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Railwatch 070 - December 1996

Hostile road layouts come under attack

Walking or cycling is the normal way to arrive at a railway station but difficulties have been created by giving priority to car users, John Stewart told one of the workshop sessions at the users conference.

Road planners have often put inner relief roads close to stations, creating danger and inconvenience to rail passengers. Local councils could help by reviewing hostile road layouts to make life easier for rail users.

Good signposting for pedestrians and cyclists was essential although often local councils provided signs for cars which were actually misleading for pedestrians.

Railtrack and the train operators were urged to follow the example of the Tyne and Wear Metro in making its system accessible to all.

London Transport is about to improve conditions for the disabled. It has discovered that costs will be recovered quickly because making life easier for the disabled also makes life more attractive for the able-bodied. More passengers are encouraged - and revenue goes up as a result.

Wrexham woes

Property developers are still trying to push rail stations out of town centres, not realising that trains are one of the key factors to make any town centre function well. If plans to move Wrexham station succeed, rail passengers will have to walk to a 'boulevard' via 'an exciting new pedestrian route.' In fact rail passengers would have to walk treble the present distance to get into town.

Ticket troubles

The lack of reliable information on rail services and fares was highlighted at the conference. One person who enquired about a ticket from Manchester to Eastbourne was told the fare would be £118 when there was a £45 alternative.

Freight share too low

The Government's appalling record in giving so many hidden subsidies to road transport that only 6% of freight in Britain now goes by rail was attacked by delegates. Even in New Zealand, 40% of freight still uses rail.

The train now disappearing . . .

A useful train linking Preston to Carlisle, via Clithroe, Hellifield and the Settle-Carlisle line, was 'lost' to many passengers because train operators seem unable to show it properly in their timetables.

To the ordinary person, said Mr J B Davies, it seemed that the train dropped off the end of the world when in fact it was merely crossing between the territories of North West and North East regional railways.

Midland mayhem

Most rail passengers know that the ride on the West Coast main line is atrocious but the track quality on the Midland main line had also deteriorated, the conference was told.

"It is so appalling that people risk injuring themselves just going to the buffet or to the toilet," said Mr J B Davies.

But the operator seems too timid to complain to Railtrack. "Even though they have a contract with Railtrack, they seem reluctant to use it," said Mr Davies.

Co-ordinated campaigns

Rail user groups were advised to draw up their own publicity strategies. RDS publicity officer Steve Rackett said press, radio and TV welcome comments from independent rail users who are not making politically motivated comments.

He said RDS itself had developed a co-ordinated campaign approach and he offered help to rail user groups who wanted to follow the RDS example. Steve can be contacted at 4 Basing House, 350 Shirley Road, Southampton, SO15 3HY (tel 01703 775607).

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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