Posts Tagged ‘ECT.’

Ealing Community Transport withdraws from rail

Monday, 21 April 2008

All Dartmoor Railway passenger operations halted

Stone train at Okehampton

The stone trains will continue while ECT waits for a buyer.

The Dartmoor Railway is part of the former Southern Railway mainline from London Waterloo to Plymouth and North Cornwall. The line beyond Meldon was closed by British Rail in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts.

A 15 1/2 mile long stretch of line, running across the northern edge of Dartmoor between Meldon Quarry in the west, and Coleford, near Crediton, was kept open for the transport of railway ballast. The quarry and its connecting railway line were subsequently purchased by Aggregate Industries. AI, Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park and RMS Locotec created the Dartmoor Railway – a community and tourist railway enabling visitors to enjoy the National Park without the use of a car. In November 2004, the Dartmoor Railway operation was acquired by ECT.

Meldon Viaduct on the section of line closed by Dr Beeching

ECT announces on is website that ECT is a Social Enterprise committed to providing better services for the community. Whatever the sector, from doorstep recycling to public transport, ECT believes in providing sustainable services that always lead the way. However, on 1 April ECT released the following statement. This was reported by the BCC on 18 April from where we picked up the story.

ECT GROUP – 1ST APRIL 2008

“In recent years, leading social enterprise ECT has created a community rail business based on our ventures; Dartmoor Railway, Weardale Railway and industrial specialists; RMS Locotec. Particularly significant in this process has been the support of communities and local councils in Devon and the North East.

Dartmoor and Weardale railways have a great future as part of the tourism and leisure industry of their areas with the potential to provide wider community rail services in the future. RMS is a small but significant part of the industrial railway sector in the UK. Furthermore we believe that the government’s community rail strategy will provide increased opportunities for small scale community focused rail operations.

However it has proved increasingly difficult for ECT to provide the necessary management focus and investment. Accordingly, following a thorough review of our rail business, ECT has decided to focus on its core activities of providing high quality, environmental and community transport services. ECT is therefore seeking new ownership and investment for its rail business. We believe that they have a great future and we already have a number of parties interested in taking on the challenge and opportunity”

Weardale Railway future uncertain again!

Weardale Railway - Mother's Day Special

Weardale Railway Mother’s Day Special, 2.3.2008

The ECT decision will also effect the Weardale Railway where it was the majority shareholder. The following announcement was posted on the Weardale Railway website on 5 March 2008.

WEARDALE RAILWAY MAIN SHAREHOLDER ECT TO REORGANISE ITS RAIL BUSINESSES

Last week ECT announced that due to the poor performance of some of its Group rail businesses it was taking action to improve the situation. ECT is the major shareholder in Weardale Railways.
Under the rescue plan launched in 2005 after Weardale Railways Limited entered administration, the Company membership was reconstituted with ECT taking the majority membership holding. ECT is a Community Interest Company with activities in both recycling and rail transport. Other members were the Weardale Railway Trust, Durham County Council and Wear Valley District Council.

The new Company was formally constituted as Weardale Railways CIC in 2007 and services recommenced in that year and have operated every week since then.
As part of its action plan ECT has appointed a new General Manager of the rail businesses. It is likely that the core rail businesses, which are in activities such as operating charter trains and contract railway engineering work on the main network, will be treated separately from the Heritage railway interests (the Dartmoor and Weardale Railways) and the outcome will be dependent on discussions with ECT and the other members, including the Trust, which will take place in the near future.

The following statement was issued by Ian Gardner, Chairman of the Trust:

“We are very disappointed at this turn of events not only for the Trust and its members, but also for our colleagues within the ECT Group with whom we have worked over these past months. It is important that we recognise that without the participation of ECT in the rescue plan then the Railway would not have been able to exit administration and with the lack of any other buyers would have gone into liquidation and its assets sold off, the purchase of the line from Network Rail cancelled and the line abandoned and probably scrapped.”

“ECT has put in considerable resources of manpower and equipment and has made a substantial financial contribution to maintain and develop the railway in the last two years. This enabled the Trust to organise and operate a sell out season of Christmas Santa trains. We plan to continue to expand and improve our services. These plans include the reintroduction of midweek services in the main holiday periods, the use of steam locos in the summer season and the opening of a station building at Wolsingham and expansion of our catering and retail facilities. We also plan to operate a full programme of special events, the next of which will be over the Easter Holiday weekend”.

“So the Weardale Railway remains open for business. It faces further challenges in the months ahead but with the continued support of our volunteers and the growth in the numbers of our passengers and visitors we believe we can survive these challenges.”

Friends of Dartmoor Railway
The Weardale Railway Project
ECT Group