ATTENDEES T Thompson (Chair) J Adams, A Hutchinson, D Dundas, D Bathurst, R Hartley, M Frayn, P Martin, G Lusher, J Arnstein, R Hockney, R Henshaw, I Clark, D James, G Stringer, I Jackson, O O’Neill, J Woodcock. And one other, total 19. Apologies from Peter Cousins
- This meeting is on ZOOM following several requests. Our thanks to David Dundas for providing the ZOOM facility. There will be no December meeting and we have not determined yet whether the January meeting should in person or ZOOM.
- I attended the November meeting of the RailFuture WM committee on 10 Nov at Moor Street station. Topics included a detailed complaint from 4 rail user groups about cancellations, leading to a meeting with WMT and WMRE. The complaint seemed to concern diesel services only and be due to driver shortage, made worse by lockdowns and incapable of quick solution (so WMT said). My experience is that our services are reliable but we want more than a half hourly service to Birmingham.
- i) D James reported that WMT committed to getting back to 4 trains per hour between May and Dec 2022
- ii) We should also press for the LTV services to stop at Shenstone as they did in the recent past. (We should not forget what we have achieved in the past – before that it was the City terminators that stopped at Shenstone.)
iii) Better connectivity needed between LNWR and WMR services at LTV. JA
- A public meeting has been called for 26 Jan to form a group for Cross City Line South. What about North? ie Duddeston to Blake Street, we do the Staffs stations already.
- i) P Cousins had suggested that Lichfield passengers should enjoy the same benefit as those who use Blake Street.
- ii) Would Staffs CC subsidise in the way that Birmingham /West Midlands do? This may need Central Government approval.
- On 11 Nov I had a one to one meeting (I was one, they were 3) with HS2 phase 2a. It was worthwhile and we need one with phase 1. I asked about pedestrian and cyclist provision for road closures, and for a decent map of what they were trying to achieve and got reasonable answers. I did not ask any big questions (why not cancel it, why is it done in a money no object way?) as I would not have got answers – we need another forum.
i)Should we ask MPs to enquire of the Audit Office if anybody is keeping an eye on expenditure? (Paddy M – Chris Pincher, Tony – M Fabricant??)
- I went to a meeting of the Newcomen Society on 3 Nov given by David Moore the founder of Lichfield Waterworks Trust.
WEST MIDLANDS TRAINS COMMUNITY RAIL CONFERENCE – report by Paddy Martin
- Leisure travel is now at same level or above pre-pandemic levels, but business travel is well down, particularly Mondays and Fridays.
- Rolling stock contract still stands under the new set-up. New DMU 196 deliveries have now started. New EMU 730 now being built and should be available 2022/3.
- Still driver shortages causing problems, but new drivers now in training including transfers from other regions, which should bring total up to target level during 2022.
- Pushing for station adopters, particularly LNWR, where only four stations without adopters, one being Lichfield Trent Valley.
- WMR made mention of activities at stations, including Shenstone where station “manager” Haley commended by name for activities which involve local community. Jane Arnstein added that Shenstone’s community activity includes mini library and she is keen to make the station as welcoming as possible particularly to the young people who use the station for school travel. Shenstone adopters are to be “twinned” with Wylde Green. Birmingham is to recognise its musical heritage which might provide further opportunites for adoption projects.
General discussion about adoption of LTV and City stations – but no volunteers.
LICHFIELD TO BURTON – disappointment that the WMRE bid for funding for a business appraisal was unsuccessful. G Lusher and O O’Neill commented that this is not outright rejection and that when/if a business appraisal is ratified then further funding and operational approvals will still be needed. We will ask WMRE for an update JA
LICHFIELD TO WALSALL arguably this is more worrying than the Burton service. Back the Track and Sustrans have become aggressively vocal in recent months. Concern that Network Rail may be happy to let the line go if funding for rail services is not imminent. Also concern that the Leader of the District Council is not supporting its Strategic Plan. Chairman will approach Chairman of Canal Trust to discuss how our groups might work together in preserving the railway adjacent to the canal. R Henshaw volunteered to speak with Cllr Eadie who represents his ward
FUTURE OF RAILWAYS Chairman had circulated a paper received from a Railways Rambler friend which made unpromising reading. Roger Hartley has also shared papers from his former staff union who with MPS and others are part of Railway Industry Recovery Group. After the meeting Roger advised that recent developments include a Severance Package that is being progressively offered; apparently 5000 have applied but the government wants thousands more! Compulsory redundancy is on hold until the end of the year but Unions want this to extend to end 2022.
TREASURER Bank balance £1338. There should be a surplus of £149 by year end.
FUTURE SPEAKERS Chairman to ask County Council portfolio holder for Transport to address our meeting, or to meet him and a few others, perhaps in Stafford, possibly with Claire Horton attending.
NEXT MEETING 17th January 2022