Photo of mural at Frinton Station by Gnasher Murals
(In association with the Essex Rail Users’ Federation)
GENERAL ELECTION V FUTURE INVESTMENT & NEW ANGLIA RAIL PROSPECTUS
The result of the last year’s By Election is now historical fact but it can be said that Transport and Rail Transport issues were a feature of all the mainstream party candidates’ election addresses at some point or another.
We are a non political organisation and we need to work across party lines and get all everyone’s agreement on common issues.Our committee and its members cover a wide political spectrum, so we do not back any particular political party during an election. But once the election is over we will be ready to work with our MP and all Local Councillors and are grateful that many are now very interested in improving all transport infrastructure.
- It is clear central government plans for large scale housing/population growth plus economic regeneration and growth of tourism in the area, require a major step change up in the rail, bus and road services and facilities available.
- Our Hon. Chairman again represented Tendring at the final New Anglia Rail/ Norwich in Ninety Forum held in Norwich towards the end of 2014. As you may already know all MPs and Local Authorities up and down the Gt. Eastern Mainlines have signed up to a campaign to get some of the money being spent on railways in other regions to upgrade the East Anglian mainline servicesand provide faster services to London and half hourly services throughout Essex.
- We can also report there have been high level meetings in Whitehall involving several of our elected leaders and we have played our part in briefing them on rail issues. However, future government commitment to improving local infrastructure and rail services will undoubtedly depend on the nature and attitude of the new government following the outcome of the election.
Over the last few months “ONTRACK” RUA has submitted more than half a dozen detailed reports, which have been accepted, making the business case for improvements to central government authorities such as Dept. for Transport (DfT) , Network Rail (NR), Essex County Council (ECC), Tendring District Council (TDC)and Passenger Focus (Quango).
- During January and February 2015 a TDC Cabinet Member, Cllr Mark Platt, also attended formal Consultation Meetings with the DfT and NR and also with Passenger Focus in respect of the new DfT Greater Anglia Franchise bidding process, NR Anglia Route Study Infrastructure Plans, NR Connectivity National Consultation (which took NE Essex as a case study and was suggesting more connecting services. That received a very robust reply against given the reliability/ time keeping issues).
- We also spoke up at the TENDRING LOCALITY BOARD meeting in CLACTON TOWN HALL, Thursday 12th February which focussed on Transport Issues in the area and was chaired by the Deputy Chair of the County Council.Staying semi political, it is intended to invite local councillors to become ex-officio members in order to develop their knowledge of local transport and, hopefully, their help with problems.
- >On Friday 20th March our committee met Abellio Greater Anglia Stakeholder Manager Paul Oxley at the Clacton Town Hall. With us was TDC Cllr. Mark Platt who is greatly involved in local transport issues. Paul Oxley made notes and discussion took place of the ‘wish list’ of commuters and other rail users, such as business visitors and tourists. We said we were looking for a maximum 65 minute travelling time to or from London and a 30 minute off-peak train interval from both the Walton and Clacton and Harwich Lines . This will encourage greater including more casual use of the train service to and from Colchester without the need to consult a timetable. It will also benefit tourism by eliminating long waits at interchange points en route (e.g. Shenfield). A bonus would be some easing of road traffic on the A12. We asked for a number of other things; but some, are understandably involve long-term infrastructure issues. These include additional platforms and track at Thorpe Le Soken, a second track from Dovercourt through to Harwich Town, Frinton Line infrastructure enhancements and the restoration of a railway service to the ancient Cinque Port of Brightlingsea. Connectivity and journey times should be improved as a result and the need to change trains greatly reduced. Two extra stations are needed, one at Essex University (requested by the Essex Rail Users’ Federation and by the University itself ) and one other at Gorse Lane, Gt. Clacton serving the residential, industrial and retail park areas and a potential “Park & Ride” Transport hub and transport interchange.
WIDENING OUR SCOPE: At a committee meeting on 19thSeptember it was suggestedONTRACK beextended to include bus transport and, possibly, sea ferries. This would, of course, require a change of name although the ONRACK title would continue as part ofor as a subtitle. Your ideas and suggestion welcome on the website www.ontrackrailusers.org.uk or on the ONTRACK Facebook site.
ENGINEERING WORKS: It was announced early in 2015 that there would be six weekends of engineering work affecting the Gt Eastern mainline and feeder routes until end of March/Easter. We emphasised to the rail rep. NR’s track possession times are governed by the operator’s requirements. This must need better efficiency in their project management. At present the railway’s tail is wagging the dog and local tourism is suffering. Meantime we ask you to be aware that ongoing late night /overnight engineering works may lead to changes to first or last train times and/or bus substitution at some point.
CROSSRAIL: Another step forward towards the East – West mainline cross London underground link takes place in May when the METRO services Liverpool Street to Shenfield transfer to Transport for London (TfL) and become “London Mainline”.
OUR NEW WEB SITE: is due to go live soon and will include a “NEWS BLOG” page and will include the research and reports th “ONTRACK” have undertaken such as the head Count Censuses at Frinton and Thorpe Le Soken and copies of the various reports and submissions that have been submitted to the Dept. for Transport (Rail Executive) in respect of the Franchise Consultation process and Network Rail consultations on its new Infrastructure Programme and its penny pinching ideas on putting in lots of connecting services in NE Essex . This means NR does n’t have to spend money on expanding the infrastructure on the busiest two track main line in the UK. However given the money planned to be lashed out on HS2/3 we do see why some of that resource can not be diverted to improving the lot of the Essex rail passenger.
OUR AGM & SURGERY is planned for SATURDAY 30th May 10.30 – 12 noon at the Frinton Methodist Church Hall Ashlyns Road Frinton On sea. Our MP is to be invited and a Public Debate to be had on the topic “WHAT’S A FAIR FARE”.
Regards – Dave Bolton.(Secretary).