Annual General Meeting
The 2014 AGM will take place in the Ashmole Room at Lichfield Guildhall at 19.30 on Monday 10th March.
The Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary (David Dixon, Tony Wiggall and Ian Jackson) are willing to serve for a further year; Treasurer Richard Patching is standing down after 25 or so years, and John Adams has offered to succeed him. Any further nominations should be sent to the Secretary before the meeting, please.
Following the official business, two recently-appointed senior managers from London Midland, Mark Goodall and Barrie Cottam, responsible for Cross-City and Trent Valley services respectively, will tell us what they are doing and answer questions.
An interesting evening is in prospect.
Lichfield to Derby
Efforts continue to press for a serious look at reintroducing regular passenger services, but it is difficult to raise any enthusiasm among the local authorities who seem more focussed on trying to stop HS2.
In early January, we met in Stafford three Staffs CC officers who told us that their draft Rail Strategy, prepared following the Rail Summit in January last year, might be published in April (this year…). This will not contain anything as imaginative as line re-openings (they are busier trying to stop a new line – HS2 – being built), but it will be open for consultation.
Nottingham trains will be routed via Walsall and the Sutton Park line during this period). hourly for the duration, but will run with 6 coaches.
We are planning an organised round trip on Tuesday 18th Feb leaving City station at 9.55 am for a non-stop run to New Street, followed by the 10.49 to Nottingham over the Sutton Park line. We will take a trip on the trams and are trying to organise a visit to the tram depot, no doubt some beer will be swilled, then a return to Derby on the 15.41 where we pick up the 16.28 train direct back to Lichfield City for 16.55. Let Ian know if you are interested (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01543 414732) in case we need to know numbers for a depot visit.
Trent Valley Station
After many years, things have begun to happen. Before Christmas, construction began of the new station building on the down platform just on the Stafford side of the existing one; unfortunately it will be a modest structure more suited to the footfall of a few years ago than the nearly one million passengers a year now passing through. Completion is promised by Easter.
Before that, 120 extra car park spaces should be available from February, on the land by the London end of the up platform, with access by steps rather than a slope. London Midland put the case (as their top priority) for step-free access (probably lifts) for the station as a whole under the new “Access for All” money; we should know by April whether successfully.
Trent Valley Services
Passenger numbers continue to grow on the London trains, as does overcrowding, thanks in part to aggressive marketing of cheap London tickets from as far as Liverpool, Crewe and Stoke. The 1646SX from Euston is now rostered for 2 sets (8 cars) as far as Stafford. Sunday services remain via Northampton and thus slow, and we have persuaded Virgin Trains to look at extra weekend calls which would partly rectify this.
Resignalling and trackwork will necessitate blockades at Watford later in the year, with buses south from Milton Keynes and elsewhere; it will be attractive to travel to London via the Chiltern trains from Moor St, some of which take less than 2 hours to Marylebone. Similar work is to take place in the Stafford area, again doubtless with buses though a diversionary route is available between Colwich and Crewe.
The changed sequence of trains from Birmingham mooted to improve Trent Valley connections has yet to be introduced, though this change would be a mixed blessing given how often trains are still being terminated short of Lichfield Trent Valley.
This has been a feature of recent weeks, the reasons given being varied; London Midland tell us better punctuality is their top priority.
We have made some suggestions to Mark Goodall of how better to regulate trains during disruption, which we hope will be fully evaluated. In the meantime any possibility of a better timetable, such as earlier trains and more frequent ones on evenings and Sundays, is on hold.
This steams ahead, despite the best efforts of many of our fellow citizens to sink it; one suspects few of the opponents make much use of rail.
The Hybrid Bill will start its Parliamentary process this year. Until phase 2 opens on towards Manchester there are questions about how the existing line will cope with the extra trains from Handsacre, at least as far as Colwich.
We continue to meet from 20.00 on second Mondays of each month, now in the George IV pub in Bore St, Lichfield.
Numbers attending have grown recently, leading to better discussion; more are always welcome.
Most members are now regularly receiving useful information from us by email, originating from London Midland and from affiliated bodies (WCRail250, Railfuture and Passenger Focus) whose meetings we attend.
If Ian on email@example.com doesn’t have your email address, you’re missing out; so, let him know it!