Now that local authorities are expected to play a key role in developing integrated transport networks, the RDS local government committee is considering ways to lobby them more effectively.
Branches and local users groups must get rail schemes into the five-year plans which local councils now have to draw up. The committee is also gathering information about the proposed regional development agencies and investigating whether RDS members could serve on what are effectively quangoes.
The RDS reopenings committee is also planning a conference in the West Midlands next year, following this year‘s successful event at Cambridge.
Croydon‘s Tramlink scheme, which takes over several old rail lines and incorporates some street running, is more than half way to completion. Services should start in 2000. Birmingham‘s Metro should be up and running within months and many other cities were hoping to civilise their streets with trams. Unfortunately the Government is offering little encouragement. The thumbs-down for light rail in the White Paper is short-sighted. Mr Prescott should be asking not how many buses he can buy with £200 million but how many car trips will be prevented by spending this sum on light rail or buses. Motorists transfer to light rail more willingly than to buses.
Railworld, Peterborough is a unique museum and exhibition centre. It is the brainchild of the Reverend Richard Paton, who would be keen to hear from any RDS members interested in enhancing it, possibly with computers or audio-visual techniques. If you can, contact Mr Paton on 01733 344240.
Branches wanting cash from the 1998 draw must apply for a bid form from Bill Collins. 8a Moorland Road, Mickleover, Derby DE3 5FX
The RDS national executive passed a resolution in September reminding members that they had no right to trespass on private property in connection with any work for the society.
RDS member Wendy Marchant, who is a Mid Suffolk District councillor and vice chair of the Suffolk rail policy group, has been presented with a framed certificate from Anglia Railways in recognition of the contribution her council has made in part-funding the Cycles on Trains project. Many cyclists should also be grateful to Liberal democrat Mrs Marchant. Anglia now has a full fleet of trains with bookable space to carry up to four cycles in special racks.
However, as Railwatch editor Ray King discovered when he took his family to Norfolk on holiday by bike and train, four spaces are not enough. The Government and the European Union ought to consider funding extra flexible space in trains which could also accommodate prams and pushchairs as well as providing standing-room space at peak times. With increasing passenger numbers throughout Britain, perhaps all two-car diesel units should be given an extra carriage with half of the new accommodation designated flexible space.
Connex South Central has been refused a franchise extension and has not distinguished itself as a rail franchisee.
But it has at least produced an attractive leaflet, jointly with East and West Sussex County Councils and Sussex Downs Conservation Board.
The leaflet, from Connex stations, details nine walks varying from five miles to 11 miles which include the stations at Southease, Balcombe, Glynde, Chichester, Ford, Eridge, Pulborough, Amberley, Christ‘s Hospital, Buxted and Winchelsea.
Connex serves an area including open downland, the wooded Weald and a spectacular coastline, much of it easily reached by train.
You can also enter a Connex draw for free tickets if you complete one of the walks and provide some feedback.
Rail travellers in Switzerland can enjoy 50% reductions on rail travel by subscribing to a Rail Card which is also a credit card. The card costs about £40 but using it to buy rail tickets also allows the holder to collect half-price rail miles.
In Britain train operators have failed to recognise the value of such incentives to travel and sometimes have even undermined them. Why can‘t we have a Rail Card giving 50% reductions on tickets? Is this another job for the Strategic Rail Authority?
Several transport and environmental groups are backing the Slower Speeds Initiative.
Local groups are invited to endorse the initiative and publicise it locally. With £5 for 25 leaflets, write to Denise Carlo, Slower Speeds Inititiative, PO Box 746, Norwich NR2 3LJ
RDS member Peter Cannon can now issue the full range of domestic rail tickets, as well as Eurostar, rail-sea-rail, Continental rail tickets and the other facilities provided by travel agents. This business is at Saxmundham Railway Station, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 1BW (01728 604600)
RDS has seven times as many members now as it had on 1 October 1978 when it was formed by the merger of two small organisations. That is something to celebrate, and a reception was held for the media, railway industry people and other bodies on 1 October 1998.
The theme of the celebrations will be ongoing business — much has been achieved over the past two decades, but much remains to be done if we are to see a bigger role for rail in the new millennium.
This is also the theme of the book, Developing Rail, which we are publishing to mark the anniversary. This quality illustrated publication will cost £3.50 (post free) from our Sales Department; but members can order it at a special rate of £2.50 up to 31 October.
RDS is supporting two continental projects in co-operation with campaigners abroad.
We have written to the French Ministry of Transport and the EC Transport Commissioner, urging rebuilding of the Pau- Canfranc line through the Pyrenees, damaged by floods 28 years ago. It would be particularly useful for long-distance rail freight between Spain and the UK.
The Iron Rhine was originally a through route from the port of Antwerp, via Roermond in the Netherlands to the Ruhr in Germany. It has been severed in two places, but its rebuilding would benefit local passenger traffic as well as longer-distance freight to and from the Ruhr.
The RDS freight and international committees have been pursuing the matter, as part of a campaign to encourage more Anglo-German freight, via the Channel Tunnel, without overloading the busy Brussels-Cologne route.
The Royal Meteorological Society is holding an all-day meeting on Weather and Climate Effects on Railways on Saturday 15 May 1999 at Imperial College, London. The fee is likely to be £10 for non-members of the Royal Meteorological Society.
No further details are available yet, but the Royal Meteorological Society can be contacted at 104 Oxford Road, Reading RG1 7LL. Tel: 0118 956 8500. Fax: 0118 956 8571. Email: .
Web site http://itu.rdg.ac.uk/rms/rms.html, e-mail email@example.com,
The RDS annual general meeting will be held on Saturday 1 May and the national executive has decided in principle that it will be in the North of England. York, Darlington or Scarborough are possibilities. The venue will be announced as soon as possible.
RDS lottery winners for May: John Barfield, London E16 £73.60, Brian Beeley, Tunbridge Wells £46, J D Smith, Bexhill £27.60, Peter Handford, Eye, Suffolk £18.40, Gerard Hickman, Birmingham £9.20, Ian Appleyard, Rushden £9.20.
June: Mrs M S Davies, Aldeburgh £73, Paul Martin, Coventry £45.62, D J Barr, Harrogate £27.38, D Graham, Worksop £18.26, Malcolm Jevons, Mexborough £9.12, P W Wilson, Birmingham £9.12.
July: J E Wilson, Timperley £72.20, Mrs Janice Uphill, Pinner £45.12, H R Fowler, Littlehampton £27.08, M L Grimsey, Broadstone, Dorset £18.06, J E Dwelley, Felixstowe £9.02, Harry Cook, Reading £9.02.
You can email Railwatch editor Ray King at firstname.lastname@example.org (or just click on this link), e-mail Deltic Design with comments about the Railwatch Web pages, or visit their web site.