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Go HS2 and London to Coventry

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West Midlands Regional Rail Forum, 'A world class rail network for the West Midlands', Oct 2012The West Midlands Regional Rail Forum is a “body of stakeholders from throughout the West Midlands with an interest in ensuring the success of our regional rail network”, composed of ‘local transport authorities, business, the rail industry (TOCs and Network Rail), the Rail Freight Group and, Passenger Focus’.

This month, the Forum has published its draft report ‘A World Class Rail Network for the West Midlands’. According to paragraph of the report

Work by consultants CEBR, highlighted that long term growth sectors of the West Midlands economy, based on higher added value service sector activities, require a wide pool of high quality labour.

Passenger Focus, Centro, and Network Rail are among the Forum members that back high speed rail. However, on its website, CEBR described HS2 as “a triumph of PR over economics” whose sums “don’t add up”.

The Forum also presented aspirations for improved connectivity on the existing West Coast Main Line.

2.2.13 Improved Connectivity on Existing West Coast Main Line HS2 will also release capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line for additional passenger and freight services and the West Midlands Regional Rail Forum will work with Centro, the DfT and rail industry to ensure to secure the optimum benefits of this for the region, especially in terms of: enhanced cross-regional connectivity local service capacity, frequency & service patterns access to the new HS2 stations new long distance links (including direct London services) capacity for freight growth

2.2.14 This will enable strategic centres such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Walsall, Solihull, Sandwell and Dudley to receive new and more frequent rail services, bringing improved connectivity and increased economic output.

2.2.15 As a minimum, following the completion of HS2 Phase 1, the West Midlands Regional Rail Forum also wishes to see the retention of a fast intercity service every 30 minutes between the West Midlands and London Euston with the following calling pattern:

Shrewsbury (1 train per hour)

Telford Central (1 train per hour)


Sandwell & Dudley

Birmingham New St

Birmingham Int


Rugby (1 train per hour)

Milton Keynes

Watford Jcn (1 train per hour)

London Euston

In September 13’s article I explored Go-HS2 statements on how HS2 would ‘free up capacity’ on the West Midlands rail network for more local, regional and freight services. At present, there are three Virgin intercity trains per hour between Birmingham and Euston, via Coventry. The Regional Rail Forum’s aspiration is for two ‘fast’ London trains to continue on that route, after HS2 started up.

So as far as the West Midlands conurbation is concerned, the sum total of capacity freed up by HS2 would appear to be one fast path an hour, allowing perhaps two extra local passenger services to run between Birmingham and Coventry.

Written by beleben

October 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Awareness, cyclists and pedestrians

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According to Transport for London, more than half of all cyclist deaths are caused by collisions with goods vehicles.

Risk can be minimised if lorry drivers and cyclists alike are aware of each other and behave responsibly.

Current heavy goods vehicle design is extremely problematic for pedestrians and cyclists. The Metropolitan Police Exchanging Places video shows some of the many blind spots for drivers of high-cab heavy goods vehicles.

The Transport Research Laboratory has published reports on heavy goods vehicle blind spots, but they are not freely readable on the internet, and they charge £35 or something for each report. So here’s a summary of a 2009 TRL report, from the Backhouse Jones website.

Thursday 27th August 2009

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has recently published a DfT commissioned report on heavy goods vehicle blind spot modelling.

This report is in follow up to a previous trial carried out by TRL in 2006 which indicated that blind spots exist even with vehicles equipped with the latest specification mirrors in compliance with Directive 2007/97/EC which requires up to six mirrors to be fitted to hgvs. Since 31 March 2009, Directive 2007/38/EC requires most hgvs over 3,500kg manufactured since 1 January 2000 to be equipped, on the passenger side, with wide-angle and close-proximity mirrors which fulfil the requirements for Directive 2003/97/EC.

The report describes the findings of a study by TRL to investigate the direct and indirect field of vision from three hgvs and to identify areas alongside each vehicle where a passenger car or vulnerable road users such as cyclists could be hidden in a blind spot. Supplementary devices including aftermarket mirrors and a fresnel lens (a thin plastic lens that is pressed against the passenger door window) were then added to the vehicles and measurements taken to identify the ground plane field of vision offered by each device, and to identify how effective each device was at eliminating the potential blind spots.

The report concludes that even the latest vehicles with a full compliment of six mirrors still have blind spots to the passenger side, and TRL tests have proven that the most effective solution to reduce this blind spot is the use of a fresnel lens. Fresnel lenses have been issued by VOSA to foreign hgv drivers in an effort to reduce side-swipe incidents from left-hand drive vehicles. They have also been historically provided by the Transport for London’s Freight Unit to FORS members. […]

The Department for Transport is now considering what can be done to reduce heavy goods vehicle blind spots further in light of the report findings. […]

According to the Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid (SWOV = Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands) Research Activities Number 47

Blind spot crashes happen when a truck turns off and fails to notice or is unable to see the cyclist who is positioned immediately beside or in front of the truck. SWOV has been studying the blind spot issue at regular intervals. Over the years, several measures were taken to prevent this type of crashes. Some of the blind spot measures were the result of European legislation. During the 1980s, for example, the so-called kerb-mirror was made compulsory, and during the 1990s this was the case for side underrun protection. In 2003, the Netherlands made the blind spot mirror compulsory. The extra attention and media publications accompanying the introduction of this measure were probably the reason for a reduction of the number of blind spot casualties in 2002 and 2003. Unfortunately the reduction was only temporary. In 2007, the EU came with new, stricter rules for the visual field of trucks. The introduction of a front view system which makes it possible to see whether a road user is positioned immediately in front of the truck was new for the Netherlands in those days.

Three causes

In 2008, SWOV made an extensive study into the causes of blind spot crashes and possible solutions. Three main causes were identified:

• The visual field is still insufficient, especially for high trucks that were manufactured before 2007 and do not have front view system.

• Truck drivers do not make the best possible use of the different mirrors or these mirrors are not adjusted correctly.

• Cyclists insufficiently take account of the fact that trucks have a limited visual field.


In SWOV’s opinion, the ultimate solution for the blind spot problem is a structural separation of trucks and cyclists. How this must be organised and what the economic consequences will be, requires further study.
The traffic mirror, also known as black spot mirror, is mounted on the pole carrying the traffic lights to provide truck drivers with a better view of cyclists at the right-hand side and front of their vehicle. This mirror has been found to barely influence truck driver behaviour and is only effective while the truck is stopped in front of the mirror. Therefore, the mirror is not effective at the location where the driver has to carry out the after check.

Of course, HGV blind spots are also a matter of concern for pedestrians. Segregation of traffic types in urban areas presents a number of problems. It may be that road space has to shared to some extent, so there needs to be effective risk assessment and control for the traffic concerned. For goods distribution in cities, there could be benefits in restricting lorry movements by time of day, or enforcing the use of particular types of vehicle. In the 1950s and 1960s low cab tractor vehicles were used in British cities, and this type of design may have some benefits in the urban space.

The need to be able to take effective observation is not restricted to HGV drivers. For example, there may be a need to revisit the legal requirements concerning cars with dark film on the windows. And there needs to be prohibition of irresponsible behaviour such as people attempting to drive motorised vehicles through a narrow slit in a costume.

Written by beleben

March 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm