Who is a key stakeholder? Not anyone who is actually affected according to Network Rail

Residents have been pressing the railway organisations to explain why the Cambridge sidings were chosen for an trainwash in middle of a residential area that is itself in the middle of a conservation area. Today we learned that apparently only railway organisations count as key stakeholders.

Daniel Zeichner MP today passed on a letter from Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s Route Director for the Anglia Region. The full letter is below but we call your attention to the following two paragraphs:

I understand that residents would have liked this facility to be located at Cambridge North (also referred to as Chesterton Sidings). We highlighted this land for potential commercial development in early 2010, and while some of this land was used for the construction of the new station, the remainder was sold to raise funds for enhancements elsewhere on our network in early 2016.

The decision to construct a carriage wash at Cambridge depot was made after this land was sold. For land to be sold, we have to apply for and be granted land disposal consent from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). As part of this process key stakeholders including GTR, GA and the DfT were consulted and no objections were raised to this sale.

We note with extreme disappointment that Ms Burrows says that, after the land sale of Cambridge North, the decision to locate the trainwash at Cambridge involved “key stakeholders” and “no objections were raised”. Network Rail’s definition of key stakeholders here includes only railway organisations, not the community, not the city council, and not the county council. This is an appalling oversight.
“No objections were raised” because no-one who would be materially affected was asked.
It demonstrates the utter lack of interest any of these organisations have for the well-being of communities, the belief that their power is absolute, and a material intention to side-step genuine planning processes.
We further note that the decision to sell the land was made knowing that it would be appropriate for a trainwash but that the railway organsations preferred to sell the land to use the funds elsewhere rather than accommodate a trainwash that they knew they would need.
Ms. Burrows goes on to note that:
Both operators have since been clear on the need for a new carriage wash facility in the enhanced depot. Any wash must be located within an existing depot so that train movements through the facility can be accommodated within the timetable – moving trains to another part of the network simply to wash them would impact on performance and reliability.

The claim that moving trains around for cleaning would “impact performance and reliabilty” is not a sufficient excuse for building an industrial facility in a residential area that itself sits in the very centre of a conservation area. Siting a trainwash in a residential area impacts residents health, wellbeing, and quality of life by depriving them of the amenity of their community with of visual, noise, and chemical pollution.

GTR, Spencer Group, Network Rail, and the Cambridge City Council all now claim that planning approval is being sought because residents pressed the case.

Now residents are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to make it clear that a well-planned rail network needs a fully functional depot in a non-residental area.

Daniel Zeichner MP RE Cambridge Train Wash 220720