beleben

die belebende Bedenkung

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Air ‘cleansed by diesel engines’

leave a comment »

WtfTom Stables, managing director of National Express West Midlands – “Birmingham’s leading bus company” – says “Buses are the solution to pollution”.

[National Express offering 24hrs free bus travel for every Birmingham passenger!, Neil Elkes, Birmingham Live, 20 Jun 2018]

The bus company has invested millions in cleaner engines, both buying new low emission vehicles and retro-fitting existing buses with devices to clean the exhaust fumes coming out.

It says the new exhaust systems make the air coming out of the tailpipe cleaner than the air that went in. Birmingham City Council has also invested in a new fleet of hydrogen fuelled buses which are cleaner and more efficient.

The air coming out of the bus tailpipe is cleaner than the air that went in?

Advertisements

Written by beleben

June 20, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Ave caramba

leave a comment »

High speed rail (Ave) accounts for 26 billion euro of ‘inappropriate’ expenditure of public funds in Spain over the period 1995 to 2016, according to a study published by the Association of Spanish Geographers.

El Pais infrastructure waste story, 19 Jun 2018, English language version

That would suggest that the programmed expenditure on Britain’s HS2 railway (€70++ billion) vastly exceeds the outlay on the Spanish Ave system (which is the second largest in the world).

El Pais infrastructure waste story, 19 Jun 2018, Spanish language version

Although shorter in route length, HS2 is a much bigger waste of money than Ave.

Written by beleben

June 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

Birmingham Clean Air Zone proposals fall short

leave a comment »

Drivers of the heaviest polluting cars face a charge of up to £10 per day to travel into Birmingham City Centre from 2020 under pollution-busting plans unveiled by council transport bosses, Birmingham Live reported.

[Details of clean air zone charge for Birmingham revealed and it’s not all bad for drivers, Neil Elkes, Birmingham Live, 19 Jun 2018]

Details emerged as the council announced a summer of consultation into its plans for a Clean Air Zone.

But, after much speculation, drivers whose cars meet the Euro 4 petrol standard – mostly vehicles made since 2006 – and Euro 6 diesel, mostly manufactured since 2015, will NOT have to pay.

However, the available documents published by Birmingham city council suggest that its preferred option for a so-called Clean Air Zone would not actually ‘bust’ pollution. The Zone would only apply to the area within the Middle Ring Road, and even within that zone, modelling suggests that ‘additional measures’ would be necessary to bring pollution within legal limits.

The notion that the CAZ-as-proposed is about ‘charging drivers of the heaviest polluting cars’ is fanciful. Because many recently manufactured Euro 6 diesels are themselves among the heaviest polluting cars.

Greenpeace Unearthed, 2018-03-02, 'Carmakers’ own tests show many of the newest diesels are still ‘dangerously’ polluting'

All in all, the currently ‘preferred’ CAZ looks like a rushed and amateurish response to the pollution challenge. Much more imagination is needed, but that seems to be in desperately short supply.

Written by beleben

June 19, 2018 at 10:13 am

Elevated risk means increased cost

leave a comment »

Elevated risk means increased costMultiple sources close to the HS2 project have confirmed that ‘interim costs’ for main civil works for phase one submitted by contractors are currently above HS2 Ltd’s target cost of £6.6 billion (New Civil Engineer reported).

[HS2 civil works £1bn above target cost, Katherine Smale, NCE, 12 June 2018]

While one source said that the collective price was coming in at “around £1.2bn” over budget, another said that some bids were “as much as 30% to 40% higher” than their individual target price.

As a result, NCE understands that the notice to proceed has been pushed back from November until February 2019 with one source claiming that they had been told to “go away and sharpen their pencils” to cut costs.

[…] However, a HS2 spokesperson said that the project “remains on track, and within [the] original cost package”.

Last month, NCE’s sister publication Ground Engineering reported how the cost of delivering HS2 could rise sharply as a result of the use of target cost contracts without geotechnical baseline reports (GBRs).

[HS2 price hike warning over rejection of risk allocation tool, Ground Engineering, 3 MAY, 2018, BY CLAIRE SMITH]

[…] “HS2 has not got enough data to be able to get the work to target cost,” [an engineer who has worked closely on the project] told GE. “When you look at the availability and quality of the ground investigation data, in some areas it is good but in other there is none and there is a risk associated with that. Contractors will price according to this risk and so the target cost will go up.

[…] “Some will say that the technical standards are too onerous but it is the risk allocation that is the problem. HS2 choosing not to use GBRs places all of the risk on the contractor and infrastructure owners should take some of the risk.”

He told GE that a number of consultants were asked to develop GBR 0 by HS2 ahead of the hybrid bill. “GBR 0 does not exist in any guidelines for use of GBRs and was a concept developed by HS2,” he said. “It is essentially a GBR nothing.”

Written by beleben

June 13, 2018 at 8:10 am

How diesel is my valley

leave a comment »

Following a ‘rigorous procurement process’, Welsh government first minister Carwyn Jones today announced that Keolis Amey had been contracted to operate and develop the Wales and Borders rail service, including the future ‘South Wales Metro’, working in partnership with Transport for Wales.

Twitter, @wgcs_economy, 'Detail of how our £5 billion investment will transform rail services for passengers across Wales'

In February 2018, UK government rail minister Jo Johnson claimed that ‘all diesel trains should be scrapped by 2040’, or somesuch.

'Minister reveals plan to shunt every diesel train from the tracks by 2040'

However, the Welsh government intends to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on new-build diesel trains, with many being ‘built’ at the new CAF factory in South Wales.

'Transport for Wales, rail fleet modernisation, 2018 - 2025'

Exactly how much of the South Wales and Valley lines electrification has been binned, remains unclear. It seems more than likely that remanufacturing off-lease electric trains from the UK rolling stock glut would be cheaper than acquiring large numbers of new diesels, allow more track to be electrified, and create more Welsh and UK jobs.

Metro De Cymru (rheilffordd) erbyn 2023

Written by beleben

June 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport, Wales

Ambition to meltdown

leave a comment »

May 21 saw “one of the most ambitious attempts to recast the UK’s national rail timetable for several decades”, go into meltdown.

twitter_northernassist_status_1002103771890176000

The May 20 timetable was intended to exploit “the planned completion of major infrastructure enhancements, including the Thameslink Programme in southeast England and electrification in the northwest”.

jms-northern-gtr-network-rail-cen

[‘Too much, too quickly’, Railway Gazette, 4 June 2018]

The root cause of the [Northern franchise] disruption has been a shortage of suitably trained drivers able to deliver the new timetable over revised infrastructure. So acute is the shortage that Northern has reportedly been routinely terminating trains part way through their journey as existing drivers reach the limit of their route knowledge. […]

Railway Gazette understands that the principal cause of the driver shortage is a late request from Network Rail, in its System Operator role, for Northern to withdraw its May 20 timetable and resubmit it with changes. Behind this change request was the late completion of electrification and resignalling of the Preston – Blackpool route, and continuing delay to the electrification work between Manchester and Preston via Bolton.
[…]
Northern’s service delivery efforts have been further hampered by the refusal of drivers’ union ASLEF to enter into a new Rest Day Working agreement, which would resolve many of the immediate staffing issues and allow Northern to move ahead more quickly with training programmes.
[…]
When the Ordsall Chord opened in December last year, it was heralded as a ‘missing link’ in rail connectivity between Manchester’s two principal stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. Yet in practice, opening of the short south-to-east curve has only served to expose the fragility of the rest of the double-track corridor through Manchester Piccadilly and south towards the city’s airport, which is among the most intensively used sections of the national network.

Apparently, train operators and Network Rail must shoulder responsibility, but not the transport secretary Chris Grayling.

[Chris Grayling says rail industry ‘has failed passengers’, BBC, 30 May 2018]

[…] Chris Grayling wrote to MPs over the “wholly unsatisfactory” service on Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern.

GTR said it expected disruption to ease “over the coming month” and Northern said it has commissioned a report to “ensure lessons are learned”.

Mr Grayling said: “The way timetabling is done has to change.”

The transport secretary also criticised Network Rail, saying it “cannot cope” with the workload, and its performance was “simply unacceptable”.

He added: “We were aware there might be some disruption in the early stages of any new timetable change but the scale of the problem has far outstripped any expectation.”

He said he was now in “regular contact” with Network Rail and rail companies to deal with the issues quickly. […]

Northern rail, temporary timetable announcement

No train by ArrivaThe Northern meltdown has exposed the communication and operational dysfunctionality of the current industry structure, and the inadequacy of the ‘franchising process’. In essence, Northern got to run trains in the northwest not by demonstrating excellence, but through a secretive process, in which it impressed a few civil servants.

Written by beleben

June 4, 2018 at 11:58 am

From social security to social precarity

leave a comment »

After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of [western] Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty, observed Peter S Goodman, in an exposition of the precaritisation of British society.

[In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything, Peter S Goodman, The New York Times, 28 May 2018]

[…] The National Health Service has supposedly been spared from budget cuts. But spending has been frozen in many areas, resulting in cuts per patient. At public hospitals, people have grown resigned to waiting for hours for emergency care, and weeks for referrals to specialists.

“I think the government wants to run it down so the whole thing crumbles and they don’t have to worry about it anymore,” says Kenneth Buckle, a retired postal worker who has been waiting three months for a referral for a double knee replacement. “Everything takes forever now.”

[…] Whatever the operative thinking, austerity’s manifestations are palpable and omnipresent. It has refashioned British society, making it less like the rest of Western Europe, with its generous social safety nets and egalitarian ethos, and more like the United States, where millions lack health care and job loss can set off a precipitous plunge in fortunes.

Written by beleben

May 29, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Great Britain, Politics