The Anonymous Widower

How Can We Deal With Air Pollution In The UK?

This article on the BBC is entitled Green group wins air pollution court battle.

This is the start of the article.

Campaigners have won the latest battle in legal action against the UK Government over levels of air pollution.

A judge at the High Court in London ruled in favour of environmental lawyers ClientEarth.

The group called air pollution a “public health crisis” and said the government has failed to tackle it.

The ruling in the judicial review called the government’s plan “woefully inadequate”.

As my mate Brian would have said, the \government has been screwed, glued and tattooed, by the Judge.

Does Pollution Affect Me?

I feel very strongly about this, as in the 1940s and 1950s, I suffered badly from the pollution of the time.

Now pollution levels are cutting out the vitamin D producing UVB rays of the sun. Could this be the rason for my low vitamin D levels?

No Magic Bullet

So what can the Government do to meet the European Emission Standards?

There is no magic bullet, but I believe that a raft of measures can gradually bring the levels of pollution down.

Reduction Of All Road Transport

One of London’s problems is that the amount of traffic in the city, means that a lot of the vehicles are stationery and just causing pollution.

I suspect this is a problem in many other cities.

So measures must be taken to reduce the level of all traffic.

  • London needs more Park-and-Ride sites. Do other cities?
  • Differential congestion charging and residents parking, so the polluter pays.
  • More cycling superhighways to encourage cycling.
  • City centre parking must be taxed, with the money funding public transport.
  • Aggressive illegal parking control.
  • Automatic box junction enforcement.
  • 20 mph speed limit to make walking easier.
  • Area average speed control.
  • Reduction of the number of taxis and mini-cabs.

I particularly like the concept of having a grid of linked speed cameras in a city and then issuing a ticket automatically, if the limit is exceeded between two cameras.

Reduction Of Diesel-Powered Transport

As nitrogen dioxide from diesels is the main source of the pollution, we should aim to eliminate as many diesel-powered vehicles, as is practical.

  • Reduction of diesel vehicles will need legislation, probably backed up with government money.
  • Buses, taxis and local delivery vehicles will need to be hybrid or electric.
  • There must be progressive bans for diesel vehicles not meeting the latest standards.
  • Diesel scrapping schemes have been introduced in certain places.

I particularly like the idea, where in an experiment involving Sainsburys, supplies for the supermarkets were delivered by train into Euston at three in the morning and then delivered around Central London by low-emission vehicles.

Increase In Electrically-Powered Transport

This is the key to reducing a lot of pollution in cities.

  • Electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Trams to replace buses.
  • Development of electric rail lines.
  • More cross-city rail lines like Crossrail 2 and the Camp Hill Line.

I also think we’ll see some innovative solutions, like the PRT system, I wrote about in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5.

The problem of improving transport systems is well-illustrated in Chelsea, where some selfish locals don’t want Crossrail 2, as it might hinder them driving their tractors.

More Details

I shall now expand a few of those topics and add a few more ideas.

They are in alphabetical order.

Battery Trains

Battery trains are an alternative to full electrification, where one or both ends of the line to be electrified, already have electrification.

The Greenford Branch is an obvious possibility.

  • The line is only 4.3 km. long.
  • The bay platform at West Ealing station could be easily electrified to charge the trains.
  • Either a new train or a refurbished one with batteries could work the line.
  • Two trains would be needed to run the promised four trains per hour service.
  • Little new infrastructure would be needed.

I believe that battery trains are an affordable alternative to full electrification.

Battery Trams

Battery trams are being introduced into Birmingham to extend the Midland Metro. This article in the Railway Gazette, which is entitled Midland Metro trams to be converted for catenary-free operation, gives full details.

  • The only construction required is to lay the rails, build the stops and install the signalling.
  • Putting up overhead wires in a historic or sensitive city centre can be a legal and logistical nightmare and very expensive.
  • Battery trams work in Seville and Nanjing.
  • Trams charge the battery at either a charging station or when running under wires outside of the centre.

I can see a time, when in city centres, most trams will be battery-powered.

It will be interesting to see how Brummies take to their battery trams.

Connectivity Improvements

Compare arriving in Birmingham New Street and Euston stations, needing to go a few miles to say Centenary or Trafalgar Squares respectively.

At Euston, you go to the nearest bus stop, look up the spider map with all the destinations from Euston and it tells you how to get to about a hundred locations. Job done!

But in Birmingham, the brand new station doesn’t have that information on display in an easy-to-understand form.

Birmingham isn’t too bad and is certainly better than Manchester, but why can’t cities copy the London system.

You may get to these places easily, but the connecting and ticketing arrangements, tell you to bring your car next time.

Contactless Bank Card Ticketing

London now allows anybody to use their contactless bank card, as a ticket on all modes of public transport.

I don’t have the figures, but I believe that every time a new feature is added, like the new Bus Hopper, there is an increase in public transport usage.

After London’s experiences, I have no doubt, that contactless bank card ticketing increases the use of public transport and removes traffic from the roads.

Introducing contactless bank card ticketing, should be a condition of Central Government finance for public transport projects.

But every city in the world will introduce this form of ticketing!

Not doing it, will make sure visitors don’t come back and tell their friends what a crap place they’ve visited.

Cross-City Railways And Trams

A lot of cities and conurbations have a lot more traffic and the resulting pollution, as getting from one side of the city to the other is not easy, without driving through the city centre.

As an example, Crossrail will improve access to Heathrow from East and South-East London, where the alternative is a drive round the M25 or through the city centre, on congested roads. But Crossrail is only one of many successful cross-city routes in the UK.

  • The Central, District, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the London Underground.
  • The East, North and West London Lines and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line of the London Overground.
  • Thameslink in London
  • The Northern Line in Liverpool.
  • The Cross-City Line and Snow Hill Lines in Birmingham
  • The East and West Coastway Lines in Brighton.
  • The Metro in Newcastle.
  • The Nottingham Express Transit in Nottingham.
  • The Valley Lines in Cardiff

All of these lines are well-used and there are plans to upgrade those, not to the standard of the London Overground.

Efficient Deliveries

If I have my window open, I can sometimes hear several delivery trucks call at my various neighbours in a short period of time.

This is not efficient and surely something better can be done.

I was once offered delivery of a small parcel to my Local Sainsburys, which is about a hundred metres away.

Organised properly with enough drop points, that must be more efficient and convenient.

This is one we don’t need to worry about, as the big shopping groups will make it happen as they go for greater sales and more profits.


Park-and-Ride is a good way of keeping, passenger cars away from City Centres.

Nottingham may be a lot smaller than London, but it is a city that has designed the Nottingham Express Transit with several Park-and-Ride sites, at the edges of the city.

Compare that with the non-existent Park-and-Ride provision on Crossrail, which I wrote about in Crossrail’s Park-And-Ride Facilities.

Railway Electrification

Electrification of rail routes across cities and replacing diesel trains with electric ones, is always an option to cut pollution.


  • London is currently electrifying the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and this will also allow noisy and polluting Class 66 diesel locomotives to replaced with electric ones on freight trains on this route.
  • Lines in Liverpool and Birmingham are also being electrified.
  • Electric trains also seem to be passenger magnets as the Class 378 trains of the London Overground have shown.

But remember, that every passenger on an electric train, can’t be using their car and is rteducing their pollution footprint.

Rewards For Going Car-Free

I have met several people recently, who have given up owning a car in Central London.

So could those, who don’t bring their car into the congested area, receive some form of reward.








November 2, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Interesting comments. Manchester needs more park and ride schemes. School playgrounds strike me as excellent places to site them at weekends and and school holidays when they aren’t in use by the pupils, but this doesn’t seem to happen. I would use the East Didsbury tram stop park and ride, except you have to have a special pass to take your scooter on the tram, and getting one is very faffy! Traffic in Manchester is always heavy. Regarding 20 mph speed limits – the road next to my house is a 20 zone, quite a large one, however, it would be impossible to drive at that speed because of the parked cars; people park them there and walk or get a bus to the station. However, Cheadle High St is a 20 zone too. I drive down it at least twice most days. And I am careful not to drive at more than 20, even at 6.30 am on my way to the gym. However, very often there will be a car almost up my exhaust pipe, beeping, gesticulating etc. Drives me crazy! Some of the main roads into the city centre have a similar problem, being 30 zone when similar roads would be 40 or 50. And you get a driver practically up your exhaust pipe. Drivers are more angry these days I think, which doesn’t help. Same happens when you stop at traffic lights!

    I agree about delivery trucks – I do much of my non-food shopping online, and at the moment I am doing a lot because of Christmas coming, replacing clothes which are too big, and re-reading my favourite childhood books etc. And often three different couriers come in one day. Often from the same place. There is a distribution place in Wythenshawe, and all the local packages for a particular area go there, and are then picked up by the various drivers from several different courier companies covered. We now have our very own Amazon distribution centre in Hale Barns, less than a mile from the airport, so Amazon do their own deliveries, and very efficient they are I have to say. As well as providing a lot of unskilled work – pay is basic, and conditions aren’t great the work is very target driven, but many people who have struggled to find work for many years have been able to get work there. Our daughter also shops mostly online, she has her deliveries to her place of work – she works on a business park, and the couriers are often going to a lot of other places there so that saves fuel etc. And it means I don’t have to stay in to wait for it to be delivered to my house – or sit in her flat waiting for it to be delivered there!

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | November 3, 2016 | Reply

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