Friday, 22 October 2010

UK Rail Network 'At Risk' From Global Warming

In a report in the quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology scientists suggest that the UK rail network is at risk from global warming. The scientists from the University of Southampton and Network Rail studied the number of landslides and floods that resulted in delays to rail travel of more than eight hours. They found that the frequency of these major incidents was far higher during the wet winter of 2000-2001, when rail passengers experienced widespread travel disruption.

Scientists predict that such wet winters will become more common in the future, raising fears that climate change could result in "travel chaos".

In a separate study, Network Rail engineers have concluded that half of the UK's railway cuttings and embankments were in "poor" or "marginal" condition leaving them prone to landslides.

One of the most 'at risk' areas is the south east of England where much of the rail network is built on soft clay which is particularly prone to landslides. The Great Eastern mainline has often suffered from movement due to this soft clay and the Harwich branch has been closed on more than one occasion following the tracks and overhead catenary moving.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Spending Review - Impact On Rail

Following on from yesterday's spending review announced by the government there is a mixture of good and bad news for Essex passengers.

On the positive side the government have confirmed that Crossrail will go ahead.  This will provide a greatly enhanced service for those who wish to travel across London and should take some pressure off existing services.

On the negative side from 2012 regulated fares are to increase by RPI+3.  Currently fare increases are capped at RPI+1.  The precise impact of these increases will not be known until 2011 when the then current rate of inflation can be incorporated into the equation.  Whatever the eventual answer, the UK will continue to have the most expensive rail fares in Europe and it may well be that passengers are forced into their cars as a consequence.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

National Express To Benefit Even More From High Fare Increases?

A number of articles in the media are suggesting that the likely high increase in rail fares could benefit National Express (NX) even more with disgruntled rail passengers moving over to NX coach services instead. There has been much talk in the media of compound rises in rail fares of 40% by 2014 although this has perhaps understandably been played down by the government.

NX Coach services may not have an effect on commuter routes such as those between Essex and London which are regarded as something of a guaranteed market, but longer journeys may well see people move from train to coach.

National Express yesterday reported that it was on target to meet full-year profit forecasts, with analysts expecting a pre-tax profit of more than £153m. Last year NX reported a pre-tax loss of £83.5m as it struggled with debts of more than £1bn, three attempted takeover bids and losing the prestigious east coast rail franchise.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Evening Delays On 13th October

National Express East Anglia are reporting that the significant delays suffered yesterday evening were due to a "line-side fire caused by criminal damage in the Brentwood area".

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

North Fambridge Station Wins Award

North Fambridge station, renowned locally for its beautiful gardens, was named Best Small Station 2010 at the National Express East Anglia Adopter Station Awards.  The ceremony was held at Ipswich Town Football Club where retired couple John and Win Wait received their award.  Station adopters are local volunteers who work with National Express in improving the general appeal of stations in the region.  Mr and Mrs Wait who live on site at North Fambridge station have been station adopters for six years and won a similar award a few years ago.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Billericay Station Buffet Petitions Downing Street

The owners of Bread and Buffers, the snack bar at Billericay station, will be presenting a petition to Downing Street on Thursday. The 3,000 signature petition calls for Hugh and Nadia McMahon to be able to continue with their business after the planned £1.4 million revamp of Billericay station. Under the current plans Bread and Buffers will be knocked down to make way for a bigger ticket office. Mr and Mrs McMahon are asking for a suitable location to be provided during the rebuilding works and in the new station once completed.

Joining them on Thursday will be representatives from the Essex Federation of Small Businesses and Billericay MP John Baron.

Bread and Buffers has been operating at the station for eighteen years.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Commuters Faced With Significant Fare Rises

A cross-party Transport Select Committee has warned that commuters face significant fare increases while other travellers face "unlimited" increases. Currently season tickets are capped at RPI + 1 which would see a fare rise of 5.8% in January. However as part of the imminent spending review the cap of RPI + 1 could be scrapped.

"I'm concerned that fares could rise up to 10%, [and] that some fares might not have any limit imposed on them at all," said the chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman.

In addition to higher fares, plans for 2,000 new carriages across the UK have been put on hold which will lead to delays in providing extra capacity. On the Great Eastern mainline and outer suburban routes that serve north and east Essex, National Express East Anglia has obtained hand-me-down Class 321 trains from elsewhere which should go some way to reduce overcrowding but plans for new replacement trains on the London - Norwich route may now be some way off.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Marks Tey Coffee Seller Gets Offer Of Further 6 Month Extension

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) have now offered Nigel Clark at Marks Tey station a six month extension to enable him to continue selling coffees etc. during the rebuilding works.  Mr Clark's business will be located in a secure metal shed during this period.  However, a number of legal issues need to be clarified before agreement on going forward can be reached.  Longer term, NXEA will be going out to tender for the new retail unit that will be included in the refurbished station.

As previously mentioned here, Mr Clark had been threatened with eviction and some 700 commuters have signed a petition in support of him and local MP Priti Patel has raised her concerns in the House of Commons.

Friday, 1 October 2010

More Buses Laid On To Combat Tube Strike

Transport for London (TfL) is to put on 100 extra buses to increase capacity during the tube strike scheduled to take place on Monday.  TfL has also said that roadworks are being delayed and it will be organising marshalled taxi ranks and increasing capacity for approximately 10,000 more journeys on the River Thames.

For up to date information on the strike go to the TfL website.