St Albans MP continues propaganda war in fight to link Colnbrook with Radlett
St Alban’s nimby MP Anne Main is continuing to fight hard to reopen the prospect of a joint Inquiry covering both the proposed Radlett and Colnbrook strategic rail freight interchanges, claiming that Network Rail have “conceded” that passenger services would be impacted.
Mrs Main contacted ministers at both the Department of Transport (DoT) and Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) over issues that have arisen “in the past few weeks” according to the Herts Advertiser, which has strongly supported the anti-SRFI lobby.
Despite Network Rail last week dismissing claims that the rail network would be unable to cope with the additional freight trains proposed, Mrs Main has written to Simon Burns, Minister of State at the Department of Transport to claim otherwise.
Main says that Network Rail had always maintained there would be no problem until a meeting with St Albans Civic Society last month when they had admitted that it could compromise both current train services and the future Thameslink programme’s increased passenger service:
“At this eleventh hour, Network Rail have conceded what we have suspected all along; that the proposed terminal appears to be detrimental to the current passenger service.”
In January the St Albans Civic Society wrote to Mrs Main, saying:
Whilst it [Network Rail] has indicated the possibility of some pathways for the proposed HelioSlough freightliners, it has been vague on details. It did not attend the Appeal Hearings despite being asked to do so, nor, it is understood, has it produced a draft timetable showing how and when ALL the services, both passenger and freight, could be incorporated efficiently and without delay into the daily working timetable for the lines. It should be compelled to do so now before any work takes place on the site.
Indeed, last year, it is believed that Network Rail finally confessed that finding sufficient pathways into and out of the depot by day would be difficult and very limited.
However, when the Civic Society actually met with Network Rail in April they were told by Spencer Gibbens, route enhancement manager for Network Rail that this would not be insurmountable.
Timing of 2 extra passenger services promised in the Thameslink enhancement programme would, however, need to be looked at with extra timetable modelling expected to be complete by September.
Mrs Main has seized on the additional modelling as evidence that the network cannot cope.
Just 12 freight trains per day will run from the Radlett SRFI when it opens, with at least half running overnight. Network Rail have said this would not significantly hinder their current maintenance practices for both track and overhead equipment.
None of Mrs Main’s statements, in public at least, have offered any thoughts on her insight into the appropriateness of such a development in Colnbrook. Nevertheless the right honourable Mrs Main has continued to do her utmost to push the SRFI out of her own constituency and over to Colnbrook, saying in March simply:
A conjoined inquiry is necessary to give my constituents the explanation they deserve for any decision.
At the end of last year she lobbied hard for the Radlett scheme to be dropped in favour of a slightly smaller site at Upper Sundon, near Luton.
Mrs Main, supported by Hertsmere MP James Clapison, has managed two debates in Parliament and remains staunchly in front of the local opposition. Unlike Colnbrook the local press are also very much behind the campaign against the proposed development on the former Radlett Aerodrome site.
Despite losing out on a post in government to a LibDem when the coalition was formed, fellow Tory MP Adam Afriye continues to remain quiet on the issue.
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