A worthy fight

PUBLISHED: 11:38 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010

SIR – The railfreight inquiry is over. We must now await the Inspector s decision. Thank you Herts Advertiser for those weekly updates. Some of us citizens, as you reported, exercised our democratic right to speak before the Inspector. Sitting in on the

SIR - The railfreight inquiry is over. We must now await the Inspector's decision.

Thank you Herts Advertiser for those weekly updates. Some of us citizens, as you reported, exercised our democratic right to speak before the Inspector.

Sitting in on the proceedings could be a bit tedious. But I thought things really came alive on the afternoon of December 15 which is worth noting.

The council's barrister, Matthew Reed, was cross-examining Helioslough's rail expert Nick Gallop. After doing a pretty effective job on demolishing the over-optimistic assumptions on gauge enhancements, Mr Reed delivered what I feel to be a coup de grace on the daytime pathways and capacity issues.

Mr Gallop and Helioslough had produced a possible draft time-table that would, in theory, squeeze one of their freight trains each hour during the off-peak over the up and down slow lines into and out of the terminal.

This was after he had, somewhat reluctantly it seemed, conceded that the Thameslink Programme costing £5.5 billion, would see 12 off-peak trains each way go past Radlett, with at least 10 of them, again each way, having to use the slow lines because of the express East Midlands services, currently five each hour, but possibly six, again each way, ready to use the fast lines.

Unfortunately, in devising such a timetable that came up with the necessary slots to coincide with all the other trains passing by so as to give access, this meant the new proposed semi-fast services, four each hour, running down (i.e. into) the all stations services at Hendon. Not good that! Such are the problems with realistic timetabling.

Mr Reed pressed his point home. If Helioslough's trains couldn't get in and out by day, that meant they would come and go between 10pm and 6am, by night. Definite planning implications arise as a result.

As to the input on essential night-time track maintenance, Mr Gallop explained this was, "up to Network Rail to decide". No comment.

Was the Inspector receptive to all this? I hope so. My feeling is the inquiry's outcome could be a close call but Helioslough may have the advantage through their tactics and reliance on the last case's outcome and statements.

As for Network Rail - I cannot forgive their absence from the inquiry and apparent ambivalence on such an important issue.

Full marks to our council and to STRiFE. And especially to Matthew Reed who I feel did us proud. I don't know what the council is paying him to represent us but he has earned every penny.

Win or lose, the council was right to take this case on. Pay up if we must. Such is the cost of standing up for who, what and where you believe in.

ERIC ROBERTS,

Fishpool Street, St Albans


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