Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Lies, Damned Lies and Porky Pies

Posted in Great Britain, High Speed, Infrastructure, Media by Chairman Pip on 4 October 2013

You’d think, in the week that saw the Daily Mail slated for the situation it finds itself in with Ed Miliband, that newspaper editors would want to be careful about what their journalists and commentators put in their publications. It seems though that some can write whatever the hell they like with no recourse. You’ll probably guess that I am yet again speaking about Frederick Forsyth. I am always now on the lookout on a Friday for anything he might have written in his column about High Speed 2, and today we had an absolute doozy:

The case against the ill-thought out HS2 high-speed rail link from London to the Midlands and the North continues to lose friends. The authorities have tried “environmental” justification, then “economic” and then “overcrowding” and each has been proved untrue.

Now even the cities of the Midlands and the North are losing enthusiasm. Why? People travelling to do business want to arrive in the city centre. if they want to change from inter-city to branch line they want to cross two platforms, not two miles. But the numpties behind HS2 are planning that these bullet trains stop well outside the cities they are supposed to serve….To make matters worse the local services will be cut back for economic reasons even though they will be as important as ever.

Come again? I’d love to know who has told him that the stations planned for HS2 will be miles from anywhere, unconnected to any other services, like some gare des betteraves. After all, last time I checked the plan was to build a new station on the old Curzon Street site in Birmingham (almost right next to the Bullring), a new station that will be directly connected to Leeds City, and brand new platforms as part of the refurbishments of Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston. Or perhaps he means the other stations:

Nope, it can’t be those he’s talking about, as they are all fairly well connected, even though they aren’t in city centres. So I’m not entirely sure what these unconnected stations that are two miles from the city centre actually are. Additionally, how does he know what the local services will actually be once HS2 opens, given that it’s a good decade and a bit in the future until even the first section opens? Presumably he has consulted his crystal ball to learn of this.

fortune-teller

It’s true that both the government and HS2 Ltd have been on the back foot in the media battles against the anti HS2 mob. I’ve been saying for ages that the main focus of the media campaign should have been capacity rather than speed – we need new rail capacity in this country, and any piecemeal enhancements done to the existing network to try and “create” new capacity will be both expensive and cause huge disruption (as the WCML enhancement proved). Now, fortunately, the government has seen the light and has brought the capacity issue to the fore. A new north-south intercity route will free up capacity on both the WCML and ECML so that more local and interurban passenger services can be run (which is your overcrowding justification Mr Forsyth), not to mention allowing more freight to be carried by rail, removing huge numbers of lorry journeys from the roads, as well as decreasing further the need for domestic flying (which is your environmental justification); added to this is the employment that will be generated, both in construction of the thing, and in the investment that such a project will bring in (and there’s your economic one). The disturbing thing is that there will be people that read such nonsense spouted by Mr Forsyth (and others come to that) and will think that because it’s in the newspaper it must be true. In a recent editorial, Nigel Harris made this point succinctly, pointing to the coverage the BBC gave to the IEA report that stated the project could cost as much as £80bn, and which included a number of spurious claims and (I hasten to say) fabrications (such as the HS2 spur to Liverpool that has never been proposed). While Mr Forsyth is a commentator, paid to write his opinions for publication, even commentators (never mind actual journalists) have a duty of care to their readers to ensure that what they’re writing is at least factually accurate. But then again, I’vealways thought that the anti mob would allow facts to get in the way of a good story.

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On the branch line…from Richmond to Turnham Green

Posted in Commuter, Infrastructure, London, Metro, On the branch line, Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 16 September 2013

It’s a good thing when there is no football, as it means that I can take a nice jaunt to a branch line. Of course, when you choose a branch line to travel on, it is probably a good idea to pick one that you get on to that doesn’t involve a journey alongside thousands of rugby fans from four of London’s clubs as they make their way to Twickenham for the London double header that opens the new domestic season. Well, lesson learned now. Even so, it was quite fun getting down to Richmond and, once having gotten clear of the rugby people, it was quite nice taking a wander around and seeing the extent of this station that you hear all the time, but never get to. The first thing that did strike me was that, although it is a major stop on the suburban routes out of Waterloo, only two of its seven platforms are used by South West Trains; the majority of its platforms are in fact terminal platforms at the end of the North London Line and the District Line, with trains on both following the same route north as far as Gunnersbury, with Kew Gardens in between. After Gunnersbury, the two services split with the District Line running onto the main line to Turnham Green, which is where the main line divides towards Richmond and Ealing Broadway.

As I’ve stated previously, the Wimbledon branch is the most used part of the District Line, given that it has trains that run both along the main line and to Edgware Road. As a consequence, the off-peak service to Richmond runs every ten minutes. However, the presence of the London Overground service with its four trains an hour has significantly enhanced the number of trains that run to Kew Gardens and Gunnersbury. As it stands, given the amount of traffic that there is likely to be, the service level is exceptional. Admittedly I did my travelling on a Saturday, when the number of passengers would be relatively low. Even so, I would imagine that the vast majority of people going to London would not go via the District Line, but instead go to Richmond to get a train into Waterloo.

South West Trains, London Underground and London Overground trains in and around Richmond

It’s time to speak on HS2

Posted in Customer service, Great Britain, High Speed, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 7 September 2013

I have maintained a silence recently as I have had the feeling that people are getting a little irritated by my ramblings. However, I have felt moved to speak my mind over what has come out over the last few weeks from the anti HS2 brigade as they continue their campaign to have the project stopped by any means necessary, which often will mean publicising half-truths and occasional (almost) fabrication which is picked up and run with by the media. A few weeks ago, the Institute of Economic Affairs published a report entitled The High Speed Gravy Train: Special Interests, Transport Policy and Government Spending, which somehow came to the conclusion that the cost of constructing High Speed 2, far from being the £42bn that the government have budgeted, could end up costing as much as £80bn. This was immediately jumped upon by the media, with the story being top of many news sites and programmes (indeed, I do recall that it was the top story on BBC News’ early evening bulletin on the day it was published). Upon inspection of this so-called “report”, it becomes clear that the conclusions reached by the author, Dr Richard Wellings, are so much horse hockey (or “guff and hogwash” as Ben Ruse, the spokesman for HS2 Ltd, described it). And the reason for this is that Dr Wellings has reached the figure of £80bn by including a massive tranche of projects that, while no doubt important in High Speed 2’s connectivity, are nothing to do with HS2 itself. Amongst the projects that Dr Wellings has included under the HS2 budget are:

These are included in spite of the fact that the People Mover connection at Birmingham Interchange is already included in the government’s published HS2 budget, the Manchester Airport Metrolink extension is already under construction, Meadowhall is already connected to the Supertram network, the capacity and electrification schemes in Yorkshire are under way and come under Network Rail, and a spur to Liverpool was never even considered as part of HS2. But, even more than the fact that a number of the rationales for his conclusion are bogus, is this:

It is also probable that some of the schemes will never be built for various reasons…

Which means that the banner conclusion is based on theories around things that may not actually come to pass. And yet still this was trumpeted by the media, while the rebuttal of it barely warranted a mention, being halfway down the English news section of the BBC News website.

Then of course you get such as happened yesterday when I opened the newspaper, and read the following headline in Frederick Forsyth‘s column:

Scrap the HS2 white elephant

I spoke about Mr Forsyth’s continuing opposition to HS2, and how he uses his column to push this, back in March. In that, I made it clear that in my opinion, because he lives in the Cotswolds (and the route will probably be fairly close to where he lives), he is somewhat biased in his view that the project should be abandoned. He goes further now in deciding that it will be a “white elephant”. I’ve found a good definition of white elephant:

…a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth.

How it’s possible to declare something that has not been built as a white elephant is beyond me, as I would have thought it would take a number of years of use to determine whether said thing is not worth its cost. Mr Forsyth must be a soothsayer. Or else, he is particularly vicious when it comes to opposing HS2, denouncing anything released by the Government or HS2 Ltd as being the work of “official propogandists”. Never mind the propaganda put out by those opposed to the project. He warms to his theme by restating yet again the view that all the line is for is to get a few “wealthy businessmen” to Birmingham a few minutes faster and raising the suggestion both of longer trains and double deck coaches. Well, first of all, while HS2 is certainly about improving timings, making it faster to get between various major destinations (which is what everyone fixates on), the fact is that the first and major issue has always been about capacity on the existing network, which is fast running out. No amount of piecemeal capacity enhancement on the West Coast Main Line, which would be enormously disruptive and likely to cost as much, pro-rata, as just building a brand new line, is going to create the new capacity that is needed. Having the vast majority of fast trains on a separate line means that more trains for commuters can be put on the existing network, not to mention making room for more freight. Thankfully, the DfT have finally picked up on this as a the thing to push first and foremost. As for the suggestion of just making longer trains or taller trains, it’s clear that Mr Forsyth knows even less about the railways than I do, given that longer trains means again expensive and disruptive work to make the capacity for them (perhaps he should look at the work done on the Thameslink route to extend platforms), while there has only been one experiment at running double decker trains in the UK. European countries can run such trains because the loading gauge is significantly more generous than it is here. While again it is possible to increase the loading gauge, it is phenomenally disruptive, as evidenced in the case of the gauge enhancement around Southampton that ended in 2011.

In the most recent issue of Rail, Nigel Harris’s editorial is scathing about the industry and its lack of vigour in promoting HS2, and how the project needs a vocal champion, suggesting that Sir David Higgins, who was the Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, and delivered London 2012 on time and on budget, would be an idea choice. It is certainly the case that somebody needs to be out  there, bigging up HS2 to the country (notwithstanding the excellent rebuttal of the IEA report Alison Munro gave on BBC Breakfast in the face of hostile questioning from the interviewer). I’ve said before that we need new capacity on the railway network, and that HS2 is the way to go about it. I’ve also said that it is wrong to simply look at the bottom line when it comes to infrastructure projects like this, because on their own, they won’t make money. You have to look at the bigger picture, of the benefits that the infrastructure will bring to all sorts of areas of the economy, in order to see why these things should be built. And they should be built.

Undulating along

Posted in Commuter, Great Britain, Infrastructure, Metro by Chairman Pip on 27 August 2013

As is usual this time of year, I have returned from Edinburgh, and I’m pleased to report that it is much less of a mess than it has been the last couple of years, thanks to work on the tram system working its way towards a finish. The wires are strung, and most of the tramway has been laid, with the only section left to do in the city centre being the section between Atholl Place and Shandwick Place. Virtually all of the tramstops have been completed, and I look forward to getting there next year and seeing the thing running…especially given how long it’s been since I’ve seen the city centre not having to suffer disruption of one kind or another.

That being said, I can’t help feel that they might have missed a trick. As you know, thanks to the ever escalating costs, the proposed network has been truncated to a single route between Edinburgh Airport and York Place. This route has direct interchanges with the National Rail network at Edinburgh Gateway (a planned new station on the Fife Circle Line), Edinburgh Park and Haymarket, but not at the city’s main station, Waverley, where the nearest stop will be St Andrew Square – in order to reach the tram stop, a passenger will have to leave the railway station, either via Waverley Steps or Waverley Bridge, across Princes Street and then up South St Andrew Street, which will no doubt be quite difficult if you’re struggling along laden down with luggage. Additionally, the route doesn’t serve the Old Town at all, meaning that tram users wanting to reach the Royal Mile will still need to either cross North Bridge or make their way up The Mound. The thought I had while I was there was whether it would be a good idea to connect these areas together by constructing a loop off the main line along Princes Street onto Waverley Bridge, stopping right outside the railway station (a direct connection you see), before continuing onwards up Market Street to a stop at the top of The Mound (giving [relatively] easy access to the Old Town), and then down The Mound to rejoin the main line at Princes Street and back to the Airport, at a stroke giving access to a significantly more extensive part of the city.

Edinburgh City Centre trams

On the branch line…from Greenford to West Ealing

Posted in Commuter, Infrastructure, London, On the branch line by Chairman Pip on 3 August 2013

It’s nice when the Sun is shining and there’s no football to take a ride on a branch line. Hence why I do it quite a lot. Admittedly I also do it when the Sun isn’t shining, but never when there’s football to be watched. Hence why, two weeks before the season is due to start, my last journey along a branch line for a while. And the longest that I’ve done, with a grand total of three intermediate stations between end to end, the Greenford branch. An interesting little journey, with the terminal platform at Greenford (and thus the single track road off the main route) running between the two Central Line platforms, before curving off into the double track of the main branch. In fact, the line forms a bridge between the Great Western Main Line and the New North Main Line, making it possible to be used as a diversion in the event of engineering work (as has been the case with both Virgin Trains and Chiltern Railways have done in the past. The service run along the branch by First Great Western is much the same as that run on the Romford to Upminster and Bromley North lines, with two trains an hour in each direction, with the length of the platforms at the intermediate stations dictating that the service has to be run using 2-car Class 165s. Again, as with the others, the intermediate stations are exceptionally residential, in that they serve essentially residential areas – South Greenford is essentially a prefab next to the A40, Castle Bar Park is in the middle of a residential estate, while Drayton Green serves a number of residential streets. At present, the branch line runs services through to Paddington, with the first stop on the GWML being West Ealing, which is another interesting one, as it is a station with missing platforms (much like West Croydon). West Ealing is a two platform station, but these are platforms 3 and 4; the missing platforms 1 and 2 were serving the fast lines on the other side of the station, but these trains stopped using the station in the 1970s. However, the Greenford branch will see a major change with the advent of Crossrail; the increase in service level on the GWML will mean there will no longer be the capacity for the trains to Greenford to run from Paddington. As a consequence, the branch will become a genuine shuttle service running from Greenford to West Ealing, increased to four trains per hour. For this, the derelict milk depot platform at West Ealing will be restored to serve as the bay platform.

Having travelled on it, it seems to be a nice little route through West London – South Greenford is admittedly next to a major road, but Castle Bar Park is (or at least seems to be) right next to the eponymous park. Drayton Green though looks like it could do with a little TLC. I had the thought while I was sitting on the platform that the line would be a good candidate for a Community Rail Partnership (CRP), of which there are none (as far as I can tell) in London. If someone else were involved in the upkeep of the stations, rather than just leaving it to the TOC, then it’s entirely possible that they could look a lot better. To give two examples that I saw today, while the platforms at Drayton Green are in reasonable condition, there is significant weed growth up the road bridge across the line, which could be given a through make over and maintained better to give the station an overall improvement in terms of ambiance, while at Castle Bar Park the shelter on the up line platform was out of bounds, presumably because there is something wrong with it. On a wet day that would be inconvenient, but on a day like today, which was warm with fairly strong sunshine, the shelter would have been very welcome to keep out of the Sun. If the route was a CRP, would the shelter be out of bounds in that way? Of course, as I’ve suggested with this type of service, turning it over to some kind of light rail operation might be a good way to go, especially if (as it seems at the moment) the line isn’t electrified under the GWML electrification scheme (and I’ve found nothing to say it is yet, though I hope someone will tell me if I’m wrong about that), which would leave it a tiny diesel island in the midst of a major electrified network. If the route was removed altogether from the Greater Western franchise and turned over to someone else (TfL?), then that might provide the impetus to do something better with it.

The abandoned milk platform at West Ealing will become a new terminal platform for the Greenford branch

Make it Evergreen

Posted in Commuter, Infrastructure, London by Chairman Pip on 30 July 2013

Following on from my recent trip out to Chesham I got to thinking. Earlier this month came confirmation from the Government that the Croxley Rail Link, intended to extend the Metropolitan Line to Watford Junction, is to go ahead. Not only does this extend the Watford branch of the route into the centre of the town itself, but it also allows the potential for direct Watford to Amersham services, utilising the at present rarely used chord that runs between Rickmansworth and the Watford branch. Take this one stage further and it would allow direct services between Watford and Aylesbury, which is on the same route past Amersham, giving Chiltern Railways a foothold in Watford. I mentioned that the Chiltern and Metropolitan services share the route between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill, meaning that Chiltern’s diesel units are running along an electrified line, which in many circles is frowned upon (even more so now given the Government’s massive electrification programme).

Chiltern are currently 9 years from the end of their current franchise, which was awarded in 2002 for a total of twenty years. As part of that, they have instituted a rolling series of infrastructure works entitled “Project Evergreen”, which have seen speed improvements along a significant portion of the Chiltern Main Line, redoubling at various points, a brand new depot, expansion of several stations, including London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street, and the introduction of a new route to Oxford. All of this takes us to the end of Evergreen 3, which begs the question “what about Evergreen 4?”, given that there will be several years between the completition of the current programme of work and the end of the franchise. The thought that occured to me involved a measure of collaboration with London Underground. With the approval of the Croxley link potentially adding another route accessible to Chiltern, and not a huge distance between Amersham and Aylesbury, would there not be a benefit therefore of electrifying the route to Aylesbury using the LU system? There would then be the opportunity for Chiltern to purchase a fleet of new electric trains similar to the Metropolitan’s S8 Stock (more of which will be required for the new Watford Junction services anyway), while at the same time being able to cascade the units currently used on Aylesbury trains to their other services. Hell, why not go the whole hog and electrify all the way into Marylebone, which would then offer the potential of a nice Central London diversion for the Metropolitan Line in the event of what I experienced last weekend? While I know that new electrification not using OHLE is frowned upon, the fact is LU ain’t going to go over to overhead lines, and so it makes more sense to do this this way, if electrification is the way to go. Which it should be.

A Chiltern Class 165 runs alongside a Metropolitan S8 Stock at Northwood. Electrifying this route beyond Amersham would allow Chiltern to cascade its diesel trains to other services, and potentially integrate more fully with the upcoming Croxley Rail Link

Follow the yellow brick road

Posted in Business, Customer service, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 2 July 2013

I came across a story yesterday concerning East Midlands Parkway, the station that was built to provide a link to East Midlands Airport. It seems that the projected numbers of passengers that was used to justify the station’s construction all the way back under Midland Mainline was wildly overestimated – the reckoning was in the region of 740,000 per year going through its precincts, while the reality is that for the year 2012 the total number was a little over 260,000. I found out about the story thanks to a tweet from Wolmar:

Failure of East Midlands Parkway suggests HS2 station at Toton is in wrong place…  Ppl do not want out of town stns

I personally feel that that is a bit of a simplification. While an out of town station might well prove unhelpful if it is only on one route, if it is a genuine interchange with spokes going in different directions, then it can serve its purpose well. East Midlands Parkway is let down by the fact that its primary purpose, the airport, is 4 miles away, with no shuttle service, and that only trains travelling on the Midland Main Line use it. However, there are a number of small to medium sized towns in the area around the station that have no rail connection. Additionally, right next to the airport is Donington Park. Further, the suburb of Clifton is not too far either, and that is set to be the terminus of one of the new Nottingham Express Transit routes. With the go-ahead of the planned Sheffield tram-train, a similar system connecting the NET network with East Midlands Airport, Donington Park and perhaps somewhere like Ashby-de-la-Zouch, through East Midlands Parkway, would seem to be a reasonably good use of resources. Hell, it wouldn’t even have to connect directly, with Clifton used as an interchange for the NET and Nottingham, and East Midlands Parkway for those journeys to and from points north and south (Leicester, Derby). Were something along those lines to happen, how much footfall would East Midlands Parkway get then?

“East Midlands Parkway railway station fails to meet target”

East Midlands Parkway is currently underused. How much more traffic would it get with better connections to other destinations?

Moving along

Posted in Customer service, Europe, Great Britain, High Speed, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 17 June 2013

We’ve had news come out over the weekend that, while seemingly on the cards for a long time, has always been a touch on the debateable side, in that we have never been entirely, 100% sure that it would actually come to pass. Well it has; the Intergovernmental Commission have finally given their approval for Deutsche Bahn to operate trains through the Channel Tunnel. This means that, subject to numerous other issues being rectified, DB’s Class 407 is now cleared to operate DB’s longed for services from London to Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Of course, another element to this is that, given the technical similarity, it should mean that Eurostar also have clearance for their new Class 374 units to operate in the Tunnel. Of course, there are still issues to be dealt with before we do actually see DB trains operating from the platforms at St Pancras; the Eisenbahn-Bundesamt still have to give their approval for the Class 407 to run in multiple, which is one of the requirements required for running through the Tunnel (and which has also delayed the delivery of Eurostar’s Class 374s), while the timetable and pathing through the Tunnel will also need amending to accomodate new high speed services. Nevertheless, this is a massive step forward in linking London with many other European centres by rail. Hopefully, now that distributed traction has been cleared for use in the Tunnel, it will encourage other operators to bring plans forward that will make use of the available capacity on High Speed 1, with the added benefit that it will also show to those protesting against High Speed 2 that they don’t have anything to worry about from a high speed railway line running at full capacity.

“IGC grants Deutsche Bahn access to Channel Tunnel”

Travels with Ben and Rosa

Posted in Great Britain, Infrastructure, Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 17 June 2013

I’ve spoken a lot about heritage railways and the roles that they can play, both in terms of their links to the past, in keeping our railway history alive for people to enjoy (rather than just static in a museum), and their potential as genuine transport links. However, it has been a very long time since I’ve actually been to one. Until last Saturday that is, when I took a trip down to the daddy of them all, the Bluebell Railway. You may recall that this came about when I discussed with two friends of mine that the Bluebell had finally completed its extension to East Grinstead, allowing direct interchange with Southern’s services to Victoria. Well, we arranged it, and on Saturday we all chuffed along down to go to the Bluebell for the day. And what a nice day it was. It didn’t rain, the locomotives and coaches were sparkling and, most importantly, the children were excited. And a little terrified, especially when the locomotives were coupling up at Sheffield Park and expelling steam. But they are both under 2. Nevertheless, the day went well, and the kiddies were as good as gold. There weren’t even an excessive number of terrible twos tantrums, with the worst being at lunchtime. And even then, that was a result of the food being eaten inside and out of sight of the platforms (and thus the trains). I will admit that I was badly behaved when I did that, as I soooo wanted to be outside :P. Seriously though, both of them were, for the most part, as good as gold. I’m not sure whether this will indoctrinate them as gricers; indeed, I had a brief coversation with a chap running a bookstall there (from whom I was able to pick up a copy of the complete Awdry) who said that he only had granddaughters who had all reached an age now when trains were not the most fun things, and that he longed for a grandson. So I do somehow see this as not being the beginning of a lifelong passion for little Rosa. However, it is entirely possible, with encouragement from his parents, that young Ben may well gain a genuine enthusiasm for the iarnród. Perhaps a trip to the Spa Valley is next on the agenda.

A pair of future gricers?

I foresee at least one of these little cherubs (or rugrats) will be a future gricer

Trains, and boats and…

Posted in Business, Europe, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 6 June 2013

It was announced today that the Competition Commission in the UK have ruled that Eurotunnel must stop their ferry service between Dover and Calais because of the fact that their already sizeable market share of traffic on the route (thanks to their rail operation) combined with a ferry service makes it likely that prices would start to go up. To explain, Eurotunnel procured three boats from the fleet of SeaFrance in June of last year when that company was liquidated. These boats are now leased by Eurotunnel to a new operator, MyFerryLink, to continue the service. The ruling of the Competition Commission stated that, in its opinion, Eurotunnel bought the boats in order to prevent rival operator DFDS obtaining them, which would have enabled them to offer more competitive prices. Eurotunnel’s current market share based on its rail business is estimated at 40%, so the addition of the MyFerryLink service to its portfolio would put this over half, while at the same time (again, according to the Commission) driving DFDS away from the Dover-Calais route. While the Commission has not explicitly stated that it must sell the three boats, owing to a ruling in France’s Commercial Court that blocks any sale until 2017. But, the Commission’s ban on them being permitted to use Dover, which comes into force in six months, means that Eurotunnel will be left with potentially unuseable assets on their hands.

I’ve often said that Eurotunnel are potentially missing a trick by not offering pure foot passenger shuttles through the Tunnel, as this would essentially allow them to match the product provided by ferry companies, which provide access for foot passengers as well as vehicles. The ruling by the Commission therefore could be an opportunity for them to begin this kind of provision, through the return of boat trains. Is there any reason why it would not be possible for passenger trains to be run from London to a Channel port (not Dover obviously) that would then connect with Eurotunnel’s boats? Of course, timetables would need to be dealt with, but timetables, even the one on one of the most intensively used parts of the British network, can be re-shaped. And, there is even an extant area that could be used – the Folkestone Harbour branch, which leads to Folkestone Harbour station is located on a jetty that used to connect with boats running from Folkestone. There are plans to redevelop the area around the harbour with new accomodation, but that this will not generate sufficient traffic to justify reopening the branch line. A heritage group called The Remembrance Line are attempting to prevent the removal of the route permanently, with one of their ideas being the operation of boats from the harbour station and boat trains to connect with them. Hey presto. Eurotunnel wouldn’t even need to go to Calais, as they could use one of the other ports, such as Boulogne or Zeebrugge further along the Channel coast of Europe. Rather than complain about the ruling (which naturally they’re doing), Eurotunnel could take this as an opportunity to develop their business into new markets, which frankly is the best way of making even more money.

“Eurotunnel blocked from Dover ferry service”

Folkestone Harbour once played host to regular boat trains. Is there any reason why Eurotunnel couldn’t get round their Dover difficulties by reintroducing them?

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