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Posts Tagged ‘Campaign for Better Transport

Letting Jim steer

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Greengauge 21 heart CBTOn 26 January 2015 the Campaign for Better Transport published ‘new research’ revealing how ‘investing in the north of England’s rail services is essential to tackling the north – south divide’.

[Campaign for Better Transport news release, 26 Jan 2015]

The new research, Stepping Stones to a rebalanced Britain, was commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport and reveals how investing in new trains, improved stations and better services as part of the new Northern Rail franchise would provide essential infrastructure for growing cities and maximise the benefits from billions of pounds of investment due as part of the Northern Powerhouse.

[…] Stepping Stones was commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport and written by research group Greengauge 21. Greengauge 21 is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with a wide aim of helping to shape tomorrow’s railway. The company was founded by Jim Steer, one of the UK’s leading transport sector specialists. Initially conceived as a means to promote a debate on the case for high-speed rail in Britain, it has established a broad research base to foster and guide high-speed rail planning. Its remit now extends into all aspects of the national rail system and its wider benefits.

It’s curious that the Campaign for ‘Better’ Transport has chosen to let Greengauge 21 steer so much of its ‘research’ and policy-making activity. After all, the CBT claims its vision is for “a country where communities have affordable transport that improves quality of life and protects the environment”.

[CBT, ‘About Us’]

In recent decades we’ve helped to change the Government’s transport policy radically, away from building big roads and expanding airports and towards much more recognition of environmental and social impacts”.

But as early as 2006, the CBT had commissioned Greengauge 21 to write a report tacitly supporting the expansion of Heathrow Airport. CBT is also a tacit supporter of the environmentally damaging HS2 rail project.

Campaign for Better Transport homepage, 26 January 2015

Campaign for Better Transport homepage: worried about environmental damage from ‘unnecessary roads’, but apparently not worried about environmental damage from ‘unnecessary HS2’, 26 January 2015

The CBT is blind to the fact that the best opportunity to improve rail in the north of England would come from cancelling HS2, and reallocating funds to the classic railway.

Written by beleben

January 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

The campaign for better inconsistency

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Rather than throwing money at big new roads that are years off, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer should be tackling the £10.5 billion backlog in road maintenance, wrote the Campaign for Better Transport’s Sian Berry on Left Foot Forward (March 21, 2013).

Putting massive new money in road construction is simply the wrong answer – a waste of time and money.

However, when it comes to throwing money at big new railways that are years off, the Campaign for Better Transport is apparently all in favour. It is backing the prestige HS2 high speed rail project as ‘environmentally beneficial’.

Campaign for Better Transport tweet: 'We need HS2 to cut congestion'

How the CBT campaign should describe itself

Written by beleben

March 21, 2013 at 2:45 pm

A Better Heathrow muddle

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Siân Berry, now of the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), at the launch of the ‘North London Heathrow campaign’ a few years ago.

While the report ‘THE IMPACT OF HIGH SPEED RAIL ON HEATHROW AIRPORT‘ was prepared by Jim Steer’s Greengauge 21 for Transport 2000 (the old name of the CBT) in March 2006. Obviously, HS2 at Heathrow would be intended to support the airport’s expansion.

Written by beleben

March 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm

HS2 and low carbon transport, part two

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Greengauge21, The carbon impacts of High Speed 2, Sep 2012The Campaign for Better Transport press release for Greengauge 21’s “The Carbon Impacts of High Speed 2” report stated that HS2 could deliver greater carbon reductions by

sensible complementary policy measures

and by

making full use of the capacity that HS2 will release on the existing railway.

It might be worth looking at the ‘crucial factors’ for ‘greater carbon reductions’ mentioned by CBT.

Crucial factor 1: The electricity used to power the high speed trains is low carbon and how quickly this decarbonisation is delivered

Nowhere in the Greengauge report is ‘low carbon’ electricity defined.

At the national level, the amount of greenhouse gases from transport would depend on the total quantity of transport produced in the economy, not just the specific emissions per kilometre.

HS2 is a system intended to increase longer distance travel; on HS2 Ltd’s estimate, a fifth of all traffic would be new journeys. How is that compatible with an objective of reducing carbon emissions?

The report also sidestepped the issue of non-greenhouse gas pollutants, and the nature of the electricity generating capacity used to power HS2.

If HS2 energy were generated in nuclear plants, that would not be carbon-free, and there would be non-carbon pollutants (i.e. nuclear waste, which requires treatment and long-term storage).

Crucial factor 2: New development is focused around the stations served by HS2, encouraging use of public transport, walking and cycling

It’s hard to see how focusing development around HS2 stations would have much effect at the national level. In the current version of HS2 Ltd’s Y network, there are just nine stations, serving just four cities directly:

* London Euston
* Old Oak Common

* Birmingham Curzon Street

* Manchester central (precise location undisclosed)

* Leeds central (precise location undisclosed)

Four of the stations would be on the urban periphery:

* Manchester outskirts (precise location undisclosed)
* East Midlands (precise location undisclosed)
* South Yorkshire (precise location undisclosed)
* Bickenhill

Crucial factor 3: High-speed rail stations are located in city centres rather than on the urban periphery

As noted above, four of the nine Y network stations are likely to be on the urban periphery.

Crucial factor 4: The additional capacity that is created on the conventional railway is used to its full potential, especially for rail freight which would result in fewer lorries on the roads

What exactly is the “additional capacity” that is created on the conventional railway by HS2? The report does not say. (It’s worth remembering that most existing capacity goes unused, most of the time.)

Rail-enabled journeys not starting/finishing at the nine stations of the proposed Y network would need to use the existing network.

The capacity created by HS2 on the legacy railway would be mainly seats, not paths. HS2’s effect on path capacity on the existing network is marginal. Increasing utilisation of the WCML for railfreight would inevitably require corresponding cutbacks to passenger service.

Crucial factor 5: Policies are put in place to take passengers out of cars and planes and on to HS2

What would those “policies” be, and how would they take passengers out of cars and planes and on to HS2? The report does not say.

Written by beleben

September 21, 2012 at 11:39 am

Gloom unit scrapper

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The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) is unhappy with the Department for Transport’s May 2012 draft WebTAG Unit on smarter choices, feeling that it is too gloomy about their potential.

Smarter Choices initiatives, which combine a range of different measures into a concerted plan to promote and improve facilities for sustainable travel, are now a well-established way of cutting traffic and getting people on more buses, trains, bikes and walks. The Sustainable Travel Towns programme from 2004 to 2009 proved that for a relatively small cost, car trips can be cut by 10%, and many similar recent initiatives – from simple travel plans to car clubs, cycle lanes and interactive bus apps – have also helped to increase sustainable travel in towns and cities around the UK.

Despite this, when the DfT published a new draft WebTAG unit late last year containing guidance for the appraisal of Smarter Choices, the text was very pessimistic about the possible effects of these programmes, suggesting wrongly that there was a lack of evidence and failing to emphasise the ‘package effect’ of implementing a range of measures all at once.

To help improve the draft unit, Campaign for Better Transport helped to arrange a meeting between DfT officials and a group of experts in the field of Smarter Choices and, afterwards, the group submitted some suggested amendments.

Because of this, we were all very disappointed when the Department’s new draft, published this May, only contained a small number of changes and still maintained a rather gloomy view of the benefits.

CBT would like DfT’s version to be scrapped in favour of something more favourable to smarter choices. It has been working on its own alternative draft.

If you work for a local authority, a school, a workplace or group of workplaces, or any other body that’s implemented travel planning, information, new services or infrastructure projects for sustainable travel – and if you have evidence for how well it all worked – we want to hear from you over the next three months.

Similarly, if you’re a transport planner or consultant and have new data or new methods you can share with us to help improve the appraisal process, get in touch.

But is fishing for evidence to support a preconceived line of thinking, the right way to go about planning public transport? I don’t think so.

Written by beleben

August 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Strange kind of war

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On 14 August, the Daily Mail reported that fare increases programmed for Britain’s railways in the next two years would widen the gap between what British and European commuters pay for tickets.

Some UK tickets are already almost ten times the price of some on the continent, according to figures from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The price of a season ticket from Woking in Surrey to London, including Tube travel in the capital, was £3,268 last year – while the 22-mile journey from Velletri to Rome cost Italian season ticket holders £336.17.
Sophie Allain, CBT’s public transport campaigner, said: ‘We knew we had some of the most expensive rail fares in Europe, if not the world, but even we were shocked by how much more the UK ticket was in comparison to our European counterparts.

When the cost of season tickets is so much higher than other European capitals, the Government’s fare rises are starting to affect the UK’s competitiveness.’

And all that was before a 6 per cent rise in fares in January 2012, and now the impending 6 per cent average increase for 2013 passengers are facing with news today that the retail prices index (RPI) rose to 3.2 per cent.

For the next two years, train operators can hike fares by whatever RPI is, plus 3 per cent – and can raise some tickets by another 5 percentage points on top of that as long as they make others cheaper. That could equal an 11 per cent rise for some journeys both next January and the one after.

According to the Campaign for Better Transport’s Fair Fares Now website

Train travellers should be able to expect a fair deal for the price of their ticket.

Fair Fares Now is calling for:

* Affordable prices, including peak times and turn-up-and-go tickets

* Reliable services that aren’t overcrowded

* Straightforward tickets that make train travel simple

Making fares cheaper, simpler and fairer wouldn’t just benefit long-suffering passengers, and stop pricing those who can least afford it off the train. It would also give people choices about how they get around, and help to attract more people onto the train. In the long run, that’s what’s needed to protect the environment and strengthen the economy.

But what “fair” means, hasn’t been explained. On Left Foot Forward, Will Straw asserted that

if there is a war being waged on any of the travelling public, it is on those using public transport.

If there is a “war” being waged on commuter rail users, it’s quite an odd one. For example, Department for Transport data for the year 2010 – 2011 showed that the Southeastern train company was subsidised to the tune of 11.6 pence per passenger kilometre. For a commuter travelling from Ashford to St Pancras, that meant a subvention of around £20.88 per day, or £104.40 a week. It’s difficult to see what’s “fair” about a situation in which a warehouseman in Ashford going 15 kilometres to low paid work by heavily taxed private car, subsidises the travel of a HS1 commuter going 90 kilometres to a City finance job.

According to the consultancy Steer Davies Gleave, HS2 could increase commuting from Birmingham to London by between two and four times. There are few instances of long distance tidal rail traffic covering its costs, and on the evidence of Southeastern’s subsidy requirements and the energy-hungry speeds planned for HS2, the subsidy required to cover Y network losses could be substantial. HS2 Ltd has not provided any details of annual subsidy requirements for its proposed services.

Written by beleben

August 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

Déjà connecté

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Who Says There is no Alternative?’ is a document prepared by John Stewart, then-‘chair’ of the Campaign for Better Transport, in 2008, for the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union. It argued that proposals to expand Heathrow Airport with a third runway would be unnecessary if there were serious government-led investment in (high speed) rail as part of a coordinated transport system.

High-speed rail would create tens of thousands of jobs across the country, including new jobs at Heathrow. It would be a win-win solution: an environmentally friendlier option than airport expansion which at the same time boosted the economy, protected employment levels at Heathrow and created jobs across the country.

When the government’s HS2 scheme was published in 2010, the Campaign for Better Transport took a noncommittal position. Perhaps they cottoned onto the fact that the HS2–Heathrow connection was targeted at drawing in travellers from the North, and would make a third runway more (not less) likely. However, the RMT recently dusted off ‘Who Says’, and presented it to the All Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail. The paper claimed that the journey time tipping point (for passengers switching from air to rail) had recently changed from three hours to between four and four-and-a-half hours for business travel,

The French railway, SNCF, has found that on journeys of less than four-and-a-half hours, where their trains compete with airlines, their share of the market is over 50%. This is backed up by other European rail companies, which are capturing more than 60% of the business market from airlines on four hour journeys.”

and many of the most-flown destinations served from Heathrow were short-haul and potentially substitutable by high speed rail.

Replacing Short-Haul Flights at Heathrow
Well over a third of all flights using Heathrow are short-haul. A study carried out by the campaign group HACAN showed that of a total of 473,000 flights which used the airport in 2006, 100,000 served 12 destinations where there was already a viable rail alternative and a further 100,000 flights went to places where an improved rail service could provide an alternative. If a lot of these flights were replaced by rail, that would free up the space at Heathrow to bring in more long-distance flights without any need to expand the airport.

The figures in the HACAN report make for startling reading

Paris 50/60 flights a day to and from Heathrow
Amsterdam** 50
Edinburgh 40
Manchester 36
Brussels 30
Glasgow 28
Newcastle 12
Leeds/Bradford 10
Rotterdam** 6
Durham/Tees Valley 6

* the figures are those of a fairly typical day but will vary throughout the year

** Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been included because the high-speed line from Brussels to Amsterdam is imminent

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are reachable by train from London in four and a half hours, and according to the CBT paper, travel duration by air has higher variability. So following the reasoning used by Mr Stewart, 350 km/h high speed rail is not required between London and Scotland’s central belt; classic rail is fast enough.

The survival of ‘residual’ flights between London and places like Manchester and Tees Valley suggests that business travel isn’t purely dimensioned by time. It’s known that businesspeople’s travel is a component of Ryanair’s business, even though its services tend to make use of lesser connected and more remote airports.

Written by beleben

May 31, 2012 at 9:27 pm