MINUTES OF AGM (Held by Zoom On Line)
Total 17 members - recorded separately.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Malcolm Wood, Simon Jeffreys, John Brandon, Frank Faulkner, Eleanor Hodges, Nicholas Hunter, Sue Worrall, Martin Murphy, Richard Morris, Janetta Christie.
Ian Budd, Convener welcomed members to the AGM, which had been delayed due to COVID restrictions.
2 AGM Minutes
The last AGM minutes (2019 in Brora) had been distributed with the papers in 2020. No objections or amendments had been received.
Convener's, Membership Secretary's and Treasurer's reports had been circulated to members in advance of the meeting. No questions were received.
Ian Budd outlined his report [see below]
The year showed a surplus of £3139.01. The Accounts for the calendar year 2020 were approved. Mr Roland St. Clere Smithe was appointed Independent Examiner of the Accounts.
Proposer: Mike Lunan, Seconder: Iain MacDonald4 Elections
The following Officers and members of the Executive Committee were elected
Proposer: David Spaven, Seconder: David Start
Proposer: Richard Ardern, Seconder: Rhoda Grant
Proposer: Ian Budd, Seconder: Rhoda Grant
Proposer: Mike Lunan, Seconder: Richard Ardern
Proposer: Ian Budd, Seconder: Iain MacDonald
Proposer: Richard Ardern, Seconder: David Start
Proposer: David Start, Seconder: David Spaven
Proposer: Mike Lunan, Seconder: David Spaven
Proposer: Richard Ardern, Seconder: Annette Parrot
Proposer: Ian Budd, Seconder: Richard Ardern
The following Vice Presidents were confirmed:
The following topics were raised by members:
The meeting closed at 10:40.
It seems a long time since the last AGM, in Brora in 2019. Even then we were in a kind of suspended animation, waiting for the implementation of the Far North Line Review Team's recommendations, and then the pandemic arrived signalling the end of face-to-face meetings.
An unexpected benefit of this has been the large number of online webinars and conferences that have taken place, enabling us to keep up to date with the rapid progress of moves to implement the Scottish Government's rail decarbonisation strategy.
As you will have seen in the September issue of Far North Express, the trial hydrogen train, converted from a redundant Electric Multiple Unit, is expected to run some trials between Thurso and Wick (without passengers). A Class 158 conversion, using an additional middle carriage to house the hydrogen equipment and some extra passengers, is likely to follow.
2020 saw the first timber train trial, which proved to be a great success in showing what can and should be done to make proper use of the FNL's freight capability. In 2021 there was also an inter-modal demonstration at Georgemas Junction using the equipment available at the station. Freight is a difficult matter for the Far North Line but the whole subject is being looked at in many quarters as the need to get as much freight onto rail as possible is addressed. There are some interesting developments using converted multiple units which could well prove effective on our line. In the end the transporting of freight in the least wasteful and least polluting way means that long distance journeys must be done by rail with a network of battery operated delivery vehicles for road distribution over the shortest possible distances. This will mean much investment in freight transfer facilities as well as major increases in route capacity. FoFNL has been adding our voice regularly to the debate about rail provision in the Highlands but it sometimes feels like trying to turn a large ship onto a different course - the decades-old belief that ever-increasing road traffic must be provided for is difficult to overturn. We now have a situation where the Scottish Government's policy of modal shift is at odds with its current plans for dualling the A9 and A96.
Meanwhile we are still waiting for detail about future plans for rail in the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2). The Far North Line is only mentioned under the heading "Groupings Taken Forward to Appraisal" - "Grouping Name: Highland and Far North Rail Improvements; Grouping Description: Options to improve capacity, frequency and reliability of train services, such as, train lengthening and line speed improvements." More detail is expected in Phase 2 of the Review, due out later this year.
Once we see what is planned we can look for specific projects we would like to see included.
Let's hope that our much postponed 2020 Conference in Dingwall finally takes place on 17 June 2022.