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Defective in concept

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Wisbech Standard, 10 April 2015: 'Cambridge busway may need to be ripped up'

Wisbech Standard, 10 April 2015: ‘Cambridge busway may need to be ripped up’

The Cambridge guided busway — built on the old St Ives railway trackbed — has seen 11 million passengers since opening four years ago, but has been plagued with defects, the Wisbech Standard reported (10 April 2015).

[‘Deteriorating’ Cambridgeshire guided busway may need to be ripped up, Wisbech Standard]

A technical report six months ago said the busway, which was built by contractor BAM Nuttall, had £31 million worth of defects – in some places the track has risen four inches – which need to be addressed to tackle the “deteriorating” ride quality.

[…] Speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Bob Menzies, service director for strategy and development at Cambridgeshire County Council, said they may be forced to put rubber pads under every beam of the track.

[…] The council instigated the review into the contract after the project ran into problems and delays, resulting in BAM Nuttall, repaying £33million of the £147m costs to settle a long-running dispute about who should pay for the overspend for the concrete route.

The report found BAM Nuttall did not think the design was as complete as it expected it to be when the contract was awarded.

Involving a consultant to review the design was not value for money and removed responsibility from the contractor’s designer, the report added.

SDG website case study, Cambridge Guided Busway

SDG website case study, Cambridge Guided Busway

Like the HS2 scheme and the Borders Railway, the Cambridge busway is ‘political’ infrastructure. Its biggest defect lies in the concept, rather than the execution. The concrete guideway is little more than a very expensive way of stopping normal road traffic using the right-of-way. Had the old St Ives railway been rebuilt as a conventional road, there would have at least been the possibility of bicycles, and emergency vehicles, being able to use it.

In general, reserved track transport schemes — bus or rail — tend to require high levels of demand to be worthwhile. According to its website, Steer Davies Gleave ‘co-ordinated a multi-disciplinary PPP team, to develop a robust scheme for the Cambridge Guided Busway from conception through to scheme design’, but what has been provided could hardly be described as robust. Perhaps BAM Nuttall are not the only ones who have questions to answer.

[SDG]

[…] Steer Davies Gleave guided the evolution of the project from a private sector developer promoted project, to a joint public/private project with the powers sought by Cambridgeshire County Council.

How we did it

We managed a multi-disciplinary team from conception through to scheme design and the preparation for the Transport and Works Act application

It included:

Developing briefs for consultants
Defined scopes of work
Provided strategic advice as part of the client team
Wrote papers to obtain political sign-off
Facilitated key third party discussions
Managed the stakeholder and public consultations
Managed the preparation for the Transport and Works Act application
Acted as strategic advisor to the QCs during the public inquiry process
Steer Davies Gleave’s management of the team meant that we were able to develop a robust scheme within the extremely tight timeframes. Our expertise in technical issues and an understanding of the political sensitivities and requirements ensured that the right solution we developed.

The project director for Cambridge summarised SDG’s input as “at all times professional and undertaken to an extremely high standard. The particular strengths were creativity, problem solving and project management”.

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Written by beleben

April 12, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Politics

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Nanny knows best

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West Midlands transport authority Centro is a big supporter of the prying, nannying and hypocritical “smarter choices” agenda.

[Centro]

What is Smart Network,Smarter Choices?

Smart Network, Smarter Choices is a £48 million package of sustainable travel projects being carried out over the next three years along ten key corridors/routes in the West Midlands. It comprises of £33 million from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) and at least another £15 million from local public and private contributions. The project, which is being delivered by Centro in partnership with the seven West Midlands councils, aims to:

• Tackle the road congestion already costing the West Midlands economy more than £2.3 billion a year;

• Help kick start our local economy by underpinning growth and job creation while better connecting people to work, skills and training; and

• Reduce carbon emissions to help the region achieve its tough CO2 targets.

The project will concentrate on ten key corridors/routes across the West Midlands implementing a range of schemes including: new or improved walking and cycling routes; small scale road and junction improvements; better passenger waiting facilities; expert travel planning for families, companies and schools; free travel support for job seekers; more mobile and real time transport information; and smartcard technology for cashless travel.

The project sets out to help people make smarter and greener travel choices (Smarter Choices), especially for short trips, which in turn can cut congestion and improve traffic flows for essential road users such as hauliers and bus operators. To help bring about this change in travel behaviour, experts will work closely with families, schools, businesses and community groups to provide them with the bespoke support and advice they need. Smart Network, Smarter Choices will not only help support our regional economy but it can also bring substantial benefits for the environment as well as people’s health through more cycling and walking.

Centro’s MyNetwork Personal Travel Plans site now includes various condescending documents telling people how they should travel, shop, and eat.

Nanny knows best

Nanny knows best

The Great Barr Community Guide contains startling revelations such as the existence of businesses such as Acres Estate Agents, Barclays Bank PLC and Cashino Adult Gaming Centre, in the locality. Who’d have thought it.

No doubt, Steer Davies Gleave and AECOM are also big supporters of “smarter choices” programmes. Because they were handed lucrative contracts to run them. And the sums involved, run into millions.

Written by beleben

May 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Centro

Tagged with ,

HS2 is about speed, not capacity (part four)

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Part three

This week High Speed 2, or HS2 to its friends and critics, has started the slow evolution to being rebranded, wrote Andrew Jackson.

[‘Price and timescale of High Speed 2 is just unrail‘, Andrew Jackson, Hudderfield Examiner, 14 Sep 2013]

Why? Because the speed argument is a weak one and the public weren’t convinced.

The Department for Transport say journey times between Leeds and London would be chopped by 50 minutes to one hour and 22 minutes while you can get to England’s second city Birmingham in 57 minutes rather than the two hours it takes now.

That’s great but how many of the Great British public travel to London or Brum on a regular enough basis to make this important?

The ambivalence of many to the cut in times on the proposed 250mph trains was indirectly proportional to the almost universal head-shaking, which went on when it was revealed that it would cost £32.7bn – which was then revised upwards by a third to a smidge under £43bn.

The public then pointed out that we’ll be spending all this taxpayer loot, but if you don’t live in Leeds, Sheffield or Manchester (to name the points on the northern hub) then you’ve still got to get to the station.

Although the Department for Transport is now talking down velocity in favour of capacity and connectivity, the fact remains that the whole design of HS2 was for speed, at the expense of capacity and connectivity. The PR may be changing, but the scheme isn’t.

[The Guardian, Letters: If more capacity is the point, HS2 isn’t the answer, 12 Sep 2013]

So the transport secretary thinks HS2 is really about increasing capacity on our railways? (Report, 11 September). Sorry, but if increasing capacity of the rail network is your prime objective then the laws of physics mean a high-speed railway is the worst possible answer.

Why? Because the capacity of a railway is determined by the need to keep the trains a safe distance apart, and this distance is determined by the stopping power of the trains. The stopping distance of any vehicle is governed by its kinetic energy, and this quantity increases as the square of the vehicle’s speed. So if you double the speed of trains, you increase the minimum safe distance between them by a factor of four. Even though you’re going twice as fast, it takes twice as long to pass the longer safe distance at the higher speed, so the number of trains that can pass any given point in an hour (ie the capacity of the railway) actually halves.

And no, you can’t get round this by making better brakes unless you want to fit your trains with seatbelts to restrain passengers against white-knuckle-ride levels of deceleration.

The truth of the above is borne out by the fact that the highest-capacity railways are metro systems, where trains rarely exceed 40mph, but busy sections of line can pass 30 trains or more in an hour. By all means spend £50bn on improvements to our creaking rail infrastructure, but keep the speeds and costs per mile down if you really want to ease the misery of sardine-tin commuters.

Richard Ellam
Bristol

In March 2012, the Rail Freight Group (RFG) told the All Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail (whose creation was orchestrated by Westbourne Communications) that RFG “supports the development of HS2 to deliver long term capacity for freight growth”. But now Lord Berkeley, RFG chairman — and backer of the (impractical) Euston Cross scheme — has criticised the government and HS2 Ltd for “bulldozing through” a badly-designed project which “just doesn’t link up properly with the existing transport network”.

[Daily Telegraph, ‘HS2 will clog up the rail system, warns freight expert‘, Andrew Gilligan, 14 Sep 2013]

“The trouble is, ministers have got themselves into this position they do with every big project, where they say nothing’s going to change and we’re going to bulldoze everything through,” Lord Berkeley said.

“The problem isn’t the middle of the line, it’s the ends — it just doesn’t link up properly with the existing transport network.”

As well as disrupting freight traffic, HS2 will inconvenience millions of passengers, forcing them to change trains or even change stations for journeys which can currently be made direct.

In April 2013, the Beleben blog pointed out that HS2 would release little capacity on existing lines, even though proponents of the scheme, such as Centro and West Yorkshire PTE, have long claimed that it would transform capacity with ‘more regional, local and freight services’.

Steer Davies Gleave July 2013 post-HS2 timetable options report for Yorkshire PTEs stated that 'the scope to remove services from the existing network (i.e. released capacity) is limited'

HS2 connectivity is fundamentally limited by the design constraints imposed by Andrew Adonis, and those limitations are largely immutable (without binning the specification). Even so, it’s surprising how inept HS2 Ltd’s January 2013 illustrative service pattern was, with Carlisle, the Lake District, and Lancaster shown as having no direct service to London.

The Y network proposed service pattern (revised January 2013) showed no direct trains from London to Lancaster, the Lake District, or Carlisle

Written by beleben

September 15, 2013 at 9:23 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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