Archives for category: Transport

David Lowe draws attention to the Railway Technology Magazine which adds to the report in the Birmingham Mail about the plans to reopen the Camp Hill rail line from Birmingham city centre to Kings Norton to passenger services, discussed for decades. The line was last used by commuters in 1941 and the stations bulldozed. But the tracks remain in use by freight services.

As the Mail comments:

“Congestion from this part of the city into the city centre is one of the huge drawbacks for what are otherwise thriving areas – undoing the rail closures seven decades ago will be a huge step in tackling both congestion and the clean air challenge we all face.”

RTM explains that the key obstacle to a fully functioning passenger service is that New Street is already operating at full capacity. There is no room for extra trains.

Proposals in the Midlands Rail Hub 15 year plan include proposals for the ‘Camp Hill Chords’ – new viaducts at Bordesley which would link the Camp Hill line to Moor Street Station allowing more frequent services to run. They would also open up the freight-only Sutton Park line, allowing new passenger services to link the city centre to Castle Vale, Water Orton and Walmley – where 6,000 new homes are due to be built – before heading through the park to Aldridge.

Above: Moseley station, now demolished. The plans for the new station show a more minimalist design

There will be three stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, offering an alternative to commuting via bus and car on congested A435 Alcester Road In Moseley, access will be by St Marys Row and Woodbridge Road. In Kings Heath, it will be by Alcester Road and Highbury Park. Two trains would initially operate from these stations every hour into Central Birmingham, with an overall journey time of around 15 minutes.

Other proposals include two more platforms at Moor Street as well as remodelling stations at Kings Norton and Water Orton and reinstating the fourth platform at Snow Hill.

Engineers are currently working on the track, signalling and service requirements and next year detailed planning of the three rail stations will be carried out. Construction works are expected to start in 2020 and end in 2021. Later, the authorities may develop a fourth station on the line at Balsall Heath.

Councillor Mary Locke (Stirchley Ward) organised a public consultation about the Hazelwell line in November 2018 at Stirchley baths. She has now managed to get an extra consultation at the Hub Vicarage Road especially for residents of Pineapple, Cartland and Lyndworth roads on 12th Dec at 3-7 pm.

 

 

 

 

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A paragraph in the summary of an open access paper published in The Lancet Public Health on December 14th follows:

“Within London’s Low Emission Zones (LEZ), a smaller lung volume in children was associated with higher annual air pollutant exposures. We found no evidence of a reduction in the proportion of children with small lungs over this period, despite small improvements in air quality in highly polluted urban areas during the implementation of London’s LEZ. Interventions that deliver larger reductions in emissions might yield improvements in children’s health”.

This was a study of 2,164 children aged eight and nine in inner London. After taking detailed measurements of city children’s lung capacity, researchers found that it was 5% lower than normal.

Chris Smyth, Health Editor of the Times writes: “In 2009, 99% of children studied lived at addresses where NO2 levels exceeded safe limits, falling to 34% by 2013. However, while their average exposure at home and school fell from 45 micrograms per cubic metre to 40 over the study period, this was still above EU limits and particulate levels did not fall”.

He quotes Chris Griffiths of Queen Mary University of London, senior author of the paper (left): “Diesel-dominated air pollution in cities is damaging lung development in children, putting them at risk of lung disease in adult life and early death. We are raising a generation of children reaching adulthood with stunted lung capacity.”

And Ian Mudway of King’s College London, lead author of the paper, said it was likely that repeated inflammation of the airways caused by regular exposure to pollutants was affecting how children’s lungs grew.

He said: “If this is sustained or gets worse you’re going to have reduced lung function in adulthood; that really matters. It has an impact on how long you’re going to live and your susceptibility to diseases in old age.”

 

 

 

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This Birmingham Socialist Discussion Group meeting has been called to discuss the state of the railway system in Britain today and the case for nationalisation.

7 pm Wednesday 24th October first floor room, the Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill City Centre

The front pages of the mainstream press have recently described the chaos in the British railways. Right-wing newspapers who have always supported the privatisation of the railways are now reflecting the dramatic failures of this system.

The Times 20.9.18. “Rail failings exposed by chaos over timetables” In which it informed its readers that “Nobody took charge of May’s timetable overhaul leading to the cancellation of 800 services a day.”

The Daily Mail headline on the same day was “Off the Rails!”. It said “Passengers are routinely being failed and the timetable chaos highlighted systemic weakness, poor leadership and lack of accountability.”

Two railways Northern Rail and Govia Rail have particularly failed and according to the BBC, 200 out of Northern Rail’s 3800 services are not running and 310 out of Govia Rail’s 4700 are not functioning. Both have tried to break the resistance of RMT members opposing driver only trains.

Speakers

Ian Scott President Birmingham Trades Union Council

Pat Collins ex-member of the Executive Council RMT

Ian Scott will give a historical perspective, talking about the early history of the rail industry, the Beeching axing of a major part of the track in the 1960s and 1970s – vandalism mainly implemented by Labour governments. He will also relate the sorry story of the privatisation of the rail industry in the 1990s by the Major government with no attempt to reverse any of these changes by the new Blair government. He writes:

“One of the factors facing the railways & governments from the 1900’s to 1960’s was the failure to co-ordinate public transport services. Tramways & latterly ‘bus services in competition with railways left (mainly) branch lines in a state of decline pre war. The Second World War left Britain’s railways almost bankrupt with increasingly worn out rolling stock. Nationalisation saved them from collapse but only with loans from World Bank & taxpayers money to upgrade & modernise the rail system. Subsequent government policies (post 1948) led to one of cynical disinvestment, branches closed & unsurprisingly main lines suffered from loss of revenue. It was ideal for the Tory government of the 1950’s, whose minister Marples appointed Dr Beeching to carry out the deliberate destruction of the rail system to create the need for the motorcar.

The entry of Britain into the EU in 1974 led to many directives from the commission on our home-based industries & public services with its (EU) requirement to reduce public expenditures. The EU directive 91/440/EEC was for the breakup of a smaller (post Beeching) rail network, hence the situation we face today with a prospect of a Labour government taking back rail into public ownership 

Pat Collins, RMT local branch secretary will discuss the resistance of RMT members to the privatised rail companies. 

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To contact Birmingham Socialist Discussion Group, ring Pete 0780 9406973 or Stuart 0777 156 7496, ser14@btinternet.com    

 

 

 

Following the recent news of CRT plans to facilitate a water taxi service from Icknield Port, the Canal & River Trust is working with Transport for the North on the potential of waterway freight. 

 As a West Yorkshire local government pdf explains:

In the Yorkshire Post, Rob Parsons commented: “Given the pressures that Leeds City Region is currently facing around traffic congestion and air quality, the use of waterborne freight could bring both commercial, environmental and health benefits.”

Following a recommendation from its Investment Committee, Leeds City Council has approved the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s planning application for a new, £3.37 million wharf facility at Stourton in Leeds.

INLAND WATERWAY FREIGHT TRANSPORT CONFERENCE – WEDNESDAY 10th OCTOBER, 2018, LEEDS

The Canal & River Trust, in partnership with the Freight Transport Association and the NSR Interreg Project IWTS2.00, will be hosting this conference, which will bring together port operators, freight carriers, logistics specialists and public bodies, and will provide a unique opportunity to look closely at the potential of Inland Waterway Freight Transport in the UK and Europe. The conference will provide the opportunity to also learn about current policy and infrastructure developments that are making inland waterway freight transportation a realistic option for today and the future.

The event will include an optional site visit to see a site in Canal & River Trust ownership that has been earmarked for development as an Inland Port at Stourton (Leeds). See Waterway Freight article. If you would like to attend this free event, please register through the weblink: Freight by water conference 2018

 

 

 

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Birmingham recently hosted world’s first zero emission vehicle summit where Chris Grayling, the transport secretary unveiled plans which related only to road traffic – despite a Birmingham university team pioneering the use of the hydrogen-fuelled barge, in a city blessed with a network of waterways.

The developers of Birmingham’s Icknield Port Loop – a joint venture involving Urban Splash, Places for People, the Canal & River Trust and Birmingham City Council – have today presented a site-wide masterplan showing family houses, apartments, business premises and leisure facilities. Birmingham Live reports that, following work on remediation and rebuilding of the canal walls started earlier this year, construction has started on the Icknield Port Loop scheme and the first homes are scheduled to be ready for occupation in Spring 2019 (artist’s impression above).

James Lazarus, Head of Property Development and of the joint venture at the Canal & River Trust, comments that more people will be encouraged to use the city’s canals and tow-paths to commute to and from work and travel to the city centre; he earlier wrote that C&RT is “aware of the potential to run a taxi service and provision is being made in the plans to facilitate this” (Email to CBOA chair, September 25, 2017).

Those attending the Recycling and Waste Management Exhibition at the NEC this week were given a CBOA presentation illustrated by series of slides showing the advantages of carrying materials and waste by water instead of road.

Will there be cleaner greener transport for Icknield Port materials, waste removal – and later for commuters?

 

 

 

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Near a Birmingham university team pioneering the use of hydrogen-fuelled barges and trains, in a city blessed with a network of waterways, Graeme Paton, the Times’ Transport Correspondent, reports that the government is hosting a meeting tomorrow to discuss ways of reducing traffic-related carbon emissions – ‘a world first summit’ (Business Birmingham).

Despite the existence of an All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways and the use of water buses, taxis and ferries in so many towns and cities (details here) with London leading the way, Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has unveiled plans which relate only to road traffic.

     Use barges for freight (CBOA graphic)

Birmingham’s only water bus

The Department for Transport suggestions:

  • a local authority ban on petrol and diesel cars from certain road lanes to promote the use of environmentally friendly vehicles
  • green cars with zero emissions could be allowed to drive in bus lanes.
  • introduce green number plates for electric and hydrogen cars, copying a system in place in Norway, Canada and China
  • spend £2 million to promote electric-powered “cargo bikes” for inner-city deliveries which have increased in recent years because of the surge in online shopping.

Inrix, the traffic data company, said this year that Britain had the worst congestion in western Europe: “Motorists are spending an average of 31 hours a year stuck in peak-time jams. Average vehicle speeds in central London are as low as 7.6 mph”.

Hydrogen fuelled barge: see University note and Guardian article

”One of the most energy efficient means of moving goods is by canal and the threat of global warming is resulting in a resurgence of interest in this means of transportation”: Professor Rex Harris, University of Birmingham.

 

 

 

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After being awarded a 15-year contract in 2011, as part of a wider move to bring more competition into the prison service, G4S has been stripped of control over ‘failed’ HMP Birmingham jail (details here). This is the latest crisis of the decades-long move towards privatisation of public services.

Following the first ‘takeover’ for a privatised prison contract, David Gauke, justice secretary, is appointing a new governor and management team on the site and has compelled G4S to take on 30 extra staff to instigate various improvements.

300 of HMP Birmingham’s 1,330 inmates will also be moved to other jails

Ministers said that G4S, which had failed to run the prison safely, would continue to run the facility under the direct control of the Ministry of Justice for at least the next six months.

This is government’s first ‘step-in process’.

Though G4S also runs HMP Altcourse, HMP Parc, HMP Ryehill and HMP Oakwood, all of which are “performing well” according to the government, shares in G4S dropped 2.5% after the government assumed control of the prison. Other problems include:

  • the government’s 2003 installation of a new governor at HMP Ashfield, run by Premier Prison Services;
  • the criminal activity of some Serco staff at the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre;
  • problems with Capita’s NHS back-office functions for primary care providers;
  • in 2016 ministers took over the running of Medway, a youth custody centre, where a G4S contract was coming to an end;
  • construction and public services company Carillion collapsed in January
  • and the Stagecoach and Virgin Trains East Coast mainline service was recently nationalised.

The Financial Times reported that violence, drugs, suicide and self-harm, squalor and poor access to education were once again “prominent themes” in jails during the year to the end of March. in July, Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons for England and Wales, in a highly critical annual report, said that conditions in some UK prisons are “disgraceful” and “should not be accepted in 21st-century Britain”.

Education, health, prisons, transport: in how many other sectors is the private sector failing?

 

 

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UK aviation policy is primarily predicated on the requirements of airport operators, major airlines and the Treasury – the needs of passengers come last says Steve Beauchampé.

The governments long-awaited – and unsurprising – decision to proceed with construction of a third runway at London Heathrow is fundamentally flawed, supported with redundant arguments and highly questionable financial assessments. If the UK had a comprehensive and comprehensible national aviation strategy Heathrow would not be operating at anything like 95% of capacity.

That it does so is the result of a system that essentially forces millions of UK passengers per annum to travel long distances, often in arduous and stressful conditions, to use both Heathrow and London’s two other main airports (Gatwick and Stansted) at great cost both to themselves and the environment. rather than utilising their local airports, many of which are working to a fraction of their capability.

.bham airport logo

Birmingham International Airport handled 12.9m passengers in 2017 but could cope with around double that number. Meanwhile, Nottingham East Midlands welcomed a paltry 4.88m whilst major population centres such as in the North East, South West, South Wales and along the south coast are all but bereft of decent flight choices. This is not only down to the London-centric approach which blights so many activities in the UK, but the failure of successive governments to challenge and take on the vested interests of London airports and the major airlines.

Two key arguments put forward in favour of a third runway at Heathrow are particularly fallacious: the first is that Heathrow must continue developing as a ‘hub’ airport, competing for passengers not with Birmingham, Manchester or even Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, but with Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Dublin and increasingly Dubai!

So a third (and later probably fourth and fifth) runway at Heathrow is essentially required to allow the airport’s operator Heathrow Airport Holdings to attract passengers who will never leave the airport environs but whose visit is solely to transfer from one aeroplane to another, Great news for HAH, who enjoy increased landing fees as a result, and good news for the Treasury, who collect airport tax each time that a passenger takes a flight.

But it is hardly good news for UK travellers who are not being provided with flights from their local airports to the locations that they want and at a time when they want to fly. Indeed the hub strategy encourages those in the north of England, Northern Island and Scotland to take domestic flights to Heathrow and then transfer planes to reach their ultimate destination.

Yet hub airports may soon be an outdated concept, with technological improvements meaning that modern aeroplanes will be able to fly further (and faster) without the need to refuel (its already possible to fly non-stop from London to Sydney). Point-to-point flying seems more likely to be the way ahead. 

The second argument in favour of Heathrow runway expansion is that many airlines do not want to fly out of the UK’s ‘regional’ airports (with the possible exception of Manchester, which handled 27.7m passengers in 2017) and would be unwilling to give up valuable landing slots at Heathrow.

But this argument is unacceptable. We would not tolerate train operators refusing to serve smaller stations nor bus companies running services only on main routes. To combat this attitude the number of slots available at Heathrow needs to be limited rather than endlessly expanded, whilst the national airport strategy that Conservative MP and anti-Heathrow Runway 3 campaigner Justine Greening called for earlier this week should focus on ways to create an environment which encourages airlines to relocate services outside of London and the South East. This is particularly apposite given that both Birmingham and Manchester airports will be stops on the HS2 network by 2030. And whilst there is a real risk that limiting slots at Heathrow will result in some airlines pulling routes and services out of the UK altogether, the country is a large enough aviation market to offer sufficient paths to profit that most such withdrawals will likely be less than crucial and, in some cases, perhaps temporary.

In agreeing to support Heathrow’s third runway the government have committed to paying £2.6bn in compensation to those communities near to the airport that will be destroyed or significantly affected by the project. To which can be added an estimated £10bn in public funding for the new infrastructure and environmental measures required to support the expansion.

How much better to invest this money throughout the UK to create a national airport infrastructure to meet the needs of the travelling public, and one befitting the worlds fifth largest economy.

 

Steve Beauchampé

June 7th 2018

First published on http://thebirminghampress.com/2018/06/airport-2018/ 

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Note one of their forthcoming events: A Future for All

 Read more about the Priory Rooms here.

 

 

 

 

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Vintage Trains runs Tyseley Locomotive Works (below) in Birmingham, restores and cares for its collection of historic steam engines and carriages, preserving traditional skills and ensuring steam locomotives from a bygone era remain in service for people to enjoy. The company has promoted express steam train excursions to destinations including York, Oxford and the Cotswolds for a number of years.

It launched the share offer in January intending to set up a train operating co-operative, in a move expected to create up to 11 full-time roles. The firm is now within touching distance of its first target of £800,000 which will allow it to establish itself as a train operating company and be in control of its own destiny. More than £600,000 has been raised by its share sale to date. Other funds to be raised will be used to invest in teaching traditional railway skills and to preserve the historic fleet of steam locomotives.

Curzon Street Station

Community share members will have voting rights, travel benefits on the company’s services and, after six years, members may also have the opportunity to receive interest payments on their shares and to withdraw their capital.

Adrian Shooter, the former chairman of Chiltern Railways who will chair the Vintage Trains operating company, said: “There is still time to get involved in this unique opportunity and own a piece of history whilst helping us to train young engineers, and continue the investment in our fleet of locomotives and carriages.”

Through the share offer and investment, Vintage Trains said it was hoping to boost Birmingham’s tourist economy through an increased programme of trips and additional services and will work to deliver a heritage gateway to the city, incorporating the grade I listed 1832 Curzon Street station and the 1906 Moor Street station terminus (above).

For the share offer see: http://www.vintagetrains.co.uk/offerinfo.aspx

 

 

 

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