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 7th September 2013, Inverness

Meeting opened 13:12.

In attendance: John Brandon (JB), Iain MacDonald (IM), Richard Ardern (RA), Bob Barnes-Watts (BBW), Angus Stewart (AS), Sandy Colley (AC), Stewart Campbell (SC).

(1) Apologies
Gavin Sinclair (GS), David Start (DS), John Melling (JM).

(2) James Wilkin (ACoRP)
James Wilkin (ACoRP) unable to attend. Agreed that he would be invited again when he is able to tell us exactly how CRPs would work in Scotland. Currently, there are no firm proposals.

(3) Approval of Minutes
Minutes of 16th March meeting agreed.

(4) Matters Arising
JB, IM and BBW met Frank Roach at Lairg station on 10th April. FR ran through clashes between our proposals and freight trains. Remitted back to GS who has subsequently found paths for all trains except the empty tanks from Lairg that need to run in same path as up nuclear. Currently, they both run on the same day. However, we understand that BP is ambivalent over what day of the week they run so clash could be avoided. Question over Portree bus connection discussed but there is very little evidence that the connection is used more than occasionally. Nothing to report on enforcement of current alcohol laws. SC wondered whether Haymarket 158 seating, especially airline, could be brought up to same standard as Inverness units. Consensus was that it might be difficult as they do different jobs (or are supposed to if they only work their own depots' diagrams). RA pointed out that, when EGIP is finished, there should be plenty of DMUs. However, JB thought that they might be redeployed to England to replace Pacers. More people should be encouraged to attend AGM. Straw poll at AGM was a draw in respect of Mondays versus Saturdays. Some members have said they can't do one; some that they can't do the other.

(5) FoFNL Policies
Revision of FoFNL Policies. Following some discussion, it was agreed to work through the whole line from Inverness to Wick to determine what could or should be done at every location. Wish list was drawn up and will be worked on between now and next committee meeting.

(6) 2013 AGM Minutes
Some of the previously notified changes/corrections seem to have gone astray. Will be updated. Held over to next meeting.

(7) 2014 AGM and Conference
Conon Bridge Hotel booked for Saturday, 31st May from 11.00 to 16.00. JB spoke to Jerry Farquarson on 3rd September and asked him if he would be available or would he be in "purdah" owing to the re-franchising process should the committee agree to invite him. Reply was that he would like to speak if possible and would come back to us. Agreed that, with the President and Frank Roach, another speaker would not be invited owing to time pressures. John Thurso has replied to say that there may be a problem with his attendance as it's the Whitsun break. In view of what became known after 2013 AGM, requirement for members to have their current cards with them will have to be enforced in 2014.

(8) Membership Secretary's Report
Membership Secretary's Report. 170 paid-up members. 3 have not paid - Chris Heaps, Trevor Green and Graham Gerald. Membership now considered to have lapsed. 4 members are still paying old membership subscription by banker's order. They have been written to several times and another reminder will be sent with the next newsletter. As usual, January newsletter will include cards for those paying by BO and reminders for others

(9) Treasurer's Report
Treasurer's Report. DS sent in report. He has been trying to find alternative investment for the Oakley bequest which has matured. Options for better than 1.5% are very limited. Most/all financial institutions no longer operate accounts for membership organisations. Sum deposited for any half-decent rate of return needs to exceed £10k. DS feels we should not tie in to any long-term product as it would restrict our ability to use funds quickly. Nationwide, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds TSB do provide accounts that might be suitable. Co-op has community-based accounts but, with their present indebtedness, DS feels we should steer clear of it. Committee concurred. Also thought that Lloyds/TSB should be avoided as there are stories of the split leaving customers in the half of the organisation they do not want to be in and having some difficulty changing. The other Halifax bond has matured to the value of £3,773.23. DS wished committee to consider whether we deposit it in our current account or use the money in a stand-alone account as previously. Consensus was that we should leave it in the hands of the treasurer to do best possible. DS thanks AS for continuing advice on membership deposits. Recent newsletter cheques: £260.00 January; £285.00 April, including AGM Notice. £50.00 to account examiner; £165.00 for AGM at RBL, Thurso. FoFNL has been asked for around £300 donation to Transform Scotland to produce paper proposing upgrade of HML and InvAb alongside those of A9 and A96. Agreed that we would donate ½ of cost up to a maximum of £200, payable after the paper is published. RA will ascertain if this is acceptable as IM asked what would happen if it can't be done without the money up front.

(10) ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper New Franchises
Invitation to Tender for Sleepers to go out in autumn. Pre-qualifiers are Arriva, Serco and First Group. Responses due in winter. ScotRail ITT is to go out in winter. Both to start 1st April, 2015.

(11) ICEC Franchise
Nothing to report.

(12) Gordon Pettitt's Articles
Held over.

(13) Enhancements to present train service
As reported in item 4. Still no further response from Frank Roach at HITRANS.

(14) Hourly Train Service Inverness - Tain and Business Case
No change.

(15) 2013 Policy Document
Duplicate item: see item 5.

(16) Newsletter
September issue (24 pages) to go to printer Monday or Tuesday. Drafts available at the meeting; one or two suggestions made.

(17) Attendance at Other Organisations' Meetings
BBW attended regular meeting at Arisaig but nothing of note. RA attended Transform Scotland and spoke to John Finnie, MSP. There is evidence from elsewhere that, where parallel road and rail are both upgraded, if rail is ready first, new business is retained but, if road is ready first, it's difficult to transfer from road to rail.

(18) Any Other Business
Seems that Class 170 Turboboost is not going ahead. A number of faults at various stations were reported but these should be drawn to the attention of FSR at the time. BBW has noted and will pass them on. JB thanked RA and his wife for the arrangements made for the meeting and refreshments.

(19) Next Committee Meeting
Edinburgh Waverley station, Saturday, 7th December, 11.30 - 16.30.

There being no other business, meeting closed at 17:17.

Minutes agreed 7th December, 2013.