Friday, November 01, 2013

Ramsgate Off The Rails?

Cripes! I see there's yet more froth in the local rags this week about a putative 'Manston Parkway' station, and the upgrade of HS1 for the whisking of Londoners thereto.

Quite why Manston needs a 'Parkway', when there's already a perfectly good station just up the road at Ramsgate, lord alone knows. But supporters like Thanet North MP Sir Roger Wind guff on about it deliriously, as if it's the perfect panacea for our lacklustre landing strip.

A bunch of developers are now trumpeting it as 'the key to cutting journey times to and from London - making it (their development) more attractive to investors'. Cogent Land, who are proposing 800 homes on a 112 acre site east of the airport that they've dubbed 'Manston Green', say locating the station within their development would provide an 'important transport link to Westwood Cross, Manston Business Park and Discovery Park'.

This all might be a bit of a surprise to Ruddy-Faced Man and his cohorts at Kent County Council, who have proselytised a Cliffsend location for the 'Parkway'. A recent FOI request brought forth this curt response from the mandarins at Maidstone:

'Kent County Council (KCC) has not had contact with Cogent Land LLP regarding Thanet Parkway Station. The current stage of the development plan for the station is that the business case is being refreshed for the site that KCC originally identified for the station to the west of Cliffs End, while a watching brief is being kept over the Manston Green proposals.

In the event that a new station demonstrates a robust business case then KCC will follow the correct planning procedures in pursuing a planning application. To date, KCC Planning Applications Group has not been involved in this matter.'

Mind you, that's from the people who built you a whole load of traffic calming measures in Cliffsend, then unbuilt them a year later. So I suppose anything is possible.

Meanwhile a reader emails to say that the high speed trains are being discounted to 'all sorts of locations, including Margate and Broadstairs, but not Ramsgate'. She continues: 'Ramsgate has beautiful sandy beaches, a gorgeous Smeaton harbour, fabulous Georgian architecture and is 1hr 15mins from London. It knocks the socks off Whitstable and Deal in terms of beauty. How could anyone screw this up? Well 'they' have. And they continue to do so. We are now 3 places ahead of Margate on the deprivation index. How long before we are top? We need to fight.'

Looks like KCC and the Moonshine Band are already preparing us for the closure of Ramsgate Station, if you ask me!

Finally, talking of letting the train take the strain, reader Mike has emailed me a photo of what must certainly be the winning answer to putting off all those pesky trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

40 comments:

Joe Turner said...

I'm not sure how reliable the local press are on this. I had a look at the plans and could find no mention of the new secondary school I saw earlier in one report.

The chance of getting a new secondary school in Ramsgate is remote, given there are already too many school places in Thanet. As to the difficulties with getting a new rail station, that must be pretty massive.

I can believe new houses will be built, but the chances of all this extra infrastructure seem to me to be unlikely.

William Epps said...

Not sure about the too many school places, Joe, for our primaries are already bursting at the seems and that must ultimately filter through to the secondary schools. In the last decade or so, we have seen the closure of Holy Cross in Broadstairs, the amalgamation of Ellington and Hereson in Ramsgate and, most recently, the merging of Chatham and Clarendon Houses. All of which must add up to a few lost places.

What must be a worry for Ramsgate folk is the seeming failure of the Ramsgate Town Council to make any noticeably impact since its formation a few years back now. Impression persists that Broadstairs does OK on its own and TDC concentrates its efforts on Margate.

Joe Turner said...

Think whatever you like William, several of the Thanet schools are undersubscribed and some never filled their whole quota of children.

Joe Turner said...

Ramsgate Town Council is not responsible for schooling or planning decisions.

In fact, other than a few allotments, I'm not sure what exactly they are responsible for.

Richard Eastcliff said...

Well, I know for a fact that KCC hate me. So if I left town, maybe Ramsgate would stand a better chance!

Anyone willing to pay for my relocation to Chelsea?

Anonymous said...

You can have my hospital bed!

William Epps said...

Joe, you are missing the point of this post to some extent for ECR was decrying Ramsgate's lowly placing in the pecking order, despite its apparent facilities. Surely the Ramsgate Town Council, albeit with its limited brief as a parish council, should be a voice for the town and use its several district councillors to fight its corner at TDC.

On schools it is funny how the experts' predictions can be so wrong. A few years back, when I was a school governor at a Ramsgate school, KCC were talking about a decline in numbers of children entering primary education. Now, many primaries in Thanet have overly large classes and are back to using temporary accommodation.

Nick Evans said...

It's a great shame the chance wasn't taken to keep open some of those Thanet schools which have closed and simply taken the chance to have smaller classes instead. Yes, it would have cost more money but children would have benefitted greatly.

On the rail front, and the real reason, for this message, is why can't the existing Minster station be enlarged and enhanced instead of building a new parkway? A shuttle bus service could operate successfully between Manston terminal and Minster, probably requiring an enhanced side turning off the main road rather than go through the village itself too much. It would be much simpler and much cheaper and could probably introduced in a basic form quite quickly?

Nick Evans said...

It's a great shame the chance wasn't taken to keep open some of those Thanet schools which have closed and simply taken the chance to have smaller classes instead. Yes, it would have cost more money but children would have benefitted greatly.

On the rail front, and the real reason, for this message, is why can't the existing Minster station be enlarged and enhanced instead of building a new parkway? A shuttle bus service could operate successfully between Manston terminal and Minster, probably requiring an enhanced side turning off the main road rather than go through the village itself too much. It would be much simpler and much cheaper and could probably introduced in a basic form quite quickly?

1 o'clock Rob said...

School numbers are cyclical, at the moment numbers of children in Junior school is high, whereas secondary numbers are low.

The next 3-5 years will see that swap.

Readit said...

The new houses at Manston Green will need flat roofs so the knackered jumbos can leave tyre tracks.

Build a station to increase the viability of the airport then build houses up to the end of the runway. What fruit cake thought up that plan?

Tony Ovenden said...

The future of Manston is nothing to do with what is going on, on the ground. It is what is going on up in the air that is important, if the airport cannot get the airspace it requires for commercial flights it is never going to happen. Manston was built for one purpose and that is war being the real thing or a cold one.

Readit said...

Tony, your assessment of the situation makes Parkway Station totally unnecessary. The newest proposal is only a mile or so from Ramsgate Station, so Ramsgate will be closed and we all drive to the new Parkway, a very sustainable scheme, I don't think.

The journey times from London to Parkway or Ramsgate would be little different but only one station will be used. What will make the journey time quicker is the improvement of the line from Ashford to Ramsgate.

Anonymous said...

The point may be that stations (like school sites)can be sold for new homes to be built on. Letting go of green sites for new schools generally gets the okay and it is cheaper land compared to the price charged for that nearer town centers. Kids can't walk to school anymore or passengers to trains, but who cares.

Anonymous said...

Think you are becoming a bit dated, Readit, for the knackered jumbos are very much a thing of the past now. Quite obviously those much further up the governance chain see a future for Manston so the views of us lesser mortals are largely ill informed whines.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anybody has bothered to ask the people of Ramsgate if they mind losing their station and having to commute to a new Manston Parkway station to get a train to London. I certainly haven't been asked and, if I was, I would say it would be very inconvenient. Carter and his Maidstone cronies think they can sit in their palatial county offices planning to spend millions of our pounds on things we don't want. It may be a good idea to get ahead of the game and to get a campaign going to save Ramsgate station.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony. You have an interesting new perspective on Manston. This wasn't the perspective of the Labour group under Barry Coppock when they dictated that Manton had to remain an airport when the MoD came to sell it. I don't remember any talk about the issue of getting enough airspace. All I heard was millions of passengers and thousands of jobs. Are you now telling us that the whole thing was doomed from the outset? There were, of course, people who said as much at the time but they were dismissed as nimbies by your nasty abusive Labour mates. I don't call it Manston any more. I just call it fifteen wasted years.

Anonymous said...

So the expertise provided by a relatively inexperienced parish councillor, who walks along beaches in his day job, is the latest piece of ammunition for the anti-Manston lot. Wonderful, but apart from Tony, who actually said Manston is short of airspace?

On top, who said Ramsgate station had to close? Sadly, here we go again and to hell with progress in Thanet. Oppose anything and everything in the cause of doing SFA.

Anonymous said...

10:09, why don't you take it up with your UKIP county councillor?

Anonymous said...

Inexperienced compared to whom 11.37?

Tony has raised the issue of allocations of air space. He has provided his answer.

Yet oddly you have not privileged us with your own answer.

Anonymous said...

Happily it seems as if Margate will be under additional flight paths.

I wonder if this would contribute to viability of Manston.

Let us all hope so.

1 o'clock Rob said...

Closing Ramsgate station if they build Manston Parkway? Really?

If that thought process was prevalent in transport policy surely we'd have half the underground stops we have in London?

As for knackered Jumbos... tell that to CargoLux and their continuing upgrade to 747-800's.. Yes there are a few aircraft that still do the rounds but the better the airfield becomes the better/quieter the aircraft using it will be.

Anonymous said...

1:34, Tony was elected to the RTC in 2011 so he has only been a parish councillor, which really is not very high up the local government pecking order, for two years. How does he know about the airspace allocated to Ramsgate and where is his evidence. He certainly seems to be well out of step with even his own Labour party colleagues.

Until Tony raised this point, and I have attended KIACC meetings, I have never heard airspace being a limitation on Manston development.

Anonymous said...

1 o'clock rob, a quiet airplane is a myth. It may be categorised as less noisy than it predecessor, but it will still awake you when it comes over your house at 5am.

How about make the platforms at Ramsgate really long? That way one end of the platform could be Manston, the other ramsgate. (A person at KCC may read this and make a serious note or has already thought of it and dismissed it. They are very bright people you know)

Anonymous said...

Wrong, 8:18, having lived on a V Bomber base during the cold war years I can assure you that you can get used to it. I learned to sleep even through Vulcan B2s taking off and they don't come much louder than that.

Anonymous said...

The soonermanston closes the better: less than a month to go.

The Parkway was ridiculous white elephant construction contracts between Carter and Buchanan funded form tax.

No airport, no Parkway.

Similarly Manston Green and Discovery Park is construction contracts run amok.

Nothing is said on the pollution cleanup required at Manston and Thor. Maybe the councillors will carry on doing nothing and bickering.

TDC has proved ineffective and corrupt: close it down and transfer powers to the Towns and better County/East Kent scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

Why has Worrow been arrested and Driver spied on and Sandy jailed but Macgonigal and Moores not arrested?

Shameful that Latchford is back too.

Anonymous said...

Why do the anti-Manstoners always tell us planes are quiet?

They are not.

And Infratil wanted over 30 night flights at one point.

Hence Infratil and TDC removing the monitors.

Why the illegal overflights continue is a mystery and extremely dangerous.

Manston is irrelevant now: close it and prosecute the overflights as soon as possible - before TDC and Buchanan start destroying the flight logs and KIACC and the Airport Committee records.

Anonymous said...

Where have you been hiding Garbled because it has been pleasantly peaceful without you and, even, some interesting debate here and there.

Anonymous said...

Utter nonsense from all concerned.

Network Rail are never going to specutively build a station when a bus from Minster would do the job just as well at no cost. They build *to* proven demand, not to stimulate it.

As for Ramsgate, aside from the fact it has nothing to do with KCC, for goodness sake get a grip! They're hardly going to go through the incredibly complex process of closing a srategically essential location, operationally and logistically. Will the trains from Dover, Charing Cross and Victoria all just trundle into the huge and vital depot bypassing the former platforms?

Sometimes ECR, you need to either dig a bit into the facts!

Anonymous said...

6:29 you're ignoring that KCC and Network Rail have done far less foolish things in the past than a Parkway. And certainly have spent funds in developing the plans.

Richard Eastcliff said...

I agree, 6:29, that all this talk about a 'Manston Parkway' is utter proverbials, and of course there's no need for it when a bus from Ramsgate would suffice.

But I think what I was trying to point out was that KCC, Sir Roger Wind, and now a bunch of developers, all seem to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Only last week, in a response to the FOI I mention in the original post, KCC wrote: 'The current stage of the development plan for the (Manston Parkway) station is that the business case is being refreshed for the site that KCC originally identified for the station to the west of Cliffs End, while a watching brief is being kept over the Manston Green proposals.'

And why isn't Ramsgate being included in the (presumably KCC-sponsored) specials?

Anonymous said...

Really the parkway is just the airport fanatics again and lots of construction contracts for no real need. Embarrassing that fools like Gale go along with it.

Anonymous said...

The answer is (a) Build the Parkway station, (b) Close the current Ramsgate station, which is too far from the town and seafront to be of much benefit, (c) Rebuild the Ramsgate seafront station where the Pleasurama site is.

Anonymous said...

It would probably be cheaper and more practical to rebuild the seafront station that it would Parkway!

Anonymous said...

It will all be academic when Ann closes Manston down.

Anonymous said...

Network Rail's plans for the Stour Valley line are available on the net. Aside from some minor speed increases there's no plan (ie no money) set aside to do much of anything to it for the forseeable future.

Two key things prevent speeding up the service:

1. Level crossings. There are loads of them between Ramsgate and Ashford, several of which are almost certainly impossible to replace - Cliffsend (it 's got a tunnel under it), Canterbury (either side of the station) Wye (ditto).

While we're at it, lets also mention the horrific speed restriction at Grove Ferry (and another impossible to replace level crossing), which is effectively almost an extra station stop in the London direction and would probably cost a packed to iron out.

2. Power supply. This is the critical one. I've long suspected that one reason that Ramsgate to Ashford is limited to 70mph and has very long sections (the signalling will only permit two trains between Canterbury and Minster for example) is partly down to limited power supply. Now, *all* of the Southern Region's electrical infrastructure is up for renewal before long, and will almost certainly see the third rail replaced by (cheaper to run, mantain and renew) overhead wires - look at the height of the new signal gantries at Ramsgate and footbridge at Canterbury which have been future proofed for this.

They're hardly going to chuck loads of money at doing up a line that's going to need fundamental doing up within 10 years or so.

Anonymous said...

What a waste the Parkway is. Along with the £5M fire station, Manston and Westwood Cross we have too many idiotic or pointless tarmac schemes.

Richard Eastcliff said...

Thanks for the technical update, 10:07am. Most illuminating.

Anonymous said...

How about flatten Ramsgate ( the town) and move it to a greenfield site somewhere nearer gha manston parkway station? Somebody at KCC would have thought of this and dismissed it in the past, mark my words. Same as when Pfizer left they mulled over whether the buildings at Discovery Park could be converted to terminals and a runway built in the car park.

Whatever they is smoking, me want some of that mind bending shit!