Wednesday, 12 September 2018

E. for pdf reopenings rail links brochure

ERTA advocates and initiate some schemes, whilst also seeking to boost support and feed interest to localised groups who are already doing advocacy at the parish pump level.
ERTA is voluntary and seeks to progress schemes for local, conventional line reopenings and select rebuilds and new builds. We generally do not support HS2 believing it to be the 'wrong type of railway'.

Orbital links around London are needed to boost rail's share of what is on offer and cut the waste of time, money and lives in chronic congestion to, around and out of London in most directions by improving orbital rail links and ensuring against cherry picking schemes which cream off passenger only markets but do little but the default to cater for more freight by rail.

Government needs to forge a new partnership with local rail advocates like ourselves whereby we talk, find common ground and see scope in what may be achieved. Not the high sided barriers of professional elitism, high costs and demands for studies at £40k upwards from lay people - rather incentives for the industry and investors to make cases, be more seeking and listening to ideas from local people, work them up and Government to match fund. This, especially where start-up costs are concerned. Rail should be taking a lot more recycling and finished materials in and out by rail to regional centres and east-west lines need rebuilding as one in 100 miles north of London, given growth, given a need to conserve land and balance demand, supply with sustainability and responsible stewardship agendas, is going to be inadequate. Therefore, we urge support for these schemes and encourage people to write to their local MP's and encourage them to foster policies within respective political parties to ensure rail is central in transport and planning considerations. Otherwise we waste £billions on roads and maintenance only to compound the damage with ever more tonnage. ERTA's suggestions can help save money and stem the cycle of dysfunctional transport and environmental pollution.

If you wish to receive a free pdf copy of our reopenings brochure, email and ask. There's no obligation but we welcome supporters to join ERTA and help strengthen our voice. Thank you.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Press Release 28-08-2018

28 August 2018
Press Release

East-West Rail routes need hurrying along and Councils must protect options in planning decisions

ERTA is concerned that on the one hand the East-West Rail Consultants need to be urged to speed up publication of their proposed Bedford-Cambridge rail route and on the other, alternate interpretations unless one and the same for gauging public reaction purposes, speculate on possible options causing unnecessary NIMBYism to arise.

What the predecessor to the English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) from 1987 advocated was a rebuilding of the traditional rail route from Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge. Blockages exist and either need compulsory purchase and demolition or deviated railway route to avoid. This may seem controversial, and would be even if it was a new roadway, but to plum for brand new routes brings other blockages and obstacles to the fore as well as working with the grain of history and the lie of the land contrast costly cuttings and tunnels to intertwine with ridges and hills for example.

Richard Pill, ERTA Media Spokesperson said “These new ideas want to serve purported greater populations enroute including the St Neots and Cambourne areas. But run into problems with a clash to move the Guided Busway as their scheme assumes the same route. It is crucial the East-West Rail does have links with Peterborough and St Neots from the north and Stevenage and East Bedfordshire from the south to the County Town of Bedford and onwards to other places. My own view would be to get to Sandy and then bypass built Potton and Gamlingay with perhaps a shared station between the two of them and either short term link at Shepreth or raise the M11 and tunnel into Addenbrookes Junction Station and run into Cambridge from there. Development pressures are on and time is running out for recovering a reasonably direct route.

End Press Release

Further comment: Mr Richard Pill 01234 330090 or

Addendum: We are following developments closely and making our input as we go. That we are talking about a route at all is some progress, but Government should be encouraging early delivery and that means putting the preferred option in the public domain and letting the people decide. Tweaks on a core route theme seem more sensible than completely new build as none have blockage free trajectories and it is essential that East Bedfordshire and St Neots are both linked to the County Town of Bedford by rail again. That translates to one route, curves and chords onto and from it and sharing of tracks with east-west trains, Thameslinks and freight. That is why we need extra platforms and tracks through Bedford Midland and I welcome to chat to leading planners or politicians as to how best that might be done, it can, we have windows of opportunity but existing plans need revising to cater for it. After electrification and dust settles, we're locked-in to a straight jacket and will have less wriggle room unless we get other councils like Corby to think ahead and cater for relocation of train serving depots for example. I attach a map of what we were considering in 2006.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Reopen a Northampton-Peterborough Rail Link and re-rail Northamptonshire!

ERTA: The English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) was founded circa 2013 and has the aim of promoting better public transport generally and improving the lot of ordinary people by calling and supporting select local rail reopenings specifically. We are a membership-based association and welcome people to support our endeavours by joining and giving support, time and talent as may be suitable. We work from the grassroots upwards, not top-down Big Brother superimposition.  We float ideas to inform a consensus and gather that support often in forums and consolidate support taking it to the powers that be. Join us today!

Northampton-Peterborough rail link: Opened in 1845 and closed 1964. (Notes 1) It was a casualty of a trend of closures which was unravelled during the post-war period especially between 1958 and 1972 (2) and the Serpell Report of 1982 (3). The key issue is that a combination of reasons purported to justify the closures from growing car ownership predicated on post war economic growth, deliberate Government policy of investing in new roads and motorways upon which the switch of goods and domestic travel grew, eroding the freight – a mainstay of the railway was drained from local lines and the network aggregately as a whole.

The cons of reopening
The practicability of reopening is formidable from a certain angle even as reopening and indeed new builds are on a sliding scale. Given a strategic business case, backers and investors, there is a progression chain via the Department for Transport (DfT) for pursing schemes. However, getting that in situ – the business case, backers and investors as well as courting a cynical and ‘otherly’ public is a key task and challenge. If like HS2 you have £billions, and the permission and hand of Government behind you – they enjoy privileges other schemes do not, then superimposition is more straight-forward. Apart from political intransigence and disruption of possible reclamation of a route, reopening the Northampton-Peterborough rail line is a matter of fact as a proposition.

The pros of reopening
The pros of rebuilding a new rail link to Peterborough are as follows potentially:
1.     Northamptonshire is east-west stretched as any examination of the county lines on a map will indicate. Yet thanks to the legacy of the closures, only north-south main lines exist and none of these have any joined-up links.
2.     The closures threw all onto the roads and population in the last 50 years has trebled. This means all domestic and commercial movements go by road as there is few choices and this ends up at urban areas demanding land for ever more parking and congestion which emits fumes affecting people’s health. Only choice restoration can break the cycle.
Centrally located, Northamptonshire gets more cross traffic than some other places = a market for rail to serve!

Key challenges in practical terms:
1.     Getting out of urban areas. Level crossings or bridges are needed at the St James-London road link and crossing London Road itself.
2.     Circumnavigating the edges of the new University of Northampton Waterside Campus (a new dual use rail station could be provided somewhere nearby).
3.     Crossing or bridging Bedford Road.
4.     More or less open country until the edge of Wellingborough, would land owners support and embrace the project?
5.      Wellingborough is a huge pain and problem but not insurmountable!
Key challenges in practical terms:
6.      A45 needs re-grading and slewing to enable the railway to go under or over.
7.      Whitworths Factory and Industrial Estate adjacent area needs to accommodate a new railway.
8.      New build across flood plain/Nene Valley to go under the Midland Main Line.
9.      Recovery of trackbed generally, including rebuilding through or around Stanwick Lakes.
10. New build and amending A14 and other roads at Thrapston
11. Incorporating the current steam Nene Valley for linkage with the Peterborough-Norwich line for through passenger and freight with East Anglia.

Key needs and problems
1.     Northampton: Northampton suffers from chronic congestion and air pollution. With growth, if allowed to spiral without checks and balances only re-railing offers, things will get worse and that impacts people and communities negatively. You can’t build your way out of congestion. New roads have not delivered less road usage, rather more compounding at junctions. It is time to stop making excuses or shrugging shoulders and grasp the nettle, have some guts and bottle and do what needs doing – provide the rail alternative where it is currently a glaring gap.
2.      People say that the railway was under-used when open why would it be better used now? Tripling of population means new demand. A45, A14 and A43 are hugely heavily congested and overflowing and these roads tend to follow the spine of the county. Modal shift can only happen if the rail infrastructure is put back or new built with amendments.
The current Oxford-Bedford-Cambridge East-West Rail link has had numerous studies and shown promising usage figures. However, for Northamptonshire it is too far south to reap any direct benefits. West Coast Main Line capacity is at a premium, if Connex in 2001 could not run South London trains to Rugby via Northampton why would new services suddenly find paths e.g. Northampton-Aylesbury?

Key Opportunities: The new build could offer:
1.      New station to serve south Northampton including Delapre Abbey venue, growing population, congestion hot spot and new University Waterside Campus.
2.      Running along the spine of the County, the rail link would link existing north-south rail lines with an east-west link making for a more joined up, robust and resilient railway network, attractive for passenger and freight operational use.
3.      A new station at Wellingborough would be needed. Likewise, the Lakes Estate is a new market as well as Parkway access for growth areas like Rushden, Higham Ferres, Irthlingborough, Finedon and elsewhere.
4.      Parkway Stations for Raunds, Thrapston, A14 interception and Oundle would link principal outlying areas with the County Town, cutting the need to drive, reducing land used for ever more parking demand which often has to be price managed and would give more options for local shopping, commuting, study and school access.
Peterborough is a key location for access to the East Coast Main Line with links to Spalding, York, Doncaster and Norwich/Cambridge and them to the Nene corridor and county town of Northampton. Historically the two towns were linked and Peterborough is still the diocesan main church location for the county. These historical links need to be underscored with re-railing, otherwise swathes of population are disenfranchised, face unnecessary costs and hardship in mobility and access terms.

What you can do
Join ERTA. As a member you can offer to get involved and participate in actions and advocacy of forwarding these outline ideas to a study, to policies of route protection and getting a better deal for better rail links for Northamptonshire. Every member counts as a growing membership helps us point to public support and may lend others to get involved.

Not nostalgia or past glories! You can’t live on past glories alone. Our call is for a study to make the case for a brand-new start and railway linking the County Town with the rest of the county along the Nene Valley corridor, which is a currently disjointed array of growing populations and needs bringing together in unity of purpose. Re-railing is a key focus.
Write to your local council and MP’s. From Parish to District to County, the three tiers of Local Government may change to a unity council which combined planning and transport for designated areas. Write to existing councillors and councils and get the idea embedded in discussion, debate and pose the challenge if we fail to deliver a rail link.

ERTA: ERTA is only as good as its members inform. A key consideration is that if we are to see sustainable town centres we need to recognise rail delivers bulk of people and goods minus the congestion and pollution. Links between the East Coast Ports, DIRFT and principal main lines is just the ticket to underscore the central geographic position of Northamptonshire, which for too long has been a Cinderella backwater. Re-rail now!

Further Reading and References:
4.      Kingscott, G. (2008) Lost Railways of Northamptonshire, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire
5. Pill, R. (2017) Making a case for a new Northampton-Bedford rail link

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Saturday, 11 August 2018

ERTA secures Matlock Forum and consolidates support for reopening the railway.

Matlock Forum -Three ERTA members (Tony Bush, David Ferguson and I) had travelled up to Matlock on Friday 29 June and had spent two nights at a B & B in the town where we all attended the ERTA Matlock Forum which was held in the afternoon of Saturday 30 June at the Crown Pub (a Wetherspoons) in Matlock. Eleven people altogether came to the meeting, including the three ERTA members.

Practically all the attendees who were not ERTA members lived in or around Matlock and had seen our Press Release which had appeared in the Matlock Mercury. We chiefly discussed the Peak Rail, and it emerged that there are about six disused tunnels along that route, of which one contained a disused private halt for Haddon Hall (the Duke of Rutland's seat near Bakewell); also at least one of these tunnels is now used for a cycle-path. The chief problem with the tunnels is the vibration which had been an ingredient for track subsidence suffered by that line during its last few years prior to closure. Another ingredient for that line's track subsidence was that the ballast consisted of millstone grit, which was (and still is) an important locally-produced material. Other issues include replacing a bridge over the A6.

One of our Matlock-based attendees planned to organise another Matlock meeting later in the year, and also another attendee will be a useful contact since he works for the railways specialising in tunnels. We had all agreed that collaboration between people such as businesses (particularly quarry companies), landowners, local authorities, and transport pressure groups  is essential.

Over the whole week-end both David Ferguson and I had distributed a stock of ERTA flyers relating to the re-opening of the Matlock – Buxton railway, and among the places we had both distributed included the Peak Rail bookshop at Matlock Station, our very good B & B and several shops/restaurants etc. in the town and, of course, all our meeting attendees. On Sunday both David and I travelled on the Ecclesbourne Railway where we had also distributed some of these flyers. However, Tony had to go home on Saturday after our meeting.

Anyone interested please contact Simon Barber: T 020 8940 4399 


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Let's reopen the St Albans Abbey to Hatfield Rail Link

The English Regional Transport Association is a voluntary membership based organisation seeking select rail reopenings. St Albans - Hatfield would link west coast and east coast with St Albans in the middle and provide a handy link for services to and from the corridor of the Abbey Link. A housing estate needs partial relocation to clear the way for a railway, most of it is a cycle cum footways which has held the corridor in reasonable stead. There is also a proposal for a St Albans south station and ERTA calls for Napsbury to have the underground extended from Barnet via M25 (new Park and Ride Station), London Colney (has no rail service) to Napsbury, ducking under to emerge to a new link into both St Albans Abbey and across direct to Bricket Wood for termination sharing at Watford Junction. These links will provide more options, new commutes, flexibility and help de-congest many busy roads, cut air pollution - all the things touted we need to cut global warming, but unless it is local rail, we fail to address the core and systemic issues of closures 50 years ago x growth ever since and subsequent impact on movements and environments, health and peoples lives. ERTA want to cut stress, enable self determinism in mode of transport more and break a London cnetric cycle which is overloaded and price managed and isn’t coping very well. There is a proposal to have a new freight by rail depot south of St Albans and maybe this link could also serve that adding revenue to the passenger services. Contact: Mr David Ferguson, 25 Virginia House, 19 Kingston Lane, Teddington, TW11 9HL 
T. 020 8977 4181 E.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Olney Conundrum - answers on a postcard!

We need more volunteers to carry on.
Olney is a major issue because:
a. Old route lost
b. Handley Alignment compromised
c. Further outer route as yet un-proven
d. Olney people and town look north-south not east-west
e. Olney people are satellites of Milton Keynes, not Bedford and Northampton so much
f. A509 is busier than A428
g. People are sceptical and cynical/they lack faith
h. They want/have unrealistic expectations, all singing and dancing on a plate or it isn't a credible proposition
i. They are either hostile or indifferent to the rail proposition
j. Town Council seems at sixes and sevens with resignations, re-elections and chaos on the local plan/getting consensus
k. ERTA has neither the people, money or expertise to do business cases, commission £40k upwards studies and court other professionals beyond intrinsic interest in the strategic value of what if we re-railed a link between Brighton/Cambridge-Bedford-Northampton/West Coast Main Line and the West Midlands - only 21.5 miles of rebuild/new build could do it.
If interested in exploring further please email Richard or join ERTA:
The only thing I can think of is to issue a question asking flyer which David could lead on delivering asking opinions on a cross-section including the railway and maybe, just maybe an odd new person more conciliatory may emerge for the next forum? The Bull Meeting Room is a good cosy venue, food was good quality and right opposite the local main bus stops.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Bedford-Northampton appeal

Phil Haigh in Rail Magazine Edition 849 page 6 said "[Market Led Proposals (MLPs) could be developed or promoted by ports, train operators, freight operators, housing developers, financial investors or consortia of the above." [  ] mine. Our Bedford-Northampton rail link project needs investors to seize the bull by the horns and invest in studies, make the case and grow consortia with a view to funding rebuild and reopening for income generation of passenger and freight over a new strategic missing link rail asset. Thameslink Brighton-Birmingham arc and scope in connectivities, 3 airports, Eurostar with Bedford and Northampton at the centre of the network and also linking with the proposed East-West Rail at Bedford for cross-country links between Oxford and Cambridge, Bristol and Felixstowe for example as well as Stansted Airport-South Midlands sub region. If you or your company feel they would like to explore further, our team stands ready to meet and entertain offers. The project stands on it's own feet and regardless of others can go it alone. All enquiries to Mr Richard Pill Thank you.