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Sunday 31 May 2009

Station Sellout – Take 8

So Network Rail (NR) had withdrawn their proposal to take Crewe station out of the town and relocate it out in open countryside. Victory could be declared, but only briefly: CREAM, and any other interested parties, knew that there was still serious business outstanding. The existing station, in the meantime, was a little older, and a little more in need of remedial action.

Also, NR had the opportunity to act on the problems with the station and its track layout that they had been so keen to stress when pushing for its relocation. But, thus far, there has been no word from them. Neither has there been any indication of whether the Crewe Gateway scheme will be revisited.

There has also been an opportunity for the specialist press to devote some serious thought towards the matter. But, again, there has been nothing. Worse, even after the proposal to move the station was shelved, Modern Railways magazine, while celebrating the completion of the “West Coast Upgrade” (which isn’t complete, hence many more months of weekend and holiday disruption), was still prepared to print this: “ ... Crewe, where a proposal has been floated for a completely new station south of the current structure. The existing buildings are difficult to maintain and there is operational merit in separating the station from the junction”.

This is not merely an opinion piece: it carries the name of the magazine’s editor, James Abbott. And it is a superb slice of tosh: there is “operational merit” in running trains without letting passengers get in the way, but it isn’t about to happen. And if we’re going to separate stations from junctions, then someone ought to tell the folks in York, Newcastle, Doncaster, Stafford, Basingstoke, Chester and many more that NR will be coming for them next.

Fortunately, some recognition of the business outstanding has come from the highest level: minister Andrew Adonis recently toured the rail network on a much needed fact finding exercise, and stopped off in Crewe. Councillor Roy Cartlidge and Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate David Williams met him and pressed the claim for action: at least Crewe is now on someone’s radar.

Where the area’s MP, Edward Timpson (the man with marginally more charisma than a Burton’s dummy) was at the time is not known. Perhaps he thinks it’s all getting “politicised” once more. But one thing is clear about Eddie: on this matter, he’s let the electorate down badly. That’s what happens when you turn a by-election into a “Yah boo Pa Broon” exercise, rather than focusing on electing someone to represent the people and the constituency.

That is one lesson to be learnt from Station Sellout. Another is that, without organising and speaking up, your voice is most likely not to be heard. And a third is that many in Crewe and Nantwich now know who their friends are.

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