The Anonymous Widower

A Road Scheme That Appears To Going Nowhere

This article on the BBC is entitled A57 Link Roads Mottram Bypass: Charity Seeks Judicial Review.

This is the sub-heading.

Environmental campaigners are seeking a judicial review of proposals designed to ease road congestion between Manchester and Sheffield.

And these are the first two paragraphs.

Plans for the A57 Link Roads Mottram Bypass scheme were boosted in November when Transport Minister Huw Merriman granted a development consent order.

But countryside charity the CPRE said there was no evidence building a new road “moves away a traffic problem”.

I remember this area well from the 1960s, when I was studying at Liverpool University and my parents lived in Felixstowe.

  • There was no motorway across the Midlands between Coventry and Stafford and the alternative of the A5 was a nose-to-tail crawl.
  • The M62 was still in the design phase.

So I took to using this cross-country route.

  • A45 between Felixstowe and Huntingdon.
  • A1 to Worksop, which was mainly dual-carriageway.
  • A57 to Manchester, through Sheffield and Glossop, which was and still is single-track.
  • A580 to Liverpool.

I think my best time was about five hours in a 1954 Morris Minor.

I feel, I must have gone through Mottram in Longdendale, judging by the map on the BBC article.

It is interesting to read the Wikipedia entry for the Longdendale Bypass, which starts like this.

The Longdendale Bypass (also known as the A57/A628 Mottram-in-Longdendale, Hollingworth & Tintwistle Bypass) is a long-planned road scheme in England by the Highways Agency. The aim is to alleviate traffic congestion on the A57 road/A628 road/A616 road routes that presently pass through the villages. There is both support and opposition for this long-planned scheme which will pass through the valley of Longdendale and part of the Peak District National Park.

The scheme was approved by the Highways Agency in 2014, so politicians have not exactly been quick off the mark.

These are some choice phrases from the Wikipedia entry.

  • It is used by a relatively large number of heavy goods vehicles.
  • Supporters of the scheme say that the A628 is one of the most congested A-road routes in the country.
  • There is no viable alternative to a bypass.
  • A survey in 2010 found that the junction of the A57 and M67 was the most congested in Manchester.

It is a disaster and the intervention by the CPRE will further delay a solution.

Conclusion

It is problems like this, that lead me to one solution.

On the one hand, you improve the railways and on the other you bring in universal road charging.

Hopefully passengers and freight will find a happy equilibrium.

But voters wouldn’t like it and any Government, that brought it in would lose the next election to a yet-to-be-formed Motorists Party.

 

January 13, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Construction Has Started On The Silvertown Tunnel

These pictures show that construction has started on the Silverton Tunnel.

Note that New Civil Engineer is reporting that tunnelling has started.

My Current Thoughts On The Silvertown Tunnel

In 2015, I wrote No To Silvertown Tunnel, which I started with these two paragraphs.

My personal feelings about the Silvertown Tunnel are that it is irrelevant to me, except that it might help some trucks bring goods that I buy online or at a local shop. Although as a sixty-eight year-old-widower living alone, I don’t think my transport needs through the tunnel will be high.

I don’t drive after my stroke and I like that lifestyle, except when last night it took me three trains, a coach and a taxi to get back from watching football at Ipswich. But that tortuous late night journey was caused because NuLabor spent my tax money on pointless wars that will haunt us for generations, rather than in extending and renewing our rail system, that will nurture and enrich our future.

But my objections to the Silvertown Tunnel have changed and expanded.

New Transport Infrastructure Attracts Passengers

This may seem obvious, but there has been several cases recently in London to prove my point.

  • The London Overground has been a success beyond Transport for London’s wildest dreams and as an example the North London Line, that started with three x three-car trains per hour (tph) is now running eight x five-car tph. This is a four time increase in capacity.
  • New buses and contactless ticketing have encouraged more passengers to use the buses.
  • Electrification and new trains has transformed the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • The expansion of Thameslink and new trains now carries a lot more North-South traffic through London.
  • Every time, a new section of the Elizabeth Line opens more passengers are attracted to the new line.
  • The remodelling of London Bridge station has increased passenger numbers. And shoppers!

On a personal note, I live on a bus corridor, that runs between North London and Moorgate for the Lizzie Line. Since the Lizzie Line has been fully connected, passenger numbers have risen by a big margin.

I don’t believe that the ability to attract more traffic of the Silvertown Tunnel will be any different.

More Traffic Means More Congestion And Pollution

I live close to the Balls Pond Road, which increasingly seems to be a truck route across North London.

The Silvertown Tunnel will be two lanes each way; one for trucks and buses, and one for smaller vehicles.

I can’t see that pollution and congestion around the Silvertown Tunnel and on the routes to the tunnel, will not increase.

There Is Little Or No Provision For Cyclists And Pedestrians

This will be a big problem. Especially, as the local traffic in the area will increase dramatically.

Does Central London Have Enough Parking For The Increased Traffic?

Parking in Central London is probably close to capacity now!

So What Would I Do?

Given that construction has already started, I feel it is too late to cancel.

Better Alternatives Than Driving

I feel measures should be adopted that provide better alternatives than driving.

Obviously, this won’t help with trucks, but it could reduce the total number of vehicles going through the tunnel.

These could include.

  • Increase the frequency of trains on both the Lizzie Line and Thameslink.
  • Increase the number of destinations on both the Lizzie Line and Thameslink.
  • Add an extra car to Lizzie Line trains.
  • Remove First Class on the shorter eight-car Thameslink trains.
  • Add provision on some Lizzie Line and Thameslink routes for bicycles.
  • Add a Silvertown station to the Elizabeth Line for London City Airport.
  • Add one or more pedestrian and cycling bridges across the Thames.
  • Expand of the Docklands Light Railway.
  • Expand the Thames Clipper.
  • Connect Barking Riverside station to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood station either by a rail or a fast ferry.
  • Keep the cable-car.

I suspect there are other viable ideas.

Develop Incentives To Use Public Transport

Incentives could be in these areas.

  • Better station and bus terminals encourage more to use trains and buses.
  • Full free onboard wi-fi and phone charging.
  • Special fares for some journeys.

An example of the latter could be a discount for certain cross-river journeys.

Make The Silvertown Tunnel Available For Zero Carbon Vehicles Only

This would surely cut pollution in London.

Conclusion

We should use the Silvertown Tunnel to improve London’s air quality.

November 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses

I went to Birmingham today and took one of their new hydrogen buses on route 51 to Perry Barr and another one back.

Note.

  1. As the pictures show Perry Barr is a bit of traffic bottleneck because of the reconstruction of Perry Barr station an other developments in the area, because of the Commonwealth Games, which are going to e held in Birmingham in 2022.
  2. The route goes past the High Speed Two site.
  3. Birmingham is a city of highways, flyovers, underpasses and roundabouts.
  4. The buses have wi-fi and charging points for phones.

I very much feel that the buses are the best hydrogen-powered vehicles, that I’ve travelled in, as they are smooth, comfortable, quiet and seem to have excellent performance.

Birmingham Buses Have Their Own Hydrogen Electrolyser

London bring their hydrogen in by truck from Runcorn, where it is created by electrolysis, for their hydrogen-powered buses.

On the other hand, Birmingham Buses have their own electrolyser at the Tyseley Energy Park.

This Google Map shows Tyseley Energy Park.

Note.

  1. The Birmingham Bus Refueler hadn’t opened, when this map was last updated.
  2. Tyseley Energy Park is only a few miles from the City Centre and route 51.
  3. I estimate that the Tyseley Energy Park occupies around four hectares.

This page on the Tyseley Energy Park web site described the refuelling options that are available.

  • Fuels available include hydrogen, biomethane, compressed natural gas, diesel, gas oil and AdBlue.
  • There are a range of charging options for electric vehicles.

The 3 MW electrolyser was built by ITM Power of Sheffield, which I estimate will produce nearly 1.5 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

According to this page on the Wrightbus website, a hydrogen-powered double-deck bus needs 27 Kg of hydrogen to give it a range of 250 miles. The refuelling of each bus takes eight minutes.

So the current fleet of twenty buses will need 540 Kg of hydrogen per day and this will give them a combined range of 5000 miles.

It would appear that the capacity of the electrolyser can more than handle Birmingham’s current fleet of twenty buses and leave plenty of hydrogen for other vehicles.

Could Other Towns And Cities Build Similar Energy Parks?

I don’t see why not and it looks like ITM Power are involved in a proposal to build an electrolyser at Barking.

Some would feel that London ought to follow Birmingham and create its own hydrogen.

 

 

.

 

January 7, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stonehenge Tunnel Campaigners Win Court Battle

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

This is the first part of the BBC article.

Campaigners have won a court battle to prevent the “scandalous” construction of a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

The £1.7bn Highways England project aimed to reduce A303 congestion but campaigners said it would detrimentally affect the world heritage site.

The government approved plans in 2020 for a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel to be created near the Wiltshire monument.

Mr Justice Holgate’s ruling means the order granted by transport secretary Grant Shapps has been quashed.

I obtained my driving licence in 1964 and since then the A303 past Stonehenge has been a worsening bottleneck.

I suspect that unreleased papers from successive governments since the 1960s would show that most Ministers of Transport hoped the problem of Stonehenge would be solved by the next Government of a different colour, which would hopefully lose them the next election.

If you read the whole of the BBC article you’ll see a large map from Highways England.

Note.

  1. The proposed tunnel is shown as a dotted red line to the South of Stonehenge, more or less following the line of the current A303.
  2. The Amesbury by-pass already exists in the East.
  3. A new Winterbourne Stoke by-pass will be built in the West.

Some feel that a longer tunnel might be the solution.

But it would probably need to start to the West of Winterbourne Stoke and be at least three times longer than the proposed tunnel.

So this short stretch of road would then probably cost around £5billion.

Can We Reduce The Traffic On This Road?

There are several ways that traffic might be reduced.

Universal Road Pricing

Every vehicle would be fitted with a meter, which charged drivers depending on the following.

  • The type of vehicle.
  • The congestion on the road.
  • The speed, at which the vehicle is travelling.

It might work, but any government introducing universal road pricing would lose the next General Election by a landslide.

Tolls On Parts Of The A303

Again it might work and push drivers to find other routes.

Improve Other Routes Like The M4

As capacity is increased on other routes, drivers could be lured away from the busy section of the A303 around Stonehenge.

Improve Rail Services Between Paddington And West Of Exeter

I know because of friends, who regularly go to Devon and \Cornwall for both weekends and longer holidays, that many people go to the far-South West by car and most will use the A303 route to and from London.

These services are run by Great Western Railway and the destinations in the South West are not as comprehensive as they could be.

  • GWR’s Class 802 trains can split and join efficiently, which could mean they could serve more destinations with the same number of trains.
  • GWR seem to be in favour of developing more direct services between London and Bodmin, Okehampton and other places.
  • GWR are adding stations to their network in the South-West.

But most importantly, GWR, Hitachi and the Eversholt Rail Group are developing the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which will lower carbon-emissions on the route. This Hitachi infographic describes the train.

These trains could attract numbers of car drivers to use the train, rather than drive.

Improve The Night Riviera Between Paddington And Penzance

Most other sleeper trains in Europe have renewed their fleet.

An improvement in the rolling stock could encourage more people to travel this way.

Improve Rail Services Between Waterloo And Exeter

The rail line between Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Salisbury runs within a dozen miles of Stonehenge.

  • The rolling stock is thirty-year-old British Rail diesel trains.
  • It is not electrified to the West of Basingstoke.
  • There are portions of single-track railway.

The Waterloo and Exeter line could be improved.

  • Remove some sections of single track.
  • Upgrade the operating speed to up to 100 mph in places.
  • Use a version of the latest Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train
  • Add some new stations.

I believe the quality, frequency and journey times of the service could all be improved.

Would this second fast route from the South-West encourage more to take the train?

Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station

Stonehenge may be the problem, but it can also be part of the solution.

In The Proposal For Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station, I write about an innovative proposal, that uses a car park at a new station to create a Park-And-Ride for both Stonehenge and Salisbury.

This could bring more visitors to Stonehenge without their cars.

Conclusion

None of these proposals will take vast amounts of pressure from the A303. But every little helps.

Some like the decarbonisation of rail services will have to be done anyway.

 

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

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/Travel | , , | 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/Travel | , , , , | 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/Travel | , , | 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/Travel | , , , , , , | 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/Travel | , , | 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/Travel | , , | 1 Comment