Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Mistley - 800 object to timetable changes

It is reported that over 800 complaints have been raised by people in the Mistley area regarding NXEA's proposed changes to the timetable at the end of 2010.

NXEA intend to cease the direct Harwich to London trains and replace them with a shuttle service between Harwich and Manningtree. Many in the Mistley area feel that this will have detrimental effect on local businesses and that passengers may be left stranded at Manningtree station, amongst other concerns.

The MRUA continues to work with NXEA in identifying a solution to this problem that best satisfies all the relevant parties.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Current Campaigns

Thought it might be appropriate to highlight the things that the MRUA is currently working on:
  • Reducing the cost of parking at Manningtree station.
  • Representing the interests of Manningtree and Harwich branch line passengers in the current timetable consultation process being carried out by NXEA.
  • Getting a later last train from London.
If there are any issues that would like the MRUA to address then please do not hesitate to contact us on info@mrua.org

Saturday, 26 September 2009

CVC Deadline Extended To 16th Oct

Confirmation that the deadline for the CVC consortium to finalise their takeover of National Express Group has been extended to 16th October.

Friday, 25 September 2009

CVC Deadline Extended

The CVC consortium has obtained an extension to the deadline to enable them to continue due diligence on their proposed take over of National Express Group. It is understood that the assessment of the UK business which includes National Express East Anglia (NXEA) has been successfully completed but that additional time is required to review the company's US school bus division.

Should the takeover go ahead then the NXEA business will be transferred to the Stagecoach Group.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

CVC Group May Request More Time On NX Due Diligence

Media reports are suggesting that CVC Capital Partners and Spain's Cosmen family are expected to ask for more time to do due diligence before they make a formal offer for National Express Group. The current deadline is set for 16:00GMT on Friday.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Ever Considered The Actual Cost Of Commuting?

The annual season from Manningtree to London is £4,400 (£5,040 with a Travelcard). Assuming you pay 40% tax as a lot of commuters do, you need to earn £7,333 (£8,400 with Travelcard) just to buy your ticket.

An annual car park ticket at Manningtree costs £960 which would require you to earn £1,600 before tax to pay for it.

So if a couple commute to London, require a Travelcard and park at Manningtree they have to earn
£18,400 between them just to cover the cost of travelling!

The numbers for those paying 20% tax are as follows:

Season ticket - £4,400 (£5,040)
Needs to earn £5,500 (£6,300)

Car Park - £960
Needs to earn £1,200

When taking into account that people on 20% tax are earning less than £34,800 that is quite a sizeable chunk of income going on the cost of travel.

Of course, it should be mentioned that all the above assumes that individuals can fork out for an annual ticket. Monthly, weekly and daily tickets obviously cost more over a 12 month period.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Strike Refunds - Deadline 23rd September

A reminder that any claims for refunds on monthly or annual seasons following on from the recent strike action need to be with NXEA by 23rd September.

Buses Replacing Trains Between Manningtree And Harwich

Buses are currently replacing trains between Manningtree and Harwich following the discovery of a body on the line near Mistley. The discovery was made at approximately 08:30 this morning.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Severe Delays This Evening

Severe delays this evening allegedly caused by some clown cutting down a tree and letting it fall across the tracks near Chelmsford.

A137 Parking Restrictions

Lawford Parish Council will be requesting that the lay-by on the A137 used for parking by Manningtree commuters be included in the Clearway along the A137. This is to "... stop the number of cars parking there as they reverse into the road..."

Threatened Strike Called Off

The threatened strike by ASLEF train drivers due to start next Monday (21st) has been called off.

TUC Conference To Vote On Franchise Future

Delegates at the TUC's annual conference in Liverpool are to vote later today on calls to keep the East Coast mainline in public hands once it is handed back by National Express. ASLEF has tabled a motion urging ministers to abandon plans to find another buyer next year and to run it instead on a not-for-profit basis.

Of particular interest to Manningtree passengers is the call by the union to also have the East Anglian (NXEA) and C2C franchises handed back to public ownership. ASLEF are also urging the government to ban National Express from ever running a rail service again.

Hopes Rise Over Planned Rail Strike

Hopes are rising that the planned strike by train drivers at National Express East Anglia (NXEA) will be called off.

Leaders of the drivers' union Aslef are meeting to decide whether to accept a new pay and conditions deal put forward by NXEA in a bid to avert the threatened action.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Industrial Action Altered Timetables 21 - 26 September

NXEA have published an emergency timetable to cover the duration of the threatened ASLEF strike between 21st and 26th September which can be found on the NXEA website.

Shuttle Service Between Harwich and Manningtree

As part of the consultation process being carried out by NXEA regarding timetable changes at the end of 2010 it has been suggested that direct rains from Harwich to London may be replaced by a shuttle service between Harwich and Manningtree.

One of the reasons for this is that both Mistley and Wrabness stations can only accommodate 4 carriage trains and the regulations stipulate that longer trains are not allowed to stop there. This means that a valuable train path to London is taken up by a 4 carriage train which often gets overcrowded as it gets nearer to London. Whilst the running of a shuttle is very inconvenient for Harwich branch users it does mean that a greater number of passengers further down the line do not lose a service and consequently this is the thinking behind such a proposal.

Unfortunately, physical constraints such as bridges etc. prevent the platforms at Mistley and Wrabness being lengthened. The MRUA will continue to campaign for longer trains to be run on the Harwich branch where the introduction of a system whereby only the doors on, say, the front 4 carriages are allowed to open at Wrabness and Mistley could be introduced as has been done in other parts of the country.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Cosmen Family Given Two Weeks To Complete Takeover of National Express

The proposed Cosmen family / CVC takeover of National Express group (NX) has been given a two week extension to finalise the details of the deal whilst they carry out the necessary due diligence on NX's books.

As previously recorded, such a deal is likely to see control of NX bus and rail businesses, including National Express East Anglia, transfer to Stagecoach.

70% 'back rail re-nationalisation'

According to a poll of more than a 1,000 people taken for the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) most people are in favour of returning the railways to public ownership. 70% are in favour with just 23% supporting privatisation.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

ASLEF Rejects 4% Pay Deal Whilst RMT & TSSA Members Overwhelmingly Accept

More evidence emerges that ASLEF have rejected a 4% pay rise in just over 12 months. It is not clear how many NXEA drivers have rejected the deal as ASLEF are not releasing precise details but apparently 80% of RMT and TSSA members - the other two unions involved in the previous dispute - voted to accept the offer.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

National Express Set To Accept £765m Cosmen - CVC Bid

National Express is poised to accept a 500p a share offer for the Cosmen - CVC consortium having now ruled out breaking up the group by selling its UK bus and rail businesses to Stagecoach in a bid to frustrate the offer.

At a board meeting today the company voted to recommend the £765m bid although the recommendation is subject to a few final conditions it has agreed to allow the consortium to start due diligence. An announcement could be made as early as Thursday.

Previous reports suggest that the consortium will sell the NX UK bus and rail businesses, including NXEA, to Stagecoach.

ASLEF Rejects 4% Pay Deal

Media reports are saying that ASLEF have rejected a 4% pay offer, an offer accepted by both the RMT and TSSA unions. There are also issues regarding staff relations and rostering which have led to 95% of drivers voting to strike. It is not clear at this stage whether that is 95% of all drivers or 95% of those who voted.

Calling all ASLEF Members!

We should be grateful if any ASLEF members reading this would contact the MRUA on info@mrua.org and let us know what exactly the issues are that are prompting the current industrial action. Any responses will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

Thank you.

Talks To Avert Strike

National Express East Anglia is seeking urgent talks with the Aslef train drivers' union in a bid to avert a week long strike due to start on Monday 21st September.

Aslef members yesterday rejected a deal that was put to them last month as a result of the strikes held by them and members of the RMT and TSSA. The dispute is over 'pay and conditions' and it is believed that the unions were offered 3.5% over two years. However, there appears to be little information available as to what the union's issues are regarding 'conditions'.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

ASLEF Members Vote To Strike

ASLEF members have voted to reject the recent offer made by NXEA that ended the recent industrial action and will be striking for a week commencing Monday 21st September.

NX Looking At Alternatives To Cosmen / CVC Takeover

Media reports suggest that National Express (NX) is working on a last ditch plan to offer its UK bus and rail franchises, which include National Express East Anglia, directly to Stagecoach in a side deal which could save it from a takeover by the Cosmen family and CVC.

The sale of UK assets to Stagecoach would allow NX to significantly reduce the size of a deeply discounted rights issue that was initially intended to raise £350m in an attempt to reduce its significant debt problem.

As mentioned previously, Stagecoach appears to have provisional agreement from the Department for Transport to take on the NXEA and C2C franchises.

Train Ballot Due

One of the three trade unions in the dispute over pay and conditions with NXEA which led to the recent strike action will today confirm whether they've accepted a new wage offer.

ASLEF is expected to reveal the results of a ballot on its members as to whether they are happy with the latest pay deal being offered by NXEA. The other two unions involved in the strike action were the RMT and TSSA.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Stagecoach To Pay £100m In Rail Deal

Stagecoach has agreed to pay £100m as a "change of control" payment to take over National Express' rail business. The payment to the Department For Transport is in exchange for an agreement that the government will not force Stagecoach to relinquish National Express' East Anglia and C2C franchises as "cross default" punishment for its failure to honour its £1.4bn East Coast contract.

In what seems a rather bizarre arrangement this seems a clear indicator that Stagecoach are close to taking over the National Express UK rail business, including NXEA.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Winton Train

Earlier today the 'Winton Train' passed through Manningtree on its way from Harwich to Liverpool Street to commemorate the 1939 evacuation of Jewish children from Prague to London by Sir Nicholas Winton. The train today made up the last leg of the journey which started earlier in the week in Prague.

The train, hauled by the recently built A1 class locomotive 'Tornado' is pictured here at Harwich International next to a much older National Express class 360!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Franchise Extension To Be Confirmed?

As a condition of Stagecoach taking over the NXEA franchise in the event that the NX Group is taken over by the Cosmen / CVC consortium, the Department for Transport are expected to confirm in due course that the specific performance conditions that are required to be met for the franchise to be extended from 2011 to 2014 have been satisfied.

Should Stagecoach acquire the current NXEA franchise, the prospect of yet another colour scheme on our trains, currently running at four, is highly likely!

Offer For National Express Raised

Spain's Cosmen family who, with an 18.5% holding in National Express (NX), are the biggest shareholder has upped its offer for NX with what they are saying is their final bid valuing the company at £765 million. Working in conjunction with buy-out firm CVC they are looking for a board recommendation to go ahead.

Of particular interest to Manningtree rail users is the claim by NX rival Stagecoach that in the event of a takeover, the Department for Transport would not seize the East Anglia and C2C franchises as threatened following the handing back of the loss making East Coast franchise by NX. Stagecoach has agreed an outline deal with the Cosmen / CVC consortium to take on NX's UK bus and rail businesses in the event of a takeover.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Cancellations last Saturday - Clarification

Regarding the item dated Saturday 29th August alleging the 40+ cancellations were as a result of staff simply not turning up for work (see below), it is now understood that these cancellations were as a consequence of issues around staff rosters. Happy to put the record straight.

The Winton Train

To commemorate the 1939 evacuation of hundreds of Jewish children from Prague to London by Sir Nicholas Winton, the UK's newest steam locomotive 60163 Tornado will be pulling a special train from Harwich International to London Liverpool Street on Friday 4th September. The 'Winton Train' will be passing through Manningtree at 09:30 on its trip to London. Detailed timings below:

Harwich Int 09.12
Manningtree 9.30
Colchester 9.42
Witham 9.53
Chelmsford 10.01
Shenfield 10.11
Stratford 10.27
Liverpool St 10.37