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The Network Rail - Scotland Route Utilisation Strategy: Draft Consultation

The responses below are those of members of The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport(UK) Scottish Policy Group who have contributed to the discussion on the Network Rail - Scotland Route Utilisation Strategy - Draft Consultation

1. Introduction.
The Scottish Region of CILT(UK) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Scottish RUS draft document prepared by Network Rail. The document has much to commend in its content, in particular the comprehensive analysis of passenger flow and performance data and the range of investment options. We would, however, like to add some suggestions for consideration in the final document.

2. Sensitivity Analysis.
It is noted that the projected passenger numbers using Scotland's main airports appear to be taken at face value. With the Stern Review on climate change now in the public domain, these could be subject to variation, particularly, if carbon taxes are introduced to reflect the polluting effect of air travel. In turn this may affect the number of passengers for longer distance journeys. Whilst this will have limited effect on internal Scottish passenger movements, it could have implications for platform usage at Edinburgh and Glasgow Central stations and operation of their southern approaches for cross border services.

The Stern Review also has implications for road transport and car use in particular, which may further affect passenger growth predictions both within Scotland and on cross border routes, particularly if road pricing is introduced. There will also be demand sensitivities due to economic growth for commuter flows into the main conurbations and for leisure travel, particularly if discretionary spend is affected by the economy or by tax changes. In recent years, there has been an increase in flexible working and working from home. Future trends in these areas will influence demand, particularly in the peaks.

3. Fares Policy.
Fares policy could be used to influence demand, both in the peak and off peak. In the latter case further demand can be encouraged with suitable fare offers. More importantly, peak pricing coupled with differential pricing on the shoulders of the peak may be used to spread demand and to reduce the need for additional train paths or rolling stock. It is recognised, however, that there is a need to encourage rail travel and that some pricing initiatives could discourage use. New rolling stock or altered seating arrangements to existing stock could affect capacity with similar benefits in reduced paths or rolling stock.

New technology may be helpful in encouraging rail use by making fare purchase easier. For example, it is hoped that the new ticketing initiatives being trialled in Shetland may be extended to simplify payment for rail usage as well as for buses. Similarly smartcards, mobile phones and the internet may all assist in this respect. Further developments in demand management may come from the use of "Loadweigh" equipment on trains where passenger numbers can be measured and pricing more accurately linked to demand by individual train.

4. Delay Analysis.
The principle of using delays attributed to Network Rail and First Scotrail is seen as sufficiently accurate for much of the Scottish network. It is felt, however, that a number of the locations identified as having high levels of reactionary delay minutes may be influenced by other train operators. In particular, the effect of the regulation or late running of GNER and Virgin trains through Portobello Junction and to/from Edinburgh may have a significant knock on effect on operations between Portobello Junction and Millerhill/Newcraighall. It is noted that Portobello Junction is particularly restrictive for trains taking the diverging route to/from Newcraighall. Similarly, the route sections to the north and south of Motherwell may be affected by the performance of Virgin and GNER trains to/form Glasgow Central.

5. Running Times.
It was encouraging to note that timetable optimisation would be undertaken for a number of sensitive routes and that a detailed timing exercise had been undertaken in conjunction with the re-casting of Argyle line services, Whilst mention was made of station dwell times, no specific mention was made of door cycle times. There are major differences between this parameter on different classes of both DMU and EMU and this parameter needs to be considered in arriving at robust start-to-start times. Consideration also needs to be given, not just to the performance of diagrammed units, but also of regular substitutes to ensure timetable robustness at the lowest level of performance.

6. Timetable Proposals.
The timetable proposals contained in the document are welcomed, notably, those for the Fife and Edinburgh to Dundee/Aberdeen services. This is not the case with the proposal to truncate the services to/from Newcraighall at Edinburgh Waverley, particularly since additional through platforms will be available at Waverley. This was initially conceived as a cross-Edinburgh service distributing those who would otherwise use the car for the whole journey to the employment/retail/leisure locations around Waverley, Haymarket and Edinburgh Park. The latter station was constructed to facilitate this. The service should continue to cross Edinburgh, although linking it to the Fife services would be a suitable alternative using South Gyle instead of Edinburgh Park. It may, for example, give a longer layover at Newcraighall with this pattern of service and, therefore a more robust service. The practice of turning the trains in the siding rather than in the platform at Newcraighall should also be re-considered. It is understood that the gradient falls both from Newcraighall and Millerhill. It is likely, therefore, that a risk assessment would consider that the probability of a runaway is very low despite the falling gradient and that the consequences would be trivial in relation to risk to life or limb.

The proposal to electrify the Whifflet line is welcomed since this gives access to the developments on the Ravenscraig site and provides a diversionary route for electric services to Carlisle and beyond. A better spread of services on the GSW and Stranraer routes would be an improvement, but the loss of through services from Stranraer to Glasgow would be unwelcome even without the classic ship passenger market.

7. Glasgow Central Re-signalling.
No mention was made in the draft document of the re-signalling of the Glasgow Central power box area. This must create opportunities to carry out some of the proposals in the document at relatively low cost or at least to make passive provision for them to be incorporated with minimum cost and disruption at a later date. This is relevant to the proposal for a third running line between Muirhouse Junction and Eglinton Street and for the Bridge Street to Paisley proposals. In the latter case, renewal of the connection to the "Burma Road" with higher speeds through the turnout and on the approach to the tunnel would significantly reduce the blocking back effect of freight trains heading for the West Coast Main Line or Longannet Power Station with consequential performance improvements.

8. Perth.
Mention was made of engineering access at Perth as an issue. It is surprising that no mention was made of renewals at Perth. The existing layout was modernised about 50 years ago when the main route headed towards Stanley and it incorporates many little used or redundant connections. It is possible that a revised layout would improve line speeds towards the Dundee platforms whilst simultaneously easing engineering access, reducing maintenance costs, improving stabling provision and upgrading performance. Bi-directional signalling through platform 2 would also significantly improve passenger convenience.

9. Resource Management.
Whilst not strictly within the responsibility of Network Rail, the management of rolling stock and train crew resources can have significant effects on performance. It is noted, for example, that ECS movements between Glasgow Central and Corkerhill/Shields are affected by train crew issues. Best practice suggests that units and crew should not be separated during the peaks and the shoulders. This reduces the performance risk inherent in units being unable to release platforms at critical times.

10. Grandfather Rights.
It is suggested that Network Rail should identify little used or unused "grandfather rights" where these impact on the provision of improved services or add significant expense to renewals unjustified by the level of use. Such issues should then be addressed by the Regulator.

11. Low Foot Fall Stations.
As with "Grandfather Rights" it may be sensible to close stations with low foot fall where there is an impact on the performance or running times of current or proposed services or where any significant maintenance costs are likely to be incurred. This permits the rail mode to concentrate on the markets to which it is best suited. Indeed, with significant rail investment proposed to address high volume markets, it is logical to remove the historical legacy of low use stations built when no realistic alternative to rail travel existed, unless land use planning indicates a significant change in demand.

12. Enhancement Policy.
It is felt that there are some general issues pertaining to renewals which should be addressed. In many cases items being renewed are decades old, and in the case of many structures, dating from the 19th Century. Compliance with current design codes for the replacement asset will frequently yield higher speeds with no increase in risk. It is recognised that realising such benefits may require detailed work such as recanting and adjustment to transition lengths and signal positions. This should become routine practice and be accepted by the Regulator.

Mention is made of the benefits of full or partial bi-directional signalling at a number of locations. This feature will not only assist in engineering access but may be of significant benefit in enabling a contingency service to be run in the event of partial route blockage, for example by a failed train or infrastructure problem. Analysis of such schemes against delay minutes/cancellation reduction for critical route sections where there is no diversionary route is suggested, with the Polmont to Winchburgh Junction section as an obvious candidate.

A practice which has long afflicted UK railways, with a detrimental effect on both route capacity and performance, is short passing loops. It is hoped that where loop connections are renewed, it becomes standard practice to consider extending the loop such that an overlap can be incorporated allowing trains to be accepted from both directions simultaneously. Whilst this is at variance with past UK practice, TPWS should allow this feature to be incorporated without increase in risk. This would be difficult and probably unjustified on the rural routes, but could have significant benefits between Inverness and Perth/Aberdeen and in other locations where additional loops are installed. In the same vein it is hoped that, when junctions are renewed, consideration will be given to the removal of single leads and the installation of higher speed connections. It is encouraging that a precedent has been set at Larbert Junction. It is noted, however, that in this case track and signalling renewals are out of phase, resulting in unnecessary disruption. Improvements in planning processes are needed to avoid such issues.

Platform lengthening is proposed for a number of routes and this is supported where it is justified. This should be accompanied by selective door opening for less intensively used stations. It is recognised that this policy carries a risk of station overtime. It is, however, likely to be used only in the peak where the majority of passengers are familiar with the arrangements. Modern public address and visual displays can be used to minimise this problem. Stations where a significant number of passengers are likely to be irregular users such as Prestwick Airport, would need full length platforms irrespective of use. It has been noted that new platforms at Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket are being constructed with platform ramps. It is understood that RSSB has carried out a risk assessment of ramps and concluded that they are no longer required. Using this change to the rules should slightly reduce costs.

13. Freight Issues.
The complementary Freight RUS covers the freight issues comprehensively, including those relating to Scotland but a few points are worthy of mention. The issues where the freight sector has a particular interest which the Scottish RUS needs to consider are:

- the need for freight paths to be considered in determining engineering access times including blockades for major works
- the W10 diversionary route access to funds for upgrades
- the development of domestic inter-modal traffic to Scotland and its time sensitivity.

14. Funding.
Access to funding for upgrades has been mentioned above in relation to freight. The overall funds available within Scotland remains an issue. In particular, it is hoped that the finance available for upgrades is ring fenced and not at risk in the event of cost overruns in any of the major projects which are planned.

 

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