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Subject to amending the name Steve O’Neill to James O’Neill, the minutes of the meeting held on 13 April 2022 were approved as of correct.
TfSE Strategic Plan
To discuss the implication for the Blackwater Valley of the TfSE Strategic Plan:
The group discussed the implications the TfSE Strategic Plan had on Blackwater Valley.
There was a strategic plan meeting that had been attended at Guildford. The purpose of the meeting was to have discussed the strategic outline of what would need to occur in Outline 4.
Within the southeast region, there were sub areas which investigated what wound need to occur. It was recognised we were area 10. A map of area 10 had been discussed which discussed how the connectivity in the area could have improved not only for the present structures and infrastructure but also for the future structure and infrastructure housing to come.
There was a report created on local areas which had suggested there needed to be an interchange between the Reading to Guildford line and the Farnborough line at a joint station. However, the report showed the plan had failed. There was a suggestion the interchange could be considered again.
It was suggested the electrification of the line between Reading and Gatwick should be put forward as a matter of some urgency.
A few issues had been raised on the call for representatives of the train operators. In response to these, it was noted by Great Western:
Financial Support Package
To invite rail and bus representatives to indicate the extent to which the financial support package is helping them provide services or not.
Three potential services had been investigated further:
1) Number 7 from Aldershot to Fleet.
2) Number 41 from Farnborough to Ashford.
3) Number 9 from Bracknell to Farnborough.
Officers had been instructed to announce their views in relation to the future. It was noted, it would be beneficial to have the view from local authorities to know what they had heard.
There was a consultation underway in Hampshire which would be drawn to a close on 24 July 2022. It was noted, nothing would be decided until the results of the consultation had been considered. It was understood Hampshire would need to make £800,000 worth of savings on the passenger transfer budget which included bus and community transport.
It was noted there had been seven proposals from the consultation with 2,168 responses. It was noted from the insights team, 700 Reponses were good which was positive. Of those people, 3,000 comments had been made on how reductions of services would impact them.
It was noted it was essential to investigate who had been using the services. The poorly used services were poorly used pre-Covid, and it was noted that Covid had not made particular services perform worse or better.
It was recognised the final decision would be based on a combination of factors such as the outcome of the consultation, the public’s opinion, collaborative work with other services along with the need to have realistic options. It was noted certain services would not be cut because cutting them off would result in a cost to the County Council.
It was noted the 7, 9 and the 41 were all inside the scope of the consultation because those services were all funded by the County Council. The 7 had made savings through business as usual. The 41 was a particular problem for Hampshire because 41 was funded through developers’ contributions which had ended in 2020. Since then, the government support had been used to ensure the service was provided which meant Surrey contributed around £27-28,000 per year with the rest of the funding from the Government support which would end in November 2022
Regarding support packages available for public transport, the government had provided a LTF (Local Transport Fund) from 1 April 2022 to 31 October 2022. This had been provided and it was noted Hampshire had received a generous settlement. It was confirmed the settlement could be used throughout the whole financial year and not just for the period of the grant. It was recognised the grant would be used to support as many services as possible throughout the financial year.
ORR Annual Report
To consider any issues arising from the ORR Annual Report:
The ORR report for 2021/22 had showed what had occurred along with the points that had been made in relation to the Covid response. However, the report had not discussed sustainability to any great extent.
It was recognised there was a need for ORR to focus on working with operators regarding how sustainability of services could be improved. This was essential particularly in relationship to heatwaves as a heatwave had just passed and it suggested that there may be another in August which would be likely to cause more problems.
Any Other Business
To raise any other urgent items of business.
In relation to the heatwave, it was noted South Western Railway had performed better than expected as the majority of the services had continued to be provided. It was recognised the Windsor lines and services held up well and were running according to the timetables. It was noted there had been a points failure at Clapham Junction and between Clapham Junction and Waterloo the tracks had warped. At one-point services had been suspended but had started running again from 19:00.
It was suggested messaging from transport operators could be improved, although a very clear message stating, ‘do not travel unless it was necessary’ had been ignored by the public. It was established there were political reasons as to why ‘do not travel’ could not be stated.
It was recognised strikes would be happening in the next few days affecting the whole of the rail network. It was noted there would be a strike day by the RMT on South Western Railway on 27 July 2022. It was noted a revised timetable had been created which could be found on the website. Services would be expected to continue to as far as Windsor but there would be no services provided to Reading. It was noted services would start at 07:30 and finish 18:30. Services would not start the following day until 07:30. The reason for this was because the RMT also worked for Network Rail to guarantee safety of the track which would need to take place before public services resumed. Therefore, it would operate again at 07:30 and would provide a full weekday service as opposed to running a Saturday service.
It was noted there would be an ASLEF strike on 30 July 2022. It was recognised South Western Railway would be largely unaffected due to existing pay agreements, but it was noted the network was likely to be busier on the day of the strike especially where it could offer an alternative to GWR services.
There was a request to receive regular updates and reports from rail and bus operators to understand what had occurred in the region. It was noted it would be useful to hear the updates regularly. Action: it was requested for the agenda to be restructured to include updates and reports from train and bus operators.
Date of Next Meeting
To agree the date of the next meeting to be held in October.
The next meeting of the Committee would be held at 14:00 on Wednesday 12 October 2022.