Capacity latest

PUBLISHED: 12:07 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

SIR – Somehow Eric Roberts does not seem to understand that plans to increase capacity for freight north of Bedford do not require any extra works to provide capacity south of Bedford for freight (Herts Advertiser, October 1). If he looked at the FCC time

SIR - Somehow Eric Roberts does not seem to understand that plans to increase capacity for freight north of Bedford do not require any extra works to provide capacity south of Bedford for freight (Herts Advertiser, October 1).

If he looked at the FCC timetable for off peak trains he would note that the pattern of trains repeats every 15 minutes. Therefore if you have one path an hour for freight trains, you have actually got four.

Yes, Network Rail have said that they cannot guarantee 12 paths for Helislough, but then they haven't said they cannot provide them either.

Now let's look at who they have told they cannot have any paths to. GNER for extra services to Leeds, now mostly provided, Hull trains for an extra service to Hull, now provided, Grand Central trains for services to Sunderland and Bradford, now provided, GBRF for extra service to Wellingbourgh now provided.

So the cannot guarantee needs to be taken in context. Further, since they said that a great number of potential train paths that may have been required for Thameslink on the Midland Main Line have disappeared with the recent decision not to build a Thamslink train depot at either Cricklewood or Bedford.

Even if it is not possible for a freight train to cross from the fast lines to the slow lines there is off peak capacity for freight trains on the fast lines, observant passengers may have noted that this does occur already.

Quite simply twice an hour there is a 15-minute gap between trains on the fast lines. Even if we were to remove three minutes at each end of this gap to ensure no train runs on a restrictive signal aspect the resulting nine minutes gap is sufficient for a 60mph freight train to run nearly 30 miles before the following train catches up.

The distance from the freight depot to the freight lines at Hendon is much less than that. I am asuming here that a 75mph container train will average 60mph over that distance.

Eric Roberts continues to show a lack of understanding about the way the railway works by suggesting that Network Rail will be paying, with taxpayers' money, for any delays caused to passenger trains by freight trains.

In fact it is the operator who causes the delay that pays the compensation, Network Rail would only do so if the tracks or signaling, etc., caused the delay. Further, as no doubt the freight train operators will include such costs within their rates to those occupying the depot and they in turn will figure that into the value of their leases, the developer will pay these costs in reduced rental value.

I should also point out that it is significant that neither Passenger Focus nor London Travel Watch, which are the organisations which are there to protect passengers' interests, have as far as I can ascertain objected to this scheme. Perhaps they believe that this scheme represents no threat to passenger services?

Whilst this debate about railway capacity continues, the much greater problem of traffic congestion on an already congested road that all road traffic to and from the depot will use is being ignored.

ROSS MIDDLETON

Berkley Close, St Albans

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