Fore­cast­ers deny old lines a sec­ond chance

Rail (UK) - - Open Access | Letters -

I was very in­ter­ested and en­cour­aged to read about the traf­fic on the newly opened Bor­ders Rail­way ( RAIL 802).

How­ever, this causes me some alarm. Once again the peo­ple who drew up the fore­casts for the line are not just wrong, they’re ab­so­lutely nowhere near the ac­tual num­ber of peo­ple us­ing the line.

This seems to have hap­pened on ev­ery re-open­ing, so why do we bother with any fore­casts? Why do we not just get on and re-open the lines where there is a good gut feel­ing that it will be right to do so?

I was in­volved in the re-open­ing of the Robin Hood Line (I car­ried out the struc­tural sur­vey on Kirkby-in-Ash­field tun­nel), and if mem­ory serves me cor­rectly the fore­cast was for 14 pas­sen­gers per trip! I be­lieve the ser­vice started with a sin­gle car unit ev­ery two hours. When it opened to Mans­field it re­quired a two-car unit ev­ery hour and four cars on a Satur­day. I think the same thing has hap­pened on all the other lines that have been re-opened.

One would have thought that af­ter get­ting things so wrong once or twice, the fore­cast­ers might have learned some­thing by now, but ob­vi­ously not.

This brings me to the next (ob­vi­ous) point: how many lines have not been re-opened be­cause of these hope­less fore­casts?

Two that spring to mind are Bev­er­ley to Hull, which is cry­ing out for re-open­ing as the al­ter­na­tive road (A1079) is hope­lessly in­ad­e­quate, and the East Lincs Line from Bos­ton back through Louth to Grimsby.

Since the lat­ter line was closed the whole of East Lin­colnshire is dead. There are no de­cent roads to the coast east of the A1 in ei­ther Lin­colnshire or York­shire (there are 72 bends in the road be­tween Louth and Sut­ton on Sea, in barely 15 miles), and at week­ends what roads there are get choked.

I trav­elled to Nor­wich re­cently, and it took nearly five hours to travel the 125 miles. There were seven miles of dual car­riage­way and the rest were like cart tracks.

Hope­fully the fore­cast­ers might have learned some­thing, but I very much doubt it. In any event, I don’t sup­pose they will be able to re-open these lines now - they will prob­a­bly be in­hab­ited by rare great crested newts! Doug Hew­son, North Lincs


ScotRail 158714 ar­rives at Stow on the first day of op­er­a­tion on the new rail­way from Ed­in­burgh to Tweed­bank in Septem­ber 2015. Pas­sen­ger num­bers on the Bor­ders Rail­way have ex­ceeded all ex­pec­ta­tions, and reader Doug Hew­son thinks that suc­cess could be...

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