SIR – So Mr Roberts believes I am living in a fantasy world. So the freight route utilisation, the electrification strategy and the recently published business case for the Midland Mainline electrification are all my fantasies? He believes because someon
SIR - So Mr Roberts believes I am living in a fantasy world. So the freight route utilisation, the electrification strategy and the recently published business case for the Midland Mainline electrification are all my fantasies?
He believes because someone has produced evidence that there are only five day-time paths for freights from the Radlett rail freight terminal and that some of these are not satisfactory then anything else must be irrelevant. Perhaps then we can shed some light on this.
In Rail magazine issue 630 dated November 4, Tim Shoveller, the managing director of East Midland trains says: "The Midland Mainline was not full, we demonstrated that by introducing more trains last December.
"The view is to say that it is very busy. I think that there is more that you could do with the route."
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So why the difference? Well I have been trying to spell it out but Eric Roberts always insists that other routes have nothing to do with this route.
Let's go over it again. A few years ago, Hull trains was told by the then-new Network Rail that they could not have any more paths because the ECML was full and there was no possible way that any more trains could be run.
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Since then Hull trains have doubled the number of trains they run, another couple of open access operators have gained paths and GNER as-was managed to get a second hourly path to Leeds.
Now Network Rail have found another hourly path to enable whoever has the ECML passenger franchise to run an hourly service from Kings Cross to alternately York and Lincoln.
Why, the railway industry is very risk-averse and Network Rail did not want to risk any loss of reliability in the timetable by allowing any more trains.
Once they were told by the rail regulator to get on with it they did. Similarly a few years ago the freight train operators were told that they could not possibly run any more trains in and out of the port of Felixstowe. Since then the number of trains has doubled. The list of examples goes on and on.
Further, the increased acceleration and shorter station dwell times of the new Thameslink trains will improve the number of paths available on this route by allowing trains with different stopping patterns to follow more closely as a fast train will not catch up to a stopping service as quickly.
As a result of that and fewer empty stock moves due to the maintenance. Further, the new freight locomotives which will start to arrive shortly are also more powerful and will thus be able to clear junctions quicker.
And then when there is conflict between different rail operating companies it is the rail regulator's job to adjudicate.
As a result I am confident that Eric Roberts is wrong when he says the rail option to the freight depot will be unworkable.
Instead I share Tim Shoveller's view that this can be resolved. However, the silence of all those opposed to the depot on the bigger problem of our already congested roads has allowed this to be ignored.
Berkley Close, St Albans