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Spring 2005

What you can do to fight for our rail line

last autumn the marlow/Maidenhead Passengers Association (MMPA) was warning its members about the proposal by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to change the status of up to 56 rural lines to community railways. They would lose their share of the £300 million Government subsidy which rural lines receive at present. More importantly the funding of these community railways would fall onto a wide variety of local sources, many of which are already fully stretched in funding other community and environmental projects.

Since the line opened it has always been a busy commuter route with trains packed at peak hours with travellers going into London. Freight services brought more business to the line and the population increased. From that came the need for hospitals, schools and shopping facilities. Today hundreds of school children use the rail line, again at peak times.

Freight use ceased but the pattern of commuting had been established and industrial land sprouted homes by the hundred - again boosting the commuter use of the rail line. Even the closure of the Wycombe to Bourne End section didn't have a dramatic effect on the peak hour use of the line. And in recent years Wycombe District Council has been investigating the possibility of reopening the line or creating a tram line service to re-connect High Wycombe with Bourne End and access to Maidenhead.

Train use has reduced through the daytime as shoppers elect to use their cars for ease and convenience. Multi-storey car parks have pushed the trains out of the top league for the shopper. As part of the battle to keep our rail line that situation must change and more travellers must use the rail line off-peak. It's a simple case of "use it or lose it". At the same time the train operators must look at the efficiency of their peak hour services and ensure that they get the maximum from the huge number of travellers. They need to ensure that every traveller pays his fare, every day.

Our MPs need to know how people feel about the rail line. They need to hear from commuters, parents of school children, walkers - in fact every one who uses the rail line or is likely to use the line. Write to Theresa May, Dominic Grieve and Paul Goodman at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Send a copy of your letter to our district councillor, Brian Pollock at 83 Chalklands, Bourne End, Bucks. and to County Councillor Mike Appleyard at Wooburn Lodge, Brookbank, Wooburn Green, Bucks.

At the same time write to the Chief Executive of Wycombe District Council, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe HP11 1BB and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Town Hall, Maidenhead, Berks.

You could ask why WDC was not among the listed respondents in the consultative document produced by the SRA. Equally Little Marlow Parish Council was on the list but there was no mention of Wooburn Parish Council. Did they know that Wooburn Parish Council covers Bourne End station with its huge numbers of daily commuters?

For the SRA this consultation document was its swan song. The Authority is to be disbanded but the community rail policies are to be continued through the Office of Rail Regulation. Make sure that something as valuable as out rail line doesn't become history.

MMPA is hoping to collate rail travel experiences from passengers. If you are willing to help in this task, or just wish to join the Association and add your voice to that of its members contact MMPA, 15 Calder Close, Maidenhead SL6 7RS or you can visit its web site at

[Article reproduced with permission of Bourne End Community Association - 'Target' magazine, January 2005.]

Annual General Meeting

The Notice has not been included here as the meeting has now taken place. Please see AGM Report (now removed).

Membership Matters

The time has come around once more to renew your annual aubscriptions! Thanks to all those who have supported us during the past year and the committee hopes it can rely on your continued support for the forthcoming year. A warm welcome is extended to all those who have joined us during the past year. As stated previously, regrettably we are having to raise the subscription rates this year due to the rising costs of postage, stationery, etc. This is the first rise we believe in seven years, and we hope we will be able to hold the new rates for some time to come. Your membership this year is more important than ever. As you know, FGWL brought in a completely new timetable with effect from 12th December 2004 and this is causing many problems for travellers from the Maidenhead area and from the branch. The Community Rail Development Strategy is also rearing its head so we have plenty of matters to deal with in addition to the Railways Bill, Route Utilisation consultation and our watching briefs at High Wycombe and Twyford/Henley. Your committee will do all it can to ensure we get the best deals possible for commuters and travellers within our area, but we need your support and backing.

PLEASE renew NOW while it is fresh in your mind and help us to reduce admin costs - reminders are very costly! So grab your chequebook - it really is still good value for money and you can have your say on YOUR local transport systems! Thank you in advance for your co-operation. The membership year runs from 1st April to 31st March, so subscriptions for the year 2005/2006 fall due on 31st March 2005. These may be paid in person at the AGM on Friday 18th March, or by post to the address below. You can download the Application/renewal Form from this site (PDF).

Membershio Notes for Your Guidance and Information

  1. Data Protection Act - the committee advises you that members' names and addresses are held on a computer solely for the purpose of producing labels for the distribution of newsletters, and will not, under any circumstances, be divulged to third parties unless we are required to do so by law.
  2. Cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to either "MMPA" or "Marlow-Maidenhead Passengers' Association". Please send your remittance to:

    Membership Secretary, 15 Calder Close, MAIDENHEAD, Berkshire. SL6 7RS.
  3. If you require your membership card to be sent to you immediately, please enclose an S.A.E., otherwise your card will be forwarded with your next newsletter.

IMPORTANT Please note the new rates on the form and below. If you pay by standing order, please check with your Bank and ensure that the new rates apply. Thank you for your co-operation.

Subscription rates: Individual £4.00, Family £5.00, Concessions (OAP and under 14) £3.00.

The Cookham Society

Will our Railway survive?

Since we first raised the question of the future of our branch line, events have moved on fairly rapidly. The Strategic rail Authority's Community Railway consultation document has grown into the Community Railways Strategy and, possibly more worrying for our commuting members, the Railways Bill has started its progress through Parliament.

The Community Railway Strategy has now started to be implemented by the SRA with seven pilot schemes being set up. These branch lines have been separated from the main line franchises and have been handed to consortia of the local authority, local businesses and the previous franchising company. Funding has been provided by local businesses.

Comparisons between the pilot community railways and the Maidenhead to Marlow Branch line are being made which seem to ignore the nature of this line; it is a major commuter link for London. The line which is cited as the most comparable with this line is the Penistone line in Yorkshire linking Sheffield and Huddersfield. This line runs between two large cities and does not provide a feeder service into a main commuter line. The Borough Cabinet is opposed to the Community Railway scheme and Theresa May has spoken against the inclusion of the branch line in the SRA's Strategy.

The Railways Bill has now entered its later stages of debate in Parliament and could pose a threat to the continued existence of lines such as ours. Included in the Bill are clauses allowing the closure of stations and even branch lines subject to a consultation process WHICH DOES NOT CONSULT WITH THE USERS. This seems to be an extremely undemocratic process and should be opposed. We are enclosing a proforma letter (text) to be sent to various people and bodies whose influence on the outcome of the Railways issue might help - please consider signing it and sending it. If any Members have contacts in or information about relevant Government or transport decision-makers please write to them and let a Committee member have appropriate details as soon as possible to assist in focussing our representations to maximum effect.

List of people to whom the protest letter could be sent:
Rt. Hon. theresa May MP
Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling MP
The Editor, The Times
The Editor, The Daily Mail.

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Last updated 6th April, 2014