Busy Monday …

It has been a busy Monday – including :
 
+ A meeting of the Tay Road Bridge Board.    In addition to the usual business about board administration and finances, there was an update on the proposed 50th anniversary celebrations that will take place on Sunday 21st August.   Events will take place on the bridge and in the new Slessor Gardens and there will be a photography competition, vintage buses and other vehicles taking part, a pipe band, a memorabilia roadshow and public art on display.
 
+ A meeting of the Rail Station Concourse Project Board.   It was good to hear the progress with the construction which is well on programme.
 
+ Two ward surgeries – at the Mitchell Street Centre and the West Park Centre.
 
+ A meeting of the Discovery Walk Committee.   The Discovery Walk will comprise of plaques set into the paved area of the green space at the heart of the waterfront development – to celebrate the contributions of Dundee people who have contributed to science and society in a highly visible and permanent way.    The walk will be officially opened on 6th April and tonight’s meeting discussed the details of the opening, which will be a great day for Dundee.

Photopolis : Dundee West Station

Although, to date, I have featured West End Photopolis photographs, I’ll now feature some City Centre ones.   This Alexander Wilson photograph – below – shows the Dundee West Station (the third building on that site) with its distinctive clock tower in red sandstone. The goods yard stood to the south of the main station.
 
To the right of the picture is Mathers’ Commercial Hotel, Whitehall Place, built in 1898 to plans by Robert Hunter.    Previously Mathers had had a temperance hotel in Whitehall Street, but increased trade required a bigger building.
 
The Caledonian Railway’s carting department was run by Wordie and Co., who were also agents for the Dundee and Arbroath Joint Railway at Dundee East, and the London and North Western Railway at Dundee West.

Council takes action stupid and dangerous vehicle manoeuvres at Dundee Station

At the recent West End Community Council meeting, a member advised that he had witnessed the driver of a vehicle – to avoid driving up to Greenmarket & then down past the Scottish Enterprise building to the station, where a diversion is in place during the Waterfront road works – simply drove across the pavement into the station car park area directly from South Marketgait, narrowly avoiding pedestrians.

As reported in today’s Courier, I raised the matter with the City Council’s Director of City Development calling for action to prevent such a stupid and dangerous manoeuvre from being possible.

In response, the Director of City Development at Dundee City Council has advised:

“From an inspection on site, we believe the motorist must have crossed the footpath at the pedestrian crossing, so as an interim measure we have installed a temporary barrier to prevent vehicular access. The contractor has been instructed to monitor this location and report to the police any driver attempting to access the Station Car park illegally.
Please note that this pedestrian corridor from the pedestrian crossing to the station will be re-configured this summer and the station car park will be closed as part of the Station Bridge replacement contract and this should eliminate this illegal manoeuvre.”

Speaking with constituents, it appears this dangerous manoeuvre was not an isolated incident and had happened on a number of occasions in recent days, so I am pleased that the City Council has taken swift action.   See photo of temporary barrier – above right.   I think it is important that all drivers observe the proper diverted route and don’t try to take shortcuts that are frankly dangerous to both pedestrians and indeed themselves.

The City Council’s Head of Transportation also advised me:

“I have also made Tayside Police Road Policing Unit aware of this manoeuvre, but the engineering measures should prevent any further incidents.”

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.

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.

Right turn at the railway station – an update

As I am sitting on a train at the moment, it seems sort of appropriate to update an item I highlighted back in August – the unsatisfactory traffic signalling arrangements on Riverside Drive for drivers turning right (ie from the east) towards the railway station.

A roads safety officer at the City Council has now updated me as follows :

“The filter lane signal has never worked properly and the sensors were removed. The traffic signal engineers have informed me the filter signal head could be removed.

I have just returned from a meeting regarding the phasing of roadworks for the Dundee Central Waterfront project. The road layout round the railway station will be altered in the near future and the signalised junctions will become redundant. I do not propose to undertake any alterations in this area in the meantime.”

Press update …

* This morning’s Courier and Press and Journal covered my concerns over the future of Ward 6 at Royal Victoria Hospital – see http://tinyurl.com/ward6rvh.

* This evening’s Evening Telegraph notes my welcome for nearly £60 000 of funding for a new community and arts centre at Dundee Rail Station, but I also point out the need for substantial investment to improve the station, particularly as it is adjacent to the site of the proposed V&A in Dundee.


* Tomorrow’s press will report on Dundee Councillors’ Salaries and Expenses for 2009/10. Dundee’s two Liberal Democrat councillors – Helen Dick and myself – have the lowest salary/expenses of all councillors across the city in 2009/10. Along with two of the three Conservative councillors, we did not accept the last pay increase, given the financial challenges facing the City Council. Neither Helen or I have claimed any expenses, throughout our time on Dundee City Council.

Tavish Scott in Dundee

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Tavish Scott MSP, was in Dundee today to give his support for the city’s campaign to see improvements made to Dundee Rail Station. You can hear his news interview on Wave 102 below and read the article in today’s Evening Telegraph by going to http://tinyurl.com/tavishdundee.

A former Minister of Transport for Scotland, Mr Scott believes that the city’s rail station is badly in need of modernisation – it is in poor aesthetic condition and has poor facilities. Given the key improvements to Dundee Waterfront, with funding started by the LibDem/Labour Executive prior to 2007, it is vital that the city has a rail station in the waterfront area that does not sit out like an embarrassing sore thumb next to the proposed V&A and other major improvements along the waterfront of the city.

Tavish made clear that it requires the working together of all stakeholders – primarily Scottish Government/Transport Scotland, Network Rail, First ScotRail, the local authority, the regional transport partnership TACTRAN and Scottish Enterprise if the council’s vision of an improved rail station is to become reality. The failure to give the station priority in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review in December 2008 was a missed opportunity.

Tavish was also in Dundee to support the adoption of Dr Clive Sneddon as Scottish Liberal Democrat Westminster candidate for Dundee East and also visited the University of Abertay to see the university’s expertise in computer games education.

Above : From left – Raymond Lawrie (Dundee LibDem Convener), yours truly, Clive Sneddon (LibDem candidate Dundee East), Tavish, John Barnett (LibDem candidate Dundee West)
Above : Tavish (centre) with Dundee’s Liberal Democrat Westminster Parliamentary Candidates – John Barnett (Dundee West) left and Clive Sneddon (Dundee East) right

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

Railway station – plans withheld

I am amazed at the SNP City Council administration’s unwillingness to share with the people of Dundee the detailed proposals to upgrade Dundee rail station.

“The Courier” tried to obtain the detailed plans through Freedom of Information legislation but has been refused access – the newspaper is rightly appealing against this ruling.
As I indicated to the Courier, I personally don’t see what the problem is with the Council releasing the full details – the public has the right to see what is planned for the station.
The question must be why the Council seems to be stalling in bringing reports forward to committee. There is an ongoing delay and I have written to the Council’s Legal Manager and the Director of City Development expressing my concerns.
The Courier’s report can be read by going to http://tinyurl.com/dundeestation.

Former Homebase site and the railway station

I recently wrote a response to a concern raied in the “Evening Telegraph” by a visitor to the city about eyesores on entry to the city by train – including the former Homebase site on Riverside Drive (covered in graffiti) and the railway station’s condition.

 

My response is in tonight’s edition and you can read this by going to http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/output/2009/06/05/letters.shtm.

Dundee railway station

I have today again added my voice in complaint about the state of Dundee rail station.

As the then chair of the regional transport body TACTRAN, I met with Ron McAuley, Network Rail’s Director in Scotland, just before Christmas and made clear the real need for Network Rail to buy into a partnership approach to get our railway station fully upgraded to cater for the passengers of the 21st century. The current infrastructure is, bluntly, very poor.

The Network Rail Director subsequently addressed a meeting of the full TACTRAN Board and the issue of Dundee Rail Station was again raised.

Earlier this month, 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.

Upgrading Dundee Station would cost a fraction of these many millions being spent on Edinburgh. It is only right that Dundee Station gets a share of capital expenditure to give the city a decent station with good facilities, particularly for disabled passengers.

Station Walkway – last part to finally be removed

Have received the following update from the City Council about this long-standing issue; good to see it finally resolved :
Station Overbridge

The first phase of work on the Central Waterfront re-aligned South and West Marketgait in 2005. As part of this phase the pedestrian bridge that ran from the station to the Nethergate Centre was removed on16 & 17 Aug 2005. The pedestrian crossing at road level that is now located at the south end of Union St replaced it. This works well, is more convenient and is far better for disabled people or those with pushchairs and luggage heading for the station.

Part of the overbridge was not removed at that time and remains attached to the station building, where it has become a bit of an eyesore. Additional permissions from the rail companies were needed. At last all the arrangements are in place for the dismantling of this piece to occur over the weekend of 27th and 28th Sept. A large crane will be positioned in the road way that forms the taxi rank and it will lift the bridge off in sections and place it on the ground where it will be cut into large pieces capable of being removed by lorry for complete dismantling elsewhere.

There is preparation work required prior to the crane arriving and then afterwards some re-instatement work. From Monday 23rd Sept to Friday 3rd Oct this results in minor alterations to pedestrian access to the station and to the taxi rank being temporarily positioned on the south side of the station towards Riverside Drive. Access to most of the public car park will still be possible.

Footway at Rail Station

As the City Council Planning & Transport Convener, I have today welcomed news that the final section of a footbridge that used to link the rail station with the city centre should be removed in the near future. A report is going next Monday to the Planning & Transport Committee in that regard.
You can read the City Council news release by clicking on the headline above.