Update from Network Rail

I was in touch with Network Rail today following concerns about youths getting onto the rail track yesterday near the rail bridge, just before 6pm.   This resulted in trains being halted and I asked Network Rail to thoroughly investigate any possible insecurity in the boundary fencing at the rail track in the area.
 
My office was updated late this afternoon as follows :
 
“The British Transport Police and Network Rail’s Track Services have been aware of this incident since yesterday and have been patrolling the area and searching for a hole in the fence since then.     They eventually found a hole in the fence at the Scottish Water compound and the Network Rail maintenance team were due there at 4.30pm today to repair the fence.  Network Rail advised that it was two youths that had got in.”
 
I am grateful to both Network Rail and British Transport Police for their prompt and efficient attention to this.

Network Rail donation to Dundee Museum of Transport @DMofT

This morning, I was delighted to take part in a presentation by Network Rail to Dundee Museum of Transport of a historic rail station sign that originally sat (from the 1950s) on the rail platform of Tay Bridge Station and latterly on the south wall of the station on Riverside Drive.
 
It is another great addition to the museum and many thanks go to Network Rail for donating it.
Today’s presentation
Previous site of the sign on the side of the station

Campaigning for the West End and across Dundee

Today, I had the pleasure of campaigning with North East Scotland MSP Alison McInnes across the West End, starting with a visit to Dundee rail station, at which Alison and I welcomed potential improvements that would see station refurbishment to the tune of £14 million – see right.

A report to the City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee next week identifies that £11.68m of the funding has been secured with the remaining £2.23m being sought from Network Rail.   It is vital that remaining funding is achieved and I will be seeking assurances to achieve that.

After visiting the rail station, Alison and I had an enjoyable time in the West End and she thereafter campaigned in Broughty Ferry, where my colleague Craig Duncan is running a superb local election campaign on behalf of Broughty Ferry residents.

An end in sight for lane restriction on Riverside Drive

Following concerns expressed by constituents that a coned-off lane restriction on the busy Riverside Drive at the site of the Tay Rail Bridge has been in place since late last year, I raised the matter with Dundee City Council to find out when the coned off area will be back to normal traffic.   The cones were put in place during November 2011 following a vehicle hitting the bridge.

The City Council’s Head of Transportation advised me :

“This is a deliberate section of temporary traffic management to ensure that no further vehicle strikes occur.  The City Engineer’s Structural engineers have undertaken a survey and we (City Engineer / Transportation and Planning) are considering a permanent layout that will prevent any further bridge strikes in the future.”

I have now been advised by the City Engineer :

“The works have now been designed which involves some kerb realignment in the central reserve to ensure that minimum headroom to the bridge is achieved above the carriageway.
Network Rail have just recently completed repairs to the damaged plate girder utilising the traffic management measures in place. 
The kerb realignment works have still to be fully programmed but will start sometime in April for a period of approximately 2 weeks.”

I am pleased that there is an end in sight to the coned-off traffic management at the rail bridge on Riverside Drive.   Its an extremely busy section of road with a large traffic volume so the removal of the coned area and safety works will be welcomed.

Riverside Drive Walkway – an update

Further to my article earlier this month about concerns from residents about the state of the walkway from the railway station to Tesco Riverside and the fact that it is claustrophobic given the concrete barriers that Network Rail has insisted upon being in place as the adjacent roadway runs in parallel to the rail station concourse, I have now received the following useful update from the City Council’s Director of City Development:

“We have now met with Network Rail and they have agreed that we can extend the Riverside layby to both the east and the west. Network Rail were concerned with the potential for accidental collision to their structure particularly at the new enlarged west access. We have mitigated their concerns by proposing ‘Trief’ safety kerbs at the entrance together with some protective bollards.
I have attached a copy of our plan showing our proposals. The remaining area from our proposed layby to Tesco roundabout has now had shrubs cut back providing much improved visibility and our proposals have reduced the length of high concrete containment barrier by 40% which will dramatically increase vehicular / pedestrian activity at the layby. Together these proposals should improve the security and visual perception of the area.”

I view this as positive progress towards removing the claustrophobic nature of the walkway.   The plans referred to above can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/riversidewalkway.

Walkway on Riverside Drive

I have received concerns from residents about the state of the walkway from the railway station to Tesco Riverside, much of which is claustrophobic given the concrete barriers that Network Rail insist upon being in place as the adjacent roadway runs in parallel to the rail station concourse.

In November, the Director of City Development advised me that :

“We currently have plans with Network Rail to extend the Riverside layby as part of the rail station refurbishment/upgrade.  This will require the removal of a section of the containment barrier. We have proposed the barrier be removed, or reduced to the minimum possible requirement.  If successful, we are considering if we could extend this approach as far as the Tesco roundabout (subject to available funding).
In addition, to improve our position with regards to safety, (we are) assessing the potential to reduce the speed limit from the Tesco goods entrance to Discovery Point to 30mph (currently 40mph).”

City Council officials are meeting with Network Rail on this matter and I have asked to be kept updated on developments.

Network Rail graffiti problem

There’s a lot of very prominent graffiti on the rail buildings at the north end of the Tay Rail Bridge, adjacent to Riverside Approach/Riverside Drive.

The photo (right) is of part of the south side of the buildings;  the graffiti on the north side is large, unsightly and there’s rather a lot of it.    

At my request, the City Council’s graffiti team contacted Network Rail some weeks ago asking that this mess be removed.    Network Rail logged the request but the graffiti is still there.

I have been in touch with Network Rail and am assured that their Community Relations Manager for Scotland will look into the matter.   Hopefully we will see this graffiti removed soon.

Network Rail feedback

Following my raising concerns about the state of fencing at the rail line on Riverside Drive in the area south of the Botanic Garden, and the extent of graffiti in the area, I have had the following feedback from Network Rail :

“I write with reference to your enquiry, regarding fencing situated at Riverside Drive, Dundee, and I can confirm that our Maintenance Department have carried out the necessary repairs to ensure that the fence is now safe and fit for purpose.

With regards to your request that the graffiti situated near to the location mentioned above is removed. I would advise that Graffiti is a major problem within the rail industry. Its removal is expensive and time consuming. We fully appreciate the concern and distress that the irresponsible and anti-social behaviour of graffiti artists can cause.

Given the demands on our time and resources in delivering a safe, efficient and reliable railway, Network Rail is compelled to prioritise all work it is required to carry out. With graffiti, we give priority to the removal of anything that is racist or obscene. We remove other graffiti within our ongoing maintenance and repair schedules.

We have passed details of this graffiti to the relevant manager who will take appropriate action. We can not give you a firm date when the graffiti will be removed – please bear with us.”

Friday latest …

At lunchtime today, we held the final planning meeting in advance of the Dundee West Transition Town Group launch public meeting. Our planning meeting today was very productive and we are hoping for a good turnout at the public meeting on Thursday :
Dundee West Transition Town
Public Meeting
Dundee West Church
Thursday 4th March at 7pm

More details at http://transtowndundeewest.blogspot.com.

Later today, I was pleased to be advised by the City Council that, following my raising residents’ concerns about a gap in the fencing by the railway at Magdalen Green, the Council has been advised by Network Rail that repairs have now been undertaken.

 

Dundee Railway Station Latest

As City Councillor for the area of Dundee’s railway station throughout my eight years on Dundee City Council, and as the Council’s Planning & Transport Convener and Chair of TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership – both for two years – I have long campaigned for improvements to the station. The people of Dundee rightly feel that the station requires a major modernisation.

During my period as TACTRAN Chair, I met with the Regional Director of Network Rail in Scotland and – in raising the need for Dundee station refurbishment – it struck me that intense negotiation was going to be required with Network Rail, and with other partner organisations such as First ScotRail, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Government. What is clear, however, is that Dundee has not had a fair share of rail capital funding improvements. My entry on www.dundeewestend.com back in April of this year (see http://tinyurl.com/dundeerail) pointed out :

“Network Rail announced plans for a new roof for Waverley Station in Edinburgh as part of a £130 million overhaul of the station. It comes on top of some £190 million announced last May for Edinburgh Haymarket.”

Only yesterday, the Glasgow Evening Times reported in relation to Dalmarnock Station :

“SNP vows £8m station revamp will go ahead.” (see http://tinyurl.com/glasgowrailway)
The SNP Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review failed to commit to improving Dundee Station – a very disappointing outcome. We need to see a commitment from government as well as railway industry to improving the station.

Last week, the media highlighted the City Council’s latest proposals to improve the station. Go to http://tinyurl.com/stvedundee to read a report and see the TV news item from STV – “£10 million Dundee rail station plan revealed.”

As a former member of the Dundee Waterfront Board, I was surprised to see the figure of £10 million being bandied about. I reproduce below an e-mail I have since sent to Mike Galloway, the City Council’s City Development Director. I think we need transarency and answers to the points I have made :

Subject : Rail Station Refurbishment

Mike 

I refer to media reports regarding the “Plans for £10m railway station revamp” (The Courier; 24th September – the Press and Journal and STV reported the same cost figure).

Given that your presentation to the Waterfront Board in Q4 2008 on the station study referred to 2 comparative estimated costs of :

OPTION 1 : £33m
OPTION 2 : £34.5m

I am extremely surprised at the £10m figure now being quoted. Even if the cost of commercial office and hotel building was removed from the 2008 figures, the total cost is very substantially in excess of £10 million.

Can you please give me an indication as to what revised proposals consist of, reassurance that the revised much lower intended cost will actually deliver the sort of quality improvement to the station that everyone in the city wishes to see and that the revised proposals are financially robust?

Can you also indicate to me when a report will be given to all elected members through either the City Development or Policy & Resources Committee?

Many thanks.

Best regards
Fraser
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Councillor for the West End
Liberal Democrat Group Leader – Dundee City Council

January 2009 Update to West End Community Council

I have today published my January 2009 update to West End Community Council.

Subjects covered include :

* Graffiti – Magdalen Green and surrounding area
* Speed Limit – western end of Perth Road
* Network Rail Mast
* West End Christmas Week De-Brief Meeting
* Ground at High Mill
* Paint on road and pavements in Thomson Street
* Former Homebase site
* Handrail Seafield Road
* Fencing at rail line
* Hawkhill by-pass at Hunter Street junction
* Tay Rope Works Planning Inquiry

The Community Council meeting takes place this Tuesday at 7pm at Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.

You can download a copy of my update by going to http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/82.165.40.25-4354cb46e84541.81564487/West%20End%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources%20Directory/West%20End%20Community%20Council%20Updates/West+End+Community+Council+Update+-+January+2009.pdf.

West End mast complaint

Yesterday, I wrote to Network Rail over their insensitive siting of a railway communications mast on Riverside Drive, near to the Tay Rail Bridge. See photo above.

I am disappointed that Network Rail has not taken heed of the advice of the City Council’s Director of Planning and Transportation to minimise the visual impact of the mast, which has been sited next to the Riverside Drive ambassador route, a principal entry point to the City Centre.
I have written a letter of complaint to Network Rail’s Town Planning Department and I have already received an assurance from the company’s Public Relations Manager in Scotland that my complaint is being investigated.

Back in June of last year, Network Rail’s Town Planning Department wrote to the City Council advising that the company was erecting a number of railway communications masts in the area. I have been advised that these have permitted development rights and do not require planning permission from the local planning authority, but the company must write to the local authority to see if has any views on the siting of a mast.

The Director of Planning & Transportation’s response to Network Rail had made clear that “the proposal should be sited in such a way as to minimise its visual potential impact when viewed from the road to the south which is a principal entry route to the city.”

In my letter to Network Rail I state :

“Now that the mast has been erected, I write on behalf of constituents who have complained about its visual effect, to express my concern that no heed was taken of the view expressed in the response by the Director of Planning and Transportation, as the mast has been sited in such a way as it had a significantly detrimental effect on the streetscape to the immediate north of the Riverside Drive ambassador route into the City Centre.

“Whilst I appreciate you had permitted development rights to erect this structure, I would have hoped that some cognisance of the feedback from the City Council as the local planning authority would have been taken. … I would be grateful if you could explain why such an approach was not taken.”

Given the large areas of ground owned by Network Rail to either side of the rail line running through the City, it would have been easily possible to site the mast well away from the busy ambassador route as well as away from residential areas and it is disappointing that Network Rail has not done so.

Fencing repairs to be undertaken

Following complaints by constituents about the state of some of the boundary fencing on the rail line in the West End, Network Rail has confirmed to me that it will undertake inspections and carry out necessary repairs.

I have received quite a number of complaints about state of fencing north side of rail line at Magdalen Green – between electricity sub station and allotments – but also further west along the rail line. In particular residents were concerned about dogs getting onto the rail line.

I am therefore pleased that Network Rail has responded positively to my request that the fencing by the rail line be fully inspected and necessary repairs be undertaken.

Hogweed along rail line – Magdalen Green and westwards

A number of residents, and Community Council representatives, recently expressed concern to me about hogweed growth near to the rail line, in the ground owned by Network Rail.

I brought this to Network Rail’s attention and they have now responded as follows:

“The Hogweed was planned to be part of the spraying programme and should have been done. I will pass on the information to our Off Track Department.”

Two further updates …

Firstly, the lift problem at Sinderins Court. I received this from the Director Service Delivery at Home Scotland yesterday. I am pleased to learn that a proper solution to replace the existing lift mechanism (that has broken down on numerous occasions) is now in sight :

“Just to update you, tenders have now been accepted and works commence on 21st July. The lead time for the specialist equipment is 12 weeks so the contractor has managed to accelerate this substantially. The residents’ meeting was held this morning, attended by the contractor and our lift specialist and residents are very positive about the proposed works. This will be confirmed to all residents within the next couple of days.”

Secondly, at last month’s West End Community Council meeting, concern was expressed that residents’ dogs could get on to the rail line by Magdalen Green as Network Rail’s fence didn’t have a low enough horizontal wire. I have now had this response from Network Rail :

“The local P / Way staff have carried out repairs to the fencing on the Green.”

May 2008 Update to the West End Community Council

I have today launched my May update to West End Community Council.
Issues covered include:
* Perth Road – gas main replacement works
* Youth football
* Dundee airport – helicopter noise
* Homebase site – update
* Riverside Approach – site visit with Network Rail

Click on the headline above to read the update.

The Community Council meets this Tuesday at 7pm – location : Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.

Review of the last few days

Wednesday

* Met with the new acting Managing Director of Travel Dundee, and raised the concerns of residents about the re-routing of the 9X bus service – this no longer serves the Ninewells Avenue area. She promised to review this.

* Attended the Deaf Awareness Open Day at the Central Library, organised by the Sound Sense project. It was good to see a number of organisations promoting their services to deaf people locally and the event was extremely well-attended.
* Attended the “Community Spirit” group evening meeting at Mitchell Street Centre. “Community Spirit” is the new residents’ group for the “north” of the West End Ward – including the Pentland, Cleghorn and Ancrum areas. Another good attendance and an interesting discussion on local issues.


Thursday

* A site visit with Scotland Gas Networks, Turriff (their contractors) and City Council Planning & Transportation at Perth Road to review road management issues, signage and other issues arising out of the continuing gas main replacement works on Perth Road.
* Along with my LibDem council colleague, Cllr Helen Dick, I attended the Best Bar None accreditation scheme 2008 awards launch at the City Chambers. This is an excellent scheme – recognising customer safety and good practice in Dundee’s licensed premises. Click on headline to view the full story in the “Evening Telegraph.”
* After a busy three surgeries at Mitchell Street Centre, Harris Academy and Blackness Primary School, I attended the evening board meeting of Dundee Contemporary Arts. A very positive review of the past year at DCA was presented, showing excellent visitor figures.

Friday

* A helpful site visit with Network Rail to Riverside Approach to allow me to point out graffiti and fly-tipping problems. Pleased at Network Rail’s willingness to tackle these issues, raised with me by West End residents.

* As one of the City Council representatives, I attended the opening of the Winston Churchill exhibition at the University of Dundee, making the 100th anniversary of Churchill’s election as Liberal MP for Dundee. An excellent and entertaining speech by Churchill’s daughter, Lady Mary Soames, who opened the exhibition and unveiled a plaque, commemorating Churchill’s connections to the City.

The event was extremely well-attended and it was good to see my former City Council colleague Neil Powrie (pictured at the event – right) and also my LibDem colleague Willie Wilson (Depute Provost of Perth and Kinross).
You can read the BBC news item on this at :

and the Churchill Centre web pages are very interesting :

http://www.winstonchurchill.org

And, lastly, here’s a photo from the event, during Lady Soames’ speech, showing that I have no photographic skills whatsoever.

A few updates:

A few updates:
  • A busy Friday evening trying to sort out electricity reconnection for an elderly couple in the West End (the main electricity cable outside their home had been inadvertedly cut) and I was very concerned for their situation – in the dark and cold. Thankfully, after various telephone discussions with Scottish & Southern Energy, their electricity supply was reconnected about 11pm.
  • I recently raised the damage to the “No Through Road” signs at the entrance to Bankmill Road, following residents’ concerns. I have now had the following response from the City Council:

“The ‘No Through Road’ signs at the entrance to Bankmill Road have been checked by the area inspector. An order will be raised for the straightening of these poles for completion in the new financial year.”

  • Following concerns raised by residents about a shopping trolley dumped by the railway line south of Magdalen Green, I contacted Network Rail. I have now had the following feedback:

“The shopping trolley has been removed and returned to the Tesco store. We have also cleared litter around the area and removed graffiti from the footbridge.”

Rail bridge again … err … different one!

There’s another rail bridge west of the one mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry – near to Riverside Place/River Crescent (and not for vehicles). Following complaints about the extent of graffiti there, I contacted Network Rail and here is their response :
“The graffiti concerned has now been removed. We also have cleared various railway assets between Dundee and Invergowrie that had been vandalised. The graffiti has been photographed and passed on to the British Transport Police for their records. I hope you are satisfied with the response to this incident.”

Seabraes again – but some good news on graffiti

The Evening Telegraph has featured the graffiti vandalism at Seabraes in tonight’s edition (click on headline above to view this).
Some good news, however, on the graffiti problem. Network Rail has called me to say that, following my request, they are to remove around 50 items of graffiti at the rail line in the West End (particularly near to the Riverside Drive/Riverside Avenue roundabout area); the work is being carried out tomorrow.
They have also confirmed they will be spraying the rather out of control hogweed near the rail line around 30th June.

Wednesday and Today!

The noise problem near the rail bridge raised its head again yesterday and Network Rail swiftly undertook noise surveying yesterday afternoon; hopefully matters will be satisfactorily resolved very soon. A meeting with City Council Environmental Health, Network Rail, Police & others takes place tomorrow.
I understand that the public inquiry in respect of the Tay Rope Works planning application (of which I moved refusal, with considerable backing from local residents) will take place over three days this June.
With regard to the damaged pole in Paton’s Lane I reported earlier (click on headline above to view original story) I had the following feedback from the City Council’s Planning & Transportation Department yesterday:
“The road inspector for the area confirmed that the pole was removed yesterday (06/02) and the footway repaired. The pole will not be re-erected as the “No Waiting” plate is not required to enforce the double yellow line parking restrictions.”
And … good news received by e-mail also yesterday on Commercial Street trees! :
“This is a quick e-mail to let you know that trees seem to have popped up overnight outside the Children’s Hearings Centre at the bottom of Commercial Street. Thanks again for all your campaigning and endless letter etc. to the utilities companies!”

Rail Noise update

Update from Network Rail regarding noise disturbances at the north end of the Tay Rail Bridge (note Palmers are their contractors):
“As you are probably now aware Palmers have been working hard at building additional “sound- proofing” around 2 machines in the yard.

“They are both being used to deliver/recover grit and air to/from the bridge.

“Palmers have also carried out fairly thorough sound level checks which are all very low.

“Perhaps the most important factors to be aware of however are the following :

“Palmers have commissioned a single super silenced machine to replace the “normal” machinery currently on site (this is a new venture for the equipment manufacturer in response to the perceived needs at the Tay Bridge location).

“The current arrangement of machinery is due for replacement in approx 6 weeks time.
Palmers shall continue to monitor the noise levels and ensure that the machines are turned off whenever they are not in us.
“We shall collectively re-consider “best location” for the new extraction unit.

“I hope this gives you enough re-assurance to revert to your constituents.”