SHREWSBURY ABERYSTWYTH RAILWAY LIAISON COMMITTEE OCTOBER 12th 2012
TraCC REPORT by CHRIS WILSON, TRACC CO-ORDINATING OFFICER
- No progress on being able to afford the match-funding for the Machynlleth Access for All (liftbridge) project – as manager of the existing grant funding made available to TraCC, it is still true that we just don’t have any unallocated funding available this year or next year – unless additional funding specifically for rail projects is made available to TraCC by the Welsh Government – or a mechanism is found to fund the scheme from elsewhere (local authority capital budgets, Welsh Government or Network Rail direct or European/ TEN-T)?
- Aberystwyth NSIP+ project has not progressed but we hope it will … soon?!!! There have been a few ‘hick-ups’ re. physical interface with TraCC RTP Grant-funded (Ceredigion-delivered) Aberystwyth Passenger Transport ‘Gateway’ Project/ railway and non-railway land and alleged rights of station building tenants… and the status of the planning application particularly with regard to the extent of the proposed new canopy. (I’m investigating what is going on with this!) However, as a matter of principle, it is my view that we mustn’t lose the NSIP+ project or see it ‘dumbed-down’ in any way!
- Phil/ Marc should update you on the hourly service proposal (based on Phil’s report to the Montgomeryshire Committee today) and my update note on progress.
- Ditto Phil/ Marc for Powys level crossing eliminations.
- Not sure what has happened to the easier access programme (‘humps’) – although not applicable to the Cambrian Main Line.
- As part of the Network Rail consultation process on future priorities and funding plans, TraCC Board is to make contact and ask representatives to come and talk to us. I understand that NR want to do this with a range of representative bodies.
- The Welsh Government has embarked on its ‘Rail Futures’ work – looking at electrification of routes and the shape of the future Wales and Borders Rail Franchise – I attended a workshop on 25th Sept and the TraCC Chair and Marc Lewis attended a Conference in Cardiff on 1st October. We are promised opportunities to influence national (and UK) project priorities and spending plans in CP5 and CP6 and I hope this is the case.
- Rhydian attended the ACORP national awards in Swindon on 28th September and was presented with two awards – one for the TraCC RTP Grant-funded Rail safety Film (working with young people category). Our Chair has written to congratulate him and the CRP. (We are now planning on doing a similar thing for buses).
- Borth and Caersws stations desperately need to be improved as part of the NSIP programme, ditto Newtown (?and Welshpool).
- TraCC is still (very slowly) pursuing our ‘grand scheme’ for Dyfi Junction station sometime in the future – when we can get all the agencies ‘on board’ and money is available – to provide a ‘park and ride’, interchange with buses and crossing of the All Wales Coastal Path over the Afon Dyfi to Gwynedd. But there is much resistance from the Rail Industry and beyond the local community, little will/ determination to make anything happen. This is why little is/ has happened I guess?
- The campaign groups promoting the opening of new stations at Carno and Bow Street are still actively lobbying TraCC, local AMs (and hopefully) the Welsh Government. But again – regardless of timescales for delivery and details of BCR , ‘lost journeys’, capital construction costs (debate over with or without flood prevention measures, the number of car parking spaces to be provided, length of platform etc) and Rail Industry-provided revenue (operating) costs for the new stations – the schemes are currently unaffordable within existing budgets made available by the Welsh Government to TraCC. However, we are being ‘upbeat’/ positive and have agreed to meet with the Carno Station Action Group again at the end of November and we take every opportunity to constructively discuss the issue of affordability with the Minister and the Welsh Government. A big hurdle that needs to be overcome (and is often overlooked these days) is the reluctance of the Rail Industry to support (and fund …and operate from?) any new stations on Mid Wales railway lines. Without this support (permission!), we are stuck! Look at the debate over services stopping (not stopping!) at the newly constructed station at Energlyn on the Ebbw Valley Line!
- Finally, having funded and published the Capita Symonds Rail Report (2010), TraCC is to (finally!) prepare a regional Rail Strategy/ Priorities document (draft to Board by mid January) – but we need to balance and prioritise aspirations (like re-opening closed railway lines) with practical, deliverable projects that can be reasonably accurately-costed, based on good evidence (demand forecasts etc), support economic recovery and can be funded and delivered in CP5 or 6/ feature in UK DfT/ Network Rail and Welsh Government plans. This piece of work is being led by ourselves as officers (possibly using consultancy services where needed to support our work) and will require local authority officers to contribute fully and will require the views of key stakeholders/ partners like yourselves.