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ELECTION OF CHAIR
To elect a Chair for this committee for the year 2018-19
Councillor Eryl Jones-Williams was elected Chair for 2018-19.
ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIR
To elect a Vice-chair for this Committee for the year 2018-19
Councillor Dewi Owen was elected Vice-chair for 2018-19.
DECLARATION OF PERSONAL INTEREST
To receive any declarations of personal interest
No declarations of personal interest were received from any members present.
To consider any business which the Chairman decides is urgent.
The Chair had not received any urgent items.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting held on 9th March 2018.
Submitted: Minutes of the conference meeting held on 9 March 2018.
Resolved: To accept and approve the minutes.
REPORT BY NETWORK RAIL
To receive a report by Mr Sam Hadley, Network Rail.
Sam Hadley, Wales Route Public Affairs Manager, was welcomed to the meeting and he reported on the following matters:
- That the severe weather during October 2018 had created very challenging conditions.
- That the impact of climate change was to be seen in Network Rail's workload, and that a review had been commissioned to look at the future impact of this issue.
- That the railways' performance had not been as positive as expected, but noted that the Cambrian Coast Railway had not been as adversely impacted as other routes.
- That there was close collaboration between Network Rail and Transport for Wales, ensuring a strong voice for Wales.
- That a higher settlement had been received for the next funding cycle
- That a new Chief Executive had been appointed in August 2018, who had expressed an intention to review the body's structures. He noted that there was an intention to take action on a more local level in the future, improving the focus on customers.
In response to an observation regarding the Williams Review of British railways, he noted that he would make enquiries with regard to arranging meetings for Cambrian Coast Railway stakeholders to provide input to the Review.
Chris Wood, Network Rail Project Manager (Infrastructure Projects), was welcomed to the meeting, and he gave a presentation on the recent installation of Rock Netting at six sites in the Aberdyfi area. The work was essential in order to upgrade the rocky crevices and the railway verges so that they conformed to modern standards, and to make them safe where this was impossible. He noted that the work had been challenging due to the environment and the sites where the work had been carried out. The land had been assessed thoroughly as part of the preparatory work, and a proactive approach had been taken to land management, with a design life of 120 years in order to reduce the need to disturb local residents to work on the line; and to reduce the cost of maintenance in the future.
Observations arising from the discussion:
- Network Rail was congratulated for completing the work in such a way as to cause very little inconvenience, and gratitude was noted for the extra effort made to reduce disruption for local residents.
- That a great deal of work had been done to tidy up, and that this was to be welcomed as it had improved the appearance and safety of the area around the line
- That the improvement work at Penhelyg Halt had been welcomed locally. A request was made that images be shown at the next meeting.
- Would the vegetation cut back in order to complete the work be managed in future?
- Would Network Rail's vegetation management policy return to the 'fence-to-fence' ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
REPORT BY TRANSPORT FOR WALES
To receive a report by Mr Ben Davies, Transport for Wales
The Chair welcomed Ben Davies, Transport for Wales, to present his report on Transport for Wales' activity to date. He reported on the following matters, concentrating on Transport for Wales' long term plan:
- That he had transferred from Arriva Trains Wales, with responsibility for mid and North Wales.
- That Transport for Wales had experienced a troublesome start, with four weeks of severe weather leading to a significant percentage of its trains having to be withdrawn from service for repairs.
- That Transport for Wales' long term aim was a comprehensive service, running seven days a week, with new carriages.
- That 421 new carriages had been ordered, and that these would be introduced over the next four years, ending the use of class 158 trains on the Cambrian Coast Railway.
- That Transport for Wales aimed to upgrade all Welsh stations in order to improve their facilities and appearance, as well as improving travel information, wireless connectivity and community engagement.
- That Transport for Wales' long term aim was to develop an integrated network in which trains and buses worked together to create one network.
- That the Welsh language would be given a central place by the new company.
- That these were exciting times, as there had never been a situation in the past where funding was available for new developments. He therefore invited Cambrian Coast Railway stakeholders to contribute their ideas.
The Conference welcomed the report, noting the following observations arising from the discussion:
- Was it possible to share the details of the Cambrian Railway's development programme for the future when available?
- Who would be responsible for monitoring CCTV which was to be installed in the stations?
- Would the connectivity upgrading work include the installation of a 5G network?
- Would the developments lead to shorter travel times?
- The intention to promote the Welsh language was welcomed.
- The intention to improve safety, especially for vulnerable groups within society, was welcomed.
- There was a call for human presence on every platform in order to make passengers feel safe.
- What would the pricing structure for tickets be?
In response, Mr Davies noted:
- That the CCTV would be monitored in Cardiff, but that this work would be done by staff.
- No information had been received regarding the installation of 5G connectivity
- That the nature of the Cambrian Coast Railway, due to the number of stations along the line, would not permit much reduction in travel times.
- That using and promoting the Welsh language was important to Transport for Wales.
- That Transport for Wales would improve stations' safety whilst upgrading them, but that it would not be possible to employ staff at every station. However, he noted that there would be ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
REPORT BY THE INTEGRATED TRANSPORT UNIT MANAGER
To receive a report by the Integrated Transport Unit Manager.
The Chair welcomed Rhian Williams, Integrated Transport Manager, to the meeting. She reported that the Council's Integrated Transport Service intended to review the bus network in 2019. She added that it also intended to work closely with Transport for Wales in the future.
To receive a report by the Cambrian Railway Officer.
The Chair welcomed Claire Williams, Cambrian Railways Partnership Officer.
She outlined the activities completed since the previous meeting, namely:
- That the work of promoting the Railway had continued, with the development of a new website and the social media pages reaching more people. Visit Wales' emphasis on the Year of the Sea in 2018 had been of assistance in promoting the Cambrian Coast Railway.
- The Cambrian Railways Partnership had decided to produce an advertisement to be shown on Sky network in the Shropshire area. The advertisement was considered to have been a success as it had been seen by approximately 171,000 people.
- A highly successful event had been held at Birmingham New Street under the name 'Taking the Beach to Birmingham'. This campaign was placed second in the 'Best Marketing or Communication Campaign' at the Community Rail Partnership Awards.
- That work had been done in order to assess Newtown Station's dementia friendly status. This had been a valuable experience in assessing Cambrian Coast Railway stations as more communities aimed to become dementia friendly communities. Transport for Wales had assisted by offering free transportation for the assessors and their assistants.
- That a video had been produced in collaboration with Network Rail in order to notify the public of the dangers of level crossings, which continued to be a problem.
Resolved - to accept and note the report, and to thank the Cambrian Railways Partnership Officer for it.
REPORT BY BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE
To receive a report by a representative of the British Transport Police.
The Chair welcomed PC Andy Greaves of the British Transport Police.
He introduced himself and provided an overview of his work, noting that the number of crimes on the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth line and the Cambrian Coast Railway was very low. The main issue on the Cambrian Coast Railway was trespassing on the line as members of the public took advantage of the railway route to find shortcuts. He hoped that it would be possible to use technology to catch people trespassing earlier. He noted that he would be happy to chat with any Conference members to discuss and attempt to solve problems.
To receive responses to the questions enclosed herewith received since the previous meeting.
Formal written questions had been submitted by various Community Councils, and the following responses were received: