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announces East Anglia spend
part of its 2007 Business PIan, Network Rail is to
spend £150m on improvements in East Anglia. The programme
includes a £50.1m scheme to renew and improve the OHL between Liverpool Street
and Chelmsford. Another £3m will go towards installing bi-directional signalling between Marks Tey and
Colchester, one of the busiest sections in the UK, which will allow trains to
use the other track in the event of a breakdown or track maintenance.
will be spent on gauge clearance between Ipswich to Ely giving larger freight
containers an alternative route from Felixstowe.
At Norwich there’ll be a £200,000 scheme to electrify sidings.
member and Railfuture President Peter Lawrence was
quoted in the press as saying, “I think the overall package is good and, with
these improvements and what we have seen in recent weeks, it suggests Network
Rail is on the right track”. East Suffolk Line campaigners, though, were
disappointed not to see a Beccles passing loop in the
a separate announcement, one and Network Rail unveiled a Joint Performance
Improvement Plan designed to lift punctuality on the Norwich – London route
from 87.5% to 90% and reduce OHL failures which caused havoc last summer.
ensure punctual departures one now shuts train doors at Liverpool Street 30
seconds before the advertised time. It’s also speeding up repairs to minor train
faults by having more staff at depots. For its part Network Rail is to
renew more than 40 miles of track by April 2008, check the OHL every two weeks
and install equipment which warns of cable failures. Initial signs were
that the measures were paying off: in the 4 weeks to March 31, 90.1% of
one trains arrived “on time”, the best result since June 2006.
the plans don’t include any of the suggestions put forward by three Norfolk MPs
(see MPs demand faster trains and tougher penalties below)
shutdowns: Norwich at Easter, Liverpool Street over the Christmas period
the Easter holiday period engineering work on the tracks approaching Norwich
station meant that buses replaced many services in and out of the
station. On Good Friday there were no trains at all. Cambridge
services resumed the next day, but London trains as well as Bittern and Wherry Lines services did not start running again until
many people will have to re-think their rail journeys this Christmas with the
news that Liverpool Street station will be closed from December 23 until
January 1 2008. Behind the closure are two major projects:
the East London Line extension and engineering work at Stratford and Shenfield. There will be replacements for trains
which normally serve Liverpool Street, but journey times will suffer.
“Customers may wish to consider avoiding travel during this period where
possible”, says one.
death at Swainsthorpe crossing
level crossing south of Norwich claimed another life
when a motorist was struck by a train.
in the morning of March 1, DVT no. 82152 at the head of the 06:22 Colchester –
Norwich train collided with a Vauxhall Astra at Church Road crossing, Swainsthorpe. The wrecked car was carried a mile towards
Norwich, and the body of the driver, local man John White, was found near the
crossing. Network Rail confirmed that the automatic half-barriers were
functioning correctly, and there were reports that the car crossed the tracks
after they began lowering.
line was not reopened until until early
evening. Meanwhile buses ferried passengers between Norwich and Diss.
was Swainsthorpe’s third rail-related death in 18
months. In November 2005 Darrell Sheens deliberately stopped his car on
the crossing where he was hit by dmu no.
170207. A year later a train struck a man standing on the line.
Although none of these fatalities can be blamed on the railway, there were
calls for ‘action’ from the press, MP Richard Bacon and the local
community. However Network Rail says it does not intend to install
full-width barriers at the crossing.
shelter at Brandon
Norfolk/Suffolk border station of Brandon has a new waiting shelter on its down
platform. The metal-and-perspex shelter, funded
by a one/Norfolk County Council partnership, was erected in March as the latest
stage in the rising fortunes of the station. From May 20 Brandon will
enjoy an hourly train service when all one’s Norwich – Cambridge trains call
there. Later this year CCTV is to be installed and the car park ‘lined out’.
demand faster trains and tougher penalties
Norwich – London trains calling only at Ipswich and Colchester; standard-class passengers without seats to be
admitted to first class sections ‘with no questions asked’; tougher government
penalties on poorly-performing TOCs; and more prominent information for
passengers when things go wrong. These are among the demands made by a
cross-party trio of Norfolk MPs: Richard Bacon, Ian Gibson and Norman Lamb.
November the three, incensed when overhead cable problems caused a series of
delays, held a public examination of Network Rail and one officials.
They have now published Norfolk MPs Rail Inquiry, a 40-page report of their
findings, which says that the delivery of services on the Great Eastern Main
Line “beggars belief”. It criticises one’s
"poor" rolling stock and calls for an urgent review of automated
half-barrier crossings on all 100mph routes.
Sunday trains to Sheringham this summer
timetable which starts on May 20 will see the introduction of an hourly Bittern
Line service on Sundays.
number of trains between Norwich and Sheringham will
increase from 7 to 13 in each direction, the route’s
best-ever Sunday frequency. The extra six services will operate until September 9.
Bittern Line has seen passenger numbers grow by 190% in the ten years since the
Community Rail Partnership was set up.
collapse brings refurbished stock for Nenta’s Days
supplier FM Rail having gone into administration late last year, Norfolk-based Nenta Traintours has had to
revise its arrangements for this year’s series of ‘Great Days Out’ rail tours.
programme will now be operated by Cargo-D, a new
company based at Long Marston, which offers ‘logistics solutions’ to the rail
industry. Cargo-D will supply a rake of refurbished Mark 3 coaching
stock. Locomotives and operational facilities will come from another new company, Victa Westlink Rail, which has bought the railtour
arm of the failed FM Rail.
by train at Norwich
man thought to be in his 60s suffered head injuries on January 29 after being
hit by the 06:00 Yarmouth – Norwich train near Carrow
police investigated the incident trains in and out of Norwich were cancelled
and delayed until about 08.15. David Wright reports that the 06.42 from
Yarmouth which normally calls at Norwich before proceeding to Liverpool Street
avoided the scene of the incident by omitting the Norwich stop. Is this
the first time in recent years, he wonders, that a service train has avoided
Norwich on its run from Yarmouth to London?
say ‘we’re satisfied’ with 10-year-old Central
Trains, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, is regarded as ‘satisfactory’
by four out of five of its passengers. That’s one of the figures to
emerge from the latest National Passenger Survey carried out last autumn by
Passenger Focus, and published at the end of January.
were quizzed on 32 aspects of train travel, and CT showed an improvement in
29. CTs’ highest score came from handling of station enquiries: 88% said
‘satisfied/good’. But when it came to coping with delays, only 32% were
satisfied. The biggest improvements over 2005 were in train upkeep (up nearly
6%) and station facilities and services (up nearly 5%).
won’t, however, see its eleventh birthday. Its 1,300 services will be
dispersed among three new companies when its franchise expires in November 2007
‘CrewPlan strike’ called off
Conductors working for Central Trains called off a 24-hour strike due to take
place on February 24. The RMT union agreed to resume talks with the
company through the conciliation service Acas.
The industrial action had been planned in response to the introduction of CrewPlan, a computerised rostering system.
issue has already caused industrial action. Despite an agreement at
national level with the RMT, local negotiators refused to accept a deal before
Christmas and as a result RMT Senior Conductors struck on three days: December
24 and 31, and January 1 2007.
Diss footbridge raises hackles
thorny question of adapting stations to meet the needs of disabled people has
surfaced again. This time the focus is Diss
station, where the down (Norwich-bound) platform can only be reached via a
footbridge or by a steep flight of steps. Campaigners have submitted a
500-signature petition asking Network Rail to improve access. NR says it recognises the importance of providing access for all, but
maintains that it has no funds for the work at Diss. Rail staff, it says, are available to accompany wheelchair-bound
passengers across the tracks when required.
2004 Norwich County Court found in Central Trains' favour
against a disabled man who had demanded a taxi for a between-platform transfer
at Thetford (NRS Newsletter June 2004).
Narrow-Gauge and Miniature
flies back to Norfolk
addition to the diesel fleet has arrived at the Mid-Norfolk Railway’s Dereham
yard. Class 08 shunter no. 08836 Eagle C.U.R.C.
was in and around the MNR at County School and Hardingham
in the 1990s, and also worked for a time at Norwich Crown Point Depot. More
recently the Network SouthEast-liveried shunter was on hire to Bombardier’s Derby works through FM
Rail. It's the latter firm’s receivership which has forced the latest
move to Dereham.
was named at Cambridge in 1988 by then NSE Director Chris Green. The
‘CURC’ suffix denotes its ‘twinning’ with the Cambridge University Railway
Circle. The nameplates have subsequently been carried by at least one
other Class 08.
Nigel Teulon hopes to sell Eagle, which needs new
batteries and other minor attention to get it back to working order.
BoB back in business
locos have emerged from the North Norfolk Railway’s Weybourne
shed after prolonged periods under repair.
March 14, B12 4-6-0 no. 61572, now in plain black livery, left under its own
steam for the first time in well over a year. Four days later it
re-entered public service and spent most of the day hauling a 5-coach train.
on April 10, Battle of Britain 4-6-2 no.34081 92 Squadron, whose colour has been darkened to BR Brunswick green, passed its
steam test and travelled light to Sheringham and back
on a test run. After entering public service for a few days it was due to
go on a week’s loan to the Llangollen Railway.
NNR’s visiting engine this summer will be BR Class 9F 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black
Prince. Owned by David Shepherd and normally based at the Gloucester
& Warwickshire Railway, it will arrive on August 13 and depart immediately
after the Steam Gala in September.
Crompton for the MNR's gala
its three-day diesel gala on March 16-18 the Mid-Norfolk Railway played host to
the preserved line’s first ‘Crompton’ Class 33 – but not the one originally
planned. The South East Locomotive Group’s first choice, no. 33063 R J
Mitchell, was having traction motor problems, so instead no.33065 Sealion arrived at Dereham on March 5.
gala, which was the MNR’s most successful to date, saw no. 47596,
newly restored to working order in sparkling rail blue, make its
revenue-earning debut on the Friday. On the following days it shared
duties with Sealion, nos.31438 and D8069. The
run-round loop at Dereham was also in use for the first time.
the gala, nos. 33065 and 47596 worked more MNR trains as no dmus
were available for service. No. 33065 was due to return to its Tunbridge Wells West base on April 11 for a major overhaul.
extends Marriott museum
goods shed at Holt station is having a ‘lean to’ shelter fitted. The
extension will allow a small vehicle such as the LNER ‘pigeon van’ brake to
become part of the museum when not in service and will also protect it from the
along the line, cladding has been applied to the framework of the new Bridge
Road Carriage Sheds.
47732 makes three for SF47 Group
Stratford 47 group, which already has a Class 47 on each of the NNR and MNR,
has bought a third loco. On April 4 no. 47732 (previously no. 47580
County of Essex) was moved from Healey Mills to Tyseley
railway museum by West Coast Rail’s no. 47854. It has yet to be announced
whether the new purchase will come to Norfolk too.
from the tracks
carriages likely to be broken up
homes out of redundant railway carriages was a regular practice between the
Wars. Sitting beside the A12 near the East Suffolk line's Darsham station is a pair of ex-GER carriages which were
made into a bungalow years ago. On one the date "30-10-1922" is
painted – its last visit to works perhaps? The house is now
derelict and has recently been sold. Unless an energetic preservation
group steps in soon it seems likely that the carriages will be broken up.
Plaque honours Norwich air raid victims
memorial plaque has been unveiled at Norwich station to honour
ten local railway workers who were killed by air raids
during the Second World War. The plaque, which lists the names and
replaces an earlier memorial, was unveiled on February 26 by Graham
Freeman. His grandfather Charles Freeman was one of seven LNER loco shed
employees killed during the Luftwaffe's first
raid on Norwich on July 9 1940.
Southwold revivers opt for trust
Southwold Railway Society has become the Southwold Railway Trust. The group’s long-term aim since
its inception in 1994 has been to re-open part, or preferably all, of the old
railway. Changing to a Trust (a Company Limited by Guarantee) gives the
group a legal status which will assist with planning issues, and protect
members from financial liability.
Trust publishes a quarterly newsletter, organises
track walks and other social events. It also operates a shop in Southwold. More details can be obtained from the
Secretary, Maureen Cooksey (tel: 01502 722686 or
destined for Holt
A weighbridge which once weighed road vehicles near Cambridge station is to have a new home on the North Norfolk Railway. The equipment, still in working order, was donated by Network Rail. At the end of February a group of volunteers excavated it, lifted it by crane and and transported it to temporary storage at Standley Steel Stockholders of Wymondham. After restoration it will be installed at the NNR’s Holt station.