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Simple Simon

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Simple Simon last won the day on January 8 2015

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  1. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    28th February 2017 Head of TWA Orders Unit, Department for Transport, London I am directed by the Secretary of State for Transport to say that consideration has been given to the application made on 12 March 2015 by your clients, Cambrian Heritage Railways Limited (CHRL), for the proposed Cambrian Railways Order (the Order) to be made under sections 1 and 5 of the Transport and Works Act 1992 (TWA). The Order, if made, would authorise the transfer from Network Rail Infrastructure Limited (NRI) to CHRL of the statutory provisions and other rights and liabilities relating to the branch line railway between Gobowen and Blodwel in the County of Shropshire (referred to in this letter as the railway). The Order would also authorise CHRL to sell or lease the railway with consent of the Secretary of State and makes provision as to the operation of the railway. As the Order would not provide for any development requiring planning permission CHRL did not submit an environmental statement with the Order application or seek a direction as to deemed planning permission from the Secretary of State. Summary of the Secretary of State’s decision For the reasons given in this letter, the Secretary of State has decided to make the Order, with modifications. Procedural matters Following the application, five objections were received. Three of the objections were from local residents (Redacted) (referred to in this letter as the objectors). The other two objections were received from the Office of Rail and Road (the ORR) and Highways England in relation to the reinstatement of level crossings on the railway. In response to these objections CHRL accepted amendments to the Order proposed by the ORR which would prohibit the railway from crossing the A5 and A483 trunk roads on the level and to require the ORR’s consent to the operation of level crossings over the A495 and School Lane at Porth-y-Waen. Highways England subsequently withdrew its objection on 4 August 2015. The Secretary of State decided that it was unnecessary to hold a public inquiry or hearing into this application as he was satisfied that the issues raised in the objections could be adequately presented and examined through the TWA written representations procedure. This procedure is set out in rule 24 of the Transport and Works (Applications and Objections Procedure) (England and Wales) Rules 2006 (the Applications Rules). The Secretary of State has considered carefully all the representations that have been made about this application. The main issue which the Secretary of State considers relevant to his decision are addressed below, starting at paragraphs 10 to 16 with a summary of the points made variously by the ORR and by some or all of the objectors. This is followed at paragraphs 17 to 27 by a summary of CHRL’s responses to the objections. The Secretary of State’s conclusions are set out at paragraphs 28 to 40. Background to and aims of the Order application The railway between Gobowen and Blodwel was closed to passenger services in 1966 but remained in use until 1988 for freight traffic serving a stone quarry in Blodwel. After that, the railway was mothballed with the tracks retained for possible future freight traffic to the quarry. In 2008 Shropshire County Council acquired from NR the land on which the railway is situated. In 2009 CHRL was established by agreement between the Cambrian Railway Society Limited (CRSL) and the Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT) as a separate entity to bring forward the revival of the railway. In 2014 Shropshire Council leased the railway land to CHRL for a period of 50 years. The proposed Order would pave the way for the renovation of the railway for public use as a community and heritage railway. CHRL intends to restore the railway to operational use in stages as funding becomes available. CHRL referred in the Order application and its representations to local support for its long term proposals on the grounds that restoring the railway would assist in the development of Oswestry as a tourist destination, would preserve the unique railway heritage of Oswestry, and may provide a sustainable transport option for accessing the local Orthopaedic Hospital. The Order would also release NR from the statutory obligations relating to land over which it no longer carries out any operations and in which it no longer carries out any operations and in which it no longer has any legal interest. The objections Fitness and capacity of CHRL The objectors raised that CHRL was not a fit and proper body to receive the powers that would be conferred by the Order and lacked the experience, funding and business acumen to manage this large scale and difficult project, and to fulfil its responsibilities towards the wider community. In particular, the objectors expressed concerns about the legitimacy, qualifications and alleged unprofessional attitude of the Executive Board of CHRL and the conduct of its meetings, about the legality of existing services operated by CRSL at Oswestry on a section of railway which is not included in the Order, and about the ability of CHRL to attract and retain sufficient active volunteers with relevant qualifications and experience to maintain its low level of services, having to rely in part on the use of unemployed job-seekers. Financial issues and feasibility of CHRL’s proposals The objectors considered that CHRL was not self-sufficient and would need substantial funding to restore the railway in its entirety; Shropshire Council was not able to provide this funding and public expenditure for a tourist attraction was not justified. The objectors had not seen an up to date business plan and doubted that CHRL’s proposals, including a possible community service between Gobowen and Oswestry, would be commercially viable. This was, in particular, because of the costs of providing new crossings over or under the A5 and A483 trunk roads and reinstating other level crossings (without which CHRL would only be able to operate small sections of the railway); the costs of repairing bridges and installing signalling; the costs of maintaining the track and rolling stock. The objectors said also that the proximity of other heritage railways was likely to affect the viability of CHRL’s proposals. For all these reasons, the objectors considered that CHRL’s aim of connecting Gobowen, Oswestry, Llynclys and Blodwel was not feasible. Level crossings The ORR referred to its established policy that there should be no new (or reinstated) level crossings on any railway, unless there are exceptional circumstances, and confirmed that it was opposed on safety grounds to crossings of the A5 and A483 trunk roads on the level. While continuing to have concerns about safety at other level crossings on the railway, the ORR said that it would rely on its existing powers in relation to the control and protection of level crossings when the position on the risks involved at each crossing and how they could be addressed became clearer. The ORR left it to the Secretary of State to decide whether any further provision about level crossings should be included in the Order in addition to the amendments referred to at paragraph 5 above. Aside from its concerns about level crossings, the ORR confirmed that it had no objection in principle to the transfer of the general powers and obligations in relation to the railway from NR to CHRL. The objectors also expressed concerns about the various level crossings that would need to be reinstated which posed safety risks to the wider community, but which were not mentioned in the Order as applied for. The objectors were concerned about whether CHRL had the ability to safely operate and maintain the crossings, referring to the present condition of the pedestrian crossing at Coney Green on the section of the CRSL railway at Oswestry; about impacts on access, including for emergency vehicles to the Cambrian Medical Centre; and whether CHRL would be able to secure the ORR’s consent to reinstate all the level crossings, including on the heavily used A495 road, in the light of the ORR’s policy referred to above. Safety and security The objectors raised more general health and safety concerns, given that the railway would run through the centre of Oswestry and close to a large children’s play area. These included concerns about the cycleway proposed to be built alongside the railway; the maintenance of bridges and fencing; poor security measures; and the adequacy of training for volunteers and of the risk assessments undertaken by CHRL. Environmental and amenity issues The objectors raised a number of concerns about the environmental impacts of resuming railway operations on neighbouring land, including on the new homes built close to the line, a children’s play area and the footpath to be opened alongside the railway in Oswestry. The concerns included the effects of noise, vibration, pollution from smoke emissions, and the use of contaminated wooden sleepers; the risk of damage to property; and the loss of amenity and value. The objectors considered that CHRL should have submitted an environmental statement with the Order application. Adequacy of consultation and transparency The objectors said that CHRL had not carried out adequate consultation and that the consultation report submitted with the Order application was incorrect; neither had CHRL given sufficient public notice of the application. They considered that CHRL had not been open and transparent about what restoration of the railway would entail and had withheld relevant information requested by the objectors such as a business plan. CHRL’s response to the objectors Fitness and capacity of CHRL CHRL said that it was a properly constituted limited company and registered charity. It had the support of Shropshire Council, Oswestry Town Council and other local organisations, as evidenced for example by the Oswestry 2020 Town Plan and the response to consultation. The ORR, which has responsibility for overseeing heritage railways, explicitly stated that it had no principle objection to the statutory or other powers and obligations relating to the railway being transferred to CHRL. CHRL explained further that its members were drawn in a large part from two very long standing heritage railway charities (CRSL and CRT) and that they had the necessary experience in fund raising and successfully applying for grants. CHRL had been successful in attracting new skills and active volunteers by working with local schools and colleges, as well as Government training initiatives, and the membership of CHRL was growing. CHRL refuted allegations that there was any impropriety in the conduct of its meetings or the management of its finances. CHRL said that it was compliant with all legal reporting requirements, details of the company and its officers were publically available, and CHRL followed the Charity Commission’s guidance on running meetings. As regards the legality of the CRSL services at Oswestry, CHRL noted that the ORR was satisfied that the necessary legal powers and consents for those operations had been granted (even though the ORR could not trace its original consent) and that, when recently inspected, the ORR had found CRSL’s operations to be safe. CHRL confirmed that if the Order were made it would liaise with the ORR to ensure that all necessary consents are in place and properly recorded. Financial issues and feasibility of CHRL’s proposals CHRL said that it envisaged a staged expansion of its operations over a number of years, with the transfer of statutory powers from NR under the Order providing an immediate opportunity to improve its offering as a tourist attraction. CHRL had previously received financial support from various sources, including an annual turnover of approximately £100,000, and considered that, as with other heritage railway operations, there was no reason why it should not be able to earn and secure necessary funding over a period of time to enable it progressively to implement restoration of the line. CHRL did not see the close proximity of other heritage railways as a disadvantage, rather this factor was likely to draw enthusiasts visiting neighbouring heritage railways. Neither did CHRL accept that its project was a hobby for enthusiasts without commercial prospects, referring to the “Report on the Value of Heritage Railways” by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail which recognised the importance of heritage railways to their local economies. CHRL explained further that each phase of restoring the railway would be a separate element, which could be appraised, funded and constructed separately and be subject to its own appropriate business plan. CHRL did not accept that such a phased approach to expanding its operations was an indication that its proposals were not feasible. CHRL would work in partnership with a number of statutory bodies, businesses and other railway operators who supported its aims of restoring the railway as a whole over time. As regards the crossing of trunk roads, discussions with Highways England to date had concluded that it would be feasible to accommodate a tunnel at the A5 crossing and an over-bridge at the A483. Elsewhere, the highway over-bridges remained in the control of the local authority and the cost of alterations at the Gasworks Bridge identified by the objectors as an impediment was far below previous estimates. Level crossings CHRL noted that safety at crossings of the public highway was protected by legislation, including the Level Crossing Act 1983, and that all crossings (both public and private) were subject to the scrutiny of the ORR. CHRL said that the ORR had visited the railway at Oswestry on a number of occasions and was aware of all the crossings referred to by the objectors; in particular, the ORR was satisfied as to the safety of the existing Coney Green crossing. With regard to the concerns raised by the ORR, CHRL said it had presented indicative designs for the crossings of the A5 and A483 without level crossings to the ORR who had said that such a solution would be satisfactory. CHRL had further accepted without hesitation the amendments to the Order referred to at paragraph 5 above which the ORR had requested. CHRL noted the ORR’s position as regards the other level crossings not identified in the Order and confirmed that, as proposals to extend its operations were worked up, it would continue to engage with and consult the ORR and other local stakeholders before considering operating any level crossings; CHRL would ensure that it properly assessed the associated risks and implement appropriate measures. Safety and security CHRL said that existing operations at Oswestry and Llynclys had an excellent safety record and complied with all relevant requirements. More generally, CHRL was required to operate to stringent safety standards including compliance with all health and safety legislation, and all operations were subject to the scrutiny of the ORR. CHRL explained further that volunteers in safety critical roles were trained in accordance with approved railway methodologies and were tested and observed to ensure competency. CHRL had, since 2014, retained a safety management consultant, Green Dragon, to advise on all matters in relation to safety and was creating a new Safety, Health, Environment and Fire Focus Officer to act as a contact point for consultation and feedback on these matters. While accepting that vandalism of signage and fences along the route used by walkers had been a problem, CHRL anticipated that with the opening of the new “greenway” path along the railway corridor in Oswestry the situation would improve. The fencing used along the railway was of a standard post and wire variety commonly used for security fencing and had been re-instated as and when removed or damaged. Environmental and amenity issues CHRL explained that as the Order would provide only for the transfer to CHRL of the existing powers relating to the railway and not for any new works, no environmental impact assessment or environmental statement had been required. That said, since the volume of movements along the railway would be low and would be carried out at low speed (maximum 25 miles per hour), there was no significant likelihood of adverse impacts on properties resulting from train operations. The section of the line close to (redacted) would be re-laid with new ballast and sleepers as part of the upgrade of the railway, which would reduce noise and vibration. Work had also already been carried out in the vicinity to improve the condition of the railway by removing overgrown trees, clearing rubbish and planting new hedgerows along the railway corridor. CHRL said also that in other respects such as pollution no evidence had been produced to show that there would be a significant impact on the environment. Adequacy of consultation and transparency CHRL said that the Consultation Report which accompanied the Order application had set out details of the consultation carried out before the Order application was made (including advertising, leafleting and a drop-in session), as required by the TWA Applications Rules. As the Order would not authorise any new works there was no requirement for site notices to be posted. CHRL refuted the allegation that there had been any lack of transparency or misrepresentation about its proposals, either with the public or with its members. For example, the on-going discussions between CHRL and the ORR about level crossings had been reported to members at the AGM. Secretary of State’s consideration The Secretary of State notes first that the main purpose of the Order is to authorise the transfer from NR to CHRL of NR’s statutory powers and obligations relating to the railway, with the aim of establishing over time a community and heritage railway operation between Gobowen and Blodwel. He is satisfied that this is, in principle, an appropriate use for a redundant part of the national rail network, in particular because of the public benefits in terms of contributing to the tourist economy, preserving industrial heritage and, potentially, providing a local transport facility. The Secretary of State notes further that the order would not confer on CHRL any new powers to carry out works and to use land beyond those which currently rest with NR. He considers, therefore, that in coming to a decision on whether it is in the public interest to make the Order, the key issue to address is whether CHRL has the capacity to exercise NR’s existing powers and to fulfil the associated obligations safely and lawfully. He has considered the representations made by CHRL, the ORR and the objectors in this light. Fitness and capacity of CHRL The Secretary of State is satisfied from the representations and evidence submitted that CHRL is an appropriate body to assume responsibility for NR’s statutory powers and obligations in respect of the railway. In coming to this conclusion he has had regard, in particular, to the view of the ORR (as the national regulator of the rail industry) which has no objection in principle to the proposed transfer. He also notes that the ORR is familiar with both predecessor organisations (CRSL and CRT) which have operated sections of railway at Oswestry and Llynclys over a number of years. The Secretary of State notes also that CHRL has been able to attract volunteers with a range of relevant experience, has gained support of local authorities and other organisations for its aims, and has been successful in securing funding towards the development of its proposals. He considers that these factors are relevant indicators of CHRL’s capacity to assume the responsibilities which the Order would impose both in the present and in the future as CHRL’s operations expand. As regards the matters of propriety and legality raised by the objectors, the Secretary of State recognises that CHRL is a properly constituted and regulated company and a registered charity. He considers therefore that appropriate controls are in place to ensure that CHRL’s affairs are properly managed. Furthermore, taking into account the ORR’s view as to the legality and safety of the CRSL operations at Oswestry, the Secretary of State attaches no weight to the missing consent documentation referred to be the objectors in assessing the fitness of CHRL to assume the powers and obligations that would be transferred under the Order. Financial issues and feasibility of CHRL’s proposals The Secretary of State recognises that restoring, operating and maintaining a heritage railway is a costly enterprise, even where there are significant levels of volunteers support. He accepts further that reinstating the railway between Oswestry and Gobowen in its entirety (a distance of 13.5 kilometres), along with the provision of two new grade separated crossings of trunk roads, will be a substantial undertaking that is likely to take a long time to complete. The Secretary of State considers, however, that CHRL’s plan for a staged expansion of its operations as funding becomes available is a reasonable approach in the context of a heritage railway and consistent with how other similar organisations develop their systems. He considers also that the possibility that CHRL may have to operate the railway in discrete sections (until satisfactory arrangements for the level crossings on the railway have been found) does not mean that CHRL’s long term objectives are unachievable. He notes in this regard that such arrangements would be comparable to the current position with CRSL and CRT carrying out separate operations at Oswestry and Llynclys. The Secretary of State considers that the purpose of his decision on this application it is not necessary for CHRL to demonstrate the financial viability of restoring the railway in its entirety (or any particular element of the railway). He considers that it is acceptable for each element of the restoration project to be appraised at the appropriate time, for example, as and when CHRL applies for grants for the project. The Secretary of State does not therefore consider that the objectors’ concerns about the feasibility of CHRL’s long term objectives give grounds for refusing the Order. He considers rather that, given his conclusions above on CHRL’s capacity to assume responsibility for the railway, it would be unreasonable to refuse the Order, thereby precluding the opportunity to restore the railway and potentially secure wider public benefits. Level crossings The Secretary of State has noted the concerns expressed by the ORR about the reinstatement of level crossings on the railway and confirms that the Order will be modified in the manner requested by CHRL as detailed in paragraph 5 above. As regards the level crossings not specifically named in the Order, he is satisfied that no further provision needs to be included in the Order, given that the ORR considers that its existing powers are sufficient to secure the protection of those crossings before they are brought into use. The Secretary of State has considered also the concerns of the objectors about the impacts of reinstating the level crossings on safety and access. As noted above, he considers that safety at level crossings would be ensured by the controls exercised by the ORR. He is satisfied also that CHRL would engage appropriately with local stakeholders about its proposals for reinstating level crossings, and notes that consultation with the local highway authority would be required under the Level Crossings Act 1983 in any event. Safety and security The Secretary of State is satisfied that appropriate and sufficient arrangements are in place (for example, the training of volunteers) to ensure that CHRL’s current and future operations on the railway will be carried on in accordance with health and safety legislation; and he notes that all operations will be subject to the scrutiny of the ORR. He considers also that both bringing the mothballed railway back into use and establishing the “greenway” path would be likely to have a beneficial impact in terms of creating a more secure environment. Environmental and amenity issues The Secretary of State notes that the Order provides for the transfer to CHRL of existing powers relating to the railway and agrees with CHRL that it was unnecessary to submit an environmental statement with its application since the Order would not authorise any development, including development of a sort that would require an environmental impact assessment. To the extent that environmental and amenity issues are relevant in deciding whether it is in the public interest for the Order to be made, he accepts that the nature of operations proposed by CHRL and the measures that CHRL intend to take to upgrade the railway mean restoring the railway should not have significant adverse impacts on the environment or on neighbouring properties. The Secretary of State notes that CHRL’s rail operations would, in any event, be subject to environmental protection legislation, for example, directed at preventing nuisance. Adequacy of consultation and transparency The Secretary of State is satisfied that CHRL has fulfilled the requirements of the Applications Rules and associated guidance as to consulting on and publicising the proposals in the Order. He does not consider that there has been any impropriety or bad practice on CHRL’s part such as could weight against a decision to make the Order. Other matters The Secretary of State has considered all the other points made in representations on this application. In his opinion, to the extent that any of those matters are relevant to his decision on this application, none of them would justify refusing to make the Order, either individually or taken together. Secretary of State’s overall conclusions and decision For the reasons given in this letter, the Secretary of State is satisfied that it is in the public interest to authorise the transfer from NR to CHRL of the statutory provisions and other rights and liabilities relating to the railway between Gobowen and Blodwel. The Secretary of State has therefore decided to make the Order, subject to the amendments referred to at paragraph 5 above and some further drafting changes which do not affect the substance of the Order. The Order will be made shortly, after a notice of this determination has been published in the London Gazette. Notice of determination This letter constitutes the secretary of State’s notice of his determination to make the Order with modifications, for the purposes of section 14(1) (a) and section 14(2) of the TWA. Your clients are required to publish newspaper notices of the determination in accordance with section 14(4) of the TWA. The circumstances in which the Secretary of State’s decision may be challenged are set out in the note attached at the Annex to this letter. Distribution Copies of this letter are being sent to the objectors and the ORR. Right to challenge Orders made under the TWA Any person who is aggrieved by the making of the Order may challenge its validity, or the validity of any provision in it, on the ground that- It is not within the powers of the TWA; or Any requirement imposed by or under the TWA or the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992 has not been complied with. Any such challenge may be made, by application to the High Court, within the period of 42 days beginning with the day on which notice of this determination is published in the London Gazette as required by section 14(1) (b) of the TWA. This notice is expected to be published within 3 working days of the date of this decision letter. A person who thinks they may have grounds for challenging the decision to make the Order is advised to seek legal advice before taking any action.
  2. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    ...REBOOTING....PLEASE WAIT....REBOOTING...PLEASE WAIT...REBOOTING...PLEASE WAIT...
  3. Message for Simple Simon

    I've emptied it a bit now.
  4. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    During August I took a walk along the Greenway (a new section of tarmacked path running alongside the railway line linking the Coney Green crossing to an elevated section off onto Sycamore Avenue in Oswestry), and noticed a number of sections of the wire fence separating the line from the path either broken or damaged. Also along the route are a couple of notices stating that trespassers on the line could be fined up to £1000. Last week I took another walk along the line and discovered that the sections of twisted and broken fence had been very professionally repaired. As Cambrian Heritage Railways Limited have neither the funds nor the expertise to make such repairs I'm speculating that they were done at the ratepayers expense.
  5. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    The following was sent to the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail & Road toward the end of August: I was witness to their (CHRL) passenger service operating along a restored stretch of railway line through Oswestry on the weekend of 27th and 28th of August 2016, with the charity using a borrowed steam engine and their own guardsman’s carriage. The service was running from North of Oswestry Station running South over the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing, underneath the Middleton Road Bridge and toward the Gasworks Bridge (carrying Shrewsbury Road), where the track has been removed. The service terminated some yards before an improvised buffer stop. As I have previously described, the steam service ran underneath the Middleton Road Bridge which consists of a brick structure carrying vehicular traffic, and a separate wire mesh structure for pedestrians. It was my understanding that no service operating in Oswestry would extend any further than 300 metres, or 400 metres at best. Please can the Office of Rail and Road supply me with official documentary evidence that the service operated above is entirely within the law. A reply was received early in September from the Department for Transport that the comments had been noted. Nothing has been received from the rail regulator to date.
  6. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    I note a letter has appeared in the latest issue of the Tizer regarding funds awarded to Cambrian Heritage Railways Limited allegedly not being used for the purpose intended. A sum of £30,440 was awarded to the charity by Shropshire Council in 2011 for the restoration of a steam engine. A photograph accompanying the piece taken last month appears to indicate a good deal less than £30k of restoration work was has been undertaken in the 5 years since the grant was awarded. Question is, what was our money used for?
  7. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    It is now 6th September 2016. Objections to the transfer of powers from Network Rail to Cambrian Heritage Railways Limited were submitted to the Department for Transport toward the end of April 2016 for the attention of the Secretary of State. A decision was expected in August. No word has yet been received regarding the outcome.
  8. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    It has come to our attention that even now CHRL are seeking messages of support from local authorities regarding their plans to restore an operational line, including the use of level crossings (a direct and known contradiction to the position of the Office of Rail and Road).
  9. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    ...and that's it. The entries above comprise of arguments for and against the transfer of powers from Network Rail to Cambrian Heritage Railways Limited to operate a railway service along 8.5 miles of lime between Gobowen, through Oswestry and to Blodwel. My understanding is that the Secretary of State (or an Inspector acting on behalf) will make a decision this month (August 2016).
  10. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    This whole restoration project seems to hang on the thin and unsupported premise that a heritage railway running from the mainline at Gobowen to Oswestry would be a massive wealth generator for the whole area. See paragraph 1.17 to 1.19 of the written representations and Document 1. We would point out again that the capital required for such a restoration has substantially increased in the past few years alone by the need to build a bridge and an underpass to carry the railway. The project is driven by a small number of enthusiasts and naive councillors, clinging to the dream that the A5 would be halted for the passage of a train service. The communities of Oswestry and Gobowen support the project which sits well with other initiatives to bring forward heritage and community railways, the benefits of which are well-evidenced. There is no evidence to support (redacted) contention that local councillors are naive and CHRL considers that accusation to be unfounded. The biggest parish through which the line to be restored between Gobowen and Oswestry is Whittington. The Applicant has provided no evidence that the people of Whittington are happy to have public money spent on an underpass built exclusively for the use of the Applicant. The minutes of the meeting of 13th December 2005 (Document D) in which councillors approved the purchase of the line (without the requested robust business plan) indicate no examination was made of the points of concern raised or recommendations in the Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. The document does make reference to “...access to the proposed new health care facilities...” This refers to the construction of entrance to the site for development over the disused railway line in Oswestry. We asked the attendees of that meeting that took the decision to purchase the line, namely Councillors Daken, Everall, Hartley, Hurst-Knight, Craig, Nutting, Owen, Benyon, Box and Pate, if they had seen a robust business plan from an organisation capable of running a heritage service along the line. The councillors that did respond were unable to remember. Malcolm Pate was Leader of Shropshire County Council, and has recently become the Leader of Shropshire Council. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. CHRL desperately hopes that within the next 49 years someone else will pay for a bridge over the A5. CHRL is both pragmatic and professional. It has been discussing bridge designs with the ORR and has provided a design that meets its criteria (Document 2). However, final details will not be worked up until details are known regarding the proposed upgrading of the A5. CHRL will seek funding from appropriate sources in due course. We have seen no evidence that the Applicant is either pragmatic or professional. Indeed, even the largely favourable press reports of the restoration project do not describe the Applicant in such terms. It is highly unlikely that any railway bridge and underpass designs presented by the Applicant to the ORR will be constructed. They are merely construction designs that would meet the ORR’s minimal requirements. Whether at Pentre Clawdd or Weston such major structural undertakings would be extremely complex and time consuming to realise. We suspect that the ORR is unaware of the land at these locations. For example, there is a sewage treatment works close to the level crossing at Weston just off the A483. This written representation has highlighted contradictions in the shifting position of the ORR and found them to be bizarrely unaware of the number of level crossings. CHRL abhors the use of such pejorative language by (redacted). It cannot speak for the ORR but does not agree that (redacted) representations demonstrate what it says they do. CHRL, CRT and CRS have been in regular contact with the ORR for many years, with regular visits from its officers. CHRL is aware that officers of the ORR are well-acquainted with all level crossings. The fact is the ORR have said that they have not had enough time to do a proper assessment of the level crossing access to the Emergency Ambulance Bay/Minor Injuries Unit/Cambrian Medical Centre so are content to have it left off the draft transfer Order. They are also content to have the level crossings at School Lane and the A495 can be referenced as needing ORR consent before operation in the transfer Order. There remains confusion over the passenger service currently operating on the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing with the department admitting they had lost the original consent document. And yet, their publically stated position is no new or reinstated level crossings. We are left wondering what their true position is. Wording of the new proposed Transfer order deliberately ambiguous. This comment is misconceived. See item 38 above. The ORR is content with the proposed wording of the Order and accepts the efficacy of the existing controls and safeguards along the branch line, as that line is restored. We refer you to our response at item 50. We would add that we are extremely angry with the performance of this department. As a regulator we would expect them to be more active in enforcing safety on railway operators rather than ignoring legitimate safety concerns at railway crossings. Maintenance of the Coney Green level crossing. See item 38. See our response at item 38. CHRL’s unsuitability as demonstrated by poor performance etc. See item 11 and 35. See our responses at item 11 and 35. Areas of confusion within the lease. See item 4. See our response at item 4. Questionable passenger service in Oswestry. See items 1, 35 and 38. See our responses at item 1, 35 and 38. Conclusion We submitted an Objection on 16 April 2015, an Addendum on 20 August 2015, a further Addendum on 15 October 2015, a written representation on 22 February 2016 and this latest submission. In addition we have been in communication with the Roger Date of Cambrian Heritage Railways Limited via a series of emails and written replies. This commitment alone displays our deep misgivings about the inception, development and direction of the whole restoration project. We have repeatedly drawn attention to what we feel are very strong reasons why the Applicant is totally unsuited to receive the powers conferred by the transfer of responsibilities from Network Rail by the proposed Order. We feel we have backed up our allegations with irrefutable evidence that the Applicant is totally unfit to hold such responsibilities.
  11. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    (Redacted) has seen no official documentation from CHRL or the Department for Transport to confirm that the ORR and Highways England have withdrawn their objections to the Order. It is for the DfT to decide what information to provide (redacted). It is here that we must turn to the Department for Transport to highlight faults in its own procedures; we understand that we were not the only objectors to say in our submissions to the DfT that we requested to be kept up to date with all future developments. This did not happen. We understand that Highways England withdrew their objection following negotiations with the Applicant in August 2015. Following a change in the wording of the draft Order the ORR withdrew their objection in December 2015. The DfT failed to send these documents despite our earlier request. We were only informed of these changes by the Applicant to whom, naturally enough, we have a deep scepticism. We were only sent copies of the official documents when we contacted Robert Fox of the department in 2016. As individual objectors we have made our views regarding the unfairness of the transfer Order process known to the department who have admitted they have very little experience of challenges to their long established but flawed processes. We have suggested improvements that can be made, but as there are so few transfer Order applications now we think it is unlikely that improvements will be made. CHRL has made no comment on the possible effects of an operational railway service on existing public transport systems. See paragraph 1.18 of the written representations. (Redacted) puts forward no reason why there should be any detrimental effect on existing public transport in the area and CHRL would expect to work with local bus operators with a view to ensuring complimentary services for local people and tourists, providing better connectivity. The Applicant presents no evidence that it will work with existing local public transport networks. Such networks offer no cost travel to the elderly from a variety of convenient pick up points in the villages surrounding Oswestry subsidised by the local authority. Would the Applicant be capable of offering a similarly regular and convenient service? If they did it would be classified as a “commuter service” and as such would be subject to the same, more stringent health and safety regulations as services operated on the main line. Short notice of drop in session. CHRL does not agree that there was “short notice” – see Consultation Report for details of advance advertising and leafleting. The attendance at the drop in was very pleasing. Over 80 people attended the drop-in, many from properties adjoining the railway corridor. There was also a telephone line for enquires from people unable to attend the drop in with 12 calls being received. This restoration project will affect far more than 92 people. Of the total responses we note that the Applicant fails to indicate how many of them actually supported the project. The fact is, the run up time to the drop in session was only days and we are given no information on if the leaflets advertising the event were distributed to properties and businesses close to the entire 8.5 miles of line to be restored. Similarly, we have not been given any indication of feedback from people and businesses close to areas where major structural changes will be made to accommodate the railway, namely the new bridge and underpass. Letters of support pre-date the knowledge that the A5 and A483 would not be crossed on the level. CHRL has no reason to suppose that this makes any difference to the degree of local support for the project which was based upon principles of connectivity and economic regeneration to which methodology of crossing the trunk roads is irrelevant. As any businessman will know, if the capital cost escalates, quite substantially such as in this case, there will be a fundamental effect on the profitability of the project. To clarify further, with the introduction of a bridge and underpass into the restoration project it increases the cost by multi-millions. We would ask for an urgent review of the total cost of the project to be weighed with its perceived economic regeneration. To clarify further, the costs have rocketed already. Does the Applicant’s business model account for these extra costs? Have utility companies been consulted on the matter of rail traffic passage under the Gasworks Bridge? Yes, particularly as the greenway is currently being constructed beneath that bridge. The greenway path does not go underneath the Gasworks Bridge. It goes upwards and joins with Sycamore Drive in Oswestry. Further, we did consult with the utility companies at the time of the submission of the original transfer Order and found none aware that the railway would be restored, but some did say that should a project proceed they would expect to be consulted by Shropshire Council. Is there any professional study regarding the possibility of trains negotiating passage under Gasworks Bridge in its present dilapidated state? The bridge is not in a dilapidated state. However, it will not be used until the ORR has seen and approved details of the proposed works that would then be overseen by local authority engineers. The Gasworks Bridge was propped by the Highways Agency over a decade ago to maintain it as suitable for over traffic as it is a main artery into Oswestry. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. Here the authority will be spending public money exclusively on the Applicant for under traffic whereas at the Middleton Road Bridge its responsibility is to anyone who uses the greenway as the path also goes under that structure. CHRL has made no comment on who will take responsibility for new bridges and underpass. This is a matter to be determined at a later stage following further consultation with key stakeholders. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. Why hasn’t Shropshire Council been heavily involved in talks regarding the neutralisation of danger from the potential and expected operation of all level crossings? CHRL notes that the use of loaded terms such as “neutralisation of danger” is unhelpful. All local stakeholders, including the Council are, and will continue to be, involved in relevant discussions regarding level crossings along the route of the branch railway. We have seen no indication at all that Shropshire Council has engaged in discussions regarding safety at level crossings (that the authority owns) in respect of the transfer Order. We do note that in the Accident Report regarding the elderly lady who fell on the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing that a representative from the authority did check the line. We also note that despite increasing incidents of the elderly and people with mobility challenges having problems using the crossing, we note the council didn’t feel that there were any problems for the passage of train and no action was recommended. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. Timeline CHRL has the following points on the timeline: 15 – the Cambrian Visitor Centre did not close. It is still in use to this day. 16 – a business plan was provided by CRT, but it pre-dates the formation of CHRL. 18 – The Council did not lease the Old Railway Station to CHRL in 2009. It was leased to the Oswestry Station Building Trust in 2006. 21 – the relevant land was let to CRT (Gobowen to Llynclys and CRS (Llynclys Junction to Blodwel) by Shropshire Council in 2009 to enable access and repair. 23 – CHRL secured funding of £20,000 to bring forward its TWA Order. The applications were made and approved in 2011/12 and the funding stream ended in 2015. 25 – CHRL’s Roger Date outlined the solution that was current at that time. 27 – Document 16 does not do what (redacted) asserts. See item 25 above. 28 – This is untrue. See item 37. 29 – See the Statement of Aims in support of the Transfer Order. 30 – The answer given by the Council was that a business plan was “not held”. This timeline was an attempt to place events into a coherent context so that a judgement can be made on how the whole project has been mismanaged. 15- The Cambrian Visitor Centre is only a very small part of the operating building and is closed for most of the time. The definition of “Visitor Centre” also needs some clarification. It is basically a cafe area used infrequently by the Applicant. 16 - The business plan has still not been seen. Shropshire Council does not hold one, but the Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line report of 18 May 2004 (Document 11 included in our written representation of 22February 2016) talked of seeking a robust business plan from an organisation capable of running a heritage service along the entire line. CRT was not seen as a capable organisation at the time the report was written. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. 18 - We have seen that CHRL and the Oswestry Station Building Trust share directors. We have stated in our previous representation that an approach has been made to Shropshire Council for some repair work to a leaking roof. This could have been made by the Applicant or the Building Trust, but to all intents and purposes it amounts to the same organisation. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. 23 – It seems that the Applicant did indeed secure £20,000 of match funding via Shropshire Council’s allocation of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. 25 – The Executive Board member of CHRL was obviously talking publically without being sufficiently aware of the reality of the situation. 27 – See our response at item 25. 29 – See our responses at item 37 and attached documentation. 30 - We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. We suspect that the Applicant is just playing with words at this point. The Council do not hold a business plan in respect of this project that they have committed to.
  12. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    CHRL has made no comment on how it has used low pay/no pay contractors to do work that has caused damage. See items 14 and 31 above. CHRL refutes the unsubstantiated allegation that works carried out by or on behalf of CHRL have caused damage. To clarify, have any works carried out by any contractor or sub contractor on or close to the line, whether commissioned by the Applicant or a key stakeholder closely connected to the Applicant, caused any damage? CHRL does not have the requisite consent to cross the Coney Green Level Crossing. See (redacted) Document 31 and paragraph 3.6 of CHRL’s written representations. In particular, CHRL does not accept that Document 13 indicates a lack of good faith on the part of CHRL. There was never any requirement for CHRL to refer to all the level crossings in the transfer Order. Document 31 is a printout of a private email to us from the Customer Correspondence Team of the ORR. It simply acknowledges that the department is aware that CHRL are running a passenger service over 300 metres of track in Oswestry, including over the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing. We are aware that the only official document that can account for such a service is the Oswestry Light Railway Order of 1995 which explicitly states that the line will not be used to convey passengers without the prior written consent of the Secretary of State. The Applicant has admitted they don’t have the document, the ORR have admitted that they don’t have the original consent and the Department for Transport have said they don’t have a copy of the official consent. So, to clarify, no party has been able to locate the required original official consent from the Secretary of State allowing permission for the Applicant to run a passenger service in Oswestry. Document 31 from the ORR dated 12October 2015 does state a member with delegated powers had recently visited the Applicant and was “content with the safety of the operations”, but this by no means explains away the operation of the service. We sent a Freedom of Information Request to the ORR some months ago to ask when they first became aware that a passenger service was operating in Oswestry and who (with delegated powers from the Secretary of State) allowed them the powers to operate the service? We have not received an answer. CHRL’s current service is unlikely to be covered by its insurer. CHRL does not agree. See paragraph 3.6.3 of CHRL’s written representations. CHRL’s insurers visit the railway annually and are aware of the operations at Oswestry and Llynclys. Have the Applicant’s insurers asked to see a copy of the requisite document from the Secretary of State allowing CHRL to operate a paying passenger service in Oswestry and also to allow passengers to operate their engines bearing in mind that the Applicant doesn’t hold the document as they admitted in their previous written representation? Access routes. See paragraph 3.7 of CHRL’s written representations. There is no legal or other requirement for these crossings to be mentioned in the transfer order. Considering that one of our primary concerns is safety and risk to the wider community, especially on a line that crosses three A roads, an unspecified number of Rights of Way and access routes, we think it would have been a top priority to ensure that these particular aspects were given priority. Even at the time of writing this representation a national news item has given details of a crash on the main network between a commuter service and a tractor. These incidents are becoming ever more prevalent. Construction works – the Orchard Project is nothing to do with transport and was developed before the lease was signed in 2014. See paragraph 3.8 of CHRL’s written representations. CHRL is unclear what point is being made, save that SC authorised CHRL to carry out land management activities of which the Orchard Project is one example, and demonstrates CHRL’s commitment to work for the benefit of its local community. To clarify, the land was purchased for the purposes of transport and access. There is no mention in official documents regarding the development of the land for an orchard. This is an example of the Applicant using the land prior to the signing of the lease to develop a project other than for what it was intended for and demonstrates again the cosy relationship between the authority the Applicant. Please explain how a staff and marketing charity (CHRL) associated with two heritage railway operators can be involved with the development of a new orchard and further, how such a project is benefitting the local community? The poor state of the excavator used to lay hardcore. See item 38 above. This privately owned, poorly maintained, rusting large excavator is being kept on land owned by Shropshire Council and not stored away properly. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. See our response at item 38 above. No official documentation has been submitted regarding CHRL’s compliance with Health and Safety legislation. The Application Rules do not require the submission of such documentation. See paragraph 3.8.2 of the written representations. Considering that one of our primary concerns is safety and risk to the wider community, especially on a line that crosses three A roads, an unspecified number of Rights of Way and access routes, we think it would have been a top priority to ensure that these particular aspects were given more importance. Consultation – CHRL has made no comment on the DfT’s position that all information will be considered during the application process. See paragraph 3.9 of CHRL’s written representations and items 12 and 35 above. CHRL has endeavoured to meet all the requirements of the DfT and the Application Rules in a professional manner. CHRL has attempted to respond to each and every point made by (redacted) in order to assist the Secretary of State in reaching his determination. This is especially important given that serious allegations have been made against the local authority and Office of Rail and Road (and others) to which they have no opportunity of defending themselves. The Applicant has repeatedly stated, even in the responses given here, that certain requested information is not a requirement under the DfT Application Rules for a transfer Order, but we received a correspondence from the department last year that all information is considered and we have repeatedly quoted it to the Applicant. We have informed the Applicant of this fact but they continue to ignore us. There is no denying the fact that the ORR has been unhelpful. We have requested information that they are slow at responding, evasive and inconsistent – particularly in respect of a requested review. It has been necessary to involve the Information Commissioner’s Office, Individual officers have ignored repeated requests for a review of the safety of the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing and they have refused to meet objectors regarding the level crossing in Oswestry and thereby denying them the same rights as the Applicant. The local authority has remained silent on the subject of the transfer Order itself, but there remains serious questions to be answered in respect of its political and financial commitment to a project with no current business plan at a time when it is seeking to make a further £74 million of essential service efficiencies. Yes, we do indeed question the competence of both organisations. CHRL made claims that the ORR (and Highways England) had not formally objected to the Order. This is not true. The Consultation Report stated that, as a result of consultation with the ORR, CHRL believed that the ORR had no objection to the proposed Order. The Consultation Report (dated March 2015) was submitted as part of the application for the Transfer Order and, at that time, CHRL believed that the ORR would not object. CHRL had been in regular contact with the ORR and had received no response to the draft Order sent to the ORR ahead of submission of the application. Further, as the ORR’s objection made clear, it has no in-principle objection to the transfer to CHRL. The same point applies to Highways England. The Applicant is unable to accept that the initial response from the ORR and Highways England was classified by the DfT as objections, as the annotations OBJ/4 and OBJ/5 on both documents by the department indicate. The fact is that CHRL did not wait for formal notification from the respective departments before proceeding with the application to the DfT thereby leading to an extended consultation process with the statutory objectors that wasn’t resolved until December 2015, some eight months after the original application was applied for. This is yet a further demonstration of the unprofessionalism of the Applicant in that it can have an extended consultation with both departments, not least in respect of the devising of the application to make it acceptable to all at least one year before submission, and yet they still got it wrong.
  13. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    CHRL has made no comment on why the level crossings on the A495, the access route to the Emergency Ambulance Bay/Minor Injuries Unit/Cambrian Medical Centre, the Antiques Emporium/Children’s Funhouse, and the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing were left out of the original draft Order. There is no legal requirement to include reference to any level crossings in the transfer Order. Mention was made of key level crossings to provide the certainty that the Order would provide to the basis upon which the transferred railway may be operated. CHR’s covenants under the lease are consistent with the Order as originally applied for and as currently proposed. A key requirement of any large undertaking such is this is safety. If the legal advice to the Applicant was not to mention the level crossings then the original submission from the statutory objectors would suggest otherwise. CHRL has made no comment on any other rights of way pedestrian crossings such as the one at Travis Perkins Drive. It is not clear what comment (redacted) is expecting CHRL to make. The ORR is content with CHRL’s proposed approach to the level crossings. To clarify, we have highlighted grey areas concerning who has priority at the Emergency Ambulance Bay/Minor Injuries Unit/Cambrian Medical Centre, the lack of inclusion of said access route in the original draft transfer Order, along with the access route to the Children’s Funhouse/Antiques Emporium. Mention of the level crossings at School Lane and over the A495 are made in the redrafted Order with the suggestion that these could be operated at some future point, despite the publically stated official national contrary policy of the ORR. The Coney Green pedestrian level crossing remains a mystery despite its regular use by the Applicant, not least in its conveyance of passengers. Our point is that the Travis Perkins drive is a public right of way that leads, via a kissing gate into the fields beyond. There are other similar paths that cross the line. No mention is made of any of them – anywhere. What experience has CHRL of operating vehicular level crossings? See paragraphs 3.3.1 and 3.3.5 to 3.3.7 of CHRL’s written representations. To clarify here, the Applicant has NO experience of operating vehicular level crossings. There has been no erection of permanent signs by Shropshire Council or CHRL along the route used by walkers, although attempts have been made to fence off sections from regular walking routes, these fences are of poor and ineffective quality and have been seen lying on the ground. Vandalism of signage and fencing has been a problem although, with the opening of the new “greenway” in Oswestry in 2016, a project with which CHRL has been collaborating with Shropshire Council, it is anticipated that the situation will improve significantly. The greenway makes specific provision for walkers on land within the railway corridor. The fencing used by CHRL is of a standard concrete post and wire variety, commonly used for security fencing. Both signage and fencing are re-instated as and when removed or spoiled. We ask the Applicant here has the opening of the Wilfred Owen Green opposite the Oswestry Railway Station reduced vandalism in the area? We also ask again in what way has the Applicant been “collaborating with Shropshire Council in respect of the constructing of the greenway? Please could the Applicant confirm that the greenway has been constructed alongside the line that had always been used unofficially by walkers? Our understanding is that the Shropshire Council erected fencing that separates the greenway from the railway is a simple wire fence threaded through concrete posts. Is it the Applicant’s contention that this will be enough to stop people walking along the rest of the track, when much more robust and higher fences did not? CHRL has made no comment on its ability to make 8.5 miles of land secure for the purposes of its operations, including maintenance, cleaning and repair. See item 11 above. See our response at item 11 above. CHRL has a history of poor security as evidenced by the arson attack on the shed at Old Oswestry Station. CHRL disputes that it has a history of poor security. See item 35 above. (Redacted) contends that the Applicant, whether in the form of CHRL, CRT and CRS does have a poor history of security. See our response above at item 35 row 6. CHRL has made no comment on how it intends to operate a service from Gobowen. The station car park is operating at capacity and there is little scope for alternatives. CHRL has been discussing with key stakeholders, including Shropshire Council, the introduction of a community railway over the track from Gobowen to Oswestry, serving in particular the orthopaedic hospital, with the heritage railway offering running south from Oswestry. CHRL has purchased the freehold of sufficient land at Gobowen to provide adequate parking provision. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. As the Gobowen to Oswestry section includes the construction of an underpass at the A5 in Pentre Clawdd this has substantially skewed any cost/risk/benefit analysis undertaken by the Applicant so far. Given that the only reference to a business plan submitted to the local authority was from CRT (prior to the merger in 2009), it is highly unlikely that any business model for this section of the line to be restored exists that includes reference to such a major structural undertaking. We note the Applicant references a freehold of land in Gobowen. Is this a reference to a “parcel” of land mentioned earlier in this document and relates to the Wrekin Housing development? We also note that the Applicant describes the proposed provision for parking as being “adequate” without giving any indication of how it has managed to make that assessment given the fact that the car park for the main line is already at capacity. CHRL has made no comment on the worsening state of the Coney Green level crossing for mobility scooter and buggy users. With increased rail use the quality of this much used crossing will only worsen. CHRL and the ORR are not taking their responsibilities seriously in its maintenance. As Document 31 appended to (redacted) written representations demonstrates, the ORR has visited this crossing recently and is satisfied as to its safety. The incident that appeared in the press was not reported to CHRL. Upon hearing of it, CHRL carried out a further safety inspection of the footway (Document 8) and determined that no further steps were necessary. We would highlight this as another example of the Applicant taking the very narrow view of safety in respect of the railway service rather than the wider community. It is undeniable that the state of the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing has been growing progressively worse for people with mobility challenges since the trains started running over it. This issue has been bought before the Health and Safety Executive who referred us to the ORR. Ian Prosser, John Gillespie and David Keay of the ORR were all informed in February with a reminder in March. They all failed to even acknowledge the correspondence. Only last week did we receive an acknowledgement from John Gillespie via the intervention of a third party that the issue would finally be looked into. Although we acknowledge that the Applicant has no influence over the actions (or otherwise) of the rail regulator, we do feel their lack of apparent responsibility to the wider community, particularly the less able bodied, is a disgrace. Restoration works were carried out by CHRL before lease was signed. See paragraph 3.4 of CHRL’s written representations and item 20 above. We would state again at this point that Shropshire Council (formerly Shropshire County Council along with Oswestry Borough Council) and Oswestry Town Council have committed themselves long term both politically and financially to the railway restoration project as stated in Document 11, Shropshire County Council Cambrian Railway Branch Line Oswestry 18th May 2004, included in our written representation of 22February 2016. See also our responses at item 20 above. CHRL has provided no official documentation that its staff, volunteers or contractors have received adequate training. See paragraph 3.5 of CHRL’s written representations. There is no requirement under the TWA Applications Rules for such documents to be provided to the Department for Transport or to an objector to a TWA Order. One of our primary concerns regarding the restoration project is that of safety, health and risk management, not only to railway staff but more importantly to the wider community. We are not seeing any evidence that the Applicant has an appreciation or awareness of their responsibilities. By simply falling back on what is and isn’t required in the TWA Application Rules undermines the Applicant’s contention that they are making adequate safety checks of all people involved in the project. CHRL has made no comment on its low active membership and inability to attract a voluntary workforce (relying on unemployed). See items 14 and 31 above. See our response at items 14 and 31 above.
  14. £5million Sustainable Transport Grant

    CHRL has admitted that it does not have the necessary permission to operate a passenger service over the Coney Green pedestrian crossing in Oswestry. See item 6, paragraph 3.6 of CHRL’s written representations and (Redacted’s) Document 31. In fact the Applicant did admit to not having the written permission of the Secretary of State to operate a passenger service in Oswestry in their previous written representation. See response at item 1 for our opinions of the reference here to Document 31. CHRL states that it has retained the services of Green Dragon but does not say for how long it has done so and whether it retained a firm of safety consultants before then. Green Dragon has been retained since 2014, in anticipation of an application being made for the transfer Order and CHRL assuming the responsibilities of the branch line. CHRL did not retain a firm of specialist safety consultants before this but both CRS and CRT have established approved Safety management Systems in place that are overseen by the ORR (formerly HMRI). Did the Applicant in the form of CRT seek safety management advice from its previous consultants in respect of its use of the Coney Green pedestrian level crossing considering its illegitimate use operating a passenger service at that point, or has only CHRL operated such a service at that point (considering that CHRL is a staff and marketing organisation)? What evidence is there that Shropshire Council sought permission on priorities regarding rights of way prior to the construction of the level crossing near the Medical Centre? The relevant authority at the time was Shropshire County Council and the developer was AWM, which is no longer trading. CHRL does not know what consideration was give to priorities but clearly the railway was already in situ when the road was constructed and the relevant section of the road is not a public highway. It has been noted that same argument regarding the line being in situ prior to the construction of the road/access route was used publically by Roger Date in 2013 in respect of the Pentre Clawdd level crossing over the A5 and is the most up to date display of an ongoing bullish behaviour by the Applicant. The Applicant forgets that one of the reasons for purchasing the line in the first place was to create an access route into a 5 acre site near the centre of Oswestry owned by Advantage West Midlands. Part of this site was to be developed as a Medical Centre (Document D), so Shropshire County Council must have known that emergency vehicles would be accessing the site in whatever form it was constructed. Obviously, health and safety comes first. To suggest that an ambulance would have to wait for a heritage train to pass over a level crossing at a maximum of 25 miles per hour is obscene. Does CHRL intend to renovate and operate the crossing to the Antiques Emporium/Children’s Funhouse as this access seems to have been totally overlooked by the ORR. The ORR has visited the railway at Oswestry on a number of occasions and is cognisant of all the crossings, including this one, which is not a crossing of the public highway. CHRL will continue its existing engagement with the ORR to ensure that appropriate, safe arrangements are put in place for all crossings along the route. We have noted the ORR’s long relationship with the Applicant, but still find it curious that the department didn’t feel as if it had sufficient time to make a judgement on the legality of the access route to the Emergency Ambulance Bay/Minor Injuries Unit/Cambrian Medical Centre. However, we do recognise that the access route is a relatively new build, has a traffic light controlled entrance off a major artery into town, and leads directly onto a undersubscribed parking area that regularly overflows onto the crossing itself. The access road to Children’s Funhouse/Antiques Emporium is a much less complex and older crossing that used to enter the Richard Burbridge factory site with further access to the back of Shelf Bank and onto Monkmoor. It is not clear if it is an access or a right of way. What is certain is that despite it being partly an entrance to a children’s indoor play facility, both the Applicant and the ORR have conspicuously not made any mention of it. The crossings over the A495 and School Lane were not even mentioned in the originally proposed transfer order. CHRL gives the impression that these level crossings may be used at some point which is at odds with the ORR’s stated position of no new, or re-instated level crossings There was no need for these two crossings to be referred to in the Order. They have been included to allay any concerns that they might be operated without consent first having been obtained from the ORR. The proposed form of words is appropriate for a case where a railway has not been abandoned and no fresh powers are required to authorise it. The official position of the ORR – the national rail regulator in this country - is of “no new or re-instated level crossings, unless there are exceptional circumstances – and this is not one”. All across the country Network Rail are closing level crossings or finding new methodologies to render there operation more safely. These facts are undisputable. In their original objection Highways England raised concerns about level crossings they were aware of that were not mentioned in the original draft transfer Order. The truth is the Applicant cannot get consent to operate any level crossing. Even at the A495 the crossing is located on a blind corner, the road is very heavily used, and not least by heavy freight lorries.
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