The Anonymous Widower

M4: Alternative Solutions To Motorway Travel

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

It is a good read giving both sides of the problems of commuting.

This is an important section from an expert.

Prof Mark Barry, a transport expert at Cardiff University, said the M4 has been important in attracting manufacturing, but there have been negatives.

“The downside is we’ve built a lot more housing, retail and other business parks around the M4, that’s then made us over-dependent on the car,” he said.

I think Professor Barry is highlighting a problem, that is seen all over the UK. Like the United States, housing, office, medical and leisure developments are being built, where the only way to get there is by car.

I don’t drive because my eyesight has been damaged by a stroke, but I still have a full life, with more travel than the average man of 71.

June 14, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

M4 Relief Road: Five Things The Planning Inspector Said

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is two of the introductory paragraphs.

Until First Minister Mark Drakeford cancelled it, despite the conclusions of a planning inspector.

After months of studying the evidence in a public inquiry, Bill Wadrup said there was a “compelling case” to build the relief road.

I have read a lot about this relief road and something definitely needs to be done to ease the problems of going between England and South Wales.

On the one hand my environmental and non-driving thoughts, lead me to conclude that the road shouldn’t be built and more transport should be transferred to rail.

But on the other hand, my economic thoughts say that it should be built.

What Happens Now?

In this second article on the BBC, this is said about the stance of the various politicians.

The plans have proved politically divisive too – there has been significant opposition in Labour and some ministers are thought to oppose the scheme.

Plaid Cymru is firmly against, while the newly-formed Brexit Party is backing the road.

Some Labour Newport politicians – particularly those from the Newport West constituency – have lobbied for the road to be built.

Labour AM Jayne Bryant said: “Air pollution is a serious public heath issue because of the congestion on the M4.

“The vast amount of traffic on the M4 around Newport is not local to Newport – that’s why public transport alone will not solve it.”

Plans for the scheme were revived in 2013 after the UK government offered borrowing powers that would allow for the upgrade.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron called the Brynglas tunnels “a foot on the windpipe of the Welsh economy” – and the UK government remains a supporter of the scheme.

Economics could mean that a new Welsh Government, will change their mind. Especially, if the M4 relief road becomes an election issue.

As I write this, news is expected of the closure of Ford’s Bridgend factory.

I doubt this is down to the state of the M4, but getting trucks to and from South Wales will become an increasing logistics nightmare. It may mean, that businesses thinking of setting up a Welsh factory will look elsewhere.

The Railway Must Be Key

The only alternative to the M4 is to make more use of the railway.

The Welsh Government is planning the following.

  • An extensive South Wales Metro, with new routes, trains and some new stations.
  • More Park-and-Ride stations on the South Wales Main Line.
  • Extension of Cardiff station.

But is it enough?

Probably not!

  • Does the double-track Severn Tunnel have enough capacity for all the trains to and from a hopefully-expanding Welsh economy?
  • Can freight trains get easily to and from the Channel Tunnel, Felixstowe, Liverpool, London and Southampton?
  • Is the rail route for travellers between South Wales and Heathrow an incentive to drive?
  • Are services between South Wales and Birmingham and Manchester a joke?

A lot of money needs to be spent!

And much of it in England not Wales!

Frederick Snow Was Right

In The Severn Barrage, I wrote about Frederick Snow’s plan for a tidal power station and airport in the Severn Estuary, based on a barrage.

I believe that if the Severn Barrage had been build correctly in the 1970s, that a new Southern M4 and rail route could have been built on top of the barrage.

Conclusion

It’s a mess!

In my view the most likely solution will be that traffic on the M4 gets so bad, that travellers and freight will move or get moved to rail.

 

I

 

June 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Cost Of Widening The Last Section Of The A465 Will Be More Than The Entire South Wales Metro

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Wales Online.

The article is a good example of comparing costs between road and rail and is well worth a read.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

£250m Bypass Will Destroy Woodland

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

A four-mile bypass will be built partly in the South Downs National Park under a plan that conservation groups fear will set a precedent for development in other protected areas.

This map shows the route of the proposed bypass.

The route may be the best solution, but I believe we need to be more radical.

Overcrowded and inadequate roads exist all along the South Coast of England and in many other scenic places in the UK.

I think we need to develop a philosophy to solve the problems of roads in these crowded places.

Building a four-mile bypass at Arundel, may be needed, but we should do many other things to ease traffic congestion and improve transport capacity.

So what do I believe we should do?

We could introduce negative measures like road pricing or other restrictions, but I believe there are positive things we could do.

Broadband

You might think, what has broadband got to do with reducing the need to build roads.

I believe that as more houses and businesses get very high speed broadband, this will reduce the number of journeys taken.

Mobile Phone Coverage

I am not sure, what effect excellent mobile phone coverage will have on traffic, but it certainly will have one.

Cycling

We will all be cycling more and one of the consequences of excellent mobile phone coverage will be the growth of park-it-anywhere bike schemes like ofo and Mobike.

I think a few years time, many short distance journeys will be done by bicycle.

But expect some Luddite councils to legislate against ofo, Mobike and their ilk!

Rail

Fast forward five years and a train journey in an area like along the South Coast or in East Anglia or the West Country, will be very different.

  • Digital signalling will increase the capacity of all lines and mean that most stations will have at least four trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Digital signalling will also allow more routes.
  • Advances in train design will mean that journeys are faster.
  • Ticketing will use contactless bank cards or mobile phone payment systems.
  • Trains will be a much more comfortable and work-friendly experience, with wi-fi, 4G and power sockets.
  • Track layouts will be improved and level crossings will be removed., to allow trains to operate more efficiently.
  • Improved information on trains and stations.
  • The improved dwell times of modern trains, will allow new stations to be added without degrading services.

The biggest development along the South Coast, will be an improved service between Ashford and Portsmouth/Southampton/Bournemouth.

  • Existing tracks will be used, with the addition of short stretches of new track at possibly Brighton and Eastbourne.
  • Line speeds will be at least 100 mph.
  • Most stations will have a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph service.

There will also be other improved routes to and from London and Gatwick Airport for many of the coastal towns.

This improvement in rail services will be impossible with a rail company like Govia Thameslink Railway providing services.

  • They are more conservative, than the RMT.
  • They look after their core commuter traffic, at the expense of other passengers.
  • The franchise is just too big.

However, digital signalling will allow Open Access Operators to compete and create new services geared to customers needs.

Thameslink

The current Thameslink service will have the following characteristics, when it is completed in December 2019.

  • Twenty-four tph through London.
  • A well-designed track layout at Bermondsey that unlocks London’s North-South railway.
  • Services at a level of at least two tph to many stations in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
  • A set of uncomfortable Class 700 trains, designed by a moronic civil servant in the Department of Transport.

The major Thameslink upgrade was designed totally without vision and charisma.

However, the basics and possibilities are there to do the following.

  • Increase the frequency to thirty tph through the Central London core.
  • Increase the frequency on the Brighton Main Line through Gatwick, substantially, by using digital signalling.
  • Rebuild the trains, with what passengers need.
  • Add extra services all along the South Coast.
  • Develop a massive rail-air interchange station at Gatwick.

I believe that Gatwick could develop into the busiest station in the UK.

I also think, that anybody going between London and the South Coast, will have a frequency of at least four tph from their local station, using either a direct service or a single change at Gatwick.

Freight

This Google Map shows the A27 through Arundel.

Note the number of trucks on the roads.

Where are they going?

The bypass would get the trucks out of Arundel, but would it just encourage more to use the South Coast route as a bypass for the crowded M25?

We need a proper philosophy for freight in this country.

  • As much freight as possible should be by rail.
  • Trucks should be for short distance or specialist needs only.

Does Southampton Docks have good enough access to the UK rail network?

I think not, especially as it would be very difficult to increase freight traffic through Southampton Central station, due to the restriction of the double-track Southampton Tunnel.

Conclusion

There is a lot to do, before we spend £250million n a bypass.

 

 

 

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Northern Spire Bridge

The Northern Spire Bridge is being built across the River Wear to the West of Sunderland.

The pictures were taken from the Tyne and Wear Metro between Pallion and South Hylton stations.

It will be a dual-carriageway with provision for pedestrians and cyclists.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Gritter Tracker

Scotland’s Gritter Tracker was mentioned on BBC Breakfast.

So I had to point to it! Just click here!

Note the names!

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train – October 13th 2017

It is only a couple of weeks since I wrote Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train and progress seems to have accelerated in that time.

The Class 399 tram-trains are now running between Cathedral and Herdings Park, as I reported in Class 399 Tram-Trains In Service.

Progress On The Tinsley Chord

I took these pictures at Tinsley Chord, where the track connects theMeadowhall branch of the Supertram to the freight line to Rotherham.

There isn’t really much to see, as trees obscure any good view from the road.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  • The Tinsley Viaduct carrying the M1 cutting across the bottom-left corner of the map.
  • Blackburn Meadows, with the Water Treatment Plant and Biomass Power Station, at the North of the map.
  • The Blackburn Meadows Way linking into Meadowhall.
  • The freight line to Rotherham runs to the outh of this road.
  • The Supertram running along the West side of the motorway.

The Tinsley Chord, that links the tram and freight lines is hidden under the viaduct.

I did get some more pictures later.

The Tinsley Chord appears to be double-track, where it will join the existing tram line.

The Wires Are Going Up

These pictures show that the wires are going up between the freight line and Rotherham Central station.

The gantries seem much more main line than tram.

But the Class 399 tram-trains, won’t care if they contain 750 VDC or 25 KVAC. Changing the volts is a lot easier than changing the catenary.

Rotherham Station

These pictures show the current state of Rptherham Central station.

Note.

  • The wires are going up.
  • The low-level platform extensions need to be completed.
  • Trains will use the high end of the platforms and tram-trains the low end.

Karlsruhe have much worse platform height problems, as they have two generations of tram-trains and German trains that need low platforms to cope with.

Walking To The Parkgate Shopping

I thought about using a taxi, but in the end, I walked to the Parkgate Shopping, as the weather was sunny.

I did manage to get an idea of the distance in a thirty minute walk.

Parkgate Shopping

Parkgate Shopping is the sort of shopping centre I rarely visit.

I am a guerrilla shopper, who decides what he needs and then chooses where to go and buy it. Being a coeliac, food shopping usually requires a couple of shops. One of these must be a Marks and Spencer, as their gluten-free staples like bread, biscuits, beer and muesli are better than most.

These days, I don’t drive, but a couple of doctors have told me, they reckon I could get my licence back.It’s just that not having a car, removes a whole chunk of hassle from your life. I don’t want it back!

I also often create shopping with a visit to either a friend, a restaurant, a museum or perhaps even a dentist.

I’ll often plan my day, so I come home via somewhere like the Angel, Moorgate, Eastfield or King Cross, where I pick up my supper.

Parkgate might be a place to go if it fitted my target requirements and I lived locally.

But it would need decent public transport like Meadowhall down the riad.

The Tram Stop At Parkgate Shopping

These pictures show the railway that passes Parkgate Shopping and the tram-train stop being built.

The stop needs finishing and a route to the stops would need to be created.

But it looks like the designers have developed a simple one platform stop capable of handling the required three trains an hour.

Conclusion

The project appears to be coming towards the end.

There are several things that need to be completed.

  • The catenary.
  • The connection of the tracks at the Tinsley Chord.
  • Rotherham Central station pltforms
  • Parkgate Shopping tram stop.

Then it would need to be tested.

If I have a question about the project, I wonder how they managed to be so late and over budget, as IS reported in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Sheffield to Rotherham Tram-Train Is Five Times Over Budget, Says NAO.

My gut instinct tells me, that there are a few problems with this project, that would have been avoided by a little bit more thought before it started.

But I think it’ll come out alright on the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Plan To Build Third Runway – On Stilts Over M25

This is the title of an article in the Business section of the Sunday Times.

Apparently, three viaducts would be built over the M25, with a wide one for the runway and two narrower ones for the taxi-ways.

Sounds fine by me!

I also feel that the technique of using stilts could be applied to build new housing and commercial properties over roads and railways.

Look at all that space over some city centre stations!

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Relief For Ely

Ely station is not only a bottleneck for trains, but because the A142 only has a headroom of nine foot under the railway, a serious bottleneck for road traffic and an accident blackspot that stops both road and rail traffic.

But this article from the Cambridge News is entitled Work to start on new Ely bypass as final designs get the go-ahead.

This is the article’s simple description of the by-pass.

The new route will bypass the railway level crossing, as well as the accident prone low-bridge underpass, by providing a new link between Stuntney Causeway and Angel Drove to the south of the city.

Preparatory works are set to start on January 9 to mark out the site area to build the 1.7km of road, which will include two new bridges to cross the River Ouse and its flood plain, as well as additional railway lines.

I have been at Ely station a couple of times in the past week and these pictures show that work has now actually started.

The first four pictures were taken from an Ely to Ipswich train and the last one was taken from Plstform 3 at Ely station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Stuntley Causeway is the A142, which leads South-East from the station.
  2. The Great Ouse.
  3. The two railway lines meeting at Ely Dock Junction.
  4. Angel Drove is the road labelled A142, that curves from the city to the roundabout at the West of the map.
  5. The work site is in the angle between the Great Ouse and the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds, just to the West of the Hawk Bridge, where railway crosses the river.

As the new road crosses the river, the junction with Stuntley Causeway must be somewhere to the South-East of where the A142 currently crosses the river, which must make the road take a widish loop.

The project would appear to be a well-designed solution.

  • Is the wide loop of the road, to keep noise of heavy traffic away from the river and the city?
  • It should give relief for road traffic at Ely station.
  • Hopefully it will cut bridge strikes.
  • The viaduct over the railway and the river, incorporates a footbridge.

The question must be asked, if the building of the by-pass and the double-tracking of the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds are two projects that will co-operate.

The Hawk Bridge has already got space for a second track, so could this be laid first, so that it could be used as a siding to bring in the heavy components for the viaduct that will be built over the river? Or will they be floated in, using a barge on the river?

The order of construction on this project could be tricky, but the quality of project management has increased greatly in recent times.

 

March 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

West Anglia Route Improvement – Meridian Water, Road Traffic And Level Crossings – 1st March 2017

This map from the Meridian Water web site shows the area of Meridian Water outlined in red.

meridianwatersite

And this Google Map shows the Lea Valley from the North Circular Road in the North almost to Tottenhsm Hale in the South.

riverlea

Note.

  • Tesco and IKEA are in the middle of the Meridian Water site with the West Anglia Main Line and the main North South road to their West.
  • The River Lea and the River Lea Navigation Canal pass between the Meridian Water site and the Banbury Reservoir.

With the building of Meridian Water, traffic in the area is only going to get worse.

The main North-South route shown in the second map starts North of Enfield Lock, where it has rather dodgy connections to the M25 and is generally a single carriageway road, all the way to the Tottenham Hale Gyratory, where traffic is heavy at all times.

One problem is going or coming West from this North-South route, as vehicles need to cross the West Anglia Main Line.

Starting from the North, the crossings of the railway are as follows.

  • A level crossing at Enfield Lock station.
  • A level crossing at Brimsdown station.
  • A bridge for the A110
  • A bridge at Conduit Lane, just North of the current Angel Road station.
  • The North Circular Road, which is not well-connected to the North-South route.
  • A bridge at Leeside Road, just South of the proposed site of Meridian Water station.
  • A level crossing at Northumberland Park station.

Another bridge over the railway delivers you into the jams at Topttenham Hale.

STAR is currently envisaged to provide a seven-day-a-week services of four trains per hour (tph) between Angel Road and Stratford with calls at Northumberland Park, Tottenham Hale and Lea Bridge stations.

However the current local service up the Lea Valley from Stratford goes to Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations with a rather erratic stopping pattern at stations North of Tottenham Hale.

So will STAR be based on these services or a separate train turning back at Meridian Water station?

But whatever happens it will increase the number of trains through Northumberland Park station.

The Bridges Are For Four Lines

It has now been announced in the last few weeks, that the level crossing will be closed.

Drivers wanting to go across the level crossing, following the closure will now do one of the following.

  • Go South and over the railway to Tottenham Hale.
  • Go North and cross the railway on the Leeside Road bridge.

They could always use the train.

I think the following would help mitigate the loss of the crossing.

  • Some road improvement at the junction of Leeside Road and the North-South road.
  • A decent pedestrian route between the new Meridian Water station and Glover Drive for Tesco and IKEA.
  • The STAR service going North from Meridian Water station, as well as South to Stratford.

Hopefully, it will all be clear by the end of 2018.

 

 

 

March 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment