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Rother Valley Railway

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by nine elms fan, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

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    Another batch of new documents today. Of most interest is the final version of the "Statement of Common Ground between RVR and Highways England". This was completed and signed by both sides on 12 July, 2021. Notably, it says "Section 6 List of Matters not Agreed 6.1 None at present.". Sounds good!

    Also of note was "The applicant and HE have reached agreement on the form of the protective provisions for HE and other matters relevant to the implementation of the Order scheme. A formal side agreement to give effect to these arrangements has been completed." So that's done too.

    Note that a number of points still say "Assessed as part of Departure submission and under review by HE". So the "Application for Departure from Standards" has yet to be approved (although it sounds like it's headed in that direction); but it's not clear whether such review will be completed, and the Departure approved, before the end of the hearing; and whether HE can/will withdraw their objection prior to such an approval. So if the Inspector is minded to approve the LC, they may have to make such approval conditional on HE's approval of the Departure.

    Still, agreement on, and signing of, the SCG and the protective provisions formal side agreement is still a big step along the way.

    Any reports from those watching the hearing? Any idea how much longer it will run?

    Noel
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2021
  2. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    A lot more documents have been loaded onto the Inquiry Website this morning. These include document INQ/033 the 'Statement of Common Ground' with Highways England this shows a number of items still under discussion and no matters currently not agreed. I have not been able to log on to the Inquiry today due to other commitments but am planning to do so tomorrow.
     
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  3. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    HE previously said the time needed to assess the Departure Application meant they’d be unlikely to complete this, or (if the Departure is agreed) withdraw their objection during the inquiry hearings. However, the inquiry procedure allows objectors to withdraw at a later date if agreement is reached.

    The current programme shows hearings up to 6 August. It’ll then be a number of months before the inspector issues his report and recommendations.
     
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  4. 2392

    2392 Member

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    These latest reports certainly sound most promising in the extreme. Even taking into account that there's still negotiations going on,as to some o the finer points perchance?
     
  5. Biermeister

    Biermeister New Member

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    If issues with the Environment Agency, Office of Rail and Road, Highways England and others are all resolved satisfactorily, and it looks as if that might well now be the case, as in essence they are all box-ticking (OK, some are large box-ticking) exercises or engineering solutions, then am I right in thinking that what remains are the land ownership issues?
    Does anyone know if there is a public agenda produced by/for the Inspector? If so, does this mean that objectors concerns other than land ownership issues are then no longer considered? (That's certainly the way I read it.) It would certainly cut the time required to go through the objectors' concerns as much of these will no longer be of concern to the Inspector. (Certainly it states in the Inquiry guidelines that mere repetition does not add weight to an argument and that the Inspector will disregard such comments.)

    I agree with Noel that it is starting to look more likely that RVR's case is likely to succeed.
     
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  6. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    The Inquiry programme is available at Inquiry Programme - Gateley (gateleyhamer-pi.com) please note that this is updated regularly to reflect progress.
    I connected to the Inquiry this morning - there was some discussion about the presentations of support and objections from individuals - the legal representatives said they were unlikely to ask very many questions since most of the ground would have been covered by the consultants who were appearing for either the RVR or the landowners.
    There is still much ground for the inquiry to cover as can be seen from the programme. My feeling is that it is too early to predict what the Inspector's report will say.
     
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  7. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'd just like to express my thanks to those among our number who've so diligently been wading through the official progress and keeping the rest of us abreast of the inquiry ... cheers folks, your efforts are highly appreciated.
     
  8. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    I’d refer you to the Statement of Matters on the Inquiry home page. This is a list of the main issues the Secretary of State expects the Inspector to inquire into and report upon.

    So all those Matters will still be considered whether or not objections are withdrawn. However if an objection is withdrawn and agreements reached the inspector would have to take this into account; and would probably need to say a lot less about it than if the objection was still current.

    With level-crossings it’s looking more likely that HE and ORR’s concerns will be resolved and objections withdrawn before the inspector writes his final report. If so many individuals, including the landowners, have also objected to the level crossings and their objections will still be on the table. However if they, and their expert witnesses, rely on grounds of safety, delay or other technical matters then they shouldn’t carry much weight once HE and ORR are satisfied.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  9. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

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    Here, to save people searching for it.
    Right, which is why getting HE onside for the A21 LC was really a big deal (the LC's on the minor roads are less of an issue, since they carry less traffic, presumably at a slower speed). Also, if HE still had a problem, that would have been a much higher mountain to climb.

    If this supposition is correct, the compulsory acquisition should be the largest remaining issue. One can only hope that the economic benefits, and the ability to reach the castle by rail (through Robertsbridge, in some cases), thereby reducing traffic on the local road network, will be a large enough public good to tip the balance there.

    Speaking of land-owners, this objection was a bit odd. Formally, the objectors don't seem to have much of a case. The RVR might want to look again at their prior offer ("a licence was offered by RVR to the Eastwoods, but not completed"), though, for good relations with the neighbours. It shouldn't have much operational impact, as the Eastwoods already have two others ALC's in the immediate area. The big difference, of course, is that there's more of an issue with random, un-trained members of the public going across such a crossing (especially with an ungainly vehicle) than with a farmer who uses an ALC they're familiar with, on a repeated basis. Still, that can be addressed outside the TWAO process.

    But the hearing still has a long ways to run, as has been pointed out. But the RVR and their professional consultants seem to be doing a good job. Fingers crossed!

    Noel
     
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  10. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    They sold the trackbed to RVR in 1992 - so they are not a landowner affected by a CPO - as you said this issue is with an occupation crossing. Although this was in place in the past, it was not mentioned in the conveyance of the land. The issue raised in the objection seems to be that they would like to bring it back into use. The paperwork provided by RVR's legal team seems to have placed the ball firmly back in their court. However, the situation with this crossing is mentioned in one of the other objections.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
  11. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Do we know for what purpose? It strikes me there's a world of difference between permissive personal access to/from some right of way and herding large numbers of cows hither and thither, twice daily, for milking.
     
  12. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    We do - see the link in @jnc ’s post.
     
  13. City of truro fan

    City of truro fan New Member

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    If this all happens all the railways should get together to blow their whistles as this will be a big move. They should also have a gala at the station with a terrior again
     
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  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Missed that. Cheers.

    Odd .... it seems what was known at the outset became forgotten later, or am I reading that incorrectly? If there's a viable business of that nature, maybe provision of a 'halt', complete with some safe means of crossing the line (above, at or below* grade), might serve all parties well? Can't for the life of me imagine (unless their USP is 'The Whitest Air Dried Bedsheets in the Land") a steam railway next door would have other than a beneficial effect on their customer base. With the incident on one of the RH&DR's occupation crossings, not too far away, likely still fresh in mind, a succession of three such liabilities does seem sub-optimal.

    With several pedestrian access crossings to Brighton Beach, I wonder if the solution adopted years ago by Volk's Electric Railway might serve? The sort of treadle operated signalling needed does have an authentic Col,Stephens pedigree, plus having been updated (for crossing public roads) by the FfR. Where there's a will .... and all that.

    *something respecting the water table, rather than "Merstone MKII", the sometime IoW junction between the Newport-Sandown and Ventnor West lines, which was eventually abandoned as it spent as much time flooded as it did in a usable state!
     
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  15. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    The Eastwoods would appear to have been good neighbours to the railway for a long time. It would be a shame to spoil a good neighbourly, symbiotic relationship by being unduly legalistic. It is also difficult to see a great problem with a pedestrian bridge, if the Eastwoods were so committed as to pay for it. But that ain't my part of the country. Perhaps someone might explain to me the issues?
     
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  16. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    The document referred to has been recently been added. The Eastwoods are not scheduled to give evidence until 27th July so the matter must have been raised by someone else and may be referred to in another Proof of Evidence.
    I am unclear what led to the current situation. I am aware of the ALCs having seen them on a track walk organised by RVR. This was shortly after the RVR purchased the trackbed from Junction Road to Austens Bridge. At this time the Eastwoods had asked that RVR no longer used the jointly produced promotion video.
    I am not a legal expert but know that you can't cross someone's land without a legal agreement and if this agreement specifies access for agricultural purposes then you can't use it for other purposes without a modification of the agreement. So if the conveyance mentions two crossings - you will need a legal agreement for an additional one even if it existed before.
    I have looked at the aerial views on google maps and cannot see where the campsite north of the railway is. The Website for Quarry Farm offers various options for staying on site including bringing your own equipment.
    Hopefully the issues in the objection can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
     
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  17. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    RVR must have had good reasons, when they bought the land in 1992, for agreeing two crossings rather than the original three therefore I suspect those same reasons apply today. ORR would also be keen for them to minimise the number of ALCs, and for each one to have a robust technical justification, for obvious reasons. RVR're adamant the right of only two crossings was clear in the sale agreement and that permissive use of the 3rd crossing site was offered only temporarily, whilst the railway remained out of regular use.

    Since the key dates were so long ago I wonder if these things were agreed by an earlier generation, possibly of Eastwoods and RVR.

    The Eastwoods' statement says they'd be willing to have a footbridge but does not offer to pay for it. RVR say they offered to discuss the issues in 2018 when the objection was submitted, but received no response and no detailed proof or justification for the allegations in the objection.

    The inquiry programme gives the Eastwoods just 15-minutes on 27-July and is marked WREP, which I assume stands for written-representation. If their written representation was nothing more than their letter of objection (they haven't submitted any Proof of Evidence to the inquiry) then I wouldn't fancy their chances.
     
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  18. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

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    Replying to the points raised above, and in a number of other posts (by @30854, @H Cloutt):

    The thing to remember in all of this is that all the points raised by the Eastwoods relate to land that was sold to the RVR in 1992, and which already contains a reinstated rail line. So the points to be covered by the TWAO are generally unrelated to them (with the sole possible exception of whether a TWAO is needed to run trains carrying the public over the new sections of the line from Robertsbridge to Bodiam; I'm not sure about that, but it might not, since public trains have run over the previously-constructed section of the RVR from Bodiam to Junction Road). So the entirety of this objection is not relevant to the TWAO.

    Of course the RVR will likely still have to deal with the Eastwoods' issues at some point, although outside the TWAO process. The Eastwoods started a camping/'glamping' business on their farm in approximately 2011, and currently access to it is mostly via what was once (but no longer, in formal terms) a third ALC on that section of the line, use of which the RVR has allowed, as their is currently no service over that section of line. The Eastwoods wish to be allowed to continue to use it for both foot and vehicular traffic ("thus losing vehicle access"), although it's not clear if the vehicle usage would be strictly for farm use, or whether customers of the camping business would use it too. (They mention "parking on the southern side for campers who then cross the line to the campsite", implying that the campers are only crossing the line on foot.)

    Hopefully both sides (perhaps in consultation with the ORR) will be able in the future, once the TWAO is sorted, to come up with some solution that allows good access to the new business. An LC over which members of the public could drive vehicles could be problematic, though; imagine the liability issue for the RVR if a member of the public crossing the line in a vehicle (should such access be provided) were to collide with a train. But I do hope something can be worked out.

    Noel
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
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  19. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Is the Eastwood's issue not a separate problem? As the section of line is between Bodiam and Junction Rd,
    Does the enquiry include this section, already in RVR ownership, because I understood its from Junction Rd, to North bridge street that the enquiry is concerning its self about, and not any other section of railway, that ownership has passed back to the railway, unless its been decided to treat the application to include the land from Bodiam, to Robertsbridge station in its entirety .
     
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  20. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Yes, as far as I can see it is a separate problem - since the track is already in place. Although this section forms part of the TWAO as does the reinstated part from North Bridge Street to Robertsbridge in that you need the order in order to run trains. [That's my understanding - I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.] So the Inquiry can concern itself with matters in this section. A footbridge would seem to me to be the best solution. I would agree that access should be the subject of negotiation between the two parties.
     
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