17th March 2016
It has now been revealed that in an E.Mail from Mark Hopwood(GWR Managing Director) that Ivybridge will retain it's direct link to Paddington, however one eastbound service has been withdrawn, we believe it is the afternoon service. Ivybridge will also have 6 extra DMU services from 2018.
1st December 2016
A meeting was held with the attendance of the Deputy Station manager and GWR Ambassadors. The minutes of this meeting are appended below:-
Tony Barber, Kate Brampton, Barry Clark, Janet Hooper, Anne Laity, John Pope, Ed Rook (Treasurer), Malcolm Thomson (Chair), Graham Wilson. Also for Great Western Railway [GWR]: Graham Rice(Assistant Station Manager, Plymouth), Plymouth Station Ambassadors:- Tomasz Majewski and Jacqui Whiteway.
Phillip Dredge, Nick McMahon,John Montgomery, Martin Sibley, Alan Tappin
We welcomed a new member, John Pope, and three GWR guests, Graham
Rice, Tomasz Majewski and Jacqui Whiteway; also Ann Laity for
Ivybridge Town Council, standing in for Phillip Dredge.
2. Chair's Report:-
At the timetable meeting in October Malcolm spoke to several delegates beforehand, including the Plymouth city council and Torbay representatives, both of whom showed much concern about the services at Ivybridge. This was reflected in some of the points raised at the meeting, especially when the Torbay representative asked for a direct service to Plymouth, which would of course, benefit Ivybridge.
Malcolm asked at the meeting about the survey that was done in response to his request to have the 17.35 from Plymouth re-timed to its original time of 17.45. There appears to be very little information on how this survey was conducted and on the original request from some people from Ivybridge who requested this change.However, after some debate this train will now be timed to leave Plymouth at 17.40.
Malcolm has not had any information regarding the cancellation of the 08.21 train to Exeter. On the 17th September there were many Argyle supporters on the platform who had to make alternative arrangements to travel to Exeter causing great inconvenience. Unfortunately despite several requests we still do not know what caused the cancellation.
Malcolm commented on the new information screen and work on the new lighting for the platforms.
3. Barry Clarke's Report:-
3.1 Travel Watch South West [TWSW] Meeting,8th October, Taunton.
3.1.1 Barry attended the meeting on behalf of IRUG with a twofold aim: to listen, and to raise Ivybridge's profile. He said that he found the TWSW Secretary very helpful and very informative.
3.1.2 Barry asked Richard Gibson, Commercial Manager at Cross-Country Trains, why their trains don't stop at Ivybridge. The answer was that there is no selective door opening. (Though Barry pointed out that only the 5-car Voyagers would require this, since the other Cross-Country trains have fewer coaches; and, indeed, Cross-Country trains do already do this at other stops in Cornwall, for example, Lostwithiel, which has a short platform in the up direction.) Asked whether a longer platform would help, the Manager replied yes. This prompted Barry to write to the Chief Engineer of the Voyagers’ manufacturer, Bombardier Limited, to find out exactly what is the situation with selective door opening. He replied by forwarding the enquiry to the Chief Engineer of Cross Country Trains, who in turn forwarded the e-mail to the very Commercial Manager who had addressed the TWSW meeting. This manager later emailed Barry saying that they could use selective door opening to stop at Ivybridge, but that they would need a technical re-evaluation and a revised agreement and contract amendments with staff, which he made to sound as a very formidable challenge. There was general agreement at the IRUG meeting that there doesn't seem to be the will to do this on the part of Cross-Country.
3.1.3 Barry also reported that in the afternoon discussion the issue was raised of encouraging people to use rural stations more, which seemed rather ironic. In his view, an adequate and usable timetable is the most important thing - and this is what is lacking at Ivybridge. Barry also pointed out that the most basic information screens as to which trains are scheduled is unreliable on the up platform and completely non-functioning on the down platform. Barry reported that, in response to this discussion, a new ininformation point was installed on the down platform within two weeks of the meeting.
3.2 Ivybridge as a potential Parkway Station and Integrated Transport Hub.
Barry had raised at the last IRUG meeting the idea of re-branding Ivybridge station as a Parkway Station and as an Integrated Transport Hub. He reported back on how he had since taken this forward on behalf of IRUG.
He had spoken to as many stakeholders as possible, including Devon County Council, Ivybridge Town Council, Ugborough Parish, Devon Chamber of Commerce, PL21 (transition town initiative in Ivybridge), the U3A, Great Western Railway, Cross-Country, Plymouth University, and Plymouth City Council.
He put forward the idea that, if the train service was more practical, it could really be worth pushing for a Parkway Station at Ivybridge, especially in view of the new town being built at Sherford, and other large developments around Ivybridge itself. Dan Okey, Regional Development Manager at GWR, gave an encouraging response, and agreed that Ivybridge station
is an undervalued asset. Barry is seeking to create a common understanding that our aims are based on common sense and better use of existing facilities. He said it was important to have Devon County Council onside as they are the land owners.
Barry had also explored the possibility of carrying out a piece of research on potential passenger numbers etc., not least because of Dan Okey’s request for forecasts and information to be used as data for the case we are building. Barry has approached the Faculty of Business at Plymouth University in this regard. Following a meeting at the University, it may be possible for a small group of five final-year undergraduates to carry this out in the first half of 2017, though it's not definite yet.
Barry suggested that we try to get bodies of opinion too from local groups (such as the Ivybridge U3a, which has 400 members) to support the proposal, perhaps to sign petitions and so forth. The 'Gateway to the Moors' concept should be promoted too. The important thing is that there must be a coherent strategy to achieve this end, including both traditional and newer (social) media.
Another idea would be to form a committee with all the stakeholders involved, to give the project more impetus.
4. Graham Rice's Update + Questions
4.1.1 There is a feasibility study currently taking place on changes to Plymouth Train Station, with a budget of £200,000. There will be a major redevelopment eventually.
4.1.2 Discussions for a bus and rail integration scheme are taking place with Devon County Council: this will involve Penzance, Truro
and St Austell initially, and will include liaison between buses and trains,
and collective ticketing. Plymouth will be looked at next. This initiative potentially ticks lots of boxes for a Parkway Station.
4.2.1 Mobile Ticketing App
Q. Given that Ivybridge doesn't have a ticket machine, if the app can’t be used, it means having to make a separate journey to, e.g., Totnes or Plymouth, to pick up tickets prior to travelling from Ivybridge. Is it possible to travel without picking up the tickets first? The regulations say that you "must collect tickets before you travel".
A. Graham said that, as well as the option of ticket collection at Plymouth or Totnes, there is the option of having a mobile phone ticket, and tickets can be sent through the post provided the date of travel allows this. He added that there are no current plans to install a TVM [ticket vending machine] in GWR's current list of new TVMs for 2017. This is directly related to a station's footfall, which would not be a viable option with respect to current passenger flows through Ivybridge Station (from the figures collected).
He also echoed Barry's experience of being able to travel without tickets if you showed your mobile app as confirmation of purchase, and said that he doesn't know of a train manager who wouldn't let you do that, it's a 'commonsense approach'.
Q. The mobile app refers to 'ticketing available on selected routes' but it is difficult to find out what these 'selected routes' are on the website.
A Graham couldn't answer this, but he'll find out. ACTION
4.2.2 Disabled Facilities
Q. What will be the facilities on both the new style local and AT300 long distance trains for disabled people? Do they have to book and, if so, what will be the arrangements? This question was asked specifically in relation to people from Dame Hannah's who would like to use the trains more.
A. Both the new fleets of 150s and 158s are designed to be completely disabled-friendly, including e.g., braille notices and lower screens; and yes, booking is needed. Because Ivybridge isn't a manned station,
there are potential difficulties in regard to safety and/or disruption, as
there aren't platform staff to assist.
Barry asked Graham whether it would be possible to arrange for one of the two entry gates to open the reverse way so that wheelchair users would only need to push a gate regardless of whether they are arriving at or leaving the station. Graham suggested that this should be possible and will look into it. ACTION
Station is already wheelchair-friendly. Are there any plans to install a wheelchair-friendly bridge or lift at Totnes?
A. As it happens, there's a budget currently available for 'Access for All' which at present sits with Network Rail; and they have highlighted
two potential stations, Torquay and Totnes, where they are carrying out a
feasibility study on providing additional disabled facilities. This will ultimately
depend on funding and costings, but they are in the discussion stages of plans to install both a footbridge and two lifts at Totnes Station.
4.2.3 Cycle Facilities:-
Q. How many bicycle spaces will there be on the new style local trains, and will cyclists need to book?
A. On the new 150s, there will be four; on the new 158s, three. They won't be able to be booked, it's first come, first served; and it will be down to the train guard's discretion regarding safety.
Q. The mandatory booking system introduced earlier this year for cyclists on the HST trains is unsatisfactory - can it be changed? The current situation is that two hours notice is needed by GWR, which is often impossible, especially from Ivybridge. The new system for AT300 trains when introduced will be better because it will be immediate.
A. It's understood that 2-hour booking isn't great; and from 11th December live bookings will be able to be made at staffed booking offices across the network. Then sometime in 2017, live bookings will be
made through both the GWR website and through a new cycle reservation booking app.
Q. Can GWR confirm that there will be four cycle spaces on the 5-car AT300 trains and ten spaces on 9-car units? Is it possible to have more spaces?
A. Yes, these figures are right. It won't be possible to have more spaces than this. These numbers also depend on things such as group travel, where there may be more luggage on board, and customer safety, which may limit the available cycle spaces.
4.2.4: Non-collection of ticket money:-
Q. What's being done about the continuing non-collection of ticket money by some train managers on some journeys from Ivybridge, which could be as high as 15%? This leads to an apparent (but false)
decrease in footfall for our station. Some passengers also bypass the ticket barrier at Plymouth by travelling through to unmanned stations in Cornwall.
A. Graham will look into this again, but thought the loss of fares was no greater than 5%. ACTION
4.2.5 Delays with rolling stock
A. Graham said there are some delays with rolling stock, so the 2017 timetable will remain the same as at present. But there should be increased services between Penzance and Exeter stopping at Ivybridge from 2018 (at
4.2.6 Trolley buffet facilities
A. Graham said a decision on this is above his rank, and would be addressed at board level.
5. Treasurer Update:-
There is £50 left in the IRUG budget at present.
The meeting was declared closed, and participants adjourned to festive eats and drinks provided by IRUG members!
Next meeting to be arranged via email by Malcolm,
probably for March 2017.