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 December 2012, Inverness

Meeting opened 13.20.

In attendance: John Brandon (JB), Iain MacDonald (IM - acting Secretary), David Start (DS),Richard Ardern (RA), Bob Barnes-Watts (BBW), Sandy Colley (AC), Angus Stewart (AS), John Melling (JM).

(1) Apologies
Gavin Sinclair (GS), Stewart Campbell (SC).

(2) Approval of Minutes
Minutes of 8th September,2012 meeting agreed with addition of "Inverness - Tain" in reference to hourly service (item 7); add HITRANS before "Rail User Group meeting" (item 11).

(3) Matters Arising
For personal reasons JB did not contact David Simpson re journey time upgrades but hopes to talk to him at Conon Bridge opening. No response received from John Finnie MSP re future of Inverness Depot following franchise split. Still no catering on 06.20 Wick - Inverness (except Sats) or extra stops in 08.12.

(4) Conon Bridge under construction
David Simpson and Alasdair Cameron have been supplying photos of progress; posted on FoFNL website. Official opening 8th February, 2013 but no date for public opening. One door platform which committee felt inadequate. Only 7 car parking spaces but Frank Roach thinks most passengers will walk to the station. Committee decided not to comment about local residents unhappy at increased use of the footpath. Mr Tony Innes of Conon is making a model of the station as it was and is anxious for anyone with old photos or memories to get in contact.

(5) 2013 AGM
2013 AGM and Conference confirmed for Pentland Hotel, Thurso on Monday, 3rd June. Invited speakers Tom Curry (DRS) and John Maxwell (TS) as well as John Thurso and Frank Roach. Some concern over whether the hotel is on the market; JB to ask Mike Lunan. GS to seek costs for three alternatives for main course: meat pie; fish; vegetarian. If price is reasonable, dessert may be offered too. Order form to be sent out with April newsletter requiring deposit. Formal Notice will also go out then. Some committee members' names have been submitted for attendance at the civic reception in Inverness for HML 150 celebrations. No further details other than those we already know. Saturday Strathspey Railway event is likely just to be a return trip, meals extra.

(6) Hourly train service Inverness - Tain and business case
No change. However, committee felt that journey time improvements would be vital for its success. Discussion on potential for clamplocks to improve loop speeds; AOCLs being converted to AOCL+Bs may improve matters. Meanwhile, JB asked to look at filling some gaps: 12.19 INV- DIN extended to TAI; 15.40/16.00 additional INV - DIN with return working attached to existing up service?

(7) Revision of FoFNL policies
2003 document was briefly discussed; several of the items have been achieved. RA & AC will formulate an updated policy. There are three potential categories: things we can do ourselves, those we can do with others now; and those which are desirable but involve funding and goodwill. Amongst items to be considered for inclusion: stations at Evanton and Kildary; loops at Clunes and Kildonan; poor bus/rail connections (BBW input).

(8) Newsletter
JB is to edit next two. Currently, 12 pages with more promised. Some disquiet at only one passenger recorded by Gordon Pettitt on 21.09. Editor will add note that this is an anomaly. Deadline 21st December. BBW suggested photos of Invergordon and ask FSR for commuting figures; also has photos of restaurant cars. Ask Tony Innes if he has photos of Conon. Timetable changes might be found at Remain with existing printer. Distribution list to be reduced. Now 7 libraries. Copies also to Charles Kennedy, Dave Thompson, Rob Gibson, Dave Stewart. MSPs' copies to constituency offices, not parliament. Also send to Keith Brown, Ross-shire Journal, John O'Groat Journal, Press & Journal, Northern Times, Inverness Courier. 250 print run. JM asked if it could be reduced but it was the committee's understanding that printing is priced in bands. DS should be able to confirm.

(9) Membership
11 not paid, 2 resigned and 4 bankers' orders not renewed. 164 members. 156 newsletters required for members plus 52 complimentary copies. AS has arranged with IM for new membership cards or membership renewal forms as appropriate to be included with next newsletter. Agreed that, in future, membership cards would be sent out with the newsletter following receipt of payment to save on postage costs.

(10) Treasurer
£260 paid for last newsletter. BoS does not send statements unless transactions have occurred which makes tracing whether payments have been processed difficult. Balance is around £840. Bonds have matured but cannot be reinvested as they are discontinued. Only building societies offer interest and constitution requires use of bank. We must wait until AGM for change to become possible. In the meantime, we have no choice but to let around £10k rest in a non-interest bearing account. £21 paid to RailFuture and £30 to Transform Scotland Accounts examiner costs £50. Keith Tyler's legacy is unknown but, for the time being, does not feature in our financial planning.

(11) Life membership
Discussed but discounted chiefly because our accounting procedures are not sufficiently sophisticated to be able to inflation-proof it.

(12) Attendance at other organisations' meetings
RA/BBW attended HITRANS Rail User Group meeting. Two DMUs released from Paisley Canal electrification. EGIP may require more HML trains to run via Cumbernauld. Politicians are suggesting Community Rail Partnerships in Scotland (as in England and Wales) but not favoured by Scottish Friends' groups. FNL freight potential for timber at Borrobol and Kinbrace.

(13) ScotRail and Caledonian sleepers new franchises
SR held back to 2015 pending DfT reports on WCML debacle. Sleepers will be tendered earlier but, if no takers, will be recombined with main franchise. JM questioned crew changes Warrington/Preston.

(14) ICEC franchise also delayed
Frank Roach has suggested that southbound HC should depart earlier. However, FoFNL policy has always been that it should depart later: around 09.00. RA's letter to DfT via Danny Alexander MP about EC catering has not been replied to.

(15) Constitutional changes
Two changes to proposed AGM resolution. Delete specific reference to "First" ScotRail and add freight to passenger in article 3.6. Add that our bank or building society should be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

(16) Heritage study and leaflet
No progress.

(17) Any other business
IM proposed that we should oppose campaign to raise lorry speeds from 40 to 50 mph on single-carriageway roads. Proposal for postcards as on some other lines: DS asked what costs were and what image might be used. RA's proposal for a Highland Economic Conference has not progressed. JM advised that there is a possibility of an incinerator for domestic waste at Invergordon. Ian Budd has now posted agreed committee minutes. JB asked what is happening to the two 40 mph leads to be removed at Engine Shed Junction and Kemble when doubling takes place there?

(18) Next committee meeting
Edinburgh, Saturday, 23rd March, 2013, 11.30 to 16.30. Subsequently amended to Saturday, 16th March, 12.30 to 17.30. GS to arrange room at Waverley station.

Meeting concluded 17.40

Minutes agreed, 3rd March, 2013.