PRESENT: T Thompson, J Adams, I Jackson, P Martin, D Dundas (Zoom host), D James, A Hutchinson, G Stringer, R Hockney, O O’Neill, J Woodcock, D Bathurst, V Wasdell,
I Clark, M Frayn, D Jones
Apologies: B Pretty, R Patching
TOBY RACKLIFF, Strategic Lead Rail Policy, WMRE, addressed the meeting and covered a wide variety of subjects: (i) Wiliams Shapps white paper – generally encouraging, (ii) Restoring Railways Fund – still awaiting outcome but even if unsuccessful it is likely that WMRE will want to press on with the Lichfield to Burton project, (iii) Lichfield to Walsall – part of the greater vision for WMRE with the potential for services between Wolverhampton and Derby; the line will remain protected by Network Rail who are unlikely to concede a cycle path – later Toby advised that WMRE would robustly defend the line as a rail route and that they could contribute to District Council local plan consultation but will be guided by the Board member for Staffordshire.
(iv) Integrated Rail Plan still awaited; (v) WMRE working with TOCs as demand builds up, use of masks likely to continue in near future. (vi) other items included freight routes, and de-carbonisation – while he sees a use for hydrogen power he believes that it is unlikely to be a major alternative fuel source for railways.
CHAIRMAN reported on his rail trips on the Churnet Valley and to North Wales, the latter preventing his attendance at the RAILFUTURE AGM which Owen O’Neill had attended. Owen advised 40/45 attendees and interesting addresses from Malcolm Holmes (WMRE) and Sarah Spink (Midlands Connect)
CHARTER TRAIN TO BUXTON – a number from our group had travelled. Good that a charter train started from Lichfield, and the route after Edale along the stone freight haulage lines into Buxton was impressive. Sadly Rail Operations Group had let down TfB, the organiser and a delayed start and inadequate air conditioning on the hottest day of the year diminished the overall experience. NB On the day after our meeting full refunds were offered to all who had bought tickets – an exceptional offer in railway terms!
TREASURER reported annual income to date of £309 from 37 members and a grant of £75 giving a balance of £1483.72
OTHER BUSINESS – Chairman encouraged members to sign a petition to get Highways England t stop destroying or filling in disused bridges over railway lines
LDC STRATEGIC PLAN Consultation – agreed that the Committee should meet to prepare a submission with regard to Rail and Sustainable Transport issues in the Plan.
NEXT MEETING – we will not meet in August but on 20th September and hopefully in person when David Bathurst has agreed to “ramble on”as our main speaker. Topic(s) to be confirmed.