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Archive for the ‘Public transport’ Category

Best return is sixty quid

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In November 2018, the Beleben blog revealed that 99.5 per cent of the £12,000 raised from the sale of Midland Metro T69 trams went not to public funds, but to RBS bank. These trams were taken out of use after just 15 years’ service, or thereabouts, and somehow ended up as the property of RBS bank.

Following the intervention of the Information Commissioner’s Office, further information has emerged about the costs of the decommissioning of the T69s.

WMCA, costs following T69 tram decommissioning, 10 Apr 2019

In summary then (from what they have said),

  • West Midlands Combined Authority spent ~£130,000 moving and storing the decommissioned trams,
  • shelled out £4.7 million in lease payments on this scrap,
  • and ultimately received, er, £60 from RBS, when WMCA sold the trams for them at e-auction.

[Councillor Roger Lawrence, WMCA]

“After many years of service it’s sad the T69 trams are headed for the breakers yard, but in the absence of any buyers for them as a going concern this represents the best return for the council tax payer.”

Written by beleben

April 17, 2019 at 11:20 am

Brierley Hill tram boondoggle to cost even more

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Express and Star, 'New West Midland Metro line back on track - but costs are up £100m', By Pete Madeley, 04 Mar 2019

Work on the Wednesbury – Brierley Hill Extension of the [West] Midland[s] Metro tramway is due to start this year, after the West Midlands Combined Authority put forward a new funding package to pay for the biggest project it has ever taken on, the Express and Star reported.

[Pete Madeley, Express and Star, 4 Mar 2019]

The line will now cost £449m – up £106m – with the shortfall paid for by profits from the Metro, which the WMCA has run since last year. It is set to open in 2023.

It will see 16 new trams operate on a 6.8-mile route, passing through Merry Hill, Dudley town centre, Tipton, and Dudley Port railway station along its 17 stops.

With transport secretary Chris Grayling and mayor Andy Street being big fans of the scheme, isn’t there a need for actual ‘profit forecasts’, or an updated economic appraisal?

West Midlands Metro tram visualisation, Dudley Zoo

Written by beleben

March 4, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Milking the Moseley

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twitter @TransportforWM, Chris Grayling photo-opp in Moseley, 26 Sep 2018

On 26 September, transport secretary Chris Grayling paid another visit to Moseley, Birmingham, for more ‘Camp Hill railway’ photo-opps with local bigwigs. The pretext was the ‘unveiling of the designs’ for stations at Moseley, Kings Heath, and Hazelwell (but not Balsall Heath).

According to the TfWM press release, the detailed planning for the stations is yet to take place and the ‘initial’ service will be just two trains per hour in each direction. But in “the longer term, more frequent services may be possible as part of the Midlands Rail Hub project which will build the Camp Hill Chords to link the line to Moor Street Station and allow more trains into Birmingham City Centre”.

TfWM news, designs unveiled for three new rail stations in Birmingham, 26 Sep 2018

Without frequent trains, the decongestion and air quality benefits of Camp Hill local services would be negligible. But as previously mentioned on the Beleben blog, building the chords into Moor Street, in the complicated form supported by TfWM, is a highly unlikely proposition, for several different reasons.

Building a separate Highgate to Moor Street chord would be more technically plausible, but at present, even the chances of that happening are slim.

Written by beleben

September 27, 2018 at 10:03 am

What do you think of our attractive, reliable and efficient tram system?

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South Yorkshire Supertram - Why try harder (Fatboy Slim album cover)

[Sheffield City Region and SYPTE Mass Transit Questionnaire, 24 Sep 2018]

For over 20 years, Supertram has been connecting high numbers of people to jobs, education, shopping and leisure in Sheffield and beyond. Making over 12 million passenger journeys a year, it plays an important role in the wider public transport network within the Region and is recognised as an attractive, reliable and efficient mode of travel.

The tram system reduces congestion, helps improve air quality, and potentially could play an important part in future plans to better connect residents and businesses to our urban centres and major housing, retail, leisure and employment sites within the Sheffield City Region.

Sheffield Supertram consultation, Sheffield city region and SYPTE, 2018

[Sheffield’s Supertram could be axed and replaced by bus network, says survey, The Star, 25 Sep 2018]

Sheffield’s beloved Supertram network could be axed if transport chiefs fail to convince the government to stump up £230 million to renew the system.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive revealed the tram system could be closed because the current trams are ‘coming to the end of their working life’ after more than 20 years’ operation and there is not currently any money set aside to rebuild parts of the network or buy new vehicles.

SYPTE is now hoping to raise £230 million from the Department for Transport to allow the tram system to keep running for another 30 years – but warned if the money doesn’t come, the trams could become a thing of the past.

The transport group has now launched a consultation asking members of the public for their opinions on the future of the trams which will help inform their ‘business case’ to take to Whitehall.

“If we are unsuccessful in securing future funding for a mass transit solution the Supertram network may have to be closed and decommissioned, the cost of which would have to be covered by the region. Closure would also prevent any future network extensions.”

Written by beleben

September 26, 2018 at 9:00 am

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

Air ‘cleansed by diesel engines’

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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?

Written by beleben

June 20, 2018 at 1:46 pm