Can't say much else really!
Just sent this letter to my MP about Etruria station. It's a year tomorrow since it was closed and nothing has happened- surprise……
Dear Paul Farrelly,
It is a year tomorrow that Mr. Derek Twigg in his then job as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport closed Etruria railway station. This was despite the fact that the public inquiry's report stated that it be kept open and was contrary to local opinion and needs. The given reason was that the track was to be aligned to 'increase speeds for through trains and so deliver shorter journey times benefiting passengers'.
Since the hasty closure, the track has not been aligned and the only thing to happen to the station was the removal of the station furniture in June. In fact I am sure that Virgin Trains passengers were glad that the station was there a few months ago when a train failed in the station and the passengers were able to easily leave the train!
All this highlights the Department for Transports lack of interest in the railways and public transport in general in North Staffordshire. The current consultancy document on the future of the rail franchises in this area states that a local service from Stoke to Stafford will not be restarted until 2009!
An example of how stupid things have become is if I want to travel by train to Manchester. This should be the easiest, quickest and most environmentally sensible way to get there. I could walk to the bus stop in May Bank, catch a bus to Longport (making the assumption that Etruria is now totally out of the question) and then catch a train to Manchester. I could the make exactly the same return journey.
Except I can't. There are two trains from Longport to Manchester in the morning at 06.50 and 07.20 and one returning at night at 17.58. Not exactly helpful or convenient.
Instead I have to got to Stoke to catch a train. Stoke is in the opposite direction to where I would be going, it is also time consuming to get there on public transport (bus to Newcastle or Hanley and then on to Stoke), takes a long time to drive there (whether the improvements to the A500 make a difference remain to be seen) and there is nowhere to park unless you want to pay £5 to park on Virgin's car park. The other options are to get someone to take you there and back, which adds to the congestion and pollution or get a taxi which is expensive. All to make a journey which should be relativity easy!
I hope you will be able the speak to Mr. Tom Harris, Mr. Twigg's successor, to find out what, if anything the DfT are planning to do about this disgraceful situation in the immediate future. As you know, Newcastle and North Staffordshire is slowly grinding to a halt and no-one in Government seems interested!
I guess I'll get a polite reply, but nothing will happen. The Government and the DfT especially aren't interested in my area!
Been meaning to mention this for a week or so.
I drove past Etruria station
the other day and noticed that all the station furniture had been removed – the shelters, station names, lamp posts etc.
Now one of the reasons Etruria was closed was that it could be removed to re-align the tracks so trains could go faster through the site (saving about 10 seconds on a journey from London to Manchester!). The Government were so keen to close the station, that they completely ignored to findings of the independent inquiry, which was to keep it open and to actually stop some trains there. So why has it taken nearly 8 months (it was closed on 30/09/05) to remove everything? High priority to close it (Central Trains are not interested in my area), low priority to do anything else.
Yesterday we had a rather nice day out at the West Midlands Safari Park
and the Severn Valley Railway
. The safari park was great as we got there early to avoid the crowds. You can really get close to the animals, including lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes. We even had a horned cow put it's head through the window to say hello!
After the safari park we went to the railway. We only went to Bewdley, but it was a nice trip. It was interesting to see that the safari park was packed when we went past on the train! We were hauled by the 8F
and the Stanier Mogul
. All in all a jolly day, and we completely missed getting drowned in the showers 😉
Trouble is that yesterday's Bank Holiday, was traditionally Newcastle's carnival day. However, the political geniuses who ran our Borough Council cancelled it as they said it cost too much. This is after they spent nearly £1000 last year on Posh 'n' Becks impersonators!
It was replaced by a Jazz and Blues festival. OK, not too bad, but all the gigs were in local pubs and not in town or at the Brampton. They still had charity stalls in town, but forgot to tell most of the charities that they could still have a stall. Well done local politicians!
Today, after taking Mum & Dad to town to catch their coach to go on holiday, we went for a day out the Rhyl. On the way, a loo stop was needed, so we stopped off at Asda Queensferry. This was a store that I had helped to open in 1995 and regularly visited it (sometimes more than twice a week) over the next four years. I hardly recognised the place! I think it had been extended slightly and the layout was all changed. Most strange really. Didn't see anyone I recognised either. Shame really as I used to enjoy going there. On the very slim chance they might read this, hi to Yvonne and Joyce!!!!
We got to Rhyl, well Kimnel Bay actually, and had a walk along the sea front to Rhyl itself. The wind was blowing and the sea was a bit rough. Bracing! The sad thing about Rhyl is that it's a bit grotty in places. I guess that once it was quite elegant, but now it suffers from too many cheap holidays. On the way back to Kimnel Bay we did have a ride on the Rhyl Miniature Railway 😀
Also, being sad, we popped into Asda Rhyl as this was another of my old hangouts. The store manager is someone I knew and I also saw one of the managers I knew. Odd that really. We came back the slightly longer route through St. Asaph (where my sister used to live) and Wrexham (another Asda hangout) to avoid the traffic. All in all a jolly day!