2018 AGM Report

This year’s AGM took place in Oban on Friday 11th May at the Great Western Hotel on the Esplanade, 10 minutes walk from Oban Station. Complimentary Tea and Coffee was provided from 11.00hrs and the Business started at 12.00hrs followed by lunch in the restaurant. . Following lunch our speakers were:  ScotRail Alliance MD, Alex Hynes and Serco Caledonian Sleepers – David Simpson, Production Director.

A.G.M. 2018 REPORT, By secretary, Fraser McDonald

At 12 noon our Chairman, Doug Carmichael, welcomed everybody to his home town of Oban. 29 members and friends attended and our thanks to the 25 who sent apologies.

Financial Report:- Treasurer Barry Townend presented his audited statement of accounts for the year ending 31st March 2018. These again showed a healthy bank balance and a healthy working surplus for the year. So much so that Barry proposed no increase in Society subscriptions for the year 2018/19. Needless to say this had no trouble finding a seconder and was accepted unanimously.

Business Report:- After that yours truly gave his business report covering everything from

• Aluminium traffic.
• How membership advertising produced good results from the Friends of Settle & Carlisle Magazine but poor results from The Railway Magazine and the Scots Magazine.
• GDPR. (General Data Protection Regulation).
• Magazine cash sales were down due to some outlets closing but we hope to recover that this summer with some reopened or new outlets.
• Making the Fort William to Mallaig line a UNESCO Heritage site.
• Early planning for new tourist trains ready for the next franchise.
• Membership now standing at 399.

This year I ended by looking ahead to the setting up by the Government of a West Highland Review Group. We have been invited to participate and Dr. John McCormick will represent us at the first meeting in Fort William on 21st May.

Website:- After that Norman McNab showed us the best of the new website on the big screen. The new website is now up and running, although Norman says it will always be a work in progress. The chairman thanked Norman along with Gordon Webster for the all the good work they have done on this.

Guided Walk:- Graham Atkins gave us details of the Society walk he has planned around the Killin area and branch line track bed for September. Exact date to be announced. Graham tells us this will be a gentle walk suitable for most abilities. Ropes and heavy climbing gear will not be required.

Election of Office Holders:- The existing committee was re-elected for a further period of one year. There was one nomination for a committee member. Paul Barnes was elected as a new committee member. There were no nominations for the vacant post of Assistant Secretary.

An excellent lunch was then served in the Great Western dining room.

After Lunch Speakers.
First speaker after lunch was Alex Hynes, Managing Director of ScotRail Alliance.

Alex gave us a resume of what is going on at the moment on Scotland’s Railways, and it is quite a lot. While focusing in on the WHL, at this time in Scottish railway history our members were also keen to hear the latest news about EGIP and the electrification in the Central Belt. The question is, does having four electrified lines between Glasgow and Edinburgh help the WHL? Well it releases diesel trains, a commodity that is in short supply throughout the UK.
Alex tells us WHL traffic has increased by 31% over the last 4 years. (Are we reaping the benefit of tree cutting, or has Harry Potter waved a magic wand?)
National Public Performance is 89%, but WHL performance is only 83%.
In December ScotRail will start to brand the WHL.
Cascading of diesel units, whatever type is used, will enable the WHL to have its own dedicated fleet.
Will it be 156’s or 158’s? At the moment class 158’s do not have gauge clearance. A study will be done. In any event Class 156’s are undergoing a big refurbishment giving them brand new seating aligned to the windows.
The moratorium on vegetation clearance does not apply in Scotland.
Alex’s final thought, it is the Scottish Government’s target that by 2032 all cars in Scotland will be zero carbon. If this comes about, diesel trains will be looked upon as the dirty mode of transport.

Our second speaker was David Simpson, Production Director, Serco Caledonian Sleepers. David started by telling us that from the start of the franchise, WHL sleeper journeys are up 64%. And that from the night of the AGM, capacity on the Fort William Sleeper would be 4 cars.
He then went on to show us pictures on the big screen of the new sleeping car accommodation.
New cars will be introduced on the Lowland sleeper in October 2018 and on the Highland Sleeper in March 2019. Euston will remain the London terminus.
David’s final thought, what to do with the old sleeping cars, which are owned (not leased) by Serco Caledonian Sleepers? Well what about a Midnight Train to Georgemass?

Both speakers took questions. Their frankness was much appreciated by the membership.

Afterward the Chairman thanked them for their input and coming to Oban today.

A.O.C.B. The final item as always was, Any Other Competent Business. David Crossley proposed that, “We have a Twitter Account, subject to appropriate control.” This was seconded by Roger Dye. Some heated discussion took place. The motion was carried by 25 votes to 2.
The committee will now look at setting up a Twitter account. David Crossley has agreed to be co-opted on to the committee in an ex officio capacity and will advise on all aspects of Twitter. When an account is set up David is willing to manage it in the first instance.

There was no other competent business. The chairman thanked the membership for making such a good turnout and brought the meeting to a close.