The association’s sad end was confirmed after no nominations were received for the key positions of chairman, secretary and treasurer committee roles – and on a gloomy night for local commuters, it coincided with members of the RMT union voting for a national rail strike.
The strike ballot of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers saw 89 per cent vote in favour of a strike and 11 per cent against, with walkouts now planned across Network Rail and 13 train operating companies including South Western Railway from mid-June.
Mick Lynch at RMT said “members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies”. But the Department for Transport said it is “hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is calling for industrial action before even entering discussions”.
Formed in 1974 by honorary president Chris Campbell to keep the Farnham to Alton line open, the Alton Line Users Association (ALUA) still had the ear of Network Rail and South Western Railway right up to the end.
But it has seen its membership dwindle in recent years, accelerated by the pandemic, and the association’s chairman, Farnham man David Jones, had still not been replaced after his death in 2021.
Councillor Graham Titteringham, Alton Town Council’s representative on the ALUA committee, stood in as acting chair at the annual meeting, and gave thanks to “all the committee members of ALUA both present and past throughout its nearly 50 years of action to maintain our line”, describing its work as an “honourable and worthy tradition”.
Representing the interests of Alton line commuters will now fall to the Friends of Alton Station and the new Alton Line Community Rail Partnership, announced by South Western Railway just last week.
ALUA members resolved at the annual meeting to donate its residual funds, a little shy of £1,000, to Railfuture, “Britain’s leading independent organisation campaigning for a bigger better railway”, on the understanding that its values and purposes coincide with ALUA’s.
It was resolved at the annual meeting that the donation should be devolved for the exclusive use of Railfuture’s Wessex Group.