Minutes of the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership meeting held on 15th March 2011

Present:

Cllr Jean Wharmby (DCC), (Chair)

Cllr Tony Favell (PDNPA), (Vice chair)

Mike Rose (project officer)

Martin Smith (project officer)                                                     

John Barrett (Friends of Buxton Station)

Mike Pedler (HVRUG)               

Cllr Chris Furness (Bradwell PC)

John Eaton (Friends of New Mills Stations)         

Anthony Meynell (Manchester folk trains)

Gillian Palmer (SYPTE) (for D&T item only)

Kath Aspinwall (HVRUG)

Neil Barthorpe (Network Rail)

Cllr John Pritchard (HP parishes)

Keith Walker (FoCS)       

Penny Greenwood (F of Glossop Stn)

Mike Hayward (Transpeak Walks)

Margaret Meynell (Manchester folk trains)

Robin Wignall (FoWBS)                                                           

David Huber (Stockport)            

Mark Barker (Northern)

Stephen Skeet (SYPTE)

Gerry Bates (Sheffield folk trains)                                     

Aidan Richardson (PDNPA)          

Steve Briscoe (HVRUG)            

Gill Westall (Chinley & Buxworth Transport Group)

 

 

 

1/11    Apologies
Apologies were received from: Ray Wightman, Carol Evans (New Mills Vol. Centre), Becky Pennyfather (DCC), Kevin Williams (DCC), Mike Crompton (Voluntary sector rep), Cllr Charles Gorst (Poynton TC), Beth Atkins (FoNMS), Christine Dence (DCC), Edale PC, Emily Davies (PDNPA), Cllr Jackie Pattison (Disley PC), John Kenny (Stockport MBC), Mark James (HPBC), Paul Griffiths (Cheshire East)

2/11    Dore and Totley Park and Ride
Gillian Palmer from SYPTE gave a presentation on the Dore and Totley Park and Ride.

South Yorkshire PTE is proposing a park and ride scheme based on Dore and Totley station.  The background to the scheme is that the current parking arrangements at Dore and Totley station are inadequate and surrounding residential streets are crowded with parked cars which cause problems for local people.  This causes traffic congestion and is not a situation which pleases either passengers wishing to use the station or people who live close by.

The PTE purchased the site adjacent to the station in April 2010 with the desire to build a park and ride facility.  The current plan has 139 spaces.   In June 2010 the site was fenced off and the buildings on it demolished.  It was not possible to allow temporary parking on the cleared site due to health and safety reasons.  The scheme is currently unfunded.

Planning permission is required for the new car park and the PTE has run a consultation exercise including a “drop in” session on 20th January 2011.   Following consultation, the plans are being amended to conserve some mature trees. The intention is to submit a planning application to Sheffield City Council in April, once the plans have been amended. 

Resolved. 
That the Partnership supports the concept of a park and ride at Dore and Totley and urges SYPTE tom press even more strongly for the capacity enhancements at the Dore junctions.

3/11    Declarations of interest
Declarations of interest were received from:

  • Margaret Meynell in respect of the application for SPF funding for the Manchester folk train organisers;
  • Mike Hayward in respect of the application for SPF funding for the guided walk organisers;
  • Cllr Mrs Wharmby in respect of the application for SPF funding for the Derbyshire train times booklet;
  • Mark Barker in respect of the application for SPF funding for contributions to the 1814 revenue support and/or Sunday service enhancement
  • Steven Briscoe,  John Barrett and Cllr Tony Favell in respect of the application for SPF funding for a Latent use survey

4/11    Minutes of Partnership Meeting on 8th December 2010
Approved as a correct record, subject to;

  • 55/10 for 2010 read 2011. 
  • 57/10  delete ‘A café/paper stall’.

5/11    Sheffield Folk Train

The Sheffield folk train continues to be seriously overcrowded, with many passengers being left on the platform at Dore.  Northern has provided revenue enforcement staff, as it was felt tat many passengers came because they could travel free. However the overcrowding has continued.   Northern have tried to provide additional capacity but this has not proved possible.  The worst overcrowding occurs during the university term.  The meeting expressed its gratitude to Gerry for his work in running the folk train.

Although it was too late to change the April to June leaflet, it was agreed that Mike and Gerry would work with Northern to try running additional folk trains during the busiest periods, and to consider moving the dates to try to reduce the crowding.  Mike would also attend one of the trains

6/11    Minutes of the Partnership Management Group Meeting on 8th December 2010
The minutes of the Partnership Management Group Meeting held on 8th December 2010 were received.

7/11    Hope Valley Line timetable issues
Northern felt that they had a way forward to run the 1814 from Sheffield from December 2011.  They had bid for this train to Network Rail, and meetings were being held to resolve the outstanding issues, particularly with DB Schenker.
Mark asked the members of the Partnership to refrain from publicising this until the outstanding issues had been resolved.
Peter Fox. Several members of the Partnership expressed their sadness about the death of Pater Fox, following heart surgery.  He was a long-standing and enthusiastic member of the Partnership who had worked tirelessly to improve train services particularly on the Hope Valley line.  In particular it was in many respects due to his campaigning efforts that the long sought improvement to the HVL evening peak hour service now seemed likely to come to fruition.  It was agreed that this would be a fitting tribute.

 

Resolved
That the Partnership notes with satisfaction the progress that has been made on the introduction of the extra evening peak hour service from Sheffield and congratulates the parties concerned over their willingness to compromise.
8/11    Finance report and setting budget for 2011/12

Table 1 below sets out the financial situation of the Partnership as at the end of February 2011.  Table 2 sets out the proposed budget for 2011/12 on the assumption that the current funding partners continue to input sums similar to previous years. A sum for redundancy payments has also now been included as staffing circumstances have changed.  The redundancy payment allowance is based on Derbyshire’s current practice.

Table 1:  2010/11 Income and Expenditure. (to end February 2011)

Expenditure

Income

 

To date

Year Est.

 

To date

Year est.

Salary

28831

34597

Cheshire East Council

2000

2000

Travel/subsistence

462

554

Derbyshire CC (ii)

17299

20758

Equipment

0

0

GMITE

3250

3250

Printing & stationery

2292

2892

Northern 10/11 (v)

0

0

General office expenditure (iv)

657

789

PDNPA

4000

4000

Projects & activities (vii)

15977

19101

Edale car park (i)

3451

3451

Mobile telephones

39

39

(iii) Transfer of funds from previous year

62402

62402

Postage (viii)

436

436

Other income (vi)

951

951

Computer software

356

371

DCC studies budget (vii)

0

4250

Memberships (ACORP)

150

150

Chinley repayment

0

881

Grants

280

280

 

 

 

Sub total

49480

59209

 

 

 

Small Projects fund committed (unspent)

6430

6430

 

 

 

Unallocated

37803

36664

 

 

 

Total

93353

101943

Total

93353

101943

i)  The income from Edale station car park is shown as £3451 which is the actual income as at the end of September 2010.  The next six month’s income will be credited in April 2011. 
ii)  Derbyshire County Council’s contribution is in the form of capital salaries for the delivery of the SEMMMS railway schemes.  The figure in the “to date” column increases monthly. 
iii)  This includes £20145 transferred from the previous Partnership and Northern paid their £15000 contribution for 2010/11 in 2009/10 financial year.
iv)  Includes Partner member expenses and room hire
v)  Northern paid their 2010’11 contribution in the 2009/10 financial year.
vi)  The “Other” income is a contribution from the PDNPA community rail development fund.
vii)  The Projects and activities includes SPF grants and £4250 towards the Buxton line study, which is to be reimbursed from DCC’s studies budget.
viii)  The Partnership is now being charged for mailing out the folk train leaflets.

Table 2:  Proposed Budget for 2011/12

Budget head

Expenditure

Contributors (i)

Income

Salaries (ii)

35000

Cheshire East Council

2000

Expenses

600

Derbyshire CC

14000

Printing and Stationery

2750

GMITE

3250

General office expenditure

800

Northern 11/12

10000

Projects & activities (SPF)

19000

PDNPA

4000

Mobile telephones

40

Edale car park

3451

Postage

450

Transfer of funds from previous year

36664

Computer software

250

 

 

Memberships (ACORP)

150

 

 

Grants

0

 

 

Unallocated

14325

 

 

Total

73482

Total

73482

i)  All the contributions and income figures are estimates.  With the exception of Cheshire East, contributions from local authorities and Northern have yet to be confirmed in writing.
ii)  The salaries estimate allows for a full time project officer.

So far only Cheshire East, the Peak Park and GMITE had confirmed their contributions for 2011/12.  Derbyshire was expected to do so in the near future.  Mark said that Northern will confirm shortly.

John Pritchard said that High Peak Council used to make a contribution to the Derbyshire Dales & High Peak Accessibility Partnership. As that Partnership had ceased, he proposed that the Partnership write to High Peak seeking a contribution in place of that previously given to the Accessibility Partnership

Resolved
1          That the Partnership notes the current financial position.
2          That the Partnership approves the draft budget for 2011/12
3          That the Partnership write to High Peak Borough to seek a contribution.

9/11    2010-11 capital schemes report
SEMMMS capital schemes.
Work is now under way on the various capital schemes in the 2010/11 financial year.  The schemes involved are as follows:

Table 1: Capital schemes 2010/11 (DCC capital only)

 

Location

Estimate

Railway projects

Whaley Bridge station refurbishment/platform raising

50000

 

Glossop station booking hall and waiting facilities

50000

 

Chinley station waiting facility

 15000

 

Buxton station refurbishment

85000

 

Hope Valley Line Signing

2000

 

Pedestrian Access improvements to Chinley Station

5000

Design costs

This includes design costs for the above schemes at 12½% of works costs.

25875

Total SEMMMS Rail

capital spend

232875

Whaley Bridge.
Work on the major refurbishment is going ahead rapidly.  The ticket office is virtually complete and the “Harrington hump” is scheduled to be installed on the Manchester bound platform in the week after Easter.  Installation is expected to take less than a week.
Glossop.
All the preliminary work has been completed and the main works now await a decision by High Peak Borough Council on Listed Building Consent.  There was an issue where the conservation officer wanted a wood door, and Northern required steel for security.  Northern and HPBC were working to resolve this.
Chinley
Work on the shelter is substantially complete. Work is expected to be completed on 18th March.
Buxton
The costing report is expected at the end of March, and this will then go to the NSIP Board for approval.  It was confirmed that the NSIP work would follow on from the Network Rail maintenance work

Other rail projects
In addition to the SEMMMS capital schemes there are two small projects dealing with signing and access improvements.  These are being paid for wholly by the County Council and will be delivered by the County Council rather than by railway partners, as the majority of the works are on highway rather than on railway land.   Further work on the design of these projects is under way.

Resolved

That the situation with regard to Derbyshire’s 2010-11 capital schemes is noted.

10/11  2011-12 capital schemes report

The financial year 2011/12 marks the start of a new LTP period.  There will be no SEMMMS funding for rail schemes and in the current financial climate it is highly likely that local authorities will concentrate their capital expenditure on their core activities.  For county councils, as far as transport is concerned, this means a concentration on highway maintenance and improvement, rather than investment in railway infrastructure.  For PTE’s the situation is rather different as they have responsibilities for railways.

Derbyshire.
So far as Derbyshire is concerned, the transport programme  has yet to be approved.  It was noted that the project officers had put forward the following projects for consideration.

Improving accessibility to stations and trains

  • Provision of DDA compliant footbridge at Chinley. Works contribution £100k.  (It was noted that the steps on the Chinley station bridge were degrading again).
  • Provision of DDA compliant footbridge (or equivalent) at Hope station.  Works contribution £100k

(Both the Chinley and Hope projects require a thorough investigation before any accurate costings can be established.  This could (should) be done in 2011/12 with a view to implementation in 2012/13 or 2013/14. It is suggested that the CRP may wish to contribute towards such investigations).

  • Programme of installing "raised boarders" at stations where the platform heights are substandard,  2011/12 Grindleford (Manchester bound platform)  £50k
  • Subsequent years.  The CRP will be investigating platform heights at all their stations over the next year and will draw up a list of priority improvements.

(In each case a substantial contribution from Network Rail and /or the train operating company could be anticipated for a programme of works spread over the LTP3 period).
 In discussion it was noted that Derbyshire were bidding for funding from the Government’s Local Sustainability Fund.  The chosen area was Chesterfield and North-east Derbyshire which does not greatly impact on the Partnership’s area.  Only one bid per authority was acceptable.  However, it was also noted that the Government had indicated that authorities which had a National Park within their boundaries could have a “second bight at the cherry” and any such bid from Derbyshire could (should?) involve the HVL.  Mark Barker for Northern said that, in principle, they would be very supportive of such a bid.

Other Authorities.
Cheshire East, the two PTE’s, Network Rail and Northern have been asked what capital schemes they have scheduled or proposed for 2011/12.  Cheshire East has no capital schemes affecting the railways in the Partnership’s area.  South Yorkshire PTE has the Dore and Totley park and ride project, which is the subject of a separate report on this agenda.  An oral update on any other capital projects will be given at the meeting.

Resolved

  • That the Partnership endorses the proposed bids for capital funding in Derbyshire and notes the capital programmes of the other authorities.
  1. That the Partnership supports the suggestion of a second LSF bid involving the National Park Authority

 

11/11  Small Projects Fund report

Introduction.

Table 1 below shows those approved contributions which are still outstanding at the time of writing this report.

Table 1.  SPF Approved contributions still outstanding

Organisation

Project

SPF(£)

PDNPA

Information provision Sheffield station

Up to 2000

Stockport MBC

Signing improvements Strines station

Up to 2000

Friends of Glossop Station

Enhancements to the tannoy system

Up to 2000

Chinley and Buxworth Transport Group. 

Install a covered cycle rack adjacent to the car park at Chinley station. 

Up to 2000

Total Outstanding

 

8000

  • It was noted that the PDNPA bid had not progressed and now seemed unlikely to proceed.  Confirmation of this was awaited. 
  • David Huber (Stockport MBC) pointed out that there was a housing development proposed at Strines and this was likely to involve a Section 106 agreement relating to the railway.  The signing scheme would be incorporated into the overall package. 
  • In response to a query about the Glossop tannoy it was confirmed that only one speaker was required and the work would proceed along with the refurbishment package, but it was thought that listed building consent would be needed.  Northern would take this up with HPBC. 
  • With regard to the Chinley cycle rack, Mike Rose was to meet Northern on site, but it was confirmed that the proposed location was in the existing car park.
  • Cllr Tony Favell reported that Edale parish council wisehd to express their thanks for the replacement of the information boards at the station.

 

New proposals

Table 2.  New proposals for 2011/12

Organisation

Project

SPF(£)

Manchester folk train organisers

i) Publicity and marketing (£70 quarterly until March 31st 2012)
ii) Payment of band expenses in emergency £30 per band (very rare)

280

120

TransPeak Walks

Leaders’ expenses (quarterly claim)

600

DCC

Contribution to Derbyshire train timetable booklet (2 editions in 2011/12)

Up to 2000

GMPTE

Contribution to further study into Buxton line service enhancement

Up to 2000

Northern Rail

 

Contribution to revenue support for the weekday 1814 and/or Sunday service enhancement

Up to 2000

Total

 

8000

In addition to the proposals in Table 2, a bid was presented (by the HVRUG) for a household survey in the Hope Valley to identify potential passengers and issues.  In the light of the proposals for enhancing the Buxton line services it was felt that a similar survey should be undertaken on that line also.  It was considered that these surveys could be conducted by the parish and town councils through their usual mailing/information dissemination systems, but that the Partnership would analyse the results.  A sum of £4000 was proposed to cover the surveys.

At the previous meeting it was reported that a tentative proposal had been put forward by the National Trust to improve the pedestrian signing from Disley station to Lyme Park and Hall. This has still not been translated into a formal request for funding and no funding has been allocated.    

Resolved
1.         That the situation with regard to the Small Projects Fund be noted
2.         That the new proposals outlined in Table 2 above be approved in principle.
3.         That the proposed household survey of latent demand on the HVL and Buxton lines be approved and £4000 allocated from the SPF.

12/11 Concessionary fares

Introduction.
As a consequence of Central Government cuts in funding, Derbyshire County Council, in company with all other local authorities has had to seek ways of reducing expenditure.  A report was considered by Derbyshire’s Cabinet on 25th January 2011, at which it was agreed that the Environmental Services Department should find £6.7 million in savings in the 2011/12 financial year. (Cabinet minute 26/11 refers).   A consultation exercise was launched to assess the public’s view on suggested areas for cuts, and of particular interest to this Partnership are the proposals for cuts to b_line and Gold Card concessions and the withdrawal or reduction in bus services.

The project officers sent the following comments in response to the consultation.

b_line Concessionary Travel Scheme
The Partnership strongly suggests that that the existing b_line half fare concession should remain.  If, despite this, the County Council decides to reduce the level of b_line concessions, we would hope that sufficient funding can be made available to enable the half fare concession to continue on local rail services.  Our reasons for this request are as follows:
a)         The withdrawal from July 2011 of the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year olds, will significantly impact on the finances of young people and their ability to afford to attend college courses. 
b)         Removing or even reducing the half fare b_line concession would be a further financial hardship to young people who have to travel from rural towns and villages to access their courses.  As a result, young people may not be able to access their preferred educational establishment and course due to the increased cost of travel.  This can only be detrimental to both their education and ultimately to the economic health of the county.
Half Fare on Train Services for Gold Card Holders

The Partnership is particularly concerned about the potential withdrawal of the half fare concession on local rail services for Gold Card holders and we would most strongly urge that this is retained if at all possible.  It is a valuable and well used concession by local people.  The ability to use Gold Card on the train throughout the day including at peak times is particularly valued enabling Gold Card holders to access morning appointments and meetings

at a more affordable prices.  At a time when we are seeking to encourage greater use of public transport as an alternative to the car it would be very unfortunate if a concession like this were to be withdrawn, particularly given the level of congestion on the roads paralleling the Buxton and Glossop lines.
The existing rail concession is out of sync with that on the buses, ever since the County Council withdrew the “before 0930” concession on the latter.  It would be interesting to know how much of the rail concession cost can be ascribed to usage before 0930 and thereby how much could be saved if the bus and rail concession times are brought into line.  Before any final decision is taken on withdrawing the rail concession please could this possibility be examined?  Since sending in these comments, we have attempted to establish how much travel is undertaken using Gold Card on the lines in the HP&HV Community Rail Partnership before 0930 but the necessary information does not appear to be readily available.
Proposed Bus Service Cuts
The Partnership recognises that in a situation of reduced funding and rising public transport costs, some cuts to bus services appear inevitable.  Examination of the routes proposed for reduction/withdrawal does not indicate any significant effect on connections to rail services in the Partnership’s area, with two exceptions, Services 222 and 397.  The 222 service connects with the Hope Valley Line and forms an integral part of the Upper Derwent Traffic Management scheme.  It would be unfortunate if the bus connection to the Derwent Dams were to be broken so, if the 222 is to be withdrawn (and we would hope it is not), then we would request that some attention is paid to making the other services in the area, e.g. Service 242, connect better with the trains at Bamford and that these are publicised adequately.  The CRP could potentially assist here.  The 397 offers links from the Tintwistle area to Glossop line stations, e.g. Hadfield and Godley. 
Generally, we feel that the option of using local rail services needs greater recognition and co-ordination of publicity and marketing with the bus services, especially where these offer onward connections like Buxton to Hartington and Ashbourne, New Mills to Hayfield, Edale to Castleton or Whaley Bridge to Kettleshulme.  The CRP could potentially assist in marketing these connections.  Indeed, we did begin such a project only to defer it because of the uncertainty surrounding the bus services involved.
We are not clear about the status of certain cross boundary services, e.g. the Whaley Bridge to Macclesfield route which is currently jointly funded by DCC and Cheshire East.  Although the bulk of this service is in Cheshire it does provide a useful connecting facility to the railway at Whaley Bridge.
We also worry that the withdrawal of County Council subsidy for contracted services, coupled with the seemingly inexorable rise in fuel prices could impact on the remaining commercial bus services.  In this context we are thinking particularly of the services between the Hope Valley and Sheffield and those between Buxton to Stockport and Manchester or remaining Glossop routes. Reductions in these would mean that local people rely more on the rail services for their local journeys.  This is an additional reason to retain the b_line and Gold Card concessionary fares on local rail services.
It was noted that the council would reach its decision on 28th March, but the alterations to the various concessions, if agreed, would probably be staggered, if only because of contractual reasons.
Resolved
That the Partnership endorses the comments made by the Project Officers to the Derbyshire Public Transport consultation.
13/11  Survey and monitoring report

The Partnership commissioned DCC to carry out surveys on the Hope Valley and Buxton lines.  Surveys were taking place on the local services on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and, in addition there are surveys at Chinley and Dore stations to assess usage of those expresses which stop there.  The HVRUG and Platform 5 Publishing have assisted in the survey by organising peak hour distribution of survey forms at HVL stations and, in particular, at Dore and Totley to cover the express services there. The Partnership is grateful for their support. The intention was to cover almost all the Northern operated local trains on the two lines in both directions. 

The object was to see what progress has been made since the last survey was carried out in 2008, especially with regard to passenger attitudes towards the services, the trains, the staff and the station facilities, given that there has been considerable capital investment in facilities in the intervening period. 

The dates of the surveys are as follows.
March, 4th, 6th and 12th (Buxton line between Buxton and Hazel Grove)
March 12th, 15th, 19th, 26th and 27th (Hope Valley line between Sheffield and New Mills, plus surveys at Chinley and Dore stations for users of the express services)
April 2nd and 10th (Buxton line between Buxton and Hazel Grove)

The survey was progressing well.

The survey scheduled for Sunday 27th March is being rearranged because of engineering works which will result in trains being replaced by buses.  It will now be the end of April before the surveys are finished, but completed forms are already rolling in and showing some surprising journeys.

Resolved
That the Partnership notes the progress on the surveys on the Buxton and Hope Valley lines. 

14/11  Buxton-Manchester Train Service Enhancement Study

Introduction
At the last meeting of the Partnership, partners considered a report on the Buxton-Manchester train service enhancement study.  It was resolved that the Partnership;

  • Urges Derbyshire County Council to commission the additional work required to further the introduction of this enhancement, in particular the work needed to assess the robustness of the proposed new timetable and its impact on staffing and rolling stock diagrams. 
  • Offers a further modest sum towards this further work, i.e. up to £2000 as with the previous study.  It is considered that the line speed enhancement examination can be left aside for the moment.  (Minute 41/10 refers)

Progress since September

Since the last meeting, and despite the Partnership’s offer of further funding, Derbyshire County Council have not been able to fund the additional work and thus have been unable to commission a further study.  This is disappointing as the outcome of the earlier study was encouraging.  GMPTE have indicated that they would be prepared to put some money towards a further study, but the amount has not been specified, and there has been no further response from GMPTE.  It is important that the prospect of enhancing the Buxton line services is not relegated to the back burner, so it was suggested that the Partnership officers should seek clarification of GMPTE’s funding and then seek to commission the study, up to the value of the two contributions. The possible sum involved is around £6000.

Mark Barker agreed to determine what was required. And what could be provided for the sum available. 
It was noted that, even if the outcome of the study was positive, such a service enhancement would almost certainly require subsidy from someone or other.  In that context, and bearing in mind that there was to be no May timetable change in May 2012 because of the Olympics, the earliest date an enhanced service could be introduced is December 2012 and more likely the enhancement would form part of a refranchising bid.
There was a query about the practicality of a half hourly frequency service as it was understood that Chapel signal box had closed and this was already causing delays in the peak hours.  Mark Barker said that he understood that the closure was temporary, because of the regular signaller being on long-term sick leave and there being a shortage of signalling staff.  He also understood that there were some problems with the signals themselves. 
Cllr Pritchard reported that HPBC had now refused listed building consent for the replacement of bridge 42 at Whaley Bridge, which would preclude more freight using the line.

Resolved

That the Partnership notes the report and, the Partnership officers should seek clarification of GMPTE’s funding and then seek to commission the study, up to the value of the two contributions.

15/11  Update on the Future of Rail Franchising
Update on the future of rail franchising
The Partnership submitted the following response to the Department for Transport consultation on the future of Rail Franchising:

Key Points
1          We feel that our Partnership and Community Rail Partnerships generally bring considerable added value to the franchise, and to the travelling public.  We help to improve the stations and train services, and promote the lines within the community.   The net effect of this is to increase ridership on the railway, and consequently reduce road traffic.  All of these results bring value for money for the taxpayer.
2          Franchises should be of sufficient length to allow Partnerships and Franchisees to build relationships and to invest.
3          The key sources of core funding for Community Rail Partnerships are TOCs and local authorities.  We feel that Franchise specifications should include the provision of funds for Partnerships by the TOCs.  Franchises should be awarded to applicants who will work closely with Partnerships.
4          Franchises should be allowed more discretion than at present to change services and respond to changes in local circumstances, seasonal variations and local events.
5          We feel that the awarding of franchises should be based on quality of proposal, and not just on the lowest bid.  We feel this will bring a better outcome for the taxpayer as well as for rail passengers.

Government response
In the light of the consultation comments received, the Government has now issued a statement setting out its proposals for alterations to the franchising regime.  In his response the Secretary of State makes clear that the principles of moving to longer franchises with less detailed specifications and greater incentives for operators to act efficiently and invest in the improvements passengers want, have been widely welcomed by consultees and they will form part of the Government’s plans for the railways.  The aim is a more efficient railway system and one more responsive to passengers’ needs. The Government response makes it clear that they intend, typically, to let longer franchises of at least 15 years duration.  This is to be welcomed as giving a much greater degree of stability and an opportunity to plan ahead and invest for a longer term future.  Of particular interest is the Secretary of State’s reference to the re-letting of the Trans Pennine Express franchise (which includes the Cleethorpes-Manchester Airport service via the Hope Valley line).  This could contractually be extended by up to five years beyond 2012, and the Department for Transport is discussing a proposal for an extension with the current operator. Alternatively, this franchise could be retendered for at least 15 years, possibly in 2013 alongside the Northern franchise.  Whether this envisages a merging of the two franchises is not clear at this stage, but it will clearly be of interest to this Partnership whichever way it is played.

Resolved
That the Partnership notes the Government’s response to the franchising consultation.

18/11  Route Utilisation Studies
Northern RUS
As reported at the December meeting, Network Rail has published the draft Northern Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). The RUS forecasts significantly more growth in rail usage over the next ten to twenty years, including 30 - 45% passenger growth into the cities of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield by 2019, with the figures rising to 60 - 75% by 2029.

The Northern RUS sets out the priorities for rail investment in the north of England for the next 20 years to meet the forecast demand. The strategy includes:

  • The Northern Hub - which would allow 3.5million more passengers to travel across the North every year.
  • New platforms at Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Airport stations.
  • Upgrading the freight lines between Immingham, Scunthorpe and Knottingley.
  • A rolling programme of electrification including the Midland Mainline between Sheffield and London St Pancras International

The deadline for responses was 14 January 2011 and Network Rail intends to publish the final Northern RUS in May. To date, we have not received any feedback on the comments made by the Partnership.

West Coast Main Line RUS
Although the geographical scope of this RUS does not impinge on the Partnership’s area, it is nevertheless of importance because so much of the timetabling of trains into and out of Manchester is dependant on what happens to WCML services.  The WCML RUS had a formal consultation period of 90 days which finished on 11th March 2011.  Accordingly, your Project Officers sent a response following consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Partnership.  The comments formed Appendix 1 to the Partnership report.

Resolved

  • That the progress on the Northern RUS is noted
  • That the comments on the WCML RUS as set out in Appendix 1 to the Partnership report, are endorsed

17/11  Network Rail Restructuring Plans
Network Rail has announced plans to devolve power to nine separate business units based around existing routes.

The units will each have their own managing director, and the devolution of power will allow Network Rail to "deliver improvements to passengers and freight users while reducing costs", according to new chief executive David Higgins.

The new business units will take responsibility for safety, customer service, asset management, operations, maintenance and the delivery of some renewals and enhancements.

The Scotland and Wessex routes will be the first to change in April, with other routes to follow "as soon as possible".

The new Chief Exec considers that Network Rail has saved money and transformed the railway through central control but to make further improvements in all areas the company now needs to increase responsiveness at a local level.

The aim is to devolve accountability to the route level so that the railway infrastructure provider can get closer to its customers and be in a better position to deliver improvements to passengers and freight users, while reducing costs.

Each new route managing director will, in effect, be running their own infrastructure railway business with significant annual turnover and resources.  Network Rail accepts that this represents a significant change of emphasis but expects that it will give their staff on the routes the ability and the means to deliver a bigger, better, more affordable railway, not undermining the improvements that have already been made, but building on the strengths of what has already been achieved.

There will continue to be a critical role for a supporting centre that helps make the most of economies of scale. The railway still needs to be planned and operated as a network which operates seamlessly, and the company's focus on efficient and effective management of long-life railway assets must be maintained.

Effects on the Partnership’s area
It is not clear at this stage what impact, if any, these changes will have on the Partnership’s area, but it does seem likely that the Hope Valley line will fall into two separate Network Rail business units, if the existing regional structure is replicated.  This may lead to complications, especially with regard to infrastructure enhancements at the margins of business unit areas.

Neil Barthorpe (Network Rail), said that devolution would enable closer working with the local TOC’s.  Overall policy was still to be dealt with nationally through the HQ at Milton Keynes.  He also referred to the recent conference at Bristol where the Minister (Theresa Villiers) had expressed strong support for community rail and had announced extra money for designated lines as being integral parts of the “big society” initiative.

Resolved
That the Partnership notes the proposals to restructure Network Rail and keeps a watching brief on developments.

18/11  Urgent items

  • The steps on Chinley footbridge are deteriorating despite recent work by Network Rail.
  • Concern was expressed about the state of the footbridge at Hope.  Neil Barthorpe agreed to investigate.
  • The platform edges at Chinley would be repaired late April onwards.  The problem had been caused by the recent spell of severe winter weather.

19/11  Dates and times of the next meetings

  • 10 am 15th June 2011 Annual General Meeting, possibly at New Mills Town Hall – subject to confirmation.
  • September 2011: Evening meeting.  Manchester. Possible venue is GMPTE offices.
  • December 2011 Buxton, possibly at the Pavilion Gardens.

Resolved
The proposed venues were agreed.

20/11  Retirement
Martin Smith is retiring as Project Officer on 31st March. The Chair presented him with a card and thanked him for his work with the Partnership. Martin will retain a role in the Partnership as a volunteer.  A collection was taken, and Martin will be presented with a book token at County Hall when he retires.


Minutes of the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership Management Group meeting held on 15th March 2011, at Sheffield

Present:

Cllr Jean Wharmby (DCC), (Chair)                                

Cllr Tony Favell (PDNPA), (Vice chair)

Mike Rose (project officer)           

Cllr Chris Furness (HV parishes)

Gill Westall (Chinley & Buxworth Transport Group)

Neil Barthorpe (Network Rail)

Aidan Richardson (PDNPA)

Mark Barker (Northern)

Penny Greenwood (F of Glossop Stn)

Cllr John Pritchard (HP parishes)

Martin Smith (project officer), 

Steve Briscoe (HVRUG)

Keith Walker (FoCS)

 

 

1/11    Apologies
Kevin Williams (DCC), Paul Griffiths (Cheshire East), Becky Pennyfather (DCC), Cllr Jackie Pattison (Cheshire parishes), Mike Crompton (Voluntary sector rep)

2/11    Approval of Minutes of Partnership Meeting on 8th December 2010
The minutes of the Partnership Management Group Meeting held on 8th December 2010 were approved as a correct record.

3/11    Staffing and volunteering issues.
Existing Situation
The High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership supports one full time officer post. This post is currently filled by Martin Smith and Mike Rose, each working on a part time basis on temporary contracts which end on 31st March 2011.

On 13th January 2011, Derbyshire County Council (the Accountable Body) took a report to its’ Members the future staffing of this post.  Recommendations were made on the basis of advice from the County’s legal and personnel departments.

The report concluded that Mike Rose will be offered a further half time fixed-term contract initially for one year with a possible further extension until March 2013.

Martin Smith is currently working beyond the age of 65 and has a retirement date of 31 March 2011. In the current economic climate requests to work over the age of 65 were not being approved by the County Council Therefore, his employment with the County Council will cease on this date.

The meeting agreed to set up a volunteer policy, and that Martin Smith would be offered the role of volunteer for the Partnership.

After some discussion the following principles were agreed:

  • Martin’s official base will be at home, although it is not anticipated he will actually need to work from there very often
  • Martin will be able to come into DCC’s Matlock office when he needs to speak to Mike or any other DCC officer but will not work regularly from there.
  • Mike will become the lead Partnership Officer
  • A description of volunteering activities which Martin can undertake to be drawn up.
  • A volunteer agreement to be produced lasting up to 12 months.
  • The Partnership will provide Martin with any equipment deemed necessary
  • Martin will be paid out of pocket expenses by the Partnership
  • The situation will be reviewed in Autumn 2011 when consideration will be given to the levels of staffing required

 

Outcome
Mike will be the lead Partnership Officer and continue to work two and a half days a week, based at Matlock.  Martin will volunteer his time to assist the partnership based on the volunteering activities identified.

Resolved – Volunteer Policy:

  • The Partnership shall have a Volunteer Policy:
  • All Volunteers shall sign a Volunteer Agreement for an agreed period.
  • Volunteers shall be entitled to reasonable expenses for activities agreed in advance with the Project Officer.
  • Volunteers may be loaned equipment.
  • Insurance will be arranged through Derbyshire County Council.

That Martin Smith be offered a volunteer agreement for one year, and the use of a laptop and mobile phone for the period of the agreement.

4/11    Dates and times of the next meetings

  • 10 am 15th June 2011 Annual General Meeting, possibly at New Mills Town Hall – subject to confirmation.
  • September 2011: Evening meeting.  Manchester. Possible venues are Northern’s offices, Network Rail’s offices and GMPTE offices.
  • December 2011 Buxton, possibly at the Pavilion Gardens.

Resolved
The proposed venues were agreed.