Archives for category: Transport

Last year Birmingham Live reported that construction had started on the Icknield Port Loop scheme and the first homes were scheduled to be ready for occupation in Spring 2019.

James Lazarus, Head of Property Development and of the joint venture at the Canal & River Trust, commented 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 chair of the  Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA), September 25, 2017). Water buses or taxis are a popular feature in 22 of those British cities and large towns blessed with central waterways.

The CBOA had pointed out that canal transport should be used for bringing in construction materials for the Icknield Port development project and the first to see the advantages of canal transport with its environmental credentials were Derbyshire’s Talbot Farm Landscapes, based in Hilton.

The company had started work on a £1.5m contract for landscape construction on a the 1,150-home Icknield development and over 5,500 shrubs and plants had to be delivered to site for the first houses built in the centre of the loop of the original Old Main Line canal at Icknield Port.

The barge’s skipper, Richard Horne, a member of the CBOA, said: “This is not just a first for a landscaping company but also for the commercial barge. Their usual cargo would be coal, aggregates or steel, not perishable products like plants or shrubs.”

An extending boom fork lift truck loaded the materials on to the narrow boat Arundel at Stenson marina wharf which travelled along the Trent and Mersey, joining the Coventry Canal. It then went on to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal before joining the Birmingham Navigation Main Line and making its way to Port Loop arriving on Sunday, ready for the scheduled unloading on Monday morning.

Professor Rex Harris (University of Birmingham), advocates using a zero-emission hydrogen powered water-bus to provide a city-centre service for Urban Splash’s sustainable residential development at Icknield Port, adding:

“One of the most energy efficient means of moving goods is by canal and the threats of global warming and oil depletion are resulting in a resurgence of interest in this means of transportation.” 

More detailed reports may be read here: https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/business/derbyshire-firm-goes-back-using-2786848

LANDSCAPING MATERIALS TO CENTRAL BIRMINGHAM BY WATER: http://www.cboa.org.uk/small-canals.html

The environmental advantages of carrying freight on the country’s inland waterways are set out in the 2019 Gosling report.

 

 

 

 

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In June 2018, Birmingham City Council cabinet met and worked through an agenda of around 1080 pages covering important items requiring a decision to be made.

Amongst these were two which were very important for Birmingham’s environment. The first was making a decision to move ahead with a ‘clean air zone’, the second was proposing “improvements” to Dudley Road that could cost around £28 million.

BFOE responded to both consultations giving critical support to the first but expressing deep concern with the second.

The plans for Dudley Road are a throwback to 1960s mentality that supported the free movement of car and other vehicle users.

The plans are to widen the road to a full dual carriageway and some junctions to 5 lanes width. There were also some half-hearted ideas for cyclists sharing (busy) pavements with pedestrians as well as some segregated cycle lanes. There were no measures to encourage the use of buses or walking or to improve the generally poor environment along the road. Moreover, the increase in vehicles along Dudley Road would lead to more cars entering the central clean air zone.

David Gaussen, Adam McCusker and Martin Stride demonstrate against the widening scheme. Birmingham Friends of the Earth

BFOE discussed these proposals at our meetings and agreed to start a campaign against the plans. While taking our petition round we realised that local people and businesses did not seem to be very aware of the plans and were not supportive of them.

We also emailed Cllr Waseem Zaffar, the Cabinet member for Transport and the environment.

BFOE were then were invited to a meeting with council officers in March to discuss this. We had naively hoped that the council would use the Birmingham Connected policy as the foundation for the changes but this was rapidly found to be untrue. We found out that the officers were not aware of the five very progressive core aims of Birmingham Connected.

They did offer some limited improvements for cyclists and mentioned that the traffic lights would be set up to allow priority for approaching buses. We were told that the scheme’s financial viability had partly been shaped in order to attract funding from the DfT which is heavily biased in favour of cars and other vehicles.

Feeling disappointed by this meeting, we have written again to Cllr Zaffar, but have received a reply which in essence suggests that there will be a lot of growth in population in this part of Birmingham and that therefore road widening is the only solution.

We have previously been very impressed by Cllr Zaffar speaking at a number of transport meetings and heard him strongly arguing the case for better public transport and measures to persuade a switch from our car dominated environment to one where people were encouraged to walk, cycle or use public transport.

We still believe there is time for the council to think this through again and will continue campaigning against these environmentally damaging plans.

 

 

Written by David Gaussen as a member of Birmingham Friends of the Earth

Source: http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/what-we-do/issues-we-work-on/transport/dudley-road-improvements/

 

 

 

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Research has shown that traffic congestion cost the British economy almost £8 billion last year and that air pollution is ‘emerging’ as a public health issue. Dozens of councils will face legal action after failing to tackle toxic gas from diesels.

Yesterday the West Midlands Combined Authority approved a trial which will provide motorists with money – up to £3,000 a year – to be spent on public transport, electric car hire and bike sharing schemes in exchange for giving up their vehicle. The project will be launched in Coventry this year before being expanded across the West Midlands and elsewhere if it proves successful.

Cash credits will be loaded on to a smartphone app or a Swift card, which is similar to London’s Oyster card but can be spent on public transport, car sharing or green hire schemes.

Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We want to make it quick, easy and cheap for everyone to travel around the region by creating a range of reliable alternatives to private car ownership . . . This is a bold, ambitious vision for the future, and we’re confident we can prove the concept in the West Midlands and

The project will be funded as part of a £20 million government “future mobility” grant but taxpayer support will eventually be replaced by long-term funding from private companies including electric car clubs and bus or train operators.

One reader commented that any serious attempt to reduce car usage (congestion and pollution) would involve improving public transport – a far more costly undertaking.

Another, who lived in Stuttgart for two years writes, “Car ownership is much higher in Germany, but their owners are willing to leave them at home and use public transport where it’s a better choice. Unfortunately, in the UK our public transport outside London is not integrated, generally not frequent and not cheap – and this would take decades of investment to put right.

 

 

 

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For an analysis of the current position of the UK’s car industry, the range of pressures and issues it faces and its likely shape after any form of Brexit from a range of perspectives, turn to Keeping the Wheels on the Road, the third in the Bite-Sized Brexit books, edited by Professor David Bailey, the foremost commentator on the UK auto industry, Professor Alex De Ruyter, at the Centre for Brexit Studies, Birmingham City University, Neil Fowler and John Mair.

In a major contribution to the Brexit debate, seasoned industry experts, observers, commentators and representatives of the industry’s unions, provide arguments for cautious optimism through to rather shocked pessimism.

From Chapter 5: Just-in-time listening required

Co-authored by Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group and David Bailey, Professor of Industrial Strategy at the Aston Business School.

They have no doubt that the future of automotive does not lie with internal combustion engines – whether diesel or petrol – and stress the vital importance of effective management of the transition

Their counter-intuitive assertion that decimating the market for new diesel engines has brought with it damaging if unintended consequences to the protection of the planet – contributing to the first aggregate rise in the greenhouse gases produced by new cars in more than a decade – sent the writer to search for an explanation online:

Ministerial mixed messages over diesel has undermined the capacity of manufacturers to manage that transition.

The industrial impact of failing to manage the transition threatens to be severe too, with UK engine plants of manufacturers like BMW, Ford and JLR all currently heavily dependent on diesel production.

Messages from ministers have been mixed: recent reductions in plug-in car grants standing in stark contrast to the incentives offered to motorists to buy zero-emission vehicles in counties like Norway. But efforts are now being made by the Government to mandate the expansion of the UK’s vehicle charging infrastructure which should include      on-street charging and monitoring of the performance of public charging points. The authors emphasise:

“A successful transition requires more clarity from the Government in support of both the production and take up of the electric and other alternatively powered vehicles that will be the future of the sector.”

The fact that a number of major manufacturers have yet to confirm plans to build in the UK the next generations of models sends out serious warnings signals that would be foolish in the extreme to ignore.

Ministers could show they are listening:

  • by reducing Brexit uncertainty through ruling out no deal,
  • ending mixed messages over modern diesel
  • and showing much more dynamism in supporting the transition to a connected, autonomous and alternatively powered automotive future,

Burden & Bailey insist that the innovative capacity and diversity that has made the UK automotive sector the success story it has become over the past decade remain in place and David Bailey, in his second chapter, asks for an upgrading in how the UK develops its future manufacturing plans:

“There is a strong case for UK industrial strategy to be afforded an institutional status similar to both UK monetary and fiscal policies. At the very least, it should be the subject of regular strategic long-term reviews. By giving it that sort of priority, the new government would send out the kind of powerful message that British industry and foreign investors need to hear given recent uncertainty.”

 

 

 

 

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In February, the Mayor of London issued high pollution alerts across social media, bus stop signs, road-side displays and at Tube stations. It’s the tenth time Sadiq Khan has used the system since becoming Mayor and shows why he’s working hard to tackle London’s toxic air.   

We’re now just one month away from the launch of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in central London. The 24/7 ULEZ begins on 8 April to help clean up London’s dangerously toxic air. It will replace the current T-Charge and operate within the Congestion Charge Zone.

In central London. The 24/7 ULEZ begins on 8 April to help clean up London’s dangerously toxic air. It will replace the current T-Charge and operate within the Congestion Charge Zone. ULEZ is a world first, it’s expected to cut harmful emissions in the zone by up to 45% in just two years. The Mayor is calling on London’s drivers to check if their vehicles will meet the new tighter emission standards.

SCRAPPAGE SCHEME OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Applications are now open for £23m van scrappage scheme to help London’s microbusinesses and charities get ready for ULEZ. Funding will help them scrap older, polluting vans and minibuses and switch to cleaner vehicles. The Mayor will later launch a £25m scheme to help low income Londoners scrap non-compliant vehicles

E-FLEX – FLEXIBLE SMARTER EV CHARGING

The Mayor wants to help more people switch to electric vehicles (EVs). That’s why we’re now working with partners on a vehicle-to-grid charging project that rethinks EV batteries as a two-way energy source. It uses bidirectional chargers that both charge the EV and make smart use of unused electricity in the battery when it’s stationary. We’re now looking for commercial fleet operators with EVs to join the trial.

SOLAR TOGETHER HITS 500

Solar Together London uses group-buying to help Londoners get high quality, affordable solar panels on their homes. The scheme’s now reached 500 installations, helping to supply London with more low cost, renewable energy. To find out more about the Mayor’s ambitions for solar in London, see his Solar Action Plan..

MAYOR’S ENTREPRENEUR WOMEN4CLIMATE MENTEES

Ten talented Mayor’s Entrepreneur applicants have received mentoring through C40’s Women4Climate programme over the last year. The mentoring has helped them develop their business ideas and get their careers off the ground. Seven of the group also went to the recent Women4Climate conference in Paris to represent City Hall. Mayor’s Entrepreneur awards take place on 25 March. We’ll be revealing details of the winners soon.

Read the eight sections about Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme, which will come into operation on 1 January 2020, here.

 

 

 

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Thousands of care workers across England and Wales are – in effect – being paid less than the national minimum wage because councils aren’t insisting that homecare companies pay for time spent travelling between visits. Using a Freedom of Information request, UNISON found that 54% of local authorities in England don’t state in their contracts that firms must pay employees for time spent travelling between visits.

President of Birmingham TUC Ian Scott writes:

Birmingham TUC and Birmingham against the Cuts are pleased to announce that they will hold a lobby of the 26th February Council meeting calling on the Council to cease using the Tory anti-union legislation against the legal industrial action by Unison Homecare workers and Unite Bin workers.

This follows a letter from 23 Birmingham Labour councillors including the ex-leader Sir Albert Bore and echoed in a television interview by Labour MP Khalid Mahmood. The Birmingham TUC and the national Trade Union Congress has long opposed the implementation of Tory anti-union legislation.

The treatment of the Unison Homecare workers has been particularly disgraceful with an attempt by the Council to force them to accept part-time contracts which involve major cuts in income. This directly contradicts Labour’s national policy of paying workers a living wage.

The attempt to impose a deal is in complete contradiction to Labour’s commitment to a new framework of workers’ rights. The refusal of the Labour cabinet to appropriately negotiate with the Unite Bin workers will lead to increased public hostility towards the Council.#

The lobby will be from 1pm Tuesday 26th February outside the Council House Victoria Square B1 1BB. Reps from the 23 critical Labour councillors, including councillor Majid Mahmood, and reps from Unison and Unite will be speaking at the event. For further details ring Stuart 0777 156 7496 or ser14@btinternet.com

(Ed: surely homecare workers should be paid the minimum wage – better still, a living wage – for every hour worked)

 

 

 

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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