Thursday, 26 November 2020

QUESTION on giving for WMCA faith leaders webinar on 9 Dec 2020

 "These sessions have a faith and public health focus, but they will also offer an opportunity to address some wider issues affecting our communities." (my emphasis)

Therefore, I have submitted this question:

How do our faith leaders interpret our theme of 'giving' when it comes to being biased to the poor or the least well off in our community?

Should the least be given more than those with the most?
How would this play out when it comes to public transport?
Should the least well off without cars, be rewarded with, and compensated for, the slightly higher risk of getting Covid with travelling on bus, train and tram, by my age group who have free travel, wanting Fare-Free Public Transport for every age group?  About 100 towns and cities around the world have it, including Dunkirk, Luxembourg and Tallinn, Estonia.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

​TOP CLIMATE ACTION REQUEST

People must not be hoodwinked into accepting Metro tram extensions, underground and overground to replace/duplicate buses and even trains! £15 BILLION to 2040 wasted when that money must go for Fare-Free Public Transport and electric buses on bus priority roads.  Please email those exact words to Mayor, Andy Street, at:

MayorsOffice@wmca.org.uk

Malcolm.Holmes@wmre.org.uk,


Then forward the reply to timweller1@gmail.com  - me!

THANKS so much.

Every £ we spend = finite fossil fuels burnt = deadly greenhouse gases to threaten all life on earth. 

Trams look green but you and I have to BE green and campaign for commuter, regional and freight TRAINS on our local railway line that doesn't get the 6 Kms of trams and 2 Kms test track.  That STILL leaves 48 Kms of railway "of national strategic significance" on the Black Country Railway between Worcester and Derby, alongside or near to traffic-choked motorways and roads.  And every crossing is built, too - see my photos.  They built the important railway and forgot the trains and nine stations!

"This legal defence for the 3 Trident Ploughshares 2000 peace women ... " ALASTAIR MCINTOSH October 2001

This legal defence for the 3 Trident Ploughshares 2000 peace women argues that in British constitutional theory, military defence is the ultimate responsibility of a monarch who is both Commander in Chief of the armed forces and, by divine grace, “Defender of the [Christian] Faith.” Such implied theocracy sits in a framework of Scots constitutional law where, contrary to the English position, the Community of the Realm, and not Parliament, is Sovereign under God. God’s legal recognition is further emphasised by Scotland’s primary constitutional instrument within the United Kingdom, the Treaty of Union, 1707, and it is alluded to in the schedule to the Church of Scotland Act, 1921. 

Additionally, Lord Stair (like Blackstone in English law) affirms that divine law is the foundation and context within which Scots law develops. It follows from this that British military defence policy as it affects Scotland ought to be consistent with Christian principles. Such principles were taught by Christ as pacifism, but accommodated by most of the mainstream churches as “just war theory.” However, both stances - pacifism and “just war” - refute genocide as being ultra vires.

Nuclear weapons are, of course, potentially genocidal, which is why they are opposed by the mainstream Scottish churches which do not, otherwise, adopt a pacifist position. To destroy the infrastructure supporting nuclear weapons is therefore consistent with a citizen’s duty to prevent a greater crime from being perpetrated. Within Christian tradition, the precedent for such preventative destruction was established by Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple.

Set in such a context we can see that these three women are not criminals: they are stalwart upholders of law and order. Their work of witness calls us back to the constitutional nature of the British state that we are in. They remind us to raise ourselves up to our nation’s God-given higher vocation and to turn our backs on those “fallen” faces of nationhood that would traditionally have been called “sin,” such as possessing weapons of mass destruction.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

ONLY ELECTRIC BUSES, ON RAILS ON ROADS AND RAILWAY LINES, ARE ALLOWED!

 Since February 2020, WMCA has been working on a £15 BILLION to 2040 scheme for mainly Metro "bus on rails" trams, underground and overground, replacing buses and trains when it is electric buses without rails that are needed with Fare-Free Public Transport for all age groups, as reward/compensation for a slightly greater risk of Covid in doing the right thing in using bus, train, tram.

Now, underground tram lines - what a thrill to spill yet more greenhouse gases!

"As part of his re-election campaign, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has unveiled his ambitious £15bn transport plan for the region. ... At 150 miles long, the ambitious transport network expansion would feature eight new Metro lines, 380 new stops and 21 new rail stations.5 Feb 2020"

Railway destruction for 50 years leads to green field HS2

Phil, the authorities in the W Mids for 50 years, have had the weird idea that homes, shops, offices, roads and, "bus on rails" trams are meant to go on railway lines.  They are still at it by breaking up the UK's only mothballed mainline railway "of national strategic significance" into multi-modal transport with trams, trains, a test track and an extended cycle-walkway.  This is the 120 Kms Black Country Railway being broken up when it is already built as a mainline railway that needs finishing in the middle!  NO WONDER WE NEED HS2, for stopping at a few cities but still need inter-city lines for the existing stations.  And, of course, to nicely accelerate the runaway greenhouse effect as we turn earth into venus, our sister or twin planet.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Warwick Manufacturing Group is CORRECT; Head of Metro Development is WRONG!

from Peter Adams, Head of Metro Development, 5 Dec 2016 Tim Weller's rebuttal in blue.

 

"The e-mail below by Dr Mallinson of Warwick Manufacturing Group has been brought to my attention.

Dr Mallinson is incorrect to state that “the arrival of metro using the South Staffordshire alignment dictates that heavy rail passenger services are no longer possible.”  I continue to maintain how very right Nick Mallinson is.  The tram train is NOT a “heavy rail passenger service”. To say so is being dishonest.

The current Wednesbury – Brierley Hill light rail proposals would not prevent the Stourbridge - Walsall route reopening for conventional freight and passenger train services in the longer term, as they will be designed to allow passive provision for future conversion to shared running of trams and trains on the corridor. Passive provision for only another kind of tram - the tram train over 20 Kms that still excludes the wasted 36 Kms mainline between Walsall and Burton on Trent.  It is most misleading to call the tram train as a “conventional passenger train service”.

 

The practicality of this can be demonstrated by the fact that shared running of trains and tram services over the same infrastructure already occurs elsewhere in Europe and is shortly to be introduced between Sheffield and Rotherham."

 

This is a photo of the tram train that is being introduced on the short 12 Kms between Sheffield Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.  It is not suitable on a fast mainline 120 Kms railway, as Peter thinks.



Peter writes about The current Wednesbury – Brierley Hill light rail proposals would not prevent the Stourbridge - Walsall route reopening for conventional freight and passenger train services in the longer term”.  His closing sentence reveals that by that he means the tram train that is being used on the 12 Kms between Sheffield and Rotherham.  It is NOT a conventional passenger train.  It must stop at every 14 tram stops to maintain the frequency that passengers have grown accustomed to with the trams.  Therefore, using it on our 120 Kms Black Country mainline is like putting London Underground trains on the London to Paris HS1 line.  Thinkable only for a certain kind of peculiar mind set.

 

Railway trains go on railway lines.  Do it, please, for every sensible reason in the book and so help bring our “very old Victorian railway” (Sir Peter Hendy) into the modern age! The Brits, last year, sold 14 electric hydrogen trains to Germany. Use them to complete the Black Country Railway - in style.


​​
​​

Tim Weller

Sunday, 22 November 2020

OBVIOUS - 'SACRIFICE TO SURVIVE' - ACTIONS NEEDED NOW!

 It is urgent that we each must feel guilty about using finite fossil fuels and CUT BACK NOW AND FOREVER!

  1. Therefore, and such is the intensity and growth of the Brexit/Covid/Climate/Ecological crises, we must quickly cancel (and pay the cancellation fees) for HS2, Metro extensions and Sprint diesel buses and bring in an immediate national 60 mph speed limit on every dual carriageway and motorway.
  2. Use the money to immediately extend fare-free public transport to all age groups for urban travel but not intercity travel, to cut our ecocidal emissions.  This action also works as compensation for the higher risk of Covid transmission.
  3. Bring in an immediate household carbon allowance based on council tax banding to cut fossil fuel use.
  4. Cutting deadly greenhouse gases means less damaging economic activity.  Therefore, the wealthy like me must financially help all the very many that will suffer from loss of jobs.  So do what must be done to ensure that no-one suffers financially.  And get the solution jobs moving, immediately.
  5. Do what Sir Jonathon Porritt advises in his new book, 'Hope in Hell: a decade to confront the climate emergency'.
  6. Do what Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg advise.
  7. Watch 'Extinction: the facts' at BBC 1 on Sun eve, 13 Sept at 8 pm - tomorrow!
Tim Weller

Monarchs obeying the Bible turned out miserably

 For centuries, certain W European Great Powers have ​been guilty of piracy, ​​sailed around the world exploring​, settling down in far off lands​ and trading - ​mostly ​uninvited!  It led to coercion, exploitation, slavery, empire building and countless wars where the blacks got the rough end of our supposed '​white, democratic, Christian based ​civilisations'. ​ Yet, remarkably, our subjugated subjects still helped us fight our wars in the last century!

E​very English monarch,​ in recent centuries, has had these words said to them as part of their vows:

Our gracious Queen/King:
to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God
as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes,
we present you with this Book,
the most valuable thing that this world affords.

And the Moderator shall continue:
Here is Wisdom;
This is the royal Law;
These are the lively Oracles of God.

​But the monarchs sanctioned piracy, colonisation and warfare.  ​From the white peoples of Western Europe ​who colonised N America, the native American tribes succumbed to "God, guns and germs".  God because the believers thought that the Lord was paving the way for them in the New Promised Land when the inhabitants fell like flies - no immunity at all - to the diseases that the new settlers​, unwittingly,​ had brought with them.

"We see asylum seekers washed up on the beaches dead.  Held in inhumane conditions behind barbed wire around Europe.  W​hat​ does our message say to them?  What should the Gospel be to them?"  John Neale - talk on Sun 22 Nov 2020

SELF: From the terrible way that our ancestors treated strangers and foreigners, you would think that we would now be more empathetic and compassionate and even wanting to help the descendants of those we treated so poorly​.  Really poorly in capturing, enslaving and deporting them to work in foreign fields under the baking sun to make us as wealthy ​as ​we are now​.​  A​nd, without even paying them a cent for their manual labours in atrocious conditions​.  Any employer or business would be successful on that basis​!

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Walk the Dowery Dell Trail in our Golden Green Triangle!

 USE OUR NEW W MIDLANDS NATIONAL PARK OR, LOSE IT TO CONCRETE, BRICK AND TARMAC


My route for the Dowery Dell unofficial Trail (for the adventurously spirited young at heart) through Doctor’s Coppice, is this.  It is the least well defined/obvious section from Hunnington to Longbridge:


HIGHLIGHTS to tick off as you walk through Doctor’s Coppice - 

  • 50-year-old wood with dry streams but one ditch with, surprisingly, a little water;

  • a triangular tree formed ‘door’ to go through;

  • an enormous, ancient, coppiced oak tree and,

  • a great concrete block leftover from the M5 construction.;


THE ROUTE

From the narrow, twisting trail in Round Saw Croft (owned by Gary Colin Mabley who has given permission for walking), you come to Newtown Lane where there is a culverted (dry) stream bed under Newtown Lane near its junction with Yew Tree Lane and the road called Frankley Green (but Oxwood Lane on the OS Standard online map).


At the edge of the tarmac, up the road to your right is the start of a Roadside Verge Nature Reserve marked by a red and white wooden post. On the SE side of the old bridge, drop immediately down into the biggest of three ditches to come before the public footpath through the M5 subway.  Step over two strands of low, loose barbed wire. Climb up the narrow, short but steep ridge-bank that broadens out between two (dry) stream valleys that can be seen either side of you.  Keep to this higher ground, gently uphill and head towards the conifer plantation that you must keep in sight to your right as you walk on.  Cross over a log, then down and up the second ditch followed by walking through a triangle ‘door’ formed by a fallen silver birch tree leaning on a hazel.  One at a time.  Keep in the broadleaf woodland but near to the conifer wood on your right; over the third ditch and immediately walk on top of a low bank, with ditch on right, to take you to the edge of the woodland alongside an open field.  Keep this field in sight to your right but stay in the open wood.  Find a large oak that may have been coppiced over 100 years ago.  Keep straight on.  Then lookout for an isolated short section of old post and rail fencing.  Go to the right of it.  Then head for an enormous block of concrete with, perhaps, a blue engineering brick I placed on it this morning.


You will then see a gap in the old broken fence and the subway straight in front and below you.  Success!  There follows 3.5 Kms of easy walking to Longbridge High Street with its attractive R Rea landscaping where the Austin motor works once stood.  Return home by bus via Selly Oak Triangle for the no 11.  The walk is 8 to 10 Kms from Halesowen town centre to Longbridge shopping centre, depending on how you get to Blue Bird Park to pick up the trail.


WALKING IT FROM HUNNINGTON CRICKET GROUND - park in their car park with permission at the bar in the clubhouse.  There is also a bus service - 147 between Halesowen and Bromsgrove.  Please don’t park in Station Drive.


One route to the Halesowen Railway and our 1883 opened single track railway line is through (permission granted) Hunnington cricket ground opposite the Blue Bird sweet factory in Bromsgrove Road.  KEEP OFF STATION DRIVE.

Walk round the cricket ground boundary, through the attractive open woodland to the public right of way parallel to the caravan storage park that is in the railway cutting, to as far as the Cherry memorial bench. There is no permission to the viaduct on the track bed.  However, we have permission on Gary Mabley’s land from the former Dowery Dell viaduct to the M5 subway.  It is steep and rough at the long since removed viaduct to climb onto Gary’s railway line.  Continue walking to the M5 subway.  You will be maintaining a 137-year-old tradition of walking the railway.  And until the 1960s, risking the 40 shillings fine for trespassing on the railway and being rudely interrupted in your stroll by yelling train drivers to “Get off the bloody line!”


Tim Weller   23 May 2020


Friday, 20 November 2020

Scandalously expensive, grossly extravagant, over indulgent, a serious showpiece, white elephant! Vanity of vanities!

 

Scandalously expensive, grossly extravagant, over-indulgent, a serious showpiece, white elephant!

At £75 m/Km, too! Is that right? Is that 10 times the cost per Km of REBUILDING the 50 Kms Borders Railway for £353 million in 2015? And, every bus is now badly inconvenienced with a longer and slower journey into the city centre. This is not very good, is it? Are you pleased with what you have done?

Refers to the mighty Metro "bus on rails" tram extension to amaze, shock and awe in Centenary Square (rebuilt 1991, 2013, 2019 for £16 m!) and Broad Street/Hagley Road, Brum.

TRAM NETWORK REBUILT ON RAILWAY NETWORK ALONG WITH BUILDINGS AND ROADS

Thanks, Don.  It certainly wasn't very clear but the first-ever conversion of a mothballed mainline railway, already built but only half-used, to tramline, VLR test track and extended cycle-walkway is going full speed ahead into the iceberg!

Here is my complete, essential, slimmed-down history of transport; all you need to know:

TRAM NETWORK REBUILT ON RAILWAY NETWORK ALONG WITH BUILDINGS AND ROADS - and now a test track and possible cycle-walkway!
1950s:  saw the complete obliteration of the W Midlands tram network.
1960s:  saw the closure of about one-third of our urban railway network and the demolition of the high vaulted roofed New Street Station.  It was put underground to bring even worse air pollution.
1970s:  the demolition and rebuilding to half its former size of Snow Hill Station.  Only four platforms left; later only three in use, as is the case now.
1980s: the decision was made not to stop running homes, shops, offices and roads down the closed railway lines but to turn them into a tram network of 200 Kms and 15 lines by the year 2000.
1990s:  the money was found to convert the second Brum to Wolverhampton Railway into part tramline and the remainder obliterated under concrete, brick and tarmac.  Wolverhampton's second mainline station closed for good.
2000s:  That station converted into a conference and events centre with the double-track railway line turned into a garden and roads.
2010s:  Buses pushed out to the edge of Brum shopping centre to make way for the grossly extravagant, prestigious tram as it makes its stately glide past the empty shops to 'Grand Central Shopping Centre And Diesel Perfumed Underground Railway Station Tagged Along As An Afterthought In The Basement Of The Closed John Lewis Store'
2020s:  Solemn declaration, to me by 1990s Dudley Council Leader, Fred Hunt that Dudley's mainline railway converted to tramline would be open by the year 2000, saw work begin - only after 20 years when it should have been opened!! 
2030 or 40s:  Is finally finished as the world's first, unique TRAIN-TRAM-TRAIN MAINLINE RAILWAY between Worcester, Black Country and Derby??

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Now, underground tram lines - what a thrill to spill yet more greenhouse gases!

Now, underground tram lines - what a thrill to spill yet more greenhouse gases!

"As part of his re-election campaign, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has unveiled his ambitious £15bn transport plan for the region. ... At 150 miles long, the ambitious transport network expansion would feature eight new Metro lines, 380 new stops and 21 new rail stations.5 Feb 2020"

WMCA Faith Communities

"These sessions have a faith and public health focus, but they will also offer an opportunity to address some wider issues affecting our communities." (my emphasis)

Therefore, I have submitted this question:

How do our faith leaders interpret our theme of 'giving' when it comes to being biased to the poor or the least well off in our community?

Should the least be given more than those with the most?
How would this play out when it comes to public transport?
Should the least well off without cars, be rewarded with, and compensated for, the slightly higher risk of getting Covid with travelling on bus, train and tram, by my age group who have free travel, wanting Fare-Free Public Transport for every age group?  About 100 towns and cities around the world have it, including Dunkirk, Luxembourg and Tallinn, Estonia.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

W Mids Pensioners' Convention on board with FFPT

Can pensioners like me help our younger citizens by asking for a full, Fare-Free Public Transport (FFPT) that I have enjoyed since I was 60 years old?

This could be funded by using the hundreds of millions now going into multi-modal, multi-mixed up, unnecessary, underground and overground Metro extensions to duplicate/replace buses and trains.  One tram extension, even on the UK's only, middle half mothballed, 120 Kms, mainline railway, I'm afraid. 

I am referring to Conservative Mayor, Andy Street who is working on his £15 billion scheme to 2040 for, mainly, underground and overground "bus on rails" tram extensions!

The "bus on rails" trams in Corporation Street, Bull Street, Broad St/Hagley Road have simply replaced buses that could have been electric buses, minus the rails, running directly on roads!

Always money for grossly extravagant, flash, showpiece to impress, projects that should go instead to FFPT.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

More and more spending on big fossil fuel-guzzling projects

I've been involved since the councillors 'Environment Forums' and 'Sustainability Forums' in the 1990s.  The councillors always mean well but, like Covid when the politicians failed even to prepare 'in case' and, finally, acted too late, so with climate/ecology nothing meaningful, I feel will happen until there are the metaphorical "bodies on the street".  More and more spending on big fossil fuel-guzzling projects, like the ones I'm so against for self-survival reasons, is always so impossible to resist while the stuff remains in the ground.  


"Deluded clowns in power"

Regarding the £776 m, 14 Kms, 2014 Edinburgh Tram, "I always saw it as a vanity project and, frankly, a green folly, as Edinburgh already had (and has) one of the best city-run bus services in the country. I think it was about looking green rather than being green." Author, environmentalist and broadcaster, from Govan.

The Metro extension down Broad Street is even more expensive than the construction cost for the Corporation Street tram.  The Edgbaston extension is £75 m/Kms.  This is 12 times the cost of Scotland's REBUILT Borders Railway when it opened in 2015 for £353 m for 57 Kms!

Metro is a VERY fancy showpiece, grossly extravagant and over-indulgent at a time when belt-tightening is needed for the Brexit/Covid/Climate/Ecological crises.

Prompted by:

"The biggest White Elephant ever to have happened to our City, has done untold damage to the economy and the cost will never be recuperated, just a fancy showpiece for the deluded clowns in power."

from B10Forever

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/what-broad-street-looks-like-19264591

Brum's inner ring road gone for a burton!

Brum's inner ring road gone for a burton!

We once had a free-flowing, successful and a complete inner ring road. A few years later, the councillors changed their minds and approved it being partly broken up. Where the ring road was demolished, it was replaced with traffic lights, one-way roads and traffic jams where you once had fast MOVING traffic!

Yet, more greenhouse gases to screw up the world's climates and more air pollution from the cocktail of poisonous gases our vehicles spew out.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Edinburgh Tram called "a green folly" and looking green but not being green

I’m not up to speed which tram project this is, but in the case of Edinburgh, I always saw it as a vanity project and, frankly, a green folly, as Edinburgh already had (and has) one of the best city-run bus services in the country. I think it was about looking green rather than being green.

Alastair Mc

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Growth and de-growth from Bob W

The business community is, as ever, committed to growth at all costs. Never mind that permanent economic growth on a finite planet is a non-starter, that is their mantra. Growth, no matter what is produced; if it makes a profit it is OK. There is a green version of this which calls for "green growth", which is a combination of greenwash and mild reforms.

My​ ​attitude is that we need growth in health, education and housing provision, social care, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, culture, FFPT, participative sport and free time, and de-growth in armaments, cars, plastic, fast fashion, meat, food miles, advertising, and useless and unnecessary goods. This would mean curbing aviation, road building and counting out such projects as HS2.

The former view has an echo within the labour movement and it needs to be countered with the latter in my view.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Very nice to read your article in 'Rail Professional', April 2020 issue

email dated 24 March 2020:

Dear Transport Convener, Cllr Lesley and friends - fun photos to click on, below.  As your reward for reading to the bottom - don't cheat!!

Re: the Edinburgh tram line - 'Trams to Newhaven' and coals to Newcastle

You ended your piece by writing, "the status quo is quite simply not an option.  To Newhaven - and beyond!"  To infinity and beyond, of course.

Do you know why your predecessors destroyed the tram status quo, to go for diesel buses some years ago?  We did the same in the Black Country and Brum but I am ignorant of the reasons, if you are able to help, please. 

We then had the status quo of diesel buses for many years that you want to partly change, it seems as no longer being an option.  Why all the chopping and changing between two different status quos over the decades?  Why not simply transform the two basic modes - bus and train?

Did we see the growth in diesel buses as Edinburgh grew and prospered?  Grew and prospered with humdrum buses and not flash trams.  Therefore, for many decades the diesel buses were the real deal, the satisfactory status quo, the success that you are upsetting, yet again, for the return of the tram status quo, once more.

Perhaps you meant that you wanted a high-status symbol to befit a world, grandstanding city like Edinburgh?  Something more prestigious and glitzy and glamorous.  Or, a solution looking for a problem?

However, is the bigger and grander the project the more expensive it becomes and, therefore, the more greenhouse gases are spewed out to screw up the world's climates for the worse?  In other words, the more we spend on finite resources like fossil fuels the more unsustainable our society becomes to turn it into planet venus, as some scientists fear?

Why should the "bus on rails"* tram on tracks on the road be better than smart electric buses straight on to the road without railway lines having to be laid first?

Or, could you join the current European mainland trend of even fare-free public transport in some places like Tallinn in Estonia, Luxembourg and Dunkirk?

You want the trams "to complement and support our excellent bus services" but could the danger be that the trams will replace some bus routes?  And, at the most colossal expense, as here:
With every good wish for fareless electric buses to bribe the car commuter to use the humble, mundane, workhorse bus.

* quote courtesy of UK Tram Ltd, the national tram promotion group at the heart of our Transport HQ in Brum.