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Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category

Disappointed and dissatisfied

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‘Crucial plans to massively upgrade rail links for freight traffic’ across the North of England are set to be abandoned, leaving freight bosses “disappointed and dissatisfied”, The Yorkshire Post reported.

Northern powerhouse rail director Tim Wood and transport secretary Chris Grayling

[EXCLUSIVE: Anger as plans to electrify north’s freight network are scrapped | Mark Casci | Yorkshire Post | Thursday 06 December 2018]

Officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) have let freight bosses know that they will only put forward plans to electrify the route between Leeds and Manchester for passenger trains, with plans to apply the same improvements to freight trains set to be scrapped for the foreseeable future.

The recommendation – given by the DfT’s internal Board Investment and Commercial Committee to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – comes after more than two years of campaigning by the freight industry.

On September 18, the Beleben blog pointed out that de-scoping Transpennine North electrification down to a ‘Cispennine’ scheme between Leeds and Huddersfield, made no sense.

Money which could be spent on electrifying the Standedge and Calder Valley railways, and fixing bottlenecks in Manchester, is being squandered on HS2, and the equally absurd ‘Northern powerhouse rail’ project.

twitter, @MarkCasci, "Here we go... electrification of the Leeds to Manchester rail route will NOT cover freight. How many millions will this cost the North's economy?"

Written by beleben

December 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Freight, HS2, Railways, Transport

Five things you might not know about Rotherham

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The Chapel of Our Lady stands at the middle of the medieval bridge that served as the main road into the town until the start of the twentieth century.

Rotherham, chapel on the bridge


Masborough was the main railway station for Rotherham from 1840 up to 1987, when most trains were re-routed via the reactivated Rotherham Central. From Masborough to the town centre directly is a ~20 minute walk.

Former Masborough station


In January 2018 thirteen of the sixteen Ansaldo Midland Metro T69 trams were sold to Booth’s of Rotherham, for recycling.

Express and Star, Midland Metro T69 vehicles story, 22 Feb 2018


The current metro mayor of Liverpool has a surname which is a homophone, and near-homograph, of Rotherham. A fear of words which sound the same is called homophonophobia, a fear of words which are almost spelt the same is called quasihomographobia, and a fear of foreign words which sound the same is called xenohomophonophobia.*

Steve_Rotheram by rodhullandemu (CC BY-SA 4.0)


The launch of Britain’s first ‘trial’ tramtrain service, from Sheffield to Rotherham Parkgate, on 25 October 2018 was marred by a collision between a Stadler Supertram and a truck.

Sheffield tramtrain crash, 25 Oct 2018 (BBC tv)

@transportgovuk, 3 things you might not know about Sheffield

* = Fun fact

Written by beleben

October 26, 2018 at 10:12 am

Posted in Transport

Most transparent shortcomings

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According to West Midlands mayor Andy Street’s “Renewal Plan“, he aims, or aimed, to be the ‘most transparent mayor’ in Britain.


But at the time of writing, the “Mayor’s Expenses” page on the website of the West Midlands Combined Authority gives no information about mayoral expenditure. Nor does there seem to be any diary of Andy’s past or future meetings, etc, on the site.

WMCA, Mayor Andy Street's expenses page, at 16 Oct 2018

Unfortunately, these transparency shortcomings extend well beyond the mayor’s office, to the Combined Authority itself.

Written by beleben

October 19, 2018 at 11:08 am

Scheme if you wanna go faster

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At the Tory conference in Birmingham this week, chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss suggested an increased motorway speed limit of 80 mph (128 km/h) should be ‘looked at’ again. Her view is there would be “productivity improvements” from motorists “wasting less of their lives driving”.

[The Mirror, 30 September 2018]

In 2011, then Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, now the Chancellor told the Tory conference the 70mph motorway limit was “discredited”, as he confirmed plans to consult on allowing it to rise to 80mph.

twitter, @jamesgleave1, comments on Telegraph story 'Increase motorway speed limit to 80mph to drive Britain's productivity, says Government minister [Liz Truss]'

How well are motorway speed limits correlated with the productivity of a country, or its road safety? Would there be even more productivity, with a 90 mph limit?

The ‘raise m-way speeds for productivity’ argument has several parallels with the ‘build HS2’ one.

The government’s position – that HS2 and Northern powerhouse rail offer ‘significant’ productivity benefits – finds resonance with supporters of those schemes.

But many of those selfsame supporters object to ‘productivity benefits’ from higher m-way speeds, because [insert contradictory argument of choice here].

Written by beleben

October 2, 2018 at 9:53 am

Posted in Politics, Transport

TfWM bus competition conundrum

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In 2011, the Competition Commission announced that the UK local bus market was not competitive enough, with little in-the-market competition. Local transport authorities, were being asked to consider “partnerships” with new operators to increase bus competition in their local areas, the BBC reported.

BBC News story, 'GB local bus market not competitive', 20 Dec 2011 (abridged)

Fast forward to 2018, and the Transport for West Midlands local transport authority is developing partnerships to reduce bus competition in its local area.

TfWM, 'first West Midlands Transport branded buses in operation'

Written by beleben

September 20, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport

The plot to build a station at Darlaston

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With the Combined Authority having acquired a plot for a station at Darlaston, passengers could be buying tickets and riding trains between Walsall and Wolverhampton by 2021, Rob Mayor reported.

twitter @robmayor, passenger trains could be running between Walsall, Darlaston and Wolverhampton by 2021

However, ‘more work needs to be done on the feasibility’, according to Andy Mayor (Andy Street).

twitter @andy4wm, land secured for Darlaston station

Darlaston and Willenhall are two of nine new stations proposed for the West Midlands county by the Combined Authority. Most likely, they would be served by just an hourly shuttle between Walsall and Wolverhampton, and an hourly service between Wolverhampton and Birmingham New Street.

TfWM, proposed new stations in the West Midlands

Because Darlaston town centre is some distance for the railway, most local public transport journeys would continue to be done by bus, and the value of the new stations is more totemic than real.

No doubt the case for Willenhall and Darlaston would be much better, for longer journeys, if a frequent (4 to 6 trains per hour) service could operate between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. This could be done if the Benson Road curve were built, and trains ran via the Soho loop, into Snow Hill station.

Benson Road ought to be the #1 priority for railway investment in the West Midlands, but the Combined Authority has a very different view.

Soho loop line, showing location of possible new stations and the Benson Road curve (none of which are supported by the Combined Authority)

Soho loop line, showing location of possible new stations and the Benson Road curve (none of which are supported by the Combined Authority)

Written by beleben

August 14, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport

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

Not his specialist subject

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Not a specialist

Written by beleben

July 25, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Politics, 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

Pitch and cell

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In an article by Perry Boeker and published on fuel cell company Ballard’s website, Jochen Steinbauer, Director of Platform and Business Development for alternative drive systems for regional trains at Siemens, shared his views on hydrogen train technology for rail applications.

[Ballard blog]

[JS:] First of all, from a global perspective, the U.K. is the most advanced with respect to hydrogen technology deployment. They have proclaimed that no diesel cars can enter certain cities. Plus they already announced that diesel powered vehicles will be completely prohibited by 2040, including trains.

'Interview with Siemens’ Jochen Steinbauer on Innovations in Fuel Cell Train Technology',,  2018-06-21

Written by beleben

June 25, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Transport