Friday, 24 June 2016

Leicestershire County Council Letter, Great Central and Freight by Rail

Comment: We sent a simple letter and I attach the response. 
May only be a green pathway possibility, but that is progress for protecting a corridor upon which we hope to build. It is not either or conventional rail or preservation, Finmere aspires to 4 miles or so; here we're talking 40+ miles of rebuilt railway, but railway which can do so much more in that 'rebuild' - double deck commuter trains, piggyback, roll-on, roll-off and capacity off WCML*/MML *and M1 - which HS2 does not touch. * West Coast Main Line/ Midland Main Line.

You have to have a vision before a plan. The enlightenment brought us onto doing things scientifically, even theology through a scientific method - everything which can be observed, touched, tested confines to natural order, sociologists sought to transfer to social ordering of societies, using scientific principles. This 'science' is rather suspicious/discounts 'faith' as a valid basis to proceed/claim truths which cannot be 'tested'. But faith/belief systems is an essential pre-requisite to creating, a key reason to bother, for or against surely? Thus, building expressionality out of the vision beit old Jerusalem or a new 'heavenly' citadel coming out of the skies - science can be a servant to help get the vision to plan to design to implementation; but to insist it is the sole and only acceptable prime approach to do anything or business with, is erroneous one might suggest.

You/we need a vision for what kind or reach and range all or specifics we wish for in 'freight by rail'. Is there environmental gains sending more freight by rail? Government seems to cordon type of freight x a cap on freight for passenger and speed than new/reopened rail for medium-longer haul capacity flows.
I'm afraid that some are so narrow in heavenly mindedness, they forget the hands-on upwards which creates bread! 

The reverse one finds equally true and faith is discounted, when it is a part of the engine room/guts which inspires and energizes to get things started. Railfuture could campaign-lead more on a freight by rail renaissance.
The market alone will just go for pop and the easiest structure - roads unless made to/incentivised to consider water and/or rail. E.g. a pre-planning requirement of Blisworth should be they invest in Northampton-Brackmills-Bedford and a recycling depot, likewise the proposed incinerator at Millbrook, Central Bedfordshire, adjacent to the Marston Vale Railway should as a pre-planning requirement be ordered to bring in/make arrangements for bringing in waste by rail and taking the ash/burnt material out by rail. Whatever the qualms on 'smoke'; unless the recycling is bulk-rail enough to volume-ise for aggregate justification of tonnage - you have an army of lorries masquerading behind 'local distribution' and often the unions! Government could do more to sort the frameworks out to encourage pro-rail compliance as a pre-plan thought than addendum to colourise a lorry fleet mecca on an outline plan.

Therefore the accountancy and 'science' has to be squared to practical realities. If our vision is too small, we get small loads of whatever, if too expansive, we fail to build the market incrementally and thus establish a robust operational dynamic. I'm for more freight by rail and can see a component is capacity (hence reopenings), but also you need someone willing to invest in wagons, trainloads, haulage and switch potential.

A niche I believe a campaign could work on is the 3 R's: Renewables, Recycling and Rail as a triangulated unit. Bulk requires Regional scale of operation but you could have regional hubs like Forders Sidings, Wolverton and Brackmills around a triangulated rail network bestriding 3 regions and multiplex warehouse, logistics and distribution hubs Bedford, Milton Keynes and Northampton are. How we get from a to b, is the key and challenge. Conversely if the tracks aren't there, if business has no incentive, even outside our area to it, it falls down and new depots off main lines minus the Northampton-Bedford missing link, just means capacity on the WCML has to give in passenger or other customer terms.

I welcome your help in finding solutions. Thank you.

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