To receive a report by Sam Hadley, Network Rail.
Mr Sam Hadley, Wales Route Public Affairs Manager, was welcomed to the meeting and he reported on the following matters:
o Performance on the railways had not been good enough over the summer, and an intermittent problem had been discovered with the signals system, however, this had now been resolved.
o He suggested the possibility of having a visit for a small group to see the signals centre at Machynlleth, or to organise a presentation for a future Conference meeting.
o The rough weather had been a problem, and difficulties in other areas had an impact on the Cambrian Coast Railway services. He recognised the frustration of railway users, and noted that Network Rail was monitoring problematic areas carefully, and was working on long-term solutions.
o Performance monitoring arrangements were now monitoring in greater detail and focused on arrival times at individual stations rather than the start and end of the journey.
o This change had led to minor changes locally in order to improve efficiency.
o That a new business model had been developed, which gave more flexibility to target expenditure in the areas required.
o That the improvements made following October 2018 had borne fruit, leading to less damage to wheels and keeping more vehicles in operation. In turn this meant that vehicles would not be taken from the Cambrian Railway and diverted to alleviate a shortage in other areas.
o The Williams Review was likely to report following the election, with a presumption of significant changes to the railways.
o Friog Wall - An officer from Network Rail had been to a community meeting, that plans had been developed jointly with the Council to undertake the work. No date had been set thus far.
o Talwrn Bach level crossing - Work had been planned for year 3 of the existing funding period, namely 2021-22. There was also be a need to cooperate with local landowners.
o Afon Artro bridge - Photographs of the work were shown, that had caused the line to close temporarily. He noted that there were a high number of wooden bridges on the Cambrian Coast Railway and that Network Rail used the maintenance work to develop techniques to be used on Barmouth Bridge.
o He apologised that information had been sent out recently in English only to stakeholders, and expressed amazement that this had happened in such a Welsh speaking area.
Questions and observations arising from the discussion:
o Regarding Arto Bridge, would it not have been beneficial to undertake work on Tŷ Gwyn and Llandanwg bridges at the same time?
In response, Sam Hadley noted that it was a sensible suggestion and he assumed that there was a sensible reason for undertaking work only on this bridge. Network Rail had seen when undertaking work on the Conwy Valley line that it was cost effective to undertake as many pieces of maintenance work as possible at the same time on the section of line.
o What type of service would be undertaken on a Sunday in the future?
o Would free travel with a pass continue?
o Would the Cambrian Railway continue to lose carriages to other parts of Wales?
In response, Sam Hadley noted that the Sunday rail service would change from 3 to 5 trains a day, with a further increase in the future. Travelling with a pass would continue to be seasonal only because of the lack of capacity on the trains to maintain this throughout the year. He added that the occasions whereby carriages would be lost to other areas would reduce as vehicles were upgraded in other areas, and vehicles that suit the Cambrian Railway well would remain on it.
The members expressed their thanks for the report.