Nikki Barton – Independent councillor for Surrey County Council (Haslemere Ward) and Haslemere Town Council (Haslemere South Ward). Serving community interests and not political interests. Haslemere first.
Today, I received this update from South Western Railway regarding proposed strike action.
From: Andy Mellors Date: 21 November 2019 at 4:15:04 pm GMT To: Nikki Barton Subject:South Western Railway Update
Dear Cllr Barton,
I am contacting you regarding the prospect of
industrial action taking place on the South Western Railway network and the
impact this could have on passengers in your local area.
The RMT union has called 28 days of strike
action which will disrupt our train services throughout December. The action is
due to commence on 2 December and last until the New Year.
I very much hope we can avoid the strikes
happening at all and we’re still open to discussions with the RMT.
However, we are working very hard planning
for how we keep our passengers moving if the strikes do go ahead.
This dispute centres around the role of
guards on SWR’s trains. We have publicly promised that there will always
be guards on our trains, helping deliver the train service passengers need and
want, and that our guards will have a safety critical role.
All we’re asking is that our guards work with
us to bring in our new trains, which our estimates show could mean over 10
passenger journeys arrive on-time in peak hours every year.
We still hope these promises will help avoid
strike action. However, we are putting plans in place to keep as many
passengers as possible moving throughout the strike should it proceed:
By early next week we will publish downloadable, detailed timetables for services that will still be running during the strike, once these have been finalised. We will also be publishing some frequently asked questions to help passengers plan their journey
We are working with other transport providers so as many tickets as possible can be accepted on other rail and bus networks
We are committed to doing everything we can to provide people, business, councils, community groups and other organisations with the most detailed and up-to-date information we have and will be providing the latest travel information on our website
I don’t want this strike to happen. It
doesn’t need to happen, and I hope the promises we’ve made to our guards will
help reassure them that the strike is unnecessary.
However, if the strike does go ahead we will
be doing everything we can to get our passengers to where they need to go in
the run-up to Christmas and New Year.
We will provide you with regular updates as
and when new information is available.
Yesterday, I attended the South Western Railways Stakeholder conference in Woking.
Acknowledgement by CEO Andrew Haines that Network Rail didn’t understand consequences of changing the layout at Waterloo station on the travelling public and didn’t liaise with SWR on impact on timetables. New approach – Putting Passengers First – following Holden Recommendations identified many improvements needed.
Big stress of increasing passenger numbers, 230 million/year on Wessex Route, Waterloo is the busiest station in the country.
Half price 16-17
Saver launching next week for 1.2million 16 and 17-year olds
Young people set
to make average savings of £186 every year
education opportunities and help communities and businesses by making
travel cheaper for young people
The Department for Transport, together with the rail industry, has confirmed the brand new 16-17 Saver will launch next week, guaranteeing half-price travel for young people in England and Wales.
Whether starting or returning to sixth-form
or college, beginning an apprenticeship or entering the world of work,
teenagers can start buying their discounted tickets on Monday 2 September.
It is forecast to save young people and
their families an average of £186 every year and is set to boost education
opportunities, communities and businesses with young people able to travel more
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said:
“The brand-new Saver means that a generation
of rail passengers can now benefit from cheaper fares, keeping money in their
pocket and helping them get to school, college and work.
“We want to create a railway system that’s fit
for the 21st century and provides a reliable, punctual journey. It’s tempting
to say fares should never rise, but the truth is that if we stop investing in
our railways then we’ll never see it improved.
“Through the Saver, the 26-30 Railcard, the
trialling of single-leg fares on LNER and a record £48 billion investment in
the railways, we are focused on providing passengers with the frequent,
reliable and affordable journeys they deserve.”
The launch comes as the Rail Delivery Group
(RDG) confirmed that over 327,000 people are now saving a third off their
journeys after purchasing the 26-30 Railcard, saving an average of £19 per
month since it launched in January.
Today’s announcement means that passengers
aged between 16 and 30 will now benefit from significant savings on their
Available for purchase for £30 online at www.16-17saver.co.uk, the 16-17 Saver
will be on sale at 9am on Tuesday 20 August. From this date, up to 1.2 million
young people are eligible for the 50% discount it offers on most rail travel,
including peak and Season tickets.
Robert Nisbet, Director, Nations
& Regions at Rail Delivery Group said:
“The launch of the 16-17
Saver, in partnership with the Department for Transport, demonstrates the rail
industry’s commitment to providing the best value fares for all
are 1.2m people aged 16 or 17 years in Great Britain – working together, we
want to ensure they can access affordable rail travel with the new 16-17
Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:
“This rail discount for 16 and 17-year olds is
a huge step in the right direction and will help to alleviate the financial
pressures facing young people and their families across the country.
“Many from disadvantaged backgrounds find
themselves making difficult choices about their future based on how much their
journey to college will cost, increasing the pressures of staying in education.
“Travel costs should never be a barrier to
education, today’s announcement will give a much needed helping hand to
thousands who rely on rail travel to access education and training.”
The new Saver means that young people are
now eligible for a child fare until their 18th birthday. It is valid
across England, Wales and services into Scotland.
The root and branch review of the rail
industry, led by Keith Williams, is looking at fares reform and affordability
for passengers. It is intending to publish recommendations by the end of this
year, with the anticipation that reforms will begin during 2020.
2020 will be the seventh year running the Government will have capped fares in
line with inflation. Since 2014 fares have, on average, remained below the
annual inflation cap.
The 16-17 Saver can also be purchased by calling 0345 301 1656.
Yesterday, I shared a press release about the inaugural Steering Group meeting of the Surrey Hills to South Downs CRP. More here.
Andy Harrowell, South West Railway’s Community Rail Manager and I were interviewed about the project by BBC Surrey.
Here is a transcription of the interview, which helps explain more about this initiative.
BBC Surrey: A new community group has been set up to
help look after train stations in parts of Surrey, particularly around the
Surrey Hills and the South Downs area. The Community Rail Partnership, as it’s
called, will work alongside South Western Railway to make stations more
attractive and to help publicise destinations. Andy Harrowell is from South Western
Railway and says the volunteers will take on a number of tasks, and visitors
will start to notice a difference.
Andy Harrowell: Community Partnerships are all around
four different pillars of work. That’s looking at things such as promoting
healthy and sustainable travel, supported and social development as well as including
quite a diverse audience. The actual work tends to come down to an agreement of
an activity plan between a range of different stakeholders and partners to traditionally
to see things such as line guides, which helps to promote destinations
accessible from stations. It could be looking at how you can promote gardening
or volunteering at the station, as well as raising awareness of other links
between different methods of transport and the railway.
BBC Surrey: Now, I tend to use the train quite a lot
throughout the course of the year to get around. And it’s quite interesting to
notice differences between stations because you do stop off with some stations,
where you know, a lot of love and care has gone into the upkeep. You see
beautiful flower displays and artwork as well. Is it likely that at these
stations that’s the result of the volunteers with the CRP?
Andy Harrowell: Yes, that’s very much the case. So,
we have what we know as station adoption. What we’re doing is trying to look to
work with volunteer groups who want to adopt their station and help it further
reflect the local area, which can often be through art or gardening or a book
swap. So, we’ve actually got 18 of those registered with us across the network
and that’s everywhere from Inner London, Brentford down to Templecombe and
BBC Surrey: So that’s Andy Harrowell from South Western
Railway talking about the launch of this new Community Rail Partnership in the Surrey
Hills and the South Downs area. Let’s find out some more. Nikki Barton is a
councillor for Haslemere and just happens to be Chair of the Community Rail Partnership
steering group as well. Good evening, Nikki, hopefully you had a chance to
listen to what Andy was saying there. So, some exciting plans ahead. What is in
store for the group? What can we expect?
Nikki Barton: Well, it’s a really exciting initiative. We’re really delighted to bring together a fantastic range of partners. Our new partnership is called The Surrey Hills and The South Downs Rail Partnership. We brought together the South Downs National Park, The Surrey Hills, and the parish councils and various community groups from each of the communities along the line. In terms of projects, we’ve got a whole range of initiatives and ideas. We’d like our stations to be a lot more attractive, to have more planting. As you were saying earlier, in your earlier piece, some art too. We’d like to follow some of the passion of Love Haslemere Hate Waste, and have water refill units at the station so you can avoid single use plastics. We would really like to encourage tourists to come down to visit. We get big groups of people coming down from London, rambling up into the South Downs and The Surrey Hills. At the moment, when you arrive at our stations, there’s no guidelines, there’s no map. So, we’ve been developing some Rail To Trail and Rail To Ramble maps that serve the station. <more here>.
BBC Surrey: Basically, it’s making the visitor/the
passenger experience that bit better.
Nikki Barton: It is. I think the interesting thing
about the project is that you can look at it on a number of levels. So yes, the
visitor experience but also we’d really like to improve it for the everyday
user travelling through Haslemere station. We have got over 1.7 million
passenger journeys a year. It’s a huge number of people using the stations. And
there are areas that we could really do with improvements, for example, we’d
really like to improve the integration between the bus and the train network.
At the moment, it’s almost impossible to commute from a village or outside the
town because the buses don’t connect with the trains, for example. I think
there is a great range of initiatives that this Partnership will explore going
BBC Surrey: Okay, I mean, I’m not sort of courting
controversy here. But I’m just intrigued by the idea that this relies on
volunteers … Is it right that basically sprucing up our network and our
stations should fall to volunteers?
Nikki Barton: Yes, I think that’s a really good
question. We do have some amazing volunteers that give a lot of time. I do at
times wonder, given how much rail travel costs, whether that should be
something we’re doing but, I think it’s all about community pride. And in each
of the villages and the towns along the route of this Rail Partnership, the
station is really our main transport hub. If it’s looking good, and it’s
attractive, it’s good for us all. One of the key elements is really to
encourage people to come and visit our amazing towns. Haslemere has got
fantastic businesses, independent businesses, and what we’d really like to do
is, by making the station an attractive place, and the same with Witley, and
Milford and in the future, Godalming and Farncombe, that people come down to
see towns on the line and go and have a coffee, buy a book and explore the
towns as well. It’s about really a holistic approach to our community
BBC Surrey: And you can’t argue with that. And just
finally, in a few words, how can we find out more and look to become a
BBC Surrey: Good stuff. Nikki, thanks for joining us
this evening. Have a great weekend. And I look forward to our stations around Surrey
and The South Downs area looking at a little bit more spruced up as we move
The inaugural Steering Group meeting of the Surrey Hills to South Downs CRP was held on Thursday 13 June, following the group’s registration with the national body, the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP). CRPs are not for profit organisations created to help further link local communities with the railway. Full press release here.
The new CRP, which covers Haslemere to Milford, with aspirations to extend to Farncombe, includes partners from Surrey County Council, South Downs National Park and Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, met to agree its action plan for promoting the destinations along the line, as well as encourage greater use of sustainable and healthy transport. It also considered bids that could be submitted into SWR’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF), when it is launched later in the year.
The CRP has grown up from the long-established station adoption of Haslemere, which includes art displays, the tending of green areas and planters, as well as the creation of a dedicated Information Hub, staffed by local volunteers.
The group is also working closely with the operator to provide one of its unique Try the Train days for the local school, supporting pupils as they prepare to make the step to secondary school, developing their confidence with rail travel.
SWR’s Community Rail Manager, Andy Harrowell, said:
“We already provide support and funding to 8 CRPs across our network, helping to involve our communities with our stations and services, and are delighted to welcome this new addition. The adoption work at Haslemere has made a real difference to the station and we look forward to working with the CRP to deliver similar enhancements along the line. We have already provided finances to support the Hub this year and will be discussing with the CRP other project funding for the future, based on the action plan discussed.”
Surrey County Councillor for Haslemere, Nikki Barton, Chair of the Steering Group said:
“The new Surrey Hills to South Downs Community Rail Partnership has come together thanks to the vision and hard work of our dedicated volunteers and partners, and with the invaluable support of SWR and ACoRP. We have exciting plans for a range of projects going forward, which build upon the key role our train stations play in the vitality of our communities and their strategic locations as gateways to the beautiful surrounding countryside.”
Allison Thorpe from South Downs National Park Authority, and Caroline Price of Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, added:
“2019 marks 70 years since the Government passed an Act of Parliament to establish national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In this anniversary year, both the South Downs National Park and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are delighted to come together in this the new line partnership to encourage more visitors to access these special places by rail.”
Station adoption see groups work with the operator to add a local feel to each location. SWR has committed to helping each group register with ACoRP, paying their membership fees, as well as offering a specific fund to support work. SWR has 18 ACoRP registered station adopters across the network, ranging from Brentford, to Templecombe and Wareham. It is keen to encourage more, and is in discussions with a number of groups to adopt stations in the future.
Contact Information South Western Railway Press Office
SWR’s family of Community Rail Partnerships include: • Blackmore Vale CRP (Tisbury to Crewkerne) • Devon and Cornwall RP (Axminster to Exeter) • East Hants CRP (Liphook to Rowland’s Castle) • Hounslow line CRP (Barnes to Feltham) • Island line CRP (Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin) • Lymington to Brockenhurst CRP • Purbeck CRP (Moreton to Holton Heath, including Swanage Railway) • Three Rivers CRP (Salisbury to Bursledon / Winchester, via Romsey and Chandler’s Ford)
This is my first councillor update since being elected to Surrey County Council and re-elected to Haslemere Town Council.
6th May 2019 – received update from South Western Railway regarding electric charging points at Haslemere Station. The update states South Western Railway will be installing eight electric vehicle charging points in Haslemere station car park. Read more here and here.
7th May 2019 – travelled by train and bike to County Hall in Kingston for meetings and to sign Surrey County Council declaration papers.
7th May 2019 – received a Surrey County Council invitation to join a member reference group to support the development of a refreshed Surrey Climate Change strategy. I will sign up to join this group.
10th May 2019 – meeting with SCC highways officer to discuss way of future working together.
11th May 2019 – took part in Haslemere’s Critical Mass Bike Ride. Read my write up here.
13th May 2019 – attended Surrey County Council Residents’ Association/Independent group meeting County Hall in Kingston.
13th May 2019 – attended Haslemere Town Council induction meeting.
14th May 2019 – promoted information online about Members’ Community Allocation Funding to support local community groups. More here.
14th May 2019 – shared information online about road surface dressing works in Lion Lane, Haslemere. More here.
14th May 2019 – met briefly with Haslemere First Scouts and local WBC councillors in Critchmere and Shottermill ward to understand the history of this scout group’s dealings with the previous WBC administration in respect to their tenure at The Youth Campus.
14th May 2019 – attended steering committee meeting for Haslemere Vision, discussing the future of Haslemere’s Neighbourhood Plan.
14th May 2019 – shared a note about the process of Mayor Making here.
15th May 2019 – attended South Western Railway Community Rail in the City at Waterloo station to promote Haslemere’s businesses and beautiful surrounding countryside.
16th May 2019 – attended Haslemere Town Council’s full council meeting. Papers here.
19th May 2019 – a great Little Lumpy event – over 600 riders raising funds for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. It was fun cheering the riders as they crossed the line. Well done Ken Griffiths and his amazing team of volunteers – including all the cake makers. I have promised to ride next year, I invite all my fellow councillors to join me!
21st May 2019 – attended my first Surrey County Council Full Council meeting since being elected. Papers here.
28th May 2019 – shared information about Tennyson’s Lane road closure for Thames Water works. More here.
29th May 2019 – met residents and Thames Water on site to discuss the Tennyson’s Lane road closure and major diversion. Major works are being carried out to the main trunk water pipe that supplies a large part of Haslemere. I liaised with the Highways team to agree an improved road management program that will reduce the time Tennyson’s Lane is closed. Thames Water letter here.
29th May 2019 – received notification that the Surrey Hills to South Downs Community Rail Partnership has been officially recognised by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships. The original Haslemere Community Rail Partnership, successfully established in 2015, is expanding to include, as a first step Milford and Witley stations.
30th May 2019 – met with Highways officers on site at the road junction by St Stephen’s Church that is in very bad condition. It was on the winter maintenance list last year, but works were not carried out. I am pressing for a full resurfacing of this busy junction as a matter of urgency.
Notification of Future Events/Meetings
1st June 2019 – planting session for Wey Hill In Bloom. Volunteers are asked to meet at 10am outside Haslewey.