ERTA Area Agendas for Coverage of English Regions

East Anglia

We applaud the work that Railfuture East Anglia has done to advance a reopenings programme throughout key places in East Anglia over the years. From averting line closures, to retaining and now a network and population brimming for expansion, it is local nurturing which should be supported by Government policy, powers, enablement, funding grants and hands out for hands up to raise the game for local line reopenings and basic improvements for passenger and more freight by rail.

Highlights we support:

  1. East-West Rail especially a rebuild and restored direct Bedford-Cambridge railway for passenger and freight use. Bypasses at Blunham, new build around Sandy, Potton and Gamlingay required. Addenbrooke’s Station should be a junction station able to take trains direct to Stansted from Bedford and off the East Coast Main Line as well as Cambridge. Guided Busway must be slewed to road space or cut and covered, for the railway to assume part of old trackbed. New bridge over M11, new station for Trumpington Park and Ride Interchange are needed as well as evening out of old trackbed access. What we don’t need is indirect or circuitous routes which take as long to get out of urban centres as end to end journeys do. This only panders to making road traffic, with congestion and parking land use conflict problems and mayhem, more attractive, when it is the railway which should pick up a lion’s share on end to end transit times, cost comparisons and benefits of travelling by rail. Likewise overloading Shepreth Junction seems counter-intuitive when an Addenbrooke’s Junction Station could ease flows and create more pathing opportunities. Freight going East faces towards Felixstowe if you approach Cambridge from the south, whereas Chesterton Junction faces south requiring a reversal in Cambridge Yard or new construction over a lake, which is unsatisfactory.
  2. Cambridge-Haverhill-Sudbury for Cambridge-Colchester direct line. Also again puts freight on a double track throughout line with facing towards Felixstowe through Ipswich tunnels going East. Creates capacity for growth by more tracks to compensate for single bore Newmarket Tunnel and brings growing communities like Haverhill back onto the rail network with obvious benefits including ease of commute into Cambridge for more choice, work and study for example. Haverhill benefitting from footfall and spend minus the cars and as a satellite commuting town, shared benefit in easing the housing crisis the area faces on cost, demand and supply terms, balancing with a wish to retain rich agricultural land for food production for example and ensuring we’re fully utilising brownfield land and empty properties for re-use. For information on the Rail Haverhill Campaign please see external site: http://railhaverhill.org.uk/
  3. March-Wisbech with links for Peterborough and Cambridge commute in and out, act as a terminal branch for the Fenland destination. For information on the Wisbech Rail Reopening Campaign please see external site: https://wisbechrail.org.uk/
  4. March-Spalding. Admittedly blockages exist, but maybe the link to the Peterborough-Doncaster line could be west of Spalding, but further out? Realignments where blockages exist but line holds key to more paths on East Coast Main Line, freeing up Peterborough for other trains, cutting Fenland traffic and linking York and Cambridge directly as a cross country Eastern England spinal route both ways including M11/A1 rail choice for more freight by rail reducing carnage on the roads and wear and tear costs. A study at very least should look at the options in wider significance context to mere localism.
  5. Kings Lynn – Hunstanton. This coastal resort should be reconnected to the rail network for footfall and spend minus the parking conflict and mayhem. Route needs protection, a study should be done.
  6. Stansted-Braintree: This should be a new piece of railway along the same corridor as the A120, to give real rail choice, better access from both parts of Essex to the airport, coastal resorts to employment and wider inward and outward travel as well as enabling a loop passenger service out of Stratford and Liverpool Street via Harlow, Stansted, Chelmsford, Romford and back. For more information please see: East Anglian Daily Times Article: “Braintree to Stansted Airport ‘could be achieved in 10 years’ says rail group”
  7. Other lesser coincidental schemes could be the Norfolk Orbital Project, a new direct curve Reedham from the Lowestoft Line to Berney Arms and Great Yarmouth. Same stock from Ipswich could run into Lowestoft, reverse out to Great Yarmouth and on to Norwich and back. East Suffolk Line may be electrified and this flexibility would help utilise operations for passenger and freight potential. More should be done to create a freight plan from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft portals as well as Harwich and nurturing a greater share for rail.
  8. West of East Dereham A47 Park and Ride for direct commuter services to both Norwich and via Crown Point Curves to provide bucket and spade services to the resorts, cutting congestion into them during peak periods. A new line from Thetford-Bury St Edmunds should be looked at to create more capacity at Ely and enable more travel by rail from places like Newmarket to Norwich and Thetford-Ipswich. Likewise a link from Stansted to Haverhill for Cambridge-Haverhill-Stansted should be kept under review and a route identified. We must not limit what reasonable rail recovery can do. We need vision tempered with realism, aspiration balanced with step by step to get from a to b in delivery terms. Currently we have schemes thwarted by high sided demand for expensive studies, undefined ‘business cases’ and bureaucracy which takes ages and is not a straight path for delivery beit hands-on grassroots DIY or top-down conducive grants and enablement. The Countryside Agency Booklet ‘Reopening Toolkit’ October 2004 sought to equip people of how to, but descended into complicated maths formulas as part of the case making process. How many English Regional Reopenings have happened since 2004? Very few, fewer than Scotland and Wales and even they have a backlog list of what needs doing. A transparent conveyor belt system is required to be provided by Government to ensure do-ability is reality, not pie in the sky, nor for want of a good idea.

South East

As said elsewhere, principal calls are in addition to those mentioned elsewhere:

  1. A new west to south curve off the Tonbridge-Redhill line to enable direct running into Gatwick from the east. This curve would also enable Brighton-Tonbridge direct services. It is considered that a new flyover at Redhill would not be possible without a bit of destruction of existing properties and we would not want that. Cranleigh has been crying out for reopening for years, realignment slightly west to avoid subsequent development is required. Likewise, a triangle near Christ’s Hospital Junction (new) would fit for a further reopening extension to Shoreham for Brighton enabling quick Reading-Guildford-Brighton main line running. Maybe with a new P&R Station for where the railway intercepts with the A24.
  2. Polegate-Stone Cross: A new direct, realigned link is required to enable the south coast railway to do more and offer more to more people wishing to visit, travel and utilise a rail rover ticket for example. It would enable direct Ashford-Brighton semi fasts with potential freight to and from the Channel Tunnel to run via Polegate to Lewes-Three Bridges and then via a new flyover, to the Horsham –Guildford lines for the rest of England and vice versa. Eastbourne would still have its services and London links and more could be done to nurture more freight by rail utilising spare land and sidings including pallet sized and consumables and perishables for the holiday and hotel industry. The wagons have to be built, the infrastructure needs to go in, but essentially you need a model, an idea and multiply it to other resorts who want the same, by collaboration you can use the same stock, pool resources and via our reopenings agenda, help inform the capacity around London to do it.
  3. Guildford-Brighton Rail Rebuild-New Build ERTA Call July 2017GBGBERTA calls for the protection of the former rail route between Guildford-Brighton railway line via Cranleigh, Horsham and Shoreham and adequate lands for realignments where blockages exist to keep the option open for reopening this corridor as a railway corridor with cycle paths and foot paths being slewed or added on a widened platform alongside with a fence in between for a transport-leisure corridor which can cut congestion, reduce road traffic, save land, make modest development more sustainable and offer many new rail direct journeys currently laboriously lengthy, costly or inconvenient or non-existent. For example, Oxford-Guildford-Brighton fast and vice versa, Brighton- Heathrow via Guildford and vice versa – the reopening of this railway could enable such journeys with overall benefit. Bringing places like Cranleigh back onto the railway map would also make access and visitorship a more attractive proposition and a new parkway station could be made available intersecting the A24 so people could have more options in their travel and commuting habits. It would also free up seats on the direct London – Brighton line and enable people to commute to and from Gatwick by rail from north of Guildford via Horsham and Three Bridges-Redhill and back informing a loop. This would cut wait-over and clear through tracks at Gatwick, keeping trains on the move and utilising existing stock, saving costs. Due to blockages, a railway bypass is required at Cranleigh to the west but the gains of a railway and a station there should be obvious to most discerning people and places. ERTA seeks people to join and help act as trackbed watchers, object to threats and blockages and call for the reopening and further study of reopening with a view to taking the proposition forward. https://ertarail.com/membership/ gives details on how to join ERTA, it is simple, painless and every member can help make a difference between re-rail or a non-rail desert with overcrowded roads, parking blight and rising air pollution. There are choices to be made and we can vote with our feet and wallets. Thank you.Link: https://www.facebook.com/Rebuild-Guildford-Brighton-147211122497086/
  4. We support the idea of linking the two Windsor railway stations and lines and extending links to make more of a local connectivity network around the areas served. Indeed, full use of platforms at Windsor and Eton Riverside should be another consideration as a candidate for services from Bedford and Luton via reopened Dudding Hill Lines for hot-spot tourist-airport links ‘not via London’, freeing up seats and capacity for other rail users. ‘ https://windsorlink.co.uk/

North East

  1. Scarborough-Whitby should be reopened with direct station to station rail adjustments made to ensure that is do-able.
  2. Hull-East Riding-York should be reopened for direct rail access and linkage between these two north-easterly places. For information on the Minsters Rail campaign please see external site: http://minstersrail.net/
  3. Spalding-Boston as a phase 1 but the East Lincs main line should be reopened with links to Mablethorpe. Electrify from Peterborough-Spalding-Boston-Skegness would enable a London Open Access direct service, boosting tourism and holiday trade and enabling commuting from the coast, boosting the spend and extent of job-seeking potential. The A16 largely sits on the old trackbed of the Spalding-Boston railway, which funnily enough underscores the pattern of closure of local strategic lines, that very soon after the exact same roads or new roads were built or upgraded along the same lines, indicating there is a market of demand to serve and tap into, albeit the lines are no more. The A16 could be slewed with bypasses in urban areas such as Sutterton Algakirk and Kirton with links with the parallel B1397 road. Then insert the railway serving principal urban areas, cutting traffic, but boosting footfall and spend and market share of visitors in a sustainable and people friendly manner.
  4. Harrogate-Ripon-Northallerton should be reopened with MML direct links to East Coast Main Line. For more information please see: Yorkshire Evening Post article: “Reopening of 11-mile Harrogate-Ripon rail link takes a step nearer”
  5. Wensleydale extension to Garsdale should be supported and ideally Government would employ Network Rail to relay the junctions and help strategic route protection. For information on Wensleydale Railway Association (Trust), please see external site: http://www.wensleydalerail.com/
  6. Reopen the Woodhead Route for railway whether they relocate the electric cables or dig a new tunnel, it is a must reopening for Hull-Liverpool land bridge between North Sea and Europe to the Atlantic. Decluttering Pennine trunk roads is an obvious environmental gain and a roll-on, roll-off inland service akin to Le Shuttle would be just the ticket to give drivers a speedy end to end principal place transit and just drive off at the other end. For information on the Reopen Woodhead Line Campaign please see external site: http://savethewoodheadtunnel.blogspot.co.uk/

East Midlands

  1. Northampton-Bedford
  2. Northampton-Market Harborough (new link to Midland Main Line is needed south of built Market Harborough line). A P&R Station where the line intercepts the A14 could be advantageous and by connecting Northampton (population exceeding 200, 000) with the East Midlands and Leicester for example, Cross Country ‘new’ services could do Derby/Nottingham-Leicester-Northampton-Milton Keynes-Bletchley Flyover-Oxford and Reading/Swindon for example, bypassing Birmingham and London, saving time, cost and fuel.
  3. Rugby-Leamington Spa. New alignment needed at Leamington End, direct running into Stratford Upon Avon from the East would enable services like Northampton-Leamington direct with a choice of Stratford, Birmingham or Airport link for example and vice versa.
  4. Coventry-Nuneaton Line: restore direct bypass under West Coast Main Line south of Nuneaton for direct running of semi fast services from Leamington-Coventry-Bedworth-Narborough-Leicester cutting out Nuneaton for shuttle services to serve. This would connect Shakespeare country more and enable a choice to passengers as well as direct freight from Oxford-Leamington line to East Midlands via Coventry.
  5. Leicester/Knighton-Burton on Trent: This railway should be reopened as a strategic link between the Midland Main Line and the Derby-Birmingham line. Stations for reopening are Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch. A 2 way interface at both ends would allow electric Midland Main Line local trains an alternative destination to Leicester with direct running into Derby via Burton. Likewise the lines potential as a freight bypass from multiple lines including a rebuilt Great Central from the south would free up capacity through Leicester for more passenger services. It would cut traffic commuting into Leicester and regenerate the areas it would serve. Tracks exist already, so it is a matter of investment and case making with final authorisation and determination by the Local Authorities to the Regions and them to Central Government/The Department for Transport and the Treasury. Private or Public, the TOCs are not exactly queuing up for reopenings, we don’t buy the idea that vertical integration would stimulate such as if that were the case TOCs and arcing bodies would be calling for such already and producing studies. That absence and the fact that British Rail only started addressing reopenings in Sectorisation precluding privatisation, means that a fluke needs to be made more solid in policy and delivery framework terms with grants to assist with additional line-born revenues and modal shift to reward interest and effort not ignore or penalise them. For further information please see: Leicester Mercury Article: “£175 million cost of reopening Leicester to Burton rail passenger services ‘poor value for money’”
  6. Reopen a Manchester-Derby railway for East Midlands – Manchester link.
    See: Petition to reopen Derbyshire rail link attracts thousands of signatures
    ERTA supports the rebuilding of the missing link from Matlock-Buxton/Chinley for through passenger and freight workings. It would create a much-needed direct rail link between East Midlands and the North West and vice versa and bring much needed footfall and spend to the lower Peak District area minus the excessive traffic and land-use/parking allocation conundrums which bedevils many a local authority. We welcome people to join ERTA and offer to be Area Reps to help us with:
  • Convening meetings
  • Encouraging supporters to join ERTA and offer their time and talents matched to what is needed.
  • Keep an eye on the old trackbed, log blockages now and threats going forward, help organise objections to Councils against development threats and blockages and any further erosive actions against reopening the route as a railway for daily use.
    All further enquiries and news, feedback and support can be directed via richard.erta@gmail.com–
    Derby-Mcs 
    We hope to convene forums at various strategic centres and locations together supporters who want to act and help take responsibility for furthering the reopening prospect and grow a reliable and credible team able to take on Local Authorities, Parishes, LEPs and other Governmental bodies, making a case and nurturing support across the many agents and existing rail related bodies with an interest in the matter. See twitter.com/ReopenPeakRail

North West

  1. Reopen the line to Fylde North of Blackpool
  2. Reopen an Appleby-Penrith-Keswick-Workington direct Pennine-Lakes east-west rail link (parallels A591 and A66). For information on the Keswick to Penrith Railway Re-opening project please see external site: http://www.keswickrailway.com/
  3. Reopen a Chinley-Trafford south orbital railway to give more routing options for freight to and around Manchester by rail. Restore the Central Station to terminal capability and see the many more trains the system can provide compared to just 2 main terminals, pretty as they may be. An Aberystwyth-Manchester Airport direct service should be tabled and ideally, a new link from Welshpool-Oswestry following the A483 to speed end to end up and open West Wales up to tourism and visitors from the North West and Manchester areas without the traffic and parking issues.
  4. Reopen a Manchester-Derby railway for Manchester – East Midlands link. See East Midlands Section 6 above and:
    Petition to reopen Derbyshire rail link attracts thousands of signatures
  5. A new direct line from the Settle and Carlisle line to the emergent Borders Line via Hexham for direct links and services between principal places like Leeds and Edinburgh as well as freight. Without their avoiding lines Carlisle could become a bottleneck. So a direct link would help a more ‘horses for courses’ approach to be pragmatically considered.
  6. Colne-Skipton: We support this short but strategic missing local link for a more joined up and integrative network: http://www.selrap.org.uk/

West Midlands

  1. Reopen Curzon Street Station as a station terminal in it’s own right. Could be done as a local scheme, doesn’t need HS2 to justify it. Birmingham needs more terminal capacity and this would spread the load and boost the trajectory of areas between it and other existing main stations in regenerative terms.
  2. Reopen a new link between Stratford Upon Avon and Cheltenham and Oxford via Long Marston.
  3. Reopen the Brownhills line: For information on the South Staffs Rail Action Group please see external site: http://southstaffsrail.webs.com/reopencampaign.htm
  4. Stafford-Uttoxeter: This corridor would help with commuting options by rail between Stafford and Uttoxeter but also Derby-West Midlands and Potteries – East Midlands. Could also offer more capacity and options for freight by rail movements.
    See: Petition to Reopen the railway line from Stafford-Uttoxeter

These lists are not exhaustive. Some have their own groups and we wish them well with their efforts and only wish to endorse it. Where there is no one currently, it could be you! Why not join ERTA and offer to be an Area Rep to grow our support base near where you live?

What you can do: If you agree with any or all of what we are expressing here you can:

  • Join ERTA – every member helps make us a louder shout for more of what we may wish for.
  • Offer time and talent – if you want to get involved we have volunteer opportunities and whilst we welcome reliability and enthusiasm, we welcome any special focus’ or skills. Area Reps convene meetings, gather people together, inform teams and help move projects along. It could be a new station, it could be a new piece of railway. It can start with you, as all progress and advocacy of improvement must.
  • Join our email loop, it is free, no obligation and makes for news and audience support network build, please email: richard.erta@gmail.com
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