Dear Richard.

Following NABO’s recent Council meeting, I have been asked to write to you to raise the following concerns: we appreciate the efforts that CRT is now making to limit the use of the towpath for exercise, specifically in areas where there are moored boats, but we feel more needs to be done. We are hearing of instances (Nantwich and New Mills, to name but two) where speeding cyclists and serious runners are putting the rest of the towpath population at risk. Because they are exercising strenuously, they are inevitably exhaling more forcibly than a gentle walker or leisure cyclist; and this is why we feel that this particular group should be TOLD, not encouraged, to use alternative routes such as dedicated cycle paths, roads and wide pavements where 2m distancing can be guaranteed. It is often too late if they happen to see a poster once they get to the towpath. We suggest a local radio campaign or a press release sent to the relevant outlets and posters within the nearby communities.

A qualified pat on the back

Mark Tizard digs into the detail of CRT’s first monthly waterway experience survey.

CRT recently published the headline results of its new Waterway Experience Survey, distributed monthly between April and September to a sample of boaters sighted in each waterway region, to get their feedback on the waterways they cruised. It is designed to complement the annual Perception Survey (formerly Boat Owners’ Views).

First the good news: boaters appeared to be more satisfied; more likely to recommend the Trust’s waterways; and had a more positive opinion of the overall upkeep of the waterways when their answers were compared to the annual Perception Survey. It should, however, be remembered that the level of satisfaction had fallen in the annual survey.

A total of 28,695 boaters were sent the survey so, given that there are only approximately 34,000 licensed boats, it’s likely that a reasonable number of boaters were sampled more than once. This may help to account for the low response rate, as an average of only 14% of the boaters contacted responded.

Network Rail is proposing to upgrade the rail lines to the east of the town of Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury). The scheme is a key part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade, which consists of targeted upgrades to the rail network to increase capacity, improve reliability and accessibility and reduce journey times, both within this corridor and between Manchester, Leeds and York.

The Transpennine Route Upgrade is part of the Great North Rail Project.The scheme is known as East West Rail Western Section Phase 2

The scheme is focused on 13 kilometres of railway between Huddersfield and just west of Dewsbury, most of which is currently dual track. Currently, this dual-track status limits the number of trains that can run between the two towns, with significant operational constraints throughout the scheme.

The intent of the scheme is to upgrade 11.5 kilometres of this stretch of the railway to four tracks. To accommodate the additional tracks, there is a requirement to improve the stations at Huddersfield, Mirfield and Deighton and relocate and rebuild the station at Ravensthorpe. The scope of the scheme also includes full electrification and an upgraded signalling system.

The scope includes a rebuild of the existing bridge over the Huddersfiled Broad Canal, and the rebuild of the exisiting viaduct span over the Aire and Calder navigation and Calder River.

The consultation can be viewed here:

The NABO response is here

As a statutory consultee, NABO is asked to comment on the proposals.

All-Party Parliamentary Waterways Group

In March, the group called a meeting between waterway organisations and Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment with responsibility for the waterways, and Richard Parry. However, it gave NABO only four days’ notice, so the Council was unable to find a member who could attend. Instead NABO was offered a chance to submit a question to the minister and we sent the following: ‘The primary charitable objective of the Canal and River Trust is to preserve, protect, operate and manage Inland Waterways for public benefit. The first item listed under this charitable objective is ‘for navigation’. However, there would appear to have been a deliberate change of language and focus recently and to many boaters it would appear that the Trust is now primarily interested in the ‘wellbeing’ of towpath users rather than the ‘wellbeing’ of the navigation and those that use it, thus causing many boaters to feel marginalised by the Trust. Does the Minister have a view on how different users can be fairly accommodated?’

Am I missing something?

As a fairly recent member of NABO, I fail to understand the objection to CRT stating that all boaters should obey the same rules when cruising whether they have a home mooring or not. Am I missing something here?

Rodney Hardwick

Mark Tizard, NABO Vice Chair, replied:

The reason why NABO objects is a simple legal one and it refers to the Act of Parliament that governs CRT’s management of its waterways. The Act is very clear in that to obtain a licence, it requires boaters who do not have a home mooring to satisfy CRT that they are using their boats ‘bona fide’ for navigation. However, there is no such requirement for boaters that declare they have a home mooring. Thus, boaters without a home mooring are required to continuously cruise in accordance with CRTs guidelines, if they do not wish to fall foul of CRT’s interpretation of ‘bona fide’ navigation and those with a legitimate home mooring are not. This is, in fact, reflected in CRT’s enforcement strategy.