bfoe logoBirmingham Friends of the Earth have submitted their response to Centro’s New Transport Prospectus: “Towards a World Class Integrated Transport Network”. They highlighted the need to have more ambitious modal shift targets and to prioritise particular infrastructure projects.


A recurrent theme in this response is that of air pollution in the West Midlands. The region is well over its legal emissions limits for nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzine and particulate matter.

The human and financial impact of pollution is summarised:

  • children growing up in areas of high air pollution can develop lungs which have almost 20% less capacity than healthy lungs;
  • up to 30% of all new asthma cases may be caused by living next to busy roads;
  • exposure to air pollution can cause people to die an average of 11.5 years early;
  • costs in health care in Birmingham alone are thought to be £182 million a year.


As the transportation under Centro’s authority is a major contributor to metropolitan air pollution, BFOE believes that the best way to reduce these cancer-causing pollutants is large investment in alternatives to the internal combustion engine: “The electric motor is 5 times as efficient as an internal combustion engine. Electric bus technology is now well established, and would be a realistic option on ‘short hop’ city centre routes, as these can be charged using the energy from regenerative braking. There are also potential savings of £120 on fuel, per bus, per day, and that will rise”

The city’s six air quality monitoring stations in Birmingham have been reduced, with the monitoring station at Centenary Square making way for the new Birmingham library and the Corporation Street station not receiving sufficient funding: “As transport and traffic are such a large cause of pollution. Centro should . . . come to an agreement to fund more monitoring, and invest in measures that will reduce air pollution from public transport”.

Centro could be more proactive in implementing 20mph limits in Birmingham and the other districts; driving at lower & more constant speeds reduces air pollution and CO2 emissions through less breaking and acceleration. The policy would also make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

HS2 is too highly prioritised by Centro. It is a costly way of increasing rail capacity, will further contribute to the centralisation of economic activity in the South East and will not contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. It also risks draining resources from local transport projects.

BFOE is also concerned at the prioritisation of projects which are being proposed to serve HS2 and Birmingham airport, feeling that this prospectus should be focusing on how to make regional transport work for the everyday needs of local people rather than increasing connectivity to international markets.


kings heath station

BFOE has campaigned over many years for more use to be made of the local rail network by reopening disused lines, reintroducing local passenger services on freight only lines and enhancing existing services. In the past it has highlighted the Camp Hill Chords, South Birmingham and Sutton Park lines as being ideal for reintroducing local rail services. The South Birmingham Line through Moseley and Kings Heath is a much needed service for the city of Birmingham, as 20,000 people live in walking distance of the stations. Bus services are overloaded on this highly polluted corridor and millions of car journeys could be displaced.

The case for local devolution of rail powers is supported by BFOE, as governance is always more effective when local patterns and nuances are understood. As the West Midlands is a unique and extensive metropolitan area, it should be able to organise its transportation with the same sort of regulatory power as Transport for London.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth are largely in agreement with the long term targets for different types of transport use

There are, however, some improvements which can be tackled in the short term, including:

  • encouraging better cycling and walking facilities
  • multi-modal and multioperator ticketing
  • and prioritising the re-opening of the South Birmingham railway lines.

We feel that a focus on regional and local transport is always more beneficial to the local economy than trying to increase connectivity to other economies around the world. It is more important for people to be able to get to the places they need to in everyday life than be able to fly abroad.

BFOE feels that Centro’s ambitions, lack of prioritisation, focus and time scale are obstacles to implementation and calls on Centro to set out clear short, medium and long term targets.

The full response may be read here.


In its latest newsletter BFOE has also been focussing and its primary goals are now to target the city’s walking and cycling strategies. Adam McCusker lists:

  • increased spending on cycling infrastructure
  • enforce bus & cycle lanes
  • and aiming to fund and promote a ‘totemic cycling project’.