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Archive for the ‘Birmingham’ Category

A light on disembarkations

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The rail utilisation strategies published by the Strategic Rail Authority contained information of a kind not replicated in later documents created by Network Rail. For instance, the 2005 West Midlands strategy included a breakdown of passenger arrivals at Birmingham New Street, by time of day.

Because of the existence of Silverlink, it was possible to see the relative (un)importance of both intercity and regional West Coast Main Line traffic at Birmingham New Street.

Strategic Rail Authority, 2005, alighting at Birmingham New Street by time band

Most of the passenger volume was, and is, non-WCML and / or short distance. No doubt total volume has increased since the mid-noughties, but the proportions are probably much the same.


Written by beleben

August 9, 2018 at 9:43 am

Opportunity costs of HS2 include more road traffic casualties

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The Times has ‘backed John Armitt’s call for £43 billion for local transport made in the National Infrastructure Review to make the most of HS2’.

twitter, @sjeffrey, 'The Times has 'backed John Armitt's call for £43 billion for local transport made in the National Infrastructure Review to make the most of HS2'

But is ‘a boost for major cities totalling £43 billion’, the same thing as a ‘call for £43 billion for local transport’?

[National Infrastructure Commission]

The National Infrastructure Assessment’s spending plans include funding for projects including Crossrail 2 in London, and Northern Powerhouse Rail linking the major Northern cities, and recommends a boost in funding for major cities totalling £43 billion to 2040, with cities given stable five-year budgets, starting in 2021.

The ‘facts’ and arguments put forward in the Times leader bear little relation to reality. Spending money on bum schemes like the Rotherham tram train, and £872 million airport Midland Metro, makes no sense whatsoever.

Rotherham tram-train, Parkgate

The argument that spending billions of pounds on HS2, and links to it, would encourage a shift from road to ‘a safer form of transport’, is deluded. Building and operating HS2 is bound to result in increased road fatalities, compared to an alternative scenario in which more money was spent directly on making roads safer.

HS2 modal shift as estimated in October 2013

Road travel is generally far more dangerous than rail travel, but the benefit-cost of reducing casualties on the road network by direct improvement is vastly superior to spending the same money on further increasing rail safety, or facilitating a tiny number of motorists to switch to HS2.

Written by beleben

August 7, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Not-quite-so-dirty air zone

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According to Birmingham city council, a ‘Clean Air Zone’ is not actually an area where air would be ‘clean’. Rather, it is an area where “targeted action is taken to improve air quality”. So, a more honest name might be “Not-quite-so-dirty air zone”, or somesuch.

[Birmingham council]

Clean Air Zones aim to reduce all types of air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, so that people breathe in less of all these pollutants.

Between 4 July and 17 August [2018], Birmingham will be consulting on a Clean Air Zone for the city centre. This would mean that the most polluting vehicles would have to pay a charge to enter the zone.

Birmingham proposed 'Clean Air Zone'

Presumably, ‘the most polluting vehicles entering the zone’ would be the two-stroke EMD Class 66 freight locomotives. So far as can be ascertained, under current plans, all diesel trains would pay £0.00 to enter the zone.

The CAZ proposals appear to be riddled with such absurdities. National Express West Midlands must be Birmingham’s largest single producer of transport pollution, but the council intends to give them a generous ‘quantity discount’. Diesel buses clocking up miles and miles, going in and out of the CAZ all day, would pay just ‘£50 to £100‘ each.

Written by beleben

August 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Birmingham

HS2 Bickenhill tramway costed at £872 million

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The meretricious extension of the West Midlands Metro tramway from Birmingham city centre to the Airport and the HS2 ‘Interchange’ station site at Middle Bickenhill is now costed at £872 million, according to the West Midlands Combined Authority. This sum is comprised of £137 million for the section from Corporation Street to Adderley Street, and £735 million for the rest.

Artist's impression of a West Midlands Metro tram in Digbeth

No buses operate over the proposed tram route to the airport, because of its indirectness and low demand, and fast trains from New Street to ‘Birmingham International’ (the airport station) take just 10 minutes. The National Express West Midlands X1 (former 900) buses are timed to reach the airport from central Birmingham in half an hour. Demand for travel from places such as Chelmsley Wood to the airport is low, as shown by the X12 bus running at 20-minute intervals, even at ‘peak’ time.

The airport tramway is part of the WMCA ‘HS2 Growth Strategy’, which has an estimated cost of £5.139 billion. This is additional to the cost of the “£55.7 billion” HS2 ‘Core Programme’, as are the HS2 expenditures of Network Rail and local authorities such as Cheshire East, Stoke, Sheffield, Greater Manchester, and Leeds.

Written by beleben

July 31, 2018 at 8:47 am

At sixes and sevens

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The latest muddled rebranding of West Midlands Transport seems destined to add to public confusion about who is responsible for transport services.

West Midlands Transport identity, 2018

Apparently, trains are supposed to be orange, but orange is the colour of the ‘Transport for West Midlands’ organisation. But the colour of, er, ‘West Midlands Transport’ is sort of purple. Or is that the colour of the trains?

'TfWM part of WMCA'

Orange Transport for West Midlands identity, 2018

Although operated by the same company, ‘West Midlands Trains’ (not the same thing as ‘West Midlands Rail’) are likely to have three different liveries – mainly purple, mainly orange, and mainly dark green – for no particular reason. But not teal. That’s for the ‘Rail Executive’.

West Midlands Rail

West Midlands Rail Executive

West Midlands Trains

West Midlands Rail, predominately purple

twitter @samjessupdesign, some West Midlands Rail trains to be orange but others purple

Buses operated by different companies in competition with each other, with different fare structures, are supposed to be repainted red, as if they were London buses, um, except in Coventry, where the National Express West Midlands buses are supposed to remain skyish blue (?).

The ‘network identity’ is so dysfunctional that the same bus operator cannot even manage to give a unique identifying number to each of its services.

Two number sixes and two number sevens

Besides the proliferation of expenditure and public confusion, another problem with the boneheaded rebrand is the environmental waste from discarded vinyls, paint remover, etc. There are thousands of vehicles and pieces of street furniture, etc, with legacy branding, so the cackhandery is deplorable.

Written by beleben

July 29, 2018 at 11:53 am

Posted in Birmingham

Layout of the Camp Hill chords

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In February 2018, West Midlands mayor Andy Street outlined revised plans for a restored local service on Birmingham’s Camp Hill railway, to better connect the suburbs of Moseley and Kings Heath with the city centre. In the initial phase, the difficult-to-construct Camp Hill chords would not be needed, as trains would run into and out of New Street station.

Midlands Connect Rail Hub flagship

But in a later phase, following construction of the chords, the Camp Hill local service would be re-routed into Birmingham Moor Street, as part of the ‘Midlands Rail Hub’, the “flagship plan to future-proof the Midlands’ rail network for generations to come”.

Layout of the Camp Hill chords, as envisaged by Network Rail

In the view of the Beleben blog, the practicality of the design for the Camp Hill chords favoured by Midlands Connect must be in doubt. If they actually could be built, what would they look like? Unsurprisingly, there are no scale diagrams, and no artists’ impressions. Like the ‘Piccadilly platforms 15 and 16’ in Manchester, the Midlands Rail Hub appears to be an expensive and ineffectual scheme, which ought not to go ahead (and probably will not go ahead).

Written by beleben

July 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

Posted in Birmingham, Transport

Evolution to greater prominence

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‘The Network West Midlands brand is widely recognised, but will evolve to greater prominence across all public transport modes, complementing the strong individual brands that will continue to exist.’ So claimed Transport for West Midlands.

West Midlands bus alliance, Network West Midlands identity

How will it evolve to greater prominence, if a new ‘West Midlands Transport’ brand is being introduced?

West Midlands Rail purple train

Written by beleben

July 25, 2018 at 11:48 am