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Summary of the Committee Meetings held on 23rd October 2009 and 20th November 2009

Internal Communication - not for publication

I am sorry for the long delay in circulating the summary of the final 2009 meetings. The document was started on 22nd November but inevitably, other things got in the way of completion and I seemed to spend a lot of time at Sheffield Park in December instead of sitting at my computer. My unexpected 12 day stay in hospital during earlier this month has not helped with the catching up process.

October 2009

A joint meeting with the company and Trust was held from 7:15pm until 10:20pm to discuss Infrastructure and Operation Undercover issues. Sam Bee (recovering from operation) and Charles Hudson (pre-arranged event clashing with changed meeting date) were absent. Also in attendance were: Graham Flight and Chris White (Bluebell Railway plc); Bill Brophy and Terry Cole (Bluebell Railway Trust); Jan Kozminski and Richard Salmon (Society Reps to the Trust); Tim Preston and Jim Hatfield (Operation Undercover).

Infrastructure Issues

East Grinstead Station/Viaduct: The platform and track were on target to be completed by April 2010 (now delayed by the snow). The platform will be minimalist with signs, lamp-posts and fencing only as we can only construct a 'stopping place' at this stage. It will be DDA compliant. The running in board had been sponsored by East Grinstead Rotary Club and the signs by the Town Council. Signalling would also be minimal with the site controlled by two ground frames until such time as control was transferred to the new box at Kingscote. A VIP Opening was planned for next April/ May but until then, the site remains a worksite. A time capsule will be buried in the platform.

Waste Removal: During the lull in the removal programme, the opportunity was being taken to review costings and methodology to see if the recession had worked to our advantage. As you will have seen from Bluebell News, removal by rail has become viable.

Kingscote: The current planning consent to use the station as a terminus runs out at the end of the year and an application has been submitted to renew it until March 2013 at the latest [Permission since granted].

Health & Safety: A reorganisation within the Office of Rail Regulation had resulted in a team of five Inspectors now dedicated to the heritage sector. We could expect more frequent visits with each one focusing on a different area. A Personal Track Safety system had been introduced which also applies to lineside photographers. A reminder was issued that only approved and certified scaffold towers should be used and that kickboards must be fitted.

Ardingly Branch: A conceptual design for a replacement bridge had been produced and would be worked up for eventual submission for planning consent.

Operation Undercover

The tender documents had initially been sent to five contractors but two of these dropped out and a sixth was invited to tender. The four bids were evaluated and assessed and tender prices adjusted accordingly. During a long discussion, it was agreed that it was essential to include the new washout pit in this work, and that consequently the proposed new ticket printing hut would have to be omitted [a cheaper and much more pragmatic solution has since been found, allowing the hut to be built]. It was agreed to invite the two short-listed bidders for an interview and secure Best and Final Offers. [Post Meeting Note: The Heritage Lottery Fund have agreed with our recommendation that the contract should be awarded to Morgan Ashurst].

Youth Protection:  There was a short presentation on the way forward but this has since been overtaken by Government back-pedalling. See the January report.

November 2009

The Committee met from 7:30pm until 9:55pm. Sam Bee, Paul Churchman and Neil Glaskin were absent. Jan Kozminski (Society Representative to the Trust) was in attendance. Treasurer, Membership, Finance, 50th Anniversary and Funding reports were taken as usual but see January 2010 reports.

4 COR coach: The agreement with the Southern Electric Group had been renewed for a further year. There was disappointment that the coach was not open very often. Concern was expressed about static rolling stock in Platform 1 which was supposed to be an operation road but it was argued that there would also be a need to have static rolling stock in a platform.

50th Anniversary documentary: The proposed documentary by Mike Debens, which the BBC had agreed to take, seemed to be straying from the agreed brief and was focusing solely on particular volunteers. Moreover, he had been seen filming in the Loco Yard without supervision and Trustees agreed that this needed to be controlled and managed if we were to get the outcome we had been promised.

Carriage Shed Extension: The soil tests for the eastward extension of the carriage shed to create more undercover storage for coaches and allow consolidation of stores had proved satisfactory. The Group now wanted permission to develop the proposal so that it was in a state that could allow it to go forward for planning permission. They were seeking match funding from the Trust for the estimated £20k costs of this work, with the balance being raised from within the C&W.  The Committee agreed with their proposal and referred it to the Board so that it could then go forward to the Trust.

Memorial Garden: Funding of around £3,500 was required to complete this project to lay block paving. The plain blocks would gradually be replaced with engraved blocks. The Committee discussed a number of options for funding this but it was agreed to seek funding from the company as this would be more financial efficient than the Society funding the costs. The railway as a whole would benefit from this through donations made for inclusion in the Memorial Garden.

Gavin Bennett
General Secretary


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