Report on FoHS Meeting of 17 May 2013

Report on FoHS Meeting of 17 May 2013

Station Improvements:

The problematic rods had been removed from the storage cabinet and a padlock had now been fitted. A screw had been located in the rear topside of the cabinet. The procedure was the same – after use leave the key hanging from the screw.

It was observed that there had been no apparent progress in relation to all of the items referred to at the last meeting. The perpetual non sliding door issue still existed and the bin on the wall adjacent to the cafe had been removed and not replaced. All Items referred to previously were still outstanding.

Friends wondered if there was a reluctance to lay out any funds before 2016 but, irrespective of the future situation, Northern still had a responsibility for the franchise at the present moment which couldn’t be ignored.

The weeds on the far platform were still a problem and were beginning to flourish.

It was noted that Northern had upgraded both Billingham and Stockton stations and installed CCTV at Billingham.

There was general acceptance that probably Paul Henry had a large workload in dealing with 49 stations and the group sympathised with such a big portfolio.

A contrast was drawn between the farcical situation in which the open waiting room had a heater installed but the enclosed waiting room didn’t.

Station Cleaning and Station Rota:

Everything was functioning satisfactorily but a much sturdier shovel of industrial strength was required and hopefully funding would be provided by Peter Gowland.

Interchange Council Response:

The relevant sections of the letter to Peter Frost at the council regarding the possibility of transferring the stopping points of different buses for onward southerly and northern passengers were read out followed by the council response which suggested any change would be fine by them but that the bus companies were quite protective of their existing locations.

A reminder was given that the issue of buses was scheduled for the next meeting of the Transport Champions Group and would give us an opportunity to raise it there.

The sitting and development of the Interchange and the inherent wasted costs was questioned.

It was felt that councils evade their transport obligations where they can and that the emphasis on transport from the Unitary Authority had declined. The suggestion was made that the issue should be taken on also by Coastliners which might carry more weight and elicit a more positive response.

Website Update:

Progress had been made with our requirements with our young web designer who would shortly be finishing his college course and hopefully the website would be almost complete by that stage or shortly afterwards. It was agreed that a FOHS group photo would be appropriate for the site.

It was also indicated that it would be possible to set up a Contacts page

which would redirect messages without revealing any personal details.

Rail and station photos had been supplied by Friends which were being incorporated into the site and other sources of photos were being investigated. Links to other organisations were being inserted.

The question of costs was raised and whilst it had been envisaged these could be considerable the information from the college indicated otherwise. Peter Gowland had already given an assurance that he would cover any costs involved.

Grand Central Ambassadors:

The fact that our local M.P. Ian Wright had been interviewed on the radio and had been particularly critical of Grand Central in a variety of ways was found unwelcome and unhelpful. All Friends were astounded by these negative remarks and his lack of public support for a train company which was an immense boon to Hartlepool and which had made a tremendous contribution to improving the town’s connections with the capital.

It was noted that our new Mayor had been observed in possession of a first class pass for Grand Central.

The retiming of trains had made it difficult to get people on their way and people should always check on Sundays for engineering works.

GC still have weaknesses in their systems in that they sell tickets on cancelled trains

Transport Champions Group:

It was confirmed again that the two original groups ( TTPG and TCG ) had been abandoned to be replaced by one group known as the Transport Champions Group and that future meetings would be themed meetings with topics.

Following the instruction of the previous Friends meeting, a letter on behalf of the Friends had been composed as an appropriate response to the TCG regarding what we considered the unsuitability of the format of the proposed meetings and that the letter had been seen and approved by Peter Walker.

The meeting itself was poorly attended with only 13 present of whom 4 were council officers. It was strongly chaired by Paul Robson but was almost a monologue on the theme of health, mainly about hospitals and the transport issues relating to them.

Mike Blair had given details of the future late evening alterations to the Nos.1+7 bus services and Paul Robson had also volunteered to attend the Coastliners meeting. However there was no time for A.O.B. and an extra meeting had been scheduled in the next month to continue and complete the Health theme.


The recent meeting of Coastliners ( April 18 ) was addressed by Steve Payne from Tees Valley Unlimited and his main thrust concerned the refranchising of both Northern Rail and the TransPennine networks, both now delayed until February 2016. He also gave the following details of local news:

James Cook station was ahead of schedule and it was hoped it could open in December this year with an hourly Northern service.

The Harrington Humps installation at Seaton was a Network Rail project, completion date unknown.

Both Billingham and Stockton stations had received a facelift.

Connect Tees Valley were responsible for feeding onward rail travel information to the train operators but had no control over the resultant station posters.

The May timetable would see the Grand Central train that currently terminates at Hartlepool extended to Sunderland.

Northern has started refurbishing its fleet of Pacers leased from Angel Trains. The latter has indicated that it is not planning to make these disabilitycompliant by the 2020 deadline but expects them to be replaced by cascaded stock resulting from the electrification programme.

The next meeting of Coastliners was a Committee meeting on June 4 and that the next open meeting would host Paul Robson who had offered to speak.

Any Other Business:


Next Meeting:


The next meeting was scheduled to take place at 9-13 Scarborough Street, Hartlepool, on Friday 12 July 2013 at 10.00 a.m

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