It was a busy day today, heading off down to York for LNER’s England Stakeholder Event and then returning to Morpeth for SENRUG’s Public Meeting in the evening. The LNER event was a useful opportunity to rub shoulders with LNER’s senior management, both in public session and privately over coffee. For instance, one development LNER announced is that the new ERTMS signalling, which will improve capacity, is to be installed on the southern end of the line. But why, I asked, not start in the north, eg York to Newcastle, which seems to be the bit that has the greatest capacity constraints? Why, once again, put all the infrastructure investment into London? The answer from David Horn was that, through a quirk of history, this is the bit of signalling that is now time expired and needs to be renewed anyway. It was an open and honest answer, helpful to me in seeking to make sense of why London and the Home Counties get all the investment, but nevertheless raised the case for infrastructure investments in the north.
Later I put the same question to a speaker from Network Rail. What infrastructure investment are you making in the north? Back came the answer “Reston”. Which leads us nicely on to our evening activity. Though I suspect it is local campaigner Barrie Forrest BEM from RAGES and Transport Scotland we have to thank for Reston, rather than heartfelt enthusiasm from Network Rail. And excellent though the station might be, it doesn’t, I suspect, do anything to alleviate capacity between York and Newcastle, allowing LNER to run their 3rd train per hour to Edinburgh without taking away the services we already have (or had, at December 2019). Nevertheless, it’s not so much the answer you get on the day, more the ability to keep an issue at the forefront of decision makers’ minds that make these days useful. Overall, a constructive and enjoyable day, and our thanks to LNER for organising it.
In the evening, at the SENRUG Public Meeting and AGM, we had the full story of the Reston Station re-opening campaign with photos of it under construction, ranging from the first shovel in the ground, to the first train stopping. Or thanks to our 3 speakers from RAGES, we wish them well as they now continue with East Linton, and hope soon to be hoping over the border to tell them the story of our own campaign for the 6 stations on the Northumberland Line. At our AGM, I was delighted to be re-elected as Chair and would like to thank all members for their support. The committee also continues as is, with the exception of Janet McLeod Trotter who has stood down, and who we would like to thank for her excellent support over the years. Our committee remains open to new members to join, and anyone interested in doing so should contact me.