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Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category

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

How diesel is my valley

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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