of Rail User Groups, published jointly by RDS and the Regulator.

A revised edition is now available from ORR Library, Office of the Rail Regulator, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London EC1N 2ST. Telephone 0171 282 2000. Fax: 0171 282 2040. Email orr@dial.pipex.com

Railtrack AGM

David Bigg, chairman of the society's parliamentary committee, and executive officer Nat Taplin will be representing RDS at the Railtrack annual meeting in Manchester on 21 July.

Open day

RDS will have a stand at the open weekend at Toton depot in Nottinghamshire on 29 and 30 August.

Green holidays

Holiday packages from London and Birmingham are being devised for South Pembrokeshire, using InterCity trains, buses and cycles and accommodation in guest houses, small hotels and farmhouses. Greenways: 01834 860965 or email rural@sparc.co.uk

Road to waste

The Highways Agency will build a complete alternative four-lane motorway near Maidenhead costing £2.7 million while work is carried out on the M4 motorway. The aim is to reduce stress for drivers and to reduce "unacceptable tailbacks". Meanwhile rail users continue to suffer from regular and complete closures of line for Railtrack maintenance work.

Competing interests

North West Trains services along the West Coast main line to London Euston have been welcomed but the operator is banned from stopping at Milton Keynes, Preston, Crewe or Stafford until 2000 because the Virgin franchise does not allow it.

Backtracking on past mistakes

Railtrack is looking at ways of expanding the rail network to cope with more freight. Unfortunately because of lack of foresight by politicians and planners in the past, much of the infrastructure that could be used has been dismantled or abandoned.

At Guyhirn, Cambridgeshire, the rail bridge has been taken down, making the reinstatement of the line from March, Cambridgeshire to Spalding, Lincolnshire, more difficult and more expensive. Housing development also threatens the original line's integrity south of Spalding.

Used in conjunction with the Spalding to Doncaster route (the Great Eastern and Great Northern joint line) it could provide a freight route to relieve traffic on the East Coast main line.

An alternative to using March-Spalding would be to route freight on to the east Coast main line north of Peterborough, although this would involve the construction of a flying junction at Werrington.

GNER challenged

A campaign to block the extension of GNER's franchise for the East Coast main line was launched in May by Save Our Railways.

The pressure group which has links to RDS criticises GNER's record and its parent company Sea Containers.

"Sea Containers is not committed to the Government's policy of an integrated rail service and under its management punctuality is below Passenger's Charter standard and worse than BR achieved in its last year before being broken up," said Save Our Railways.

Joining up

RDS executive officer Nat Taplin reports that 600 new members have joined since the "Ticket to a Rail Future" recruitment campaign got under way.

Dangerous statistics

One hundred people died in the high-speed rail crash in Germany on one day in May. No other passengers however have been killed by high-speed rail operations in Europe. Yet every day 120 people are killed on Europe's roads.

Creating problems

The error of using road building as a solution for congestion is highlighted in the latest traffic figures from London Docklands. The Limehouse Link road, which at £400 million for a mile of road was Britain's most expensive road, has led to a 25% increase in traffic on surrounding roads.

"Congestion remains a serious problem," admits a report to Tower Hamlets council.

Economic sense

Another report from the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment points out that traffic reduction measures can be economically beneficial rather than damaging.

The report says there is no robust evidence that new roads regenerate run-down regions and that traffic reduction could improve economic efficiency. This might persuade shop-keepers not to oppose traffic reduction and pedestrianisation.

The findings from SACTRA may also undermine the European Commission's plans for large-scale road-building under its European Networks proposals.

Network enhancement

While some train operators have been making life more difficult for railcard holders, Chiltern and Thames have extended the availability of the Network card to include Worcester. There should of course be a national railcard which would give regular rail travellers an incentive and a reward for going by train.

RDS lottery results

February: Paul Burton, Horsham £71.40, David Edwards, Braintree £44.62, Peter Owen, Altrincham £26.78, Miss Pat Salkeld, Morecambe £17.86, Bob Cummings, Hyde £8.92, James Macnair, London SW10 £8.92.

March: Joyce Birkby, Cambridge £70.60, G Bolam, Alvechurch £44.12, Jack Taylor, Huntingdon £26.48, Anne Drummond, Dorking £17.66, Alan MacBeath, Grange-over-Sands £8.82, John Muggeridge, London SE4 £8.82.

April: Roger Blake, London N16 £72.80, Brian Hastings, Scunthorpe £45.50, Mr O W and Mrs M S Roe, Kings Langley £27.30, Mrs Iris Graham, Birmingham £18.20, James Macnair, London SW10 £9.0, Richard Clarke, Hornsea £9.10.

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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