Freedom request finds Stratford not so international
Freedom of Information requests can be a great way of finding things out. Although many times organisations simply turn them down on cost grounds (you know who you are!)
However, my colleague Julia Ross, the BBC's Freedom of Information researcher passed some information my way about Stratford International.
On one of the pages of the minutes of meetings in January between the Department for Transport and the developers Westfield it says Eurostar won't be running services out of Straftford International. Ever.
Now that doesn't go down well with those investing in that area like Westfield who want international links.
Eurostar categorically deny they have made a decision about services from Stratford - they probably want to see how the development at Stratford pans out.
But somehow the Dft got the impression and put it in the minutes of an important meeting that Eurostar didn't want to run services from that station. Incidentally other operators are looking at running international services from Stratford...
The only thing I could get from the Dft:
"Eurostar operates on a fully commercial basis and any decision to stop at Stratford International is a matter for them."
Here's what the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, has to say:
"It's exciting we have a government that is committed to high-speed rail. But in Stratford International we have a station that is only international by name. That simply does not make sense.
"This is meant to be the jewel in the crown of the much-heralded transport network and Eurostar trains are nowhere to be seen. Transport was key to securing the Games and International transport will be essential to securing a legacy for East London.
"Newham Council is in agreement with major private sector stakeholders that having international rail at Stratford is an opportunity that should not be missed, because having the means to flit between Europe and home will bring in millions of pound in foreign investment and also encourage huge talent to London and the UK as a whole."
Crossed wires? Anyway here's my report from Tuesday:
UPDATE: 4 June 2010 Eurostar said no to stopping before 2012 last May...
We've had some more Freedom of Information requests come back about Stratford International. However, as my colleagues at the BBC's FOI unit report by no means all.
However, in one extract from Eurostar's board meeting dated 29th May 2009 it says:
"The Board noted and approved the proposed strategy of not planning to stop at Stratford International before the Olympics in 2012. A few key local politicians and stakeholders would be updated on Eurostar's position."
As I've written before there are doubts now that Eurostar will ever stop at Stratford. Although it says a decision hasn't been made. But the phrase "a few key local politicians and stakeholders would be updated" hardly shows Eurostar want to sing the decision from the roof tops... Why would they?