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Despite material successes in our long-running campaign over the last 2 years – one extra late evening train, ticket machines installed at all stations (albeit some of them subject to almost constant vandalism or breakdown), and a shuttle bus service introduced, the main impasse remains over improving the basic service frequency on the Abbey Line.

In the usual British way with infrastructure projects over the last 20 years have seen the transport authorities  spending a lot of time and money on consultants looking at ‘options’, raising our expectations about every 4-5 years, only to kick things firmly into the long grass when there’s a threat of anything actually happening.

There is no point going over previous ground in great detail – back copies of the ABFLY Newsletter will give you that, however one thing that all the studies had in common was that they never engaged with the REAL experts – us.

As such, ‘difficult questions’ were never asked.

Flawed assumptions were never challenged.

Blatant failures of logic went uncontested.

But worst of all, people with poor skills in project management, naivety in commercial negotiations, a complete lack of railway technical or operational knowledge, and no real flair for leadership or entrepreneurialism – were allowed to tell us that it was ‘all too difficult’.

Well now it’s time to do this OUR way.

We’ve decided to commission our own feasibility study, from The Railway Consultancy Ltd, a firm based in South London who specialise in studies such as this.

They are not one of the big players in railway consultancy, however they are the body which – among other things – have done the official passenger counts since 2006, so they know the Abbey Line well. Their conclusions as to the benefit of an increased service frequency will therefore hold weight and must be taken notice of in official circles.

Their brief will be simple – to examine the feasibility of running two trains of any available type – as long as it’s electric – and predicting, using widely-accepted models, the increased use that all our instincts tell us will result.

The benefits will be measured as increased revenue – including on the main line – reduction in car use, more efficient and quicker journeys, reduced overcrowding on the Thameslink route, etc. Obviously this has to be set against the capital cost of the passing-loop and the running costs of the 2nd train.

It is worth reminding ourselves that, apart from increased frequency, the 2nd train will be a back-up for the 1st: i.e. if one unit fails or there is a staff shortage, the system reverts to our current service (but more reliable) rather than complete shutdown as at present.

The Railway Consultancy’s quote for the work needed is £10,000 plus VAT.

Although modest in comparison with sums already spent by the transport authorities, it is nevertheless well beyond ABFLY’s current resources.

Hence we are asking you, our loyal supporters, to consider making a one-off donation specifically to fund this work.

Every donation will be personally acknowledged, and you will receive regular updates as to how the work is progressing.

Or perhaps you know of a local business that might be able to sponsor us a few quid?

The timescale indicated for the completion of this work is a very few months from the date of commission, so we do not expect to be kept waiting long for an answer. Because the study will be truly independent, we cannot predict the answer with certainty, but we have every expectation that their expertise and dedication – with a clear brief from us – will produce the best possible solution for the future of our line.