Simple Simon

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Simple Simon last won the day on January 8 2015

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  • Birthday 03/05/1965

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    Cycling, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Thelwell, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, Print Design, Caricature, Cartooning.

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  1. I've emptied it a bit now.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. ...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).
  8. 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.
  9. (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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. The charity remains a closed book. CHRL refutes the suggestion that it is a closed book. See item 35 above. CHRL makes a number of presentations and press releases every year and regularly publishes information on its website. It is required to submit annual reports to both Companies House and the Charities Commission. It is very far from the organisation that (redacted) seeks to portray which CHRL simply does not recognise and which undoubtedly would not garnered the level of support from its MP and key stakeholders that CHRL enjoys. 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 such it should go well beyond its current minimal obligations of transparency. Currently, the charity is well within in its rights to withhold information despite its reliance on public money and council support. The Applicant is reminded that Owen Paterson MP instigated negotiations for the purchase of the line for the benefit of CRT (and by association CHRL). The Applicant has admitted in its Report on Consultation that he has also chaired a number of CHRL meetings. The Applicant has not “garnered” support from Mr Paterson, nor indeed has it “garnered” it from local authorities. These stakeholders were instrumental in setting up the CHRL in the first place, along with the preceding company The Cross Border of Tourism Group. To be clear, beyond the individuals and institutions that helped to create the Applicant, it has demonstrated very little support in favour of its application. CHRL has made no comment on how many members of the board live in close proximity to the line. Two members of the board live in close proximity to the line. Therefore the vast majority of the executive board of CHRL do not live near the line to be restored and therefore will not be materially affected by its operation. That the restoration of the line puts lives at risk; concern regarding the safety of level crossings, and generally in relation to CHRL’s restoration and other projects. This is untrue. See paragraph 3.3 of CHRL’s written representations. The response referenced in paragraph 3.3 of the Applicant’s written representation refers to safety systems in respect of contractors, volunteers and employees of the charity itself. Our concern, as we have repeatedly stated, regard the communities and people around the line to be restored. We have seen no evidence that the Applicant is taking any responsibility for the wider community, such as residents living close to the line, drivers, not least ambulance drivers at crossing access routes and commuters trying to navigate the decaying Coney Green pedestrian level crossing, which must surely be a concern as it openly discriminates against disabled people. We see this now, with the low level of services being operated by the Applicant. We have no reason to believe that once conferred further powers the Applicant will take their responsibilities to the community any more seriously. In June 2014 Malcolm Davidson admitted there had been no training prior to that date but said it would commence in the Autumn. (Redacted) statement is misleading. Mr Davidson was explaining that hitherto there had been no joint CHRL training (as opposed to CRT and CRS members’ training, both of which had well-established and longstanding schemes in place). CHRL training procedures are now identified within the Green Dragon rail safety manual. Document 7 is a copy of the CHRL Members Introduction. Again, this throws up confusion regarding the relationship between CHRL and CRS and CRT. The latter two are railway operators with some history, but the Applicant gives us no evidence of what individual training was undertaken by these organisations. We understand that CHRL is a staff and marketing charity that does not operate trains. We ask again, exactly what is CHRL? Please can CHRL supply copies of training schedules for the period between October 2014 and December 2015? There is no reason for CHRL to provide (redacted) with such information and they are not required to be submitted as part of the application for the transfer Order. As much of our concerns regarding the project revolve around health and safety, it would be prudent for the Applicant to release this information, not least to demonstrate openness and transparency. CHRL intends to undertake a major restoration of the line thus turning it into a major responsibility which we strongly feel the charity is unable to maintain. (Redacted) presents no evidence in support of its contention that the charity is not capable of taking on the responsibility of the branch railway. This is clearly not the view of Shropshire or Oswestry Town Councils (see for example Document 3), or indeed the ORR with whom CHRL has been working since its inception and as CRS and CRT before then. With respect, it is very important that the Applicant can demonstrate it is capable of taking on the responsibility for the whole line, not only to operate a railway service, but to accommodate the wider community that live and travel around the line. CHRL makes no comment on its large damaged excavator being used to lay hardcore. The excavator is stored in a secure and fenced compound. It has some damage to the laminated window that does not affect visibility or its safe use generally. The excavator is and has for some time been stored in an area accessible by children and close to an access to a large children’s play area (Wilfred Owen Green) near the centre of Oswestry town. CHRL makes no comment on the size of its active workforce. See item 14 above. See our response at item 14 above. There has not been an environmental assessment. See item 33 above. No environmental assessment is required. We would state 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 would say that the border along the railway corridor has changed substantially since it was last used and that much of the line itself became a wildlife heaven before the Applicant was allowed to enter the site prior to the signing of the lease to do foliage removal and land clearance. (Redacted) has observed existing services that produce high emissions. Surely this will have a high impact on the environment and especially on newer build properties located close to the line. CHRL has made no comment on the fuel it will use. See paragraph 3.34 of the written representations. CHRL does not agree that its existing or prospective operations would have a high impact on the environment and it notes the lack of any evidence in support of this comment. We note that the Applicant makes no comment on the grade of fuel they have been using to operate the steam locomotive running up and down the line close to a large children’s play area (Wilfred Owen Green) and a number of residential properties in close proximity to the line. We are also aware that the Applicant has been relaying recycled wooden sleepers (rather than new concrete or reconstituted plastic/rubber composites) on sections of track. We don’t have information on from where these sleepers are sourced, but we would point out that wooden sleepers can contain a number of harmful contaminants. Has the Applicant taken measures to minimise handling risk to the unemployed workforce they currently use? Does the use of potentially contaminated material sit easily with the close proximity of the large children’s play area (Wilfred Owen Green) or the soon to be opened greenway footpath running alongside a length of track in Oswestry?
  14. CHRL has made no comment on the risk to life or damage to the environment which is not mentioned in the 2004 report. CHRL comments that the fact that the 2004 report made no mention of a risk to life or damage to the environment is unsurprising given the context of the report. CHRL has answered the safety point and dealt with environmental assessments in paragraph 3.3 of written representations. The trouble with the safety information supplied by the Applicant is that it is solely in respect of the charity with no provision made for the effects on the wider community. To clarify, the Applicant will be taking responsibility for 8.5 miles of line, (some of it passing through a town bordering a number of residential properties), including a number of level crossings. As such they have a duty of safety to the wider community, a duty that, so far they have totally failed to accommodate. CHRL has made no comment on its lack of assets and reliance on SC. See above. See our response at item 36, row 5. We understand that representations have been made to the authority regarding a leaking roof and repair work required to Middleton Road Bridge. Oswestry Station building is not leased by CHRL. The parapet of Middleton Road bridge was damaged when two cars collided and is subject to the repairing obligations of the lease. We have already demonstrated the close relationship between the Applicant and the Oswestry Railway Station Trust. Regarding the Middleton Road Bridge, it is our understanding that representations have been made by the Applicant to Shropshire Council regarding repair work to allow for safe passage of under traffic. Work that the authority is obliged to undertake even though no trains (legally) run under the Middleton Road Bridge. 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. Legitimacy of executive board of CHRL. See paragraph 3.2 of CHRL’s written representations. See paragraph immediately below. The CHRL board is improperly constituted as a result of improper conduct at the November 2013 AGM when valid nominations were excluded from the vote without explanation. The suggestion that the CHRL board is not properly constituted is unfounded. Directors are elected annually and are responsible to the membership. An annual report is presented to members at the Annual General Meeting. This is in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company (Document 5). The last such AGM and ballot took place in November 2015. There was no improper conduct at the AGM of November 2013 and no nominations were excluded from the vote. Document 6 is a copy of the minutes of that meeting. To clarify our position, we are stating that as the result of improper conduct in the election to the board of CHRL during the November AGM that Board, and therefore the decisions it made since then have all been illegitimate. The Applicant in their April 2016 further written representation, and their reference to the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company, refers to the rules regarding the election of members to the Board. It is our contention that this did not happen in 2013. We thank the Applicant for providing a copy of the minutes of the meeting (Document 6 in their further written representation of April 2016), but we are afraid (redacted) sees this as further evidence of CHRL keeping their membership in the dark and indeed, the Charity Commission. The then Chair admitted the misdemeanour but no explanation was given to members. As set out above, CHRL refutes the allegation that there was any impropriety at the Annual General Meeting of 2013 (albeit that this pre-dates the elections to constitute the board responsible for the submission of the application for the TWAO). The allegation is without foundation. Voting at the AGM was compliant with the company requirements and is recorded in the minutes (Document 6). CHRL in unaware what misdemeanour Romer Hoseason is alleged to have admitted to and notes the lack of any particulars in (redacted) representations. In any event, Romer Hoseason did not stand for re-election in 2015 and is no longer a director or officer of the company. The Board of CHRL have a duty to inform their membership, and the Charity Commission of bad practice. This was not done, so the membership and the Charity Commission remain unaware of the improperly constituted Board. We would restate that the Board of CHRL was illegitimately constituted as the result of improper conduct at the November 2013 AGM, and all decisions taken by that Board and by subsequent boards since then are illegitimate. We would point to this state of affairs as a further example of the Applicants unsuitability to benefit from the transfer Order. We ask the board of CHRL directly now, were any potential nominees to the executive committee excluded from the ballot by any means prior to the AGM of 2013. The answer to this question is no. We would recommend that the Applicant read carefully the attached documents comprised of a series of hardcopies of emails between members of the Board in respect of the said AGM and election (Document C). The highlighted areas and the annotations were done by (Redacted), a member of CHRL at the time. We invite the Applicant to revise their most recent answer and give a full, frank and truthful explanation of the events referenced.