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Railwatch 074 - December 1997


By James Towler

Connections When a call for improved connections was made at the RUCC ECFML sub-committee, it was treated with disdain by a GNER representative.

He stated that ' ''confidentiality'' made it impossible for GNER to consult other TOCs prior to making bids (for timetable slots) to Railtrack and ruled out any consultation with Central Trains regarding connections at Peterborough, Yorkshire's gateway to East Anglia. We raised the issue with Rail Regulator John Swift who subsequently ''persuaded'' GNER to ''share information with other operators allowing planning of connections''. Nice one, John!

Paper Victory Talking of the RUCCs, we were concerned that members of the public attending meetings of the RUCC for north-east England continued to be deprived of the supporting papers necessary to follow the deliberations; whereas these documents were available at meetings of other RUCCs. We have now persuaded the RUCC for NE England to provide the necessary paperwork, plus minutes of its regional sub-committees which meet in secret with Railtrack and the TOCs to consider local rail issues.

. . . and now a shortage of guards! After six months of misery, and just when we thought Regional Railways North East had resolved its driver restructuring fiasco, the end of September and early October saw a further spate of cancellations due to a shortage of conductors (guards). Is there no end to it all?

On the Air RDS and local user group members were interviewed by David Walter for BBC Radio 4's Agenda investigation into Britain's restructured railway. Whilst the programme was being recorded (September 30) on platform two at Leeds, a most telling point was made by the Tannoy when it announced that the 17.43 to Horsforth and the 17.44 to Selby had been cancelled ''due to a shortage of staff''.

How committed to Yorkshire is GNER? Great news about the 140mph tilting trains planned for the year 2000 in a bid to capture airline business between London and Edinburgh with a stop at Newcastle. But why no stop at York? - where there is also a speed restriction. Good news, too, about the ''exciting menus'' from the McCoy Brothers designed to tempt more people into the restaurant car. So, why have GNER withdrawn this facility from several of its Leeds trains?

l50th anniversaries Top marks to the Aire Valley Rail Users' Group who sponsored a successful programme of events between August and October to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first railway to Skipton. They ranged from a photographic competition to a special train on the Rylstone branch. October also marked the 150th anniversary of the link between Bridlington and Filey to complete the ''Wolds'' route between Hull and Scarborough. No celebrations as such, but the Hull & East Riding Rail Users' Association hope to mark the l50th anniversary of the opening of Hull Paragon station in May 1998.

To Glasgow via Settle? Brian Sutcliffe, chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, seeks views on the possible introduction of through services to Glasgow via the S&C. As this is ''a main-line railway built to take its trains over the hills at speed'' (Leeds-Carlisle in 2hr 3min back in 1938) a Leeds-Glasgow journey time of, say, 3hr 30min makes commercial sense. It could also prove a nice little earner for National Express deploying HST 125s as an extension of its Midland Main Line route. Thus history could turn full circle and see the return of the ''Thames-Clyde Express''. Wishful thinking?

Distinguished Guest The speaker at our AGM luncheon at the Queens Hotel, Leeds, on 21 March 1998 will be Dr Robin Sisson, educationist, dramatist and transport expert whose play ''The Hearing'' was based on a projected railway closure proposal. Reservations at £7.95 per head, cheques payable to RDS (Yorkshire), to Andrew Oldfield, 14 Long Lane, Horrall, Sheffield S30 3AF. Next branch meeting: 17 January 1998, Trades and Labour Club, Marsh Way, Doncaster at 14.00.

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