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Posts Tagged ‘cities

Expelling Mr Sizzle

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More than 9,000 people in the city of Wolverhampton have signed a petition to save burger vans and hotdog vendors operating in the central business ‘improvement’ district, reported the Express and Star.

Wolverhampton City Council wants to cut the number of pitches amid concerns they put off shoppers and are unpopular with shopkeepers.

Under the proposals, sellers who want to trade in Dudley Street face having to pay for smarter-looking trailers, while the cost of licences would soar by 160 per cent. The plans also include capping the number of vendors operating at any one time.

The proposals are part of a bid to improve the appearance of the city centre and create a European-style cafe culture.

But traders have carried out their own survey and found overwhelming support for the hot food vendors.
Frank Smith, who owns the Mr Sizzle burger van that operates at night, is chairing a group of traders.

He has been working in the city centre since 1959 and said: “We have had a considerable response to the consultation, with more than 9,000 signatures.

Actually, Wolverhampton is an unlikely location for ‘European cafe culture’ (whatever that is). And the idea that streets in cities in northern or eastern Europe are full of seated people drinking coffee alfresco has no connection with reality.

According to Kim Gilmour, operations director for WV One, the so-called ‘business improvement district’ for central Wolverhampton, it runs “various stakeholder groups” and promotes “the interests of Wolverhampton for the benefit of all”. Yet the evidence from Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Liverpool is that business improvement districts are about advancing sectional interests. They thrive where municipal vision, and civic pride, is weak.

Notes from the WCML upgrade

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In its discussion of generated journeys, HS2 Ltd’s document ‘Demand for Long Distance Travel‘ mentions some of the economic effects of the long “upgrade” of the West Coast Main Line.

The quotes

Why would there be new trips as a result of HS2?
Quicker journey times and increased frequencies enable passengers to make trips that would otherwise have been impractical or unattractive. With the reductions in journey time anticipated from HS2, passengers would be able to get to more places within reasonable travel times than they could before. Overall, we estimate that these new opportunities would lead to an extra 33,000 trips a day being made on HS2 by 2043. Of these new trips 59% would be for leisure and 37% for business.

This increase in demand can be compared with the increase experienced when the WCML was upgraded.

Case Study: West Coast Main Line Upgrade

The WCML runs from London to Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. The first stage of the upgraded line opened in September 2004 and the upgrade of the whole line was completed in December 2008. This included signalling, track and rolling stock improvements to allow higher speed trains and more trains to be run. This reduced journey times along the route by an average of 34 minutes. Note 1

As a result of the upgrade, an increase in the number of passengers on the route was experienced compared to other routes which had not been upgraded in the same period. For example, between 2006 and 2009 this resulted in 36% more passenger journeys (relative to 13% across the East Coast Mainline between London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh) and 38% more passenger‐kilometres (relative to 15% across East Coast Mainline services).Note 2

The notes

(1) The 34 minute average journey time saving reported from the WCML upgrade is similar to that claimed for a future HS2 phase one and ‘classic compatible’ service between the capital and provincial conurbations (e.g. Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool). For example, HS2 is claimed to speed up journeys to the West Midlands by 33 minutes. This opens up the possibility of looking into whether speeding up intercity train journeys to the capital has had the effect of increasing aggregate productivity and economic activity in those cities. No-one appears to have done this, but the results from such an evaluation could make for some interesting reading.

(2) Upgrading the West Coast Main Line resulted in travel volume rising faster than on lines not upgraded during the same period. So as with new-build lines, the process of upgrading lines has the potential to bring about generated journeys, which depending on the circumstances, may not be a desirable outcome in sustainability terms. This has implications for decision-making in the domains of type and scale of transport investment.

Yo HS2

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Yo, HS2 is cool

Cities are where people come together to share ideas and build dreams. And, now and again, do a spot of rioting. Anyway, the first sentence appears in an article by prospective Birmingham mayor Sion Simon for ‘Progress Online’, about British cities’ bright future with HS2.

In the article, Mr Simon explains that

The genius of HS2 is to converge the places where people converge – cities.

The second railway in the world was the London and Birmingham, in 1830, so there isn’t any particular novelty or genius involved in joining cities by rail. But given the environmental damage and resource waste embedded in HS2, ‘genius’ isn’t a word I’d associate with it.

Rail travel times to Leeds and Manchester from Birmingham will halve, while London will be 49 minutes from Birmingham and Paris less than three hours.

According to the Department for Transport’s ‘Delivering a Sustainable Railway’, and common sense, door to door times on journeys between Birmingham and Leeds or Manchester are not going to be halved by high speed rail. It’s also very misleading to suggest HS2 would facilitate Birmingham to Paris journeys in “less than three hours“.

Economists call the benefits of getting everyone in the same room agglomeration. Everyone else calls it life, humanity.

One of Birmingham’s great under-exploited advantages is its location. The potential for agglomeration in Birmingham is greater than elsewhere.

When it comes to high speed rail, evidence for agglomeration benefits is fairly thin. Such benefits are more likely to arise from improved transport within a metropolitan area, and I haven’t seen any evidence that “the potential for agglomeration in Birmingham is greater than elsewhere”.

But our rail infrastructure doesn’t currently reflect this quality. HS2’s Y-network changes this. It would put Birmingham at the centre of the national rail network, in a way that it isn’t now. When combined with local and regional rail enhancements, KPMG estimate the benefit to the west Midlands at £1.5bn and 22,000 jobs.

I’d imagine KPMG will estimate whatever anyone wants, so long as they’re remunerated. As far as I know, KPMG were paid to provide this ‘research’ by Centro, and the methods and assumptions used to come up with these figures, aren’t available. As far as Birmingham’s conventional rail network is concerned, it allows direct rail services to London, East Anglia, Wales, the South Coast, the South West, North West, North East, and Scotland. But London-centric Adonis/Steer high speed rail would put Birmingham on a dead-end branch from a main HS2 line, with two poorly connected stations remote from the conventional network. As planned by HS2 Ltd, all stage one services would start or finish in London.

Written by beleben

August 16, 2011 at 11:42 am