Monday, 12 August 2019

As we walked the fields of gold!

Looking at the area in August 2019 one can see that with realignments via adjacent fields and a southern bypass of built Gamlingay – pretty much from the M11 to east of Potton is recoverable/new build-able. However, at Potton the old formation is heavily built on as is at Gamlingay but much more severely. To go to the south of Potton from a southern bypass of Gamlingay meets further complications whereby notwithstanding the old route is lost any new route to the south faces the significant blockage of John O’ Gaunt Golf Course which is prestigious attracting well-heeled people who can read, write and command lawyers. Who would want to ruffle their feathers by suggesting a railway blights their facility and landscape? Moreover, from south of Sandy to east of Gamlingay the railway rises out of the Ivel Valley to higher ground. So, any tunnelling or cut and cover solution would have to be on a gradient. Go further south and you face the hills of Wrestlingworth and Hateley, further south and you enter another valley altogether going north of Eyeworth for example. So getting from Sandy to east of Gamlingay is a pinch point which could have done with some positive consideration If the case and justification for the railway outweighs the pain or cost, then it is imperative things like this are looked at with a view to options of what could be done, not rule it out at the stroke of a pen. In this caption by Jeremy Harvey looking westwards you have Gamlingay and Sandy Heath on your right, a wind turbine on your left. Key question is, can we get a local railway through here with a park and ride station or do we accept development with no sustainable transport and send it all on local roads? That is the stark choice here and elsewhere plethora and tough choices have to be made. To pretend expanded Gamlingay will not expand further over the next decade is to put one’s head in the sand! 

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Consultations Galore!

This consultation by the English Economic Heartlands is critical to get right as transport affects us all directly and indirectly from congestion to space for parking, to choice to air pollution and much more locked-in or out. Please peruse the document and give them your feedback. In particular from ERTA's perspective we very much want support for a Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge rail route to be looked at, especially the origional route for all the reasons given in our Cambridge Press Release sent yesterday and more please. No route is cost or problem free and so far no golden nugget has emerged which will please everyone. But the rail link is crucial as is Bedford-Northampton - plugging Northampton into Bedford for onwards to Cambridge and vice versa East Anglia to the West Midlands via the sub region of South Midlands!

Please have a perusal and respond. Any questions, I may not have all the answers, but happy to discuss and I do try and be helpful. Thank you.

You may also find this of interest advocating rail schemes:

Next newsletter should be out around 1st September. All events to tap into on our web page:

Monday, 5 August 2019

English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) believes the East-West Rail is paramount and needs a fundamental rethink to get it right for Cambridge and further afield.

6 August 2019
Press Release

English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) believes the East-West Rail is paramount and needs a fundamental rethink to get it right for Cambridge and further afield.

The English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) support the principle and notion of a fully restored direct rail link between Oxford-Bedford-Cambridge for improving east-west travel options.
However, we believe that the original route was the best and should never have been closed and that the intermittent 50 years of abandonment has been too long for this glaring gap to go unaddressed in physical infrastructure terms. Moreover, whilst blockages exist on the old route (Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge) any new route will have its own issues and cost more to negotiate with and so a trade off back to the old route should be tabled and considered alongside any new options. In summary:
1. The old route enables segregation allowing more trains off existing lines to plough east and west respectively.
2. The old route must have deviations where considerable blockages exist such as around Potton and Gamlingay but the access at Trumpington also needs careful consideration.
3. If the new route links in at Shepreth for example, it overloads Shepreth Junction where the Bishops Stortford and Royston lines converge into Cambridge. This could cause delays to existing services and/or restrict what frequency east-west could offer.
4. The railway must be rebuilt to cater for more passengers and freight to go by rail. Merely providing choice is not enough, there must be encouragement and incentive for modal shift to unlock gridlock congestion across the regions.

The ERTA will continue to make these points known to elected representatives at all tiers and locations and expects tough decision pro-affirma to be made for the greater good of humanity and the environment.

End of Press Release

Further comment: Mr Richard Pill, Media Spokesperson 01234 330090/

Sunday, 28 July 2019

ERTA News and Mix

Bedford-Northampton Rail Link

I am reliably told that the Milton Keynes Transport Infrastructure Plan Option Pro-forma includes rebuilding Wolverton-Newport Pagnell-Olney and Bedford-Olney -Northampton with an A509 bypass for Olney to boot. How it will all be done, configure and what encroachment development gives for it remains a mystery. Far better to have planned ahead, protected corridors and made the case. We are where we are and whether it comes about will be interesting to say the least. Meanwhile a perusal of these docs may be of some interest:

Dear James Povey(and colleagues),
I am now responding to the consultation in regard to the above-mentioned plan.
I am a member of the English Regional Transport Association (ERTA),which is a voluntary membership-based, pro-public transport improvement association with its main projects initially  in the Bedfordshire and surrounding regional areas but its remit has since increased since several of its projects have a nation-wide positive benefit and impact and therefore  membership is now open to all.

ERTA Website:
My comments are as follows:
I strongly support the principal rail components of this plan and also Scheme no.37(Light Rail Transit).However,as regards the rail components,I  would like to see fine detail on tackling Olney in regard to various housing developments encroaching the old track-bed of the Bedford - Northampton(Cobbler)line(Scheme no.57) and how the re-opened railway could be accommodated with any possible site for a station at Olney.Should that be some distance from the town centre,there must be adequate access,including bus and cycle connections.
The Bletchley chord(Scheme no.51)is a top priority as regards the rail components.
Furthermore,the cycleway using the old track-bed of the Wolverton-Newport Pagnell line(Scheme no.50)can run parallel with the re-opened railway and these must be separated by a hedgerow boundary of approximately 1.5 - 2metres wide.A fence would also need to be installed between the cycleway and the railway to keep children out .
As regards roads,I support a new western by-pass for Olney using the A509(Scheme no.77) but the design must account for any provision to include the re-opening of the Cobbler Line(Scheme no.57).
Furthermore,I do not support the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway(Scheme no.70)since it will bring no benefit at all to Milton Keynes.This new road would affect  Green Belt areas,and it would also be an incentive to build more housing and will not solve traffic congestion at all,and in fact,the road will bring in more traffic which is already increasing with the significant housing growth in between these two towns.This increase in traffic will in turn increase CO2 emissions and also air pollution(a serious health emergency), both with which the Government is pitifully complacent.
Finally,I would like to add that the timescale for the delivery of the rail components must be 10 years in order to meet Climate Change targets(not 35 years) and the top priorities are Schemes nos.50,51 and 57.This also applies to Scheme no.37(Light Rail Transit).
Yours faithfully,
Simon Barber
Email address:

Horsham Public Meeting 7th September

Friday, 12 July 2019

ERTA calls for the rebuilding of a Harrogate-Ripon-Northallerton Rail Link for Local and Regional use.

ERTA calls for the rebuilding of a Harrogate-Ripon-Northallerton Rail Link for Local and Regional use.
As the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North gear up and talk a great talk on ‘infrastructure’, we wish to draw their attention that local rail links matter and restoring some closed lines like the strategic missing link between Harrogate, Ripon and Northallerton could offer local solutions at much less cost than High Speed links which at £billions will probably draw talent to commute to London and still leave intermediate communities congested, polluted and disenfranchised from decent fixed rail infrastructure. Making existing lines as robust as can be is desirable, but correcting the past mistake of stealthy line closures implemented in the 1960’s and 1980’s went too far and has locked in road dependency. Car ownership is a cost and responsibility. Likewise, freight by roads takes up space, pounds structures and old buildings and creates an eyesore. It is the conviction of ERTA that we need to rectify and give people and freight more choices than just locked-in road dependency.

Other benefits the local rail could offer:
1. Reduced traffic on the A61 and associated parking in urban areas increased traffic brings.
2. Sustainable footfall and spend in local historic and beauty spot outlets minus traffic.
3. Underpin employment, healthy local economies, offer commuting options to and from main centres.
4. Link the North-South Main Lines of East Coast and Midland Main Lines as well as associated regions.

If you agree with the proposal to proceed with a consideration at least of rebuilding this important local and regional missing rail link and piece of infrastructure, you may wish to write giving support to the following (this list is not exhaustive):

1. Mr Barry White, Chief Executive, Transport for the North, c/o 4 Piccadilly Place, Manchester, M1 3BN T. 0161 244 0888 E.
2. Chief Executive and Council, North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 8AD T. 01609 780780
3. Chief Executive and Council, Harrogate Borough Council: c/o Customer Service Centre is at Civic Centre, St Lukes Avenue, Harrogate HG1 2AE E.
T. 01423 500600
4. Andrew Jones MP, Harrogate and Knaresborough, 57 The Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 5LQ Telephone: 01423 529614/Email:
5. Rishi Sunak MP, Richmond Constituency, Unit 1, Omega Business Village, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DN6 2NJ E Telephone: 01609 765330/Email:
6. Julian Smith MP, Skipton and Ripon Constituency, Conservative Association, Churchill House, 19 Otley Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1DY E. T. 01756 792 092
7. Clerk and Council, Ripon City Council, Ground Floor, Town Hall, Market Place South, Ripon, HG4 1DD T. 01765 604097 E.
ERTA now has its 3 main publications for sale as either hard copy or pdf downloads on our excellent sales page on our website:

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Great Central Re-Rail Corridor Recovery Needed Now!

Great Central Corridors: The English Regional Transport Association facilitates Forums in various places to enable people to tap into a meeting, make common cause and turn from looking inwards to what the executive can offer to being the answer to what is needed themselves as willing volunteers.
We are thin on the ground personnel-wise. We are committed to holding Forums in Aylesbury, Rugby and Leicester – subject to demand and supply of people responding to the opportunity afforded and choosing to join, get involved and take a pro-active interest. Failure to respond, means we are limited in what we can do. The principle of reopening the Great Central Corridor are laid out in our report: where you can buy a pdf download, gem up and by all means come back with questions but also be prepared to be part of the answer. Key areas we need people to beaver away are:
1. Join ERTA yourself and work with us as part of a team.
2. We need trackbed watchers all along the line between Narborough-Rugby via Lutterworth and south of Rugby along the Canal corridor to Willoughby and south through to Brackley and south thereof to Calvert and the spur land use potential for direct Oxford and yonder running vice versa.
3. We need people to make business cases and work at getting the case made up to acceptance by Network Rail’s GRIP process and at the Department for Transport (DfT).
4. We need people to object to planning applications and blockage threats, places like Woodford Halse are out in the sticks to non-car drivers like us, we need you to be our ears and eyes and report back.
5. We welcome people with time or talent or both to take pictures, monitor locations, lead and go with others to take delegated meetings with councils to win over to the principle of corridor re-railing, that is the goal and ticket, and can always be upgraded once established.