scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Minutes of Committee Meeting on 8 September 2012, Edinburgh

Present: John Brandon (JB), Iain MacDonald (IM - acting Secretary), Richard Ardern (RA), Bob Barnes-Watts (BBW), Sandy Colley (SaC).

(1) Apologies
Gavin Sinclair (GS), David Start (DS), Angus Stewart (AS), Iain Shand (IS), John Melling (JM), Stewart Campbell (SC).

(2) Approval of Minutes
Minutes of meeting held on 18th February were approved with the addition of, in item 2: Minutes of meeting held on 22nd October, 2011 were approved.

(3) Matters Arising

(4) Conon Bridge
Frank Roach of HITRANS reported on 28th August that funds were in place and the station will be ready for Kessock Bridge works in February, 2013. Probably a one door only platform. Reported from another source that a four-car platform could be provided for £100,000 more. An additional class 158 for Invernet strengthening to be released by Paisley Canal electrification, completion in December, 2012. Only one more unit would enable the full hourly service to Tain. JB to check wording of newsletter item.

(5) 2012 AGM
Some amendments to minutes sent by RA to GS which have yet to be reflected. JB to send some more, including explanation of his absence as committee was concerned that members may think he "couldn't be bothered" to attend.

(6) 2013 AGM and Conference
Pentland Hotel, Thurso booked for Monday, 3rd June. Dunrobin Castle would have been preferred but trains don't fit and £22 per head was too expensive, even with contributions for lunch. Daniel Brittain-Catlin has been advised. Discussion re full lunch versus buffet: no decision.
Provisional programme:
11.30 AGM
12.15 lunch
13.30 Conference
16.00 conclude
JB has invited Bill Reeve (TS) and Tom Curry (DRS) to speak at the Conference. The former is pending but the latter has accepted. Back-up is in mind if Bill Reeve declines. BBW has spoken to Nick Gibbons of DBS. (Subsequently declined.) There are other events taking place in and around Inverness and Aviemore on the previous weekend and RA will contact organisers in respect of FoFNL's representation.

(7) Hourly Train Service Inverness - Tain and Business Case
No change. Nothing in HLOS north of Inverness. Ideas are needed on how to progress it. Even without business case, committee believes that journey times need to be reduced before a case can be made; this will enable a 2 unit service rather than 3, although peak requirement will still be 8 units in total. May have to wait for hourly Perth and half-hourly Elgin services to enable more efficient use of traincrews. JB to contact David Simpson with a view to meeting engineer(s) to determine what exactly the needs would be to reduce journey times. Also, position with level crossings is pertinent; unknown as yet but should increase speeds. Once engineering information to hand, then we could approach politicians with some sort of costs. IM reminded committee that RETB was originally designed to operate without electrical supply, with manual indicators for points set correctly. This is the reason for very low speeds though pointwork which was originally designed for line speed on straight routes and 30 mph turning in/out. We might press for clamplocks to be fitted. How much of the track would be suitable for higher speeds following relaying or even without?

(8) Newsletter Update
IS absent owing to indisposition. RA has been in contact with him and he is progressing September newsletter. JB will send Headcode tomorrow and will concentrate on anti-rail policy of present government and near-abandonment of EGIP. Will mention Alex Salmond's broken promises (again) and remind members that the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is Cabinet Member for cities as well as infrastructure and capital investment.

(9) Membership Secretary Update
AS sent report in his absence. Total membership 158; not paid 18. Much confusion over new membership fees not having been paid correctly. JB has compiled short item for newsletter asking those members involved to attend to this.

(10) Treasurer's Report
Sent from DS in his absence. £82.33 sent to Shelter in memory of Keith Tyler as agreed at last meeting. £150 received from Network Rail re 2012 AGM lunch. £272.50 newsletter costs paid. Cash reserves 867.22, plus bonds and pending legacy from Keith Tyler. BoS has advised DS verbally that our bonds are to be discontinued. Decision will have to be made about what we do with the two we have.

(11) Attendance at Other Organisations' Meetings
RA attended ICEC franchise meeting in Edinburgh and was unimpressed. BBW attended HITRANS Rail User Group Meeting in Aviemore, 28th August.

(12) ScotRail and Caledonian Sleepers New Franchise
RA has written to John Finnie MSP re status of Inverness Depot at split. Reply awaited.

(13) ICEC Franchise
JB to reply to DfT in prose form rather than answering questions, most of which are irrelevant to FoFNL. Highland Chieftain continuance and quality of catering to be mentioned particularly but also preferred timings: 09.00 from Inverness and arrival around 19.00. Luggage space not to be compromised and seating not to become cramped and uncomfortable.

(14) Life Membership
Deferred in view of absence of DS and AS.

(15) Constitutional Changes
Proposals circulated by JB but deferred to December.

(16) FNL Heritage Study and Leaflet
SC dealing with. No report.

(17) Any Other Business
JB to contact Ian Budd and GS in respect of no committee minutes on website after 30th October, 2010. QUEST questionnaire received; no action. BBW to progress catering on 06.20 Wick - Inverness and extra stops in 08.12.

(18) Next Committee Meeting
Saturday, 8th December, Crown Church, Inverness, commencing 12.30 with lunch; room booked from 12.00.

Meeting concluded 15.08.

Agreed 08/12/12.