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AGM 2014

As notified in the May 2014 Newsletter, the WSRUA AGM 2014 was held on 31st May 2014. The draft minutes can be downloaded here; these will be presented for approval at the 2015 AGM. The Q&A session with our speaker David Scorey, Operations Director of Southern Railway is also included.


SUSSEX COMMUNITY RAIL PARTNERSHIP – VACANCY

The Sussex Community Rail Partnership (see our information page) is looking to recruit a Community Rail Development Officer for their Primary School Rail Education Project. Their advert for the post is below:

Part time fixed term contract until 31st March 2015 (possibility of extension for additional year)
Community Rail Development Officer for the Primary School Rail Education Project

Scale 5 point 22 £19,621 pro rata (17.5 hours per week flexible). Based at Pulborough Station

A motivated and competent individual is required for this interesting, challenging and exciting role.

Sussex Community Rail Partnership works to connect the community with its railway, enhance station environments, support station partnerships and promote public transport modal shift.

Sussex Community Rail Partnership Ltd seeks to employ a Community Rail Officer (CRO) to deliver the third year of our successful Primary School Rail Education Project in partnership with WSCC, delivering sustainable travel education using proven educational materials to transition aged pupils in schools. The CRO would be responsible for booking appointments, delivering in class sessions, promoting and distributing resources, collecting and recording monitoring data, and writing detailed reports.

We require a highly driven person with excellent communication skills, a proven track record in working with young people.
In return we offer a flexible working environment, a train travel pass for duty purposes, a small but dedicated team atmosphere and generous holiday allowance. We are happy to discuss flexible working hours.

Application is by application form only. CVs are not accepted.

Closing date for applications is 12noon on 4th August and interviews will be held on 8th August 2014 at Pulborough station. Please talk to us if you cannot make the interview date.

For more information, to request an application pack or for an informal discussion about the role please contact Sam Bryant, CR Development Manager on 07891 556897 or by email at sam@sussexcrp.org. Alternatively view our website at www.sussexcrp.org.

We want our organisation to be as diverse as the communities we serve. We welcome applications from all sections of the community.


NEWSLETTER MAY 2014

The Newsletter can be found below or you can download it in PDF format. For previous newsletters, please see the archive.

WEST SUSSEX RAIL USERS ASSOCIATION
64, Brampton Court, Stockbridge Road, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8PD
Tel: 01243 788028
E-mail: contact at wsrua dot org dot uk
Twitter: twitter.com/wsrua

A reminder that our Annual General Meeting is at 10.15am on Saturday 31st May in the Studio of the Capitol Theatre, North Road, Horsham, RH12 1RG.

We had hoped to be able to give you news at the AGM of the new franchise and we are pleased to say that the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced today that the contract has been awarded to Govia who currently operate Southern. Here are extracts from the Go-Ahead statement issued this morning. I have omitted the Financial Profile details to keep this Newsletter reasonably brief but these can be found on the DfT and Go-Ahead websites.

Trevor Tupper
Membership Secretary

23 May 2014

GO-AHEAD JOINT VENTURE AWARDED THE THAMESLINK, SOUTHERN AND GREAT NORTHERN (TSGN) FRANCHISE

The Go-Ahead Group welcomes today’s announcement by the Department for Transport (DfT) to award Govia (Go-Ahead 65% / Keolis 35% joint venture) the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise. This is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue, and staff.

HIGHLIGHTS

Commenting on the award, David Brown, Group Chief Executive of The Go-Ahead Group said:

“I’m delighted the DfT has chosen us to operate this important and complex franchise and to play an instrumental role in delivering the benefits of the Government’s £6 billion Thameslink Programme. This will be the UK’s busiest franchise and we will be introducing 50 per cent more capacity into central London during peak times, with 26 per cent more morning peak carriages providing 10,000 additional seats.This award is testimony to the experience of our people of working in partnership with the DfT, Network Rail and other industry stakeholders and in delivering major integration projects and change programmes. Our bid for the franchise was focused on improving customers’ experience and includes two new train fleets for Gatwick Express and Moorgate services, in addition to overseeing the introduction of the Thameslink trains already ordered, as well as delivering improvements at stations.”

Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, added:

“We are pleased that the strengths of the Govia partnership have been recognised today in the awarding of this important franchise and look forward to delivering its challenging requirements.”

FRANCHISE HIGHLIGHTS

The seven year management contract, starting in September 2014, which replaces the Thameslink and Great Northern franchise (operated as First Capital Connect, FCC) will encompass the Southern and Gatwick Express routes from July 2015 and also include a small number of services and stations currently operated by Southeastern which will transfer in December 2014.

Combined, the existing FCC and Southern franchises carry 273 million passenger journeys per year, employ around 6,500 people and generate annual passenger revenues of £1.3bn.

The TSGN network will serve London as well as a number of important regional centres, including Cambridge, Luton and Peterborough to the north of the region, and Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton in the south. It also provides direct rail links to major airports (Gatwick and Luton) as well as St Pancras International and Farringdon station for links to Heathrow and Crossrail in due course.

During the course of the franchise the Thameslink identity will be re-introduced and the Southern and Gatwick Express brands retained. 

The new franchise is being let as a management contract where ticket revenues are passed directly to the Government rather than retained by Govia, due to the complexity and scale of the planned changes to services and infrastructure. We are committed to delivering these changes and minimising their impacts on customers.

Benefits for customers during the franchise

New trains - 108 new Gatwick Express carriages designed for airline travellers by 2016; 150 new metro carriages for Moorgate services in 2018; 1,140 Thameslink Class 700 carriages already ordered from Siemens delivered between 2016 and 2018

More services - 10,000 additional morning peak seats into London; 26% more morning peak carriages into London; 50% more passenger capacity created; Up to 24 trains per hour during the peak periods through the Thameslink core (St Pancras to Blackfriars), up from 15 per hour today, an increase of 60%; More direct services to and from Gatwick Airport including a new direct Cambridge to Brighton service; Improved Brighton Main Line services

Stations and staffing - £50m investment to enhance all 239 stations including improving access, installing electronic information screens and working with partners on the redevelopment of St Albans and Luton stations; Staffing hours increased: 100 busiest stations staffed from first to last train; Simplified ticketing and extension of ‘the key’ smartcard; 104 stations with free wifi; £1.5m on station access improvements including increased cycle storage and electrical vehicle charging points

Improving standards - Timetables designed to improve punctuality; 20,000 days of customer service training for frontline employees; Investment in technology such as smartphone apps and websites to improve real-time information to make door-to-door travel easier; On-hand assistance for passengers during the Thameslink Programme works

Local community focus - Continuing support of Community Rail Partnerships; Providing young people with work experience and mentoring; Award winning education programme Go-Learn used with local schools; £1m per year for local communities to spend on improvements at stations”


Arun Valley Resignalling

The Arun Valley resignalling finally commenced operation on Monday 17 March. All the mechanical signals along the line have been removed and replaced by modern colour light signals controlled from the Three Bridges Centre. The Billingshurst level crossing is also controlled from Three Bridges. The signal boxes at Billingshurst, Pulborough and Amberley have been taken out of use. The Grade 2 listed Billingshurst box has been removed for preservation at the Amberley Working Museum. The Pulborough box is being retained by Network Rail and the Amberley box, which is on the station has been boarded up as shown in the photo. We hope that a use can be found for this unique building.

Amberley Box closed for good


DfT Minister Promises More Of The Same

We have received a reply to our letter of 13 August 2013, which is reproduced below.

Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 4DR

From the Minister of State, the Rt. Hon. Simon Burns MP

Tel: 020 7944 3082, Fax: 020 7944 4492, Web site: www.gov.uk/dft

19 August 2013

Monica Edmonds, Chairman, West Sussex Rail Users Association

Dear Ms Edmonds

Thank you for your email of 13 August, to Norman Baker MP, about the Thameslink Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) rail franchise competition. I am replying as Minister of State responsible for Rail.

We are, as you observe, in the process of finalising the specification for this franchise competition, having reviewed all the responses received to the consultation we ran last year. Some of the items you have listed will be included in the specification and some will not.

In particular we will not be requiring the new franchisee to invest in new infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is best implemented by Network Rail, because NR is able to raise investment capital at cheaper rates than Train Operating Companies can, and is able to amortise the project over the lifetime of the asset, which is typically much longer than the average franchise length. Government priorities for Network Rail investment for the years 2014 to 2019 were published last year, and are available on the website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-level-output-specification-2012.

With regard to train services the specification will call for a service broadly similar to that which operates today, but will stress that this is the minimum requirement. Bidders are being encouraged to develop proposals for enhanced services where they can make robust cases for doing so. Tonbridge to Gatwick might be an example of such a service. We will, however, be specifying that Thameslink services must serve Horsham once the Thameslink programme is complete in 2018, and that they may run beyond Horsham if bidders can make a case for such extensions.

We will also be requiring bidders to examine critically all lines of expenditure, consistent with the Government’s intention to reduce the burden of railway operating costs on the taxpayer. It is unlikely (but not impossible), therefore, that bidders will plan to withdraw the class 313 rolling stock because this fleet is comparatively cheap to lease, and because it has recently undergone an expensive refurbishment programme.

We will be encouraging bidders to propose measures to improve the passenger experience. Such initiatives might include improvements to car parking arrangements or re-introduction of on-train catering facilities, but we will not be specifying any particular measures. The train operating community has greater first-hand experience of passenger requirements than Government so we do not believe that we should be prescriptive in such matters.

I hope this information is helpful.

THE RT. HON. SIMON BURNS


The Southern Franchise

Following the resumption by DfT in the franchise process we have written to Norman Baker MP the Parliamentary Under Secretary responsible for rail matters at DfT. Our letter informed him of the priorities and needs of users of the Arun Valley and West Coastway; the full text of the letter is on our Campaigns page. The letter was also copied to the six MPs whose constituencies we represent.  The priorities reflect WSRUA membership and rail user surveys in 2012 and 2013 and are as follows:

  1. Continued direct peak services from Southampton/Bognor Regis to London Bridge and a Chichester/Portsmouth direct service from London Bridge in the evening peak.
  2. Retention of and improvements to the current timetable, with a proper and identifiable pattern of semi-fast and fast/express services.
  3. Timetable improvements that are definitely required include:
    • Replication of the weekday service on Sundays so that Portsmouth to Victoria services use the Arun Valley and attach to Bognor Regis services rather than using the Brighton Main Line after attachment at Worthing. This will relieve overcrowding on the current services between Hove and Victoria and for passengers from Hayward’s Heath and Lewes,
    • Later evening trains along the Arun Valley and West Coastway to/from London and Chichester
    • Faster services with fewer intermediate stops between London termini and Bognor Regis and Chichester (e.g. Redhill and Horley stops removed) also restoration of the fast service between Portsmouth and Brighton to replicate the SWT service scrapped by DfT.
  4. An improved and simpler system of compensation for perturbation; including compensation for season ticket holders who bear the brunt of cumulative periods of low level disruption.
  5. A commitment to withdraw Class 313 rolling stock (now 40 years old) from the start of the new contract.
  6. A commitment to provide refreshments on all Arun Valley trains to and from London from the start of the new contract.
  7. Commitment to new projects including:
    • The Arundel Chord/Curve, to give new and re-established journey opportunities, such as Horsham-Brighton, Horsham-Littlehampton and Horsham-Worthing (to include reinstatement of platform 3 at Arundel Station);
    • Improved stabling and turnaround facilities at Chichester, including reinstatement of platform 3;
    • 90 mph where feasible along the Arun Valley.
  8. Thameslink services to extend to at least Horsham and possibly Littlehampton.
  9. Restoration of the through service from Tonbridge and Gatwick.
  10. Commitment to provide better car parking facilities at Horsham and Pulborough to improve accessibility particularly as rural bus services cease by 6pm (and in any event do not connect with trains).

WSRUA will be meeting all the bidders for the new combined Thameslink-Southern franchise over the coming months to raise their awareness of the potential for growth of the Arun Valley and West Coastway and of users’ priorities for the service. We have asked Michael Cover to take the lead on this will report further on the attitudes and aspirations of each bidder to rail services for West Sussex in future Newsletters and on the website. 


AGM 2013

The Annual General Meeting of the West Sussex Rail Users Association took place on Saturday 8th June 2013 in the Studio of The Capitol, Horsham. The guest speaker was David Scorey, Southern Railway's Performance Director. You can download a copy of the minutes here in PDF format.


Extract from the Written statement on Rail franchising by The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP on 31 January 2013 announcing the decision about three live rail franchise competitions

When I cancelled the competition for the InterCity West Coast franchise last October, I also put on hold the live competitions for 3 other rail franchises. Having carefully considered the options for these 3 competitions, including the recommendations of the independent review by Richard Brown, Chairman of Eurostar, I have this morning informed the stock market of my decisions about these 3 competitions. I am also today publishing Mr Brown’s advice
about these competitions, having previously redacted it from his report in view of its potentialstock market sensitivity.

In summary, Mr Brown recommended that the government should look to continue the existing competitions for Essex Thameside and for the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. I accept those recommendations, and accordingly the competition for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise will also be resumed, with an invitation to tender being issued to the existing short-listed bidders. This will be for a 7-year
contract term, again as previously announced. Consistent with Mr Brown’s recommendation, I expect this to be more of a management-style contract. This different approach will require more time to develop and test the proposition with the market, and I will set out the timetable for this competition in the spring.

In keeping with the relevant invitations to tender, which made clear that bidders are responsible for their own costs, I do not believe it would be appropriate to reimburse the bidders.

The existing franchises for these services will expire before new long-term contracts can be put in place, so interim arrangements will be required to ensure continuity of rail services. My department has exercised its contractual right to extend the current franchise agreement with First Great Western for a further period of 28 weeks, and I intend to do the same in respect of First Capital Connect.

I have also instructed my department to commence negotiations with the existing train operators (First Great Western, First Capital Connect and c2c) with a view to entering into new interim franchise agreements with them. For Essex Thameside and Thameslink, the period of these interim agreements will be determined by the time needed to complete the competitions for the longer-term franchises, and will not exceed 2 years.

The government continues with its multi-billion pound programme of investment in the rail network regardless of the delay to the franchising programme, and my department will seek to ensure wherever possible that the benefits for passengers previously sought in new substantive franchise agreements are not delayed.

I am mindful of my statutory duty to ensure the continuity of rail services and so, in parallel with my department entering into negotiations with the incumbent train operators, I will also be instructing Directly Operated Railways, a government owned company, to undertake the minimum preparatory measures necessary to operate train services in circumstances where I am unable to agree the terms of an interim agreement with the existing train operator.


Horsham Station Refurbishment – 19th November 2012

Norman Baker MP, Transport Minister opens the refurbished Horsham Railway station in the presence of the Mayor of Horsham District Council, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern Railways and others including WSRUA and the CRP

Norman Baker MP, Transport Minister, opens the refurbished Horsham Railway station in the presence of the Mayor of Horsham District Council, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern Railways and others including WSRUA and the CRP.

WSRUA Chairman with Chris Burchell, MD Southern Railway and Transport Minister Norman Baker MP at Horsham Station

WSRUA Chairman with Chris Burchell, MD Southern Railway and Transport Minister Norman Baker MP at Horsham Station (picture courtesy of Southern Railway).

Community Rail Partnership

WSRUA gave a brief presentation on our work and current activities at the Community Rail Partnership stakeholder event held on 1st November 2012 at Christ's Hospital School. A copy of the slide set is available to view here (PDF).


Eyewitness

Below is a Southern Press Notice about their Eyewitness initiative to deter and report low-level crime on the Arun Valley line. Your Association Chairman, Jane Cobb was at the launch on Arundel station and we will keep you informed of developments and progress in future Newsletters and on the website.

Policing And Criminal Justice Minister Launches Southern’s Eyewitness Initiative

Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, Nick Herbert MP has launched Southern’s internal Eyewitness initiative to the public for the first time at Arundel railway station.

Mr Herbert joined Southern senior staff, Rail User Group and West Sussex Community Rail Partnership representatives to launch a trial of Southern’s award winning low-level crime reporting system to passengers who use Southern services between Arundel and Crawley.

Eyewitness is a scheme which allows the reporting of low-level crime by e-mail. The system has been used successfully as an in-house system where Southern staff have e-mailed members of Southern’s Safer Travel and Revenue Protection Teams to report incidences of vandalism, anti-social behaviour and fare evasion. The system allows Southern to respond quickly where officers are in the area, and to identify patterns, trends and hotspots which enables more intelligent deployment of Rail Neighbourhood Officers and Revenue Protection Officers when detailing patrols.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr Herbert said: "I was delighted to help launch the next phase of Southern's Eyewitness scheme which will provide passengers with an effective way to report antisocial behaviour on trains.

"This is further action by Southern who already fund Rail Neighbourhood Officers to help tackle crime and provide a reassuring uniformed presence on trains and at stations. The scheme doesn’t replace police officers, it adds to them, and I believe it's welcomed by the public.

"The minority who can make rail journeys miserable for everyone else need to be dealt with, and I am pleased that Southern is playing its part."

Southern’s Head of Revenue Protection and Security, Martin Grier said: “Eyewitness has been a tremendous success since we introduced it internally 18 months ago. Now we look forward to even better results now that we are asking our passengers to tell us about low-level crime that they have seen.”

In the last 12 months, reported crime on the Arun Valley has fallen overall by 71%. At Billingshurst station, incidences of crime reduced from 28 last year to zero this year.

Passengers witnessing crime between Arundel and Crawley stations can report what they’ve see, where they saw it, when they saw it and a brief description of the offender(s) by sending an e-mail to the dedicated address found on posters at leaflets at staffed stations between Arundel and Crawley.

Photograph from Eyewitness launch at Arundel station


WSRUA News Archive