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Railwatch 086 - November 2000

Railwatch - The Sidings

AGM 2001

The RDS annual general meeting will be on Saturday 5 May at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Ranelagh Place, Liverpool L3 5UL. If any delegates wish to stay overnight at the hotel, the bed and breakfast rates are £70 twin or double and £45 single. A list of alternative places to stay is being compiled by national executive member Andrew MacFarlane.

Waterloo arch

The magnificent Victory Arch at London's Waterloo station has been refurbished by Kier Rail.

The Arch was built as a memorial to 585 staff of the London & South Western Railway who died in the First World War and also became a memorial to Southern Railway staff who died in the Second World War.

Contractors were aiming to finish refurbishment work before Remembrance Sunday on 12 November.

Farewell Jack

The president of America's National Association of Railroad Passengers, Jack Martin, has died after heart surgery in San Jose, California, His successor is father of three Alan Yorker who is president of the Georgia Association of Railroad Passengers.

Ticket outlet

By David Lloyd

Severn-Dee Travel at Gobowen station (between Shrewsbury and Wrexham) operates an independent booking office and offers a ticketing service for British, Irish and European rail travel. We are agents for Eurostar, Eurotunnel, Connex (rail/sea), Rail Europe and for cross-channel ferries.A speciality is arranging group travel for school students (the rail travellers of the future) many of whom are setting off for field study courses organised by the Field Studies Council in places such as Milford Haven, Pembroke, near Totnes and at Blencathra in the Lake District.

The station booking office was closed in 1992 but reopened when a nearby girls' boarding school took the initiative. Today the office has internet access and Elgar ticketing and reservation system. The business is run by David Lloyd (manager), Sallyann Davies (group travel manager) and Kate Smith. Tel: 01691 681010 Fax 01691 684994. sales@severndeetravel.co.uk

Office hours are 06.15-14.45 (M-F) and 06.15-12.45 (Sats and Bank holidays). If we can help with rail travel, please let us know.

Docklands guide

The Docklands Light Railway has joined forces with Tower Hamlets Council in London to produce this public transport guide. It has been distributed to 100,000 homes along with the council newsletter East End Life. The aim is to raise awareness of the full range of travel options already on offer. The council is keen to receive any feedback which can be considered for inclusion in future editions.

If you would like a copy of the guide, please contact public transport officer Tony Davis on 020 7374 6944

It is important that more people use public transport in a such a badly polluted and traffic-ridden area of London - merely on safety grounds. In the neighbouring borough of Hackney 1,400 people were injured in road accidents in one year!

Sunday victory

Local transport campaigners are toasting a major success - after long and sustained lobbying. Silverlink Metro has agreed to run the Barking-Gospel Oak Sunday service all year round, instead of just in the summer. Barking-Gospel Oak Line Committee secretary Graham Larkbey said: "It's been a long campaign and we are delighted.

"This major improvement will make Sunday travel much easier across a wide area of North and North East London."

Graham Larkbey Tel: 020 7917 0766 g-larkbey@dfid.gov.uk

Volting ambition

The fuel crisis in September highlighted the need for more electrification of Britain's Railways, RDS campaigns director Alix Stredwick told the press. Announcing the publication of the RDS report An Electrified Railway? she said: "The railways could have marketed themselves as a great alternative. Instead people were laughing at railway companies that have their diesel delivered by road."

155mph under Alps

The Swiss have started work on the world's longest rail tunnel which will allow electric trains to run at 155mph under the Gotthard mountain from near Zurich into Italy. The 36-mile tunnel is being built by Swiss Rail's subsidiary AlpTransit and should be open in 2006.

Euro allies

Five members of RDS attended a European Passenger Conference at Lille on 4 November. Fifteen other rail user representatives from countries throughout Europe attended and Pro Bahn from Germany called for action on improving long-distance rail travel within the European Union.

RDS subscriptions

The national executive has decided that RDS subscription rates will have to rise in the New Year, after being held for four years. For details of the new rates, please see the Contacts page.

If the society is to continue to make progress in campaigning for a better rail service, it has to have the resources. Subscribers will also have received an appeal letter from RDS and there is also a message from our marketing director Kate Tudor-Pole.

Annual draw winners

1 £400 Mr J Chivers, Coleford, Bath, 2 £200 Miss E Mayman, Claverdon, Warwicks, 3 £100 Mr N Bramhall, Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs, 4 £50 Mr B and Mrs E Chaplin, Garrabost, Isle of Lewis.

Book prizes went to Mr I L Jenkins, Wolverhampton, Mr Gillespie, Upton, Newark, B W Shirley, Mobberley, Cheshire, Mr G W Heywood, Garstang, Lancs, Mr I Roberts, Lewes, Mr W Curr, Harborne, Birmingham.

The draw raised £1560 for the society. Thanks to all those members who bought and sold tickets and to the organiser, Lewis Buckingham.

Reopening cash

At this time of year, the RDS reopenings and new railways committee has the pleasant, but sometimes difficult task of apportioning the profits of our national draw. Any RDS branch or affiliated local group can bid for money from the draw. Contact David Soames, 158 Atherstone Avenue, Peterborough, PE3 9UN, as soon as possible for an application form. Please send an sae. The closing date for applications is 31 December.

Another member of this committee, Cedric Martindale, has compiled an attractive new leaflet For Want of a Railwhich sets out the case for protecting some abandoned rail routes and looks at the possibilities and practicalities. The leaflet is primarily aimed at local authorities and campaigning groups and has already been sent to many of them. Please send an sae to Cedric at 1 Solway Park, Carlisle, CA2 6TH.

Next year's Rail Reopenings Conference will be in Bournemouth, Poole or Wareham on 9 or 16 June with railways and tourism as the theme. There will be a special focus on the Swanage Railway.


The Rail-Volution conference in Denver, Colorado, in July highlighted how rail, cycling and walking can improve cities. Delegates tried out Denver's new light rail line. More details: www.railvolution.com

Rail lands

Rail Regulator Tom Winsor is planning to clamp down on the sale of railway lands following protests from local authorities. The Local Government Association's Vince Christie said: "The integrity of the rail network and ease of access to rail by potential users are of paramount importance."

Campaigners trying to reinstate the railway between Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham were very grateful to the response from Railwatch readers to their appeal for support. "The return of the railway to Melton Constable is eagerly awaited," said parish council clerk John Stocking. "Putting Fakenham back on the railway map after 40 years will be a great boost to the the town," said town clerk Robin Robinson.

On the right lines

Essex County Council has produced a 30-page booklet on its policy for rail transport in the county. Possible projects include construction of a new loop on the Braintree line, a new station north-east of Chelmsford and a secod tunnel on the WAGN line to Stansted airport. For a copy, ring 01245 437187.

Midland goes for 125

Midland Mainline is planning to replace its two-car Turbostar trains with five-carriage 125mph trains by 2004. In the meantime MML plans to add another 10 carriages to its Turbostar fleet.

Ideas in train

Best-selling author J K Rowling said she got her idea for the Harry Potter books while travelling on a train from Manchester. She has since sold 48 million books.

Road deaths

Nearly 43,000 people were killed on European roads in 1998.

Competing for trains

Northamptonshire County Council is so worried about the lack of paths for Euston-Northampton trains on the West Coast main line following the upgrade to accommodate Virgin high-speed trains, that it is holding a seminar on 28 November in an attempt to alert Railtrack, the Rail Regulator and the Strategic Rail Authority to the problems.

Jack Simmons

The eminent railway historian Professor Jack Simmons died in Leicester on 3 September, at the age of 84.

High-speed study

It is feasible to build 250 miles of high-speed railways to improve services between London and Liverpool, Manchester and North Wales. Students at Liverpool John Moores University have spent five years studying how to engineer the line, under the guidance of Professor Lewis Lesley. They have devised ways of using the alignment of the M1 and M6 motorways to reduce the impact of the line. The fact that a high-speed railway needs only an 11-metre-wide corridor makes it easier to build than a road. More details at http:cwis.livjm.ac.uk/blt.research

RDS Group Travel

Grenoble at the foot of the French Alps by Eurostar and TGV. Week commencing 23 April 2001. Full details will be sent out in the first week of January. Send SAE to Trevor Garrod, 15 Clapham Road, Lowestoft NR32 1RQ

RDS honorary auditor needed

John Drake, who has held the position of RDS Hon Auditor for many years, has indicated that he wants to step down at next year's AGM. Volunteers to take his place are urgently required. The new Auditor would carry out his/her first audit in February/March 2002.

Because of the complexity of the RDS national books, a qualified accountant is preferred. At present, the majority of the transactions are processed using the Microsoft Money software package, with supporting schedules on Excel spreadsheets, so familiarity with both of these would be a decided advantage. John Drake will be happy to brief his successor on the nitty gritty.

Could anyone who is interested in being nominated for this important role please contact Tony Sheward, RDS National Treasurer, on 01234 823045.

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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