Friday, 14 June 2019

Excellent Dudley Museum

Dear friends

I came across this wonderful, well presented Dudley Museum that includes many exhibits and one dinosaur that made me jump as it unexpectedly burst into life behind me!  There was also attractive information about the Black Country UNESCO Geopark and two videos on a loop in the video room.  There was an art gallery and a Dudley heroes galley to be seen, too.

I was there for about an hour and a half, this morning but saw only one couple.  There needs to be lots of attractive signs to our brand new museum from each of the other four tourist/leisure attractions that are on either side of the Archives and Local History Centre.  Visitors to the Living Museum, the Portal and Zoological Gardens/Castle should not be missing out.  They are certainly doing so, now.  Signs are needed, I think from both the old, top town and the new, Castle Gate, low town centre.  Signs on the walking/cycling routes, please including to the canal towpath that takes walkers and cyclists to Brum.  The land train route needs to be much better signed, in my opinion and, the white railway type gate kept unlocked during the daytime.

I also noticed that the smart, top quality Station Hotel is missed out from the Accommodation brochure.  The other three hotels at Castle Gate are all included.  This is a serious omission and the owner should be rightly upset.  The useful 'Discover Dudley' brochure has the Village Hotel Club featured but, the older and more established Station Hotel, once again, is not.  Also missing is the 100 years of successful service to Dudley town - the railway station.  It was once important and, like Station Hotel, must have had visitors/passengers from London and the North, in past years.  It could do so again, of course.  Hint, hint!

Best wishes

The Black Country Ghost Train Attraction

The Black Country Ghost Train attraction

There is still time to stop Brum palming us fine Black Country people off with a piddling little shuttle tram line. This, on our own mainline railway to our neighbours' in Sandwell. Ours gets completely ruined in the process. How scandalous and stupid is that?

STATION Hotel, that smart top hotel opposite the site of the railway station, has to put up with a tram stop of all things. Giving it the trains back will help it flourish between traditional old Dudley town and new, low town at Castle Gate.

Please protest, act and insist that we get the proper thing back - TRAINS, once more on all 120 Kms between Worcester and Derby, through Dudley.
OR,

Beware of audacious, dishonest scam  
  1. Digging up roads and wrecking any prospect of completing our 120 Kms mainline railway is done to replace diesel buses/trains with electric trams.
  2. It is turning a mole hill into a mountain.
  3. No mole hill exists because the tram brainwave is a solution looking for a problem.  And this has gone on since 1981 but, in this decade it has taken off - big time.
  4. Road digging, moving pipes and cables and overhead power lines all makes tram extensions the world's second most expensive form of transport after HS2.  SOURCE:
  5. Even more expensive than nearly every Maglev train project in Japan, South Korea and China!
  6. All you need are electric, fareless buses on 100% bus lanes, with traffic light priority to speed buses and inconvenience car commuters but help those who must use vehicles. 
  7. Democracy is denied to drive through, autocratically, that road digging, railway wrecking project.
  8. It appears that not one political party, even the Green Party, has ever discussed and then voted on the wisdom of spending over £1.5 BILLION for the 32 Kms and five schemes in the Black Country and Brum.
  9. Every political party wants trams.  Everyone includes them in their manifestos.  But with no democratic legitimacy.
  10. Not one council in membership of the Combined Authority has ever voted to approve this massive expenditure.
  11. The HQ of the Combined Authority shares the building with the HQ of the national tram promotion group.  Vested interests.  Improper influence.  Complicity, collusion, corruption.  That explains it all in upstanding, Boris's Brexit Britain!
  12. Maintaining the first very expensive tram on a railway line meant every tram was replaced after only 17 years and the track after 18 years.  And, four business in Bilston went bust over the many months of work!

Likening the EU to rationing!

John Melaire (Letters, 13 June) likens our membership of the EU to the days of rationing.  We have lacked for nothing since we joined.  Our trade deals as a member are more advantageous than if we were on our own.  Isolated from the rest, we would have to start all over again and take many years over it, too.  It would take our wealth and be a fruitless exercise to simply make the point that we are independent and gloriously isolated, once again but, now as Greater (than ever) Brexit Boris Britain.  Even more of a laughing stock around the world.

Even Norway and Switzerland have a much closer and a more sensible relationship with the EU than any of our Brexiteers want.  Those two countries have been at the forefront of peacemaking between the warring nations, like us, for many decades.  So, perhaps we should take a leaf out of their book and become like them!

However, if we did leave with N Ireland still in the UK, it may simply invite the men of violence who are desperate to be shot of us lot on the mainland of the UK, to start up their killings once again.  Hence, the backstop.  And, the overwhelming reason for us not to depart the EU.  Or, at least, not until N Ireland is out of the UK and back with Ireland.  Now, that kind of leaving really is sensible!

Friday, 7 June 2019

DO WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING?

DO WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING?

The gradual process for UK devolution to its smaller countries was not followed for leaving the EU or, in converting a mainline railway into a tram line, a test track, a trail of trees and an extended cycle-walkway.

The 1990's and 00's careful, sensible and gradual process that led to eventual devolution was not followed for a matter of even greater import - our future membership of the EU.  For something more complicated than devolution, all the checks and balances built in to get, eventually an assembly and one parliament was not followed over the matter of the UK leaving EU membership.

On 5 April 2019, 'Have I Got News for You', Ian Hislop commented, "Thatcher said we shouldn't have a referendum on Europe.  It was too complicated an issue to put to the public. She was right."

Similarly, for something so game changing, expensive and, therefore, climate breaking as the decision to convert a safeguarded, 120 Kms mainline railway into two very short sections of tramway, on that matter too, none of the checks and balances were followed.  There was not even any kind of debate or even discussion beforehand, let alone a vote. Not even one of the constituent councils of the WMCA had a debate and vote.  The elected members were content to have the decision imposed upon them by the UK pressure group for trams that has infiltrated Transport HQ.  This, to spend nearly half a billion to destroy the middle section of a mainline railway that reduces capacity.  Yet, £56 billion is spent to increase capacity on our railways with HS2!


Never mind!  That will make £92 billions of benefits for the UK, says the business case!!  Are we living in Alice in Wonderland? Or, do we know what we are doing? This must be dishonest, crooked economics when all the crucial, fossil fuel resources are finite and, when burnt, screw up the planet's climates in changing the composition of the atmosphere for the worse?

Whistleblowing summary

SUMMARY OF ALLEGATION:

£1.8 BILLION of public money is being spent on trams and Sprint diesel buses to replace trains that have the unintended consequence of destroying other transport infrastructure, too. eg: Metro One now gives an inferior service for train users between Snow Hill Station and Shrewsbury because the principal station and railway lines have all gone for good to allow for trams.

WBHE is stopping for ever any future possibility of finishing the middle section of the Black Country Mainline Railway "of national strategic significance" when many millions have already been spent on every tunnel, bridge and viaduct for commuter, regional and even intercity trains!

Over £300 million is being spent to replace smart looking Platinum diesel buses with less frequent stopping Sprint diesel buses.  What is the point of that?

£1.8 BILLION would be more wisely spent on giving everyone fareless, electric buses with traffic light priority on 100% bus lanes on every dual carriageway to entice those wedded and welded to their motors to free up the road space for those who really do need their vehicles for their jobs.

7 June 2019

DEMOCRACY DENIED BY THE VERY PEOPLE WHO GO ON THE MOST ABOUT IT!

As regards Metro and Sprint spending, discussion and debate is excluded, quite apart from consultation and voting that are all conveniently overlooked as being irrelevant!  This is done to spend over £1.8 BILLION of taxpayers’ money, to 2026, in only part of the West Midlands, to increase road congestion and pollution, to worsen overcrowding on our commuter and regional trains and to ruinously accelerate the rise of greenhouse gases and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  £1.8 billion wasted at a time of austerity and poverty for many!

It seems that every political party, even the West Midlands Green Party, co-operated with this policy of scandal, idiocy and dictatorial behaviour by TfWM/WMCA.  It appears that not one local or regional political party has ever bothered to discuss any of this, let alone vote, in even one of their meetings. Including the Green Party, I believe.  I would love to be corrected. Will the Brexit Party do any better?

Certainly, not a single political party is sufficiently broad minded or, at all bothered, to hear a different point of view.

TfWM/WMCA remains strongly influenced by - even colluding with - the nation’s tram promotion group to continue the fifty year old policy of doing everything with Beeching’s closed urban railway lines in the Black Country, than to put the trains and stations back.  This summer, Metro trams and a test track are to go on the UK’s only mothballed, easily reinstated, half finished mainline railway - the Black Country Railway “of national strategic significance”. A tram stop and a £30 m innovation centre is to be built on the only feasible site for Dudley railway station that will also prevent the re-opening of the Black Country’s second railway line.  Hence, the second to be destroyed by trams and, in total, the fifth to be given over to everything but commuter and regional trains - and the kitchen sink!

Tim Weller timweller1@gmail.com 8 June 2019

THATCHER ON BREXIT!

On 5 April 2019, 'Have I Got News for You', Ian Hislop commented, "Thatcher said we shouldn't have a referendum on Europe.  It was too complicated an issue to put to the public. She was right."

Friday, 31 May 2019

Nearly £2 BILLION (to 2026) to replace diesel buses with diesel Sprint buses and using electric trams to destroy the UK's only mothballed mainline railway!

TO THE STAR

24 May 2019

Nearly £2 BILLION (to 2026) to replace diesel buses with diesel Sprint buses and using electric trams to destroy the UK's only mothballed mainline railway!

In the 1990s, I was told in all seriousness by the Leader of Dudley MBC, Cllr Fred Hunt, that the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Extension (WBHE) would be open by 2000.  It was not. In March of last year, I was told by the Black Country Director of Transport, Stuart Everton, that work was due to begin in the summer. It did not. The official start date for the main works is now the third quarter of this year.  Therefore, there is still time for cooler heads to prevail.  You three journalists are distant and independent from the fray.  If you think I am on to something here, please write a little more so that the blunder is further delayed to enable a review of the scheme.  If I am wrong, please tell me!

Metro One was opened in 1999.  That meant the permanent closure of Low Level principal station and a loss of passenger services, I believe, to Shrewsbury and possibly Crewe (I would like that confirmed or corrected, if you are able, please).  WBHE is even more devastating on heavy railway services for growing freight and passenger services, that are at full capacity now, in the Black Country and Brum. Platform 4 at Snow Hill station is still unused and wasted!

£55.7 billion is being spent on HS2 to increase capacity.  The politicians’ £449 million for WBHE is soon to be spent to reduce capacity!

All political parties are still wanting the 1981 decision to have a network of electric trams to replace some diesel buses and diesel trains.  This, when electric buses and electric trains would have been more sensible, financially responsible and with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Not one public statement condemning the scandalous destruction of urban railway lines that continues to this day.  No public statement on the sheer stupidity of converting the 120 Kms Black Country Mainline Railway into a piddling little shuttle tram line over 6.7 Kms. No public statement on the matter of this important railway "of national strategic significance", having a Very Light Rail Innovation Centre, a trail of trees and, in south Staffordshire, a new extended cycle-walkway.  All on a nationally important, mainline railway!!

From the powers that govern us, there has been:

       NO discussion or debate in any of the seven council chambers on spending nearly £2 billion.
       NO vote, of course.  There was, however, in Edinburgh, in March, over their tram extension.  And in went ahead: 36 to 26 councillors voted in favour.
       NO democracy - in the land that goes on (wrongly) about being the Great Mother of all Parliaments and the best democracy in the world!
       YES to improper but powerful influence at Transport HQ by the national tram promotion group that wants trams everywhere, regardless of the cost.  That lobby group also has its HQ in Transport HQ.
       YES to collusion + complicity = corruption at 16 Summer Lane.
       YES to continuing to squander nearly £2 billion over the next seven years.  This, at a time of continuing austerity causing suffering for the NHS/social care and, the £2 billion resulting in a worsening climate catastrophe of £2 billion of totally unnecessary greenhouse gases to hasten planet earth turning into our 'twin' planet, venus.

I think the green transport policy is free bus travel for all and not just the disabled and elderly, like me.  Dunkirk and Luxembourg are going down this route with total free public transport. Many eastern European towns and cities are already doing it.  £2 billion would pay for this and the no 9 bus route experiment, I have proposed elsewhere.

With best wishes

Devolution, sharing sovereignty and converting the last mainline railway!

DO WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING?

The process for UK devolution to its smaller countries was not followed for leaving the EU or in converting a mainline railway into a tram line, a test track, a trail of trees and an extended cycle-walkway.

The three minor countries have to share sovereignty with England in a united UK but the UK is not willing to share sovereignty with the EU in an eventual federal set up very different from three countries being part of England/UK!

The 1990's and 00's careful, sensible and gradual process that led to eventual devolution was not followed for a matter of even greater import - our future membership of the EU.  For something more complicated than devolution, all the checks and balances built in to get, eventually an assembly and one parliament was not followed over the matter of the UK leaving EU membership.

On 5 April 2019, 'Have I Got News for You', Ian Hislop commented, "Thatcher said we shouldn't have a referendum on Europe.  It was too complicated an issue to put to the public. She was right."

Similarly, for something so game changing, expensive and, therefore, climate breaking as the decision to convert a safeguarded, 120 Kms mainline railway into two very short sections of tramway, on that matter too, none of the checks and balances were followed.  There was not even any kind of debate or even discussion beforehand, let alone a vote. Not even one of the constituent councils of the WMCA had a debate and vote.  The elected members were content to have the decision imposed upon them by the UK pressure group for trams that has infiltrated Transport HQ.  This, to spend nearly half a billion to destroy the middle section of a mainline railway that reduces capacity.  Yet, £56 billion is spent to increase capacity on our railways with HS2!

Never mind!  That will make £92 billions of benefits for the UK, says the business case!!  Are we living in Alice in Wonderland? Or, know what we are doing? This must be dishonest, crooked economics when all the crucial, fossil fuel resources are finite and, when burnt, screw up the planet's climates in changing the composition of the atmosphere for the worse?

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

International Conscientious Objectors Day 15 May


International Conscientious Objectors Day is marked around the world every 15 th May
and Hereford Peace Council will be commemorating the day with a short vigil between
12.30 hours and 13.30 hours in the Walled Garden, Ledbury.

Conscientious objectors are opposed to war and killing for a variety of reasons - some
moral, some religious, some political.

In the First World War there were some 20,000 men in the UK who objected to war and
resisted the propaganda, the peer pressure, and the full and sometimes brutal force of
the state. They refused to take part in war: the killing of strangers - of men like
themselves. These men and their supporters, women and men, are the forerunners of
today’s non-violent resistance movements.

Today, thousands of conscientious objectors around the world are currently imprisoned
for their beliefs with little or no recourse to Human Rights legislation.
Local Herefordshire records are hard to find but it is thanks to people like Cyril Pearce,
who compiled the Pearce CO Register, that there is some information regarding 34 local
Herefordshire war resisters during the First World War. It is known that there were two
teachers, Harold Watkins and Rendel Wyatt who faced Ledbury Military Service Tribunal
in March 1916. Two other men from Ledbury, a farmer, Robert Fitzpatrick and Hubert
Warren, a clerk, also resisted but little seems to be known and recorded about them.
The short vigil will start and end in silence and stillness to remember those past and
present who resisted killing others and faced persecution and imprisonment. Short
appropriate readings of poetry and prose will also be chosen. Everyone is invited to
attend including local families who may wish to offer brief narratives of their relatives’
story of conscientious objection and war resistance during the vigil.

The vigil is open to people of all faiths and those with none. If anyone would like to be
involved or take part the link person, on behalf of Hereford Peace Council, is David
Chapman who can be reached by email: davidchapman781@btinternet.com
The Walled Garden can be found opposite St. Michael’s Church in Church Lane,
Ledbury, HR8 1PJ

As President John Kennedy observed: “War will exist until that distant day when
the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the
warrior does today.”

Monday, 22 April 2019

Isn't it funny. Every business case ...

is called robust;
robustly justifies every kind of expenditure from spending £1 billion of public money on 14 Kms of tramline to duplicate a bus route in 2014;
to spending nearly the same but, this time, private money on the M6 Toll for 43 Kms in 2003;
to splashing out £17.6 billion of public money on 117 Kms Crossrail;
to justify spending £44,000 per metre to extend your £1 billion tram line to replace buses;
to justify spending £44,000 per metre to convert our ready made, but they forgot the trains and stations, 120 Kms mainline "of national strategic significance" into a piddling shuttle tram line on two short, middle sections, totalling 6.7 Kms.

All this, when there is never a business case to slash public spending on the Police, the NHS/social care or education to pay for all this largesse.

The money is always found for the flash, the glamorous, the most prestigious projects to hasten Attenborough's "collapse of civilisations" and "the extinction of much of the natural world" warnings from the COP24 in Poland in December 2018.

Are you good Scots getting in on the English act?  Don't follow the English way of the most perverse spending priorities and isolationism!

GLORIOUS ENGLISH ECCENTRICITY: the UK's only mothballed, easily reinstated, ready made but they forgot the trains and stations, mainline railway!

WHICH IS MORE SENSIBLE THINKING?
2 or 3 fast regional trains every hour and nine new stations to complete the
120 Kms between Worcester and Derby;  OR: 6 to 10 "bus on rails" trams every hour and 17 tram stops over only 11 Kms to STOP the reinstatement of the railway "of national strategic significance."

SMART POLITICIANS?
£449 m plus cost overruns to build the Black Country Tramline over 6.7 Kms that destroys the Black Country Railway over 56 Kms.  All 56 Kms can get commuter/regional trains back for less than £200 m (2015 figure).  Or, stupid politicians?

SMART RAILWAYS?
Why CUT a 120 Kms principal, mainline railway through the congested West Midlands with a tramline in two halves, a railway test track and a trail of trees, Japanese knotweed and undergrowth, when absent trains on 56 Kms of track could have their trains and stations back, FOR LESS MONEY than using trams on only 6.7 Kms?

Saturday, 20 April 2019

WHY WE CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE OUR TRAINS AND STATIONS BACK

WHY WE CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE OUR TRAINS AND STATIONS BACK, to slow planet earth becoming like planet venus

Partly, from what Cllr Stewart Stacey, Brum’s Cabinet member for Transport and Highways, told me.  Partly my own conclusion and guess as to what the experts are thinking and saying:
  • There is no demand for travel, no commercial interest, on the UK’s most important, unused but easily reinstated 65 Km main line railway in the Black Country and south Staffordshire.
  • Everyone, travelling between London and Scotland and the North, wants to go via Birmingham railway stations and M6.
  • The tocs have shown no interest in reopening their railway lines or, in growing their business and making bigger profits.
  • Birmingham is the business and commercial centre of the West Midlands, not the Black Country.
  • Network Rail, and Birmingham’s transport bosses, over many decades, has always wanted Brum’s total of 39 Kms railway lines to be reserved for freight trains only or as a bypass for passenger trains when it comes to the 9 Km Kings Norton to Moor Street line.  Homebase must remain on Kings Heath station.
  • The fully trained experts and professionals at Network Rail and 16 Summer Lane must be right.  Mr Weller does not know what he is talking about and can easily be discounted.
  • I was not sure that, since the 2015 Strategic Transport Plan, that Stewart was aware that all 39 Kms of freight only lines were down for reopening for stations and passenger trains (is that right?). But goodness knows when.
  • This does not apply to the 65 Kms in the Black Country and Staffordshire that must have “bus on rails” slow trams on 7 Kms out of the 65 Kms.
  • West Midlands' transport and tram HQ at 16 Summer Lane Birmingham must remain with the emphasis on electric trams, at £67 million per Km, to replace diesel buses like the Platinum and hybrids.
  • The coming of HS2 means that the emphasis must remain with more bus-like trams linking in to HS2.  To Curzon Street, in the first instance and then onto Brum’s 5th railway station on the HS2 line in Solihull.
  • Train drivers get double the salary of tram drivers.  Therefore, to keep down costs, the emphasis must remain on trams for roads and railway lines and not commuter and regional trains on railway lines where they traditionally ran. At least one VIP transport officer has mentioned this to me to explain their refusal to reopen existing railway lines.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

STOURBRIDGE SHUTTLE EXTENDED to car park and shops!

Anyone interested to extend the John Parry, gas powered, flywheel tram that runs, so successfully and frequently, on the 0.75 mile branch line from Stourbridge Jct (on the half used Black Country Railway "of national strategic significance") to Stourbridge Interchange?

From time to time, over the years, I have asked John to work on extending it to the 350 space, now better used car park on Stourbridge Road (next to the Household Recycling/Reuse Centre).  From there, on to High Street/Market Street via Coventry Street and back to the bus station.  This would enable some pedestrianisation of High Street and/or Market Street and bring a much needed reduction in local air pollution and fewer international greenhouse gas emissions that seem to be 'slowly' turning planet earth into planet venus.

Please ask for Moor Street, Brierley Hill for the National Very Light Rail Centre instead of the only feasible site for the reopened Dudley Castle Hill railway station on the, eventually, finished 120 Kms Black Country Railway between Worcester and Derby via Dudley and Walsall.

PLEASE RESPOND - everyone and anyone!

Monday, 1 April 2019

THE BACKSTOP!

The BBC Radio 4 definition on 12.3.19: "The Backstop is the mechanism designed to fulfil the pledge made by the UK and the EU that the Irish border will remain open after Britain leaves.  It will kick in if a trade agreement with Brussels was not reached at the end of the post Brexit transition period.  It is contentious because it involves, in part, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK temporarily remaining in a customs union with the EU."

Journalists, like Jeremy Vine, have described it as ensuring a "no wall between the ROI and NI.  ... there must be no physical border.  It leaves NI closer to the EU and the ROI than the UK."

Friday, 15 March 2019

THIS MUST BE THE ULTIMATE ABSURDITY TO RIVAL BREXIT!

Dear Brad - and copied to people who can confirm, correct or deny the accuracy of what I have written here.

You are brilliant at not being so high and mighty that you cannot reply.  You have the common decency and courtesy to engage and to engage honestly, too.  THANK YOU!  Everyone of my local politicians and officers could learn a thing or two from your fine example.

However, I still don't think it has dawned on you that the mainline railway, almost adjacent to the Waterfront, will be wasted, unused, possibly for the rest of time.  A railway "of national strategic significance" being used as a shuttle "bus on rails" tram line to 'Grand Central Shopping Centre and Diesel Perfumed Basement Station', aka New St Sta. This is a most terrible waste of transport infrastructure that has already had millions of pounds spent on it and will now remain wasted, possibly for an eternity!  You will never be connected to the NE and the SW of England by fast, regional and even intercity trains.  Instead, you are being sold a pup - when you could have a mature, grown up dog!  Instead of the tram line at double the expense per kilometre of the M6 Toll when it opened in December 2003, you could have passenger trains from all parts of the country coming to Merry Hill - as used to be the case, of course.  They came to the station in Brierley Hill, itself because your site was Merry Hill Farmhouse and farmlands and the northern part was Round Oak Steelworks - either side of Level Street.  This was the case from around 1850 in the midst of the ultimately catastrophic, climate changing Industrial Revolution.  Even then, apparently, some scientists were warning of the terrible consequences of burning fossil fuels!

I don't think you get it, Brad.  No shuttle tram but a grown up regional and even national service on the full 120 Kms.  You would be able to get about that more easily in your car when driving through the Midlands.  Some motorists will use the mainline railway to allow you to have a more pleasant drive on motorways with fewer vehicles!

Anyway, it doesn't matter that you cannot see the grand scheme that could be yours!  You must settle for very much less than the best, as TfWM/WMCA also want.  You are in good company.

14 March 2019  
I wrote all that yesterday morning.  I have woken up today and feel that I must add this.  To be blunt, you are facilitating the permanent destruction of the UK's only/last mothballed mainline railway over 120 Kms between Worcester and Derby.  The northern and southern sections are in use but the most important section is YOUR section, in the middle through the Black Country and that bypasses "one of the worst railway congestion bottlenecks in the UK", viz: 'Grand Central Shopping Centre and Diesel Perfumed Basement Station' aka New St Sta.  The intention of the 'experts' is for a railway "of national strategic significance" to be used as a shuttle "bus on rails" tram line to 'Grand Central'. This is a most terrible waste of transport infrastructure that has already had millions of pounds spent on it and will now remain wasted, until humanity is passed over in favour of other life forms!  Millions of pounds was spent in recent years for the flyovers and tunnels over the forgotten 56 Kms to allow new dual carriageways and motorways to be built.  But the idiots forgot to go on to the next step - the rather vital trains and stations!

Your Waterfront Mainline Railway station must be connected to the shops by electric buses or by electric, driverless, elevated monorail. NOT the railway "of national strategic significance" used as a piddling little shuttle tram line. The current intention is as shocking as the chaos of our government's Brexit. It was the stupid transport planners and small minded politicians who allowed an excellent top model, Swiss monorail from Von Roll to be built and opened in, I think, 1990. Yet, the foolish, ignorant, authorities failed to connect the last 400 metres, from Waterfront monorail station, to the nationally important railway at Round Oak. Even then, the much needed commuter/regional trains and stations should have gone back - in 1990! Round Oak is almost adjacent to the Waterfront that you own.

I think, Brad that only you and your company can knock some sense into the heads of the public sector top officials, politicians and 'experts'. It is your national duty to do so. Seriously!

Very best wishes

Brexit shambles is all part of the problem

Is a true Brexit really practical or possible?  Everything works well with trade so why upset it all?  If it ain't broke don't fix it.
It is all a wasteful and wrong diversion from tackling the number one threat to all life on earth, viz human induced climate breakdown.
It is costing billions in paper, to-ing and fro-ing and, with all the hard work in preparation.
There has to be many more years of renegotiating trade deals once we do leave.  I think this is a complete waste and diversion of tackling climate breakdown and resource depletion.
The more we spend, the more fossil fuels we use and the more greenhouse gases are emitted to enhance, catastrophically, the natural greenhouse protective layer.
It is putting the Good Friday Peace Agreement under strain.  Republicans do not want anything that will distance themselves from the Republic of Ireland or make things even slightly more awkward and slower in crossing the border.  Jan 2019 car bomb.  March 4 letter bombs.  The murder of Lyra McKee.  It could lead to the 'The Troubles, Part 2'.  Certainly, smuggling will be given a nice boost to help the coffers of the criminal and violence wins fraternity.
Any excuse for the men of violence to restart the troubles.  England may not escape.
Measure twice; cut once.  The basic principle of all construction.  A second referendum is needed to check out whether this really is what the British public want.
The debate on Brexit did not really start until AFTER the referendum.
For some voters it was pure pot luck how people voted.  Many did not know which way to vote.
Have we learnt anything over the last three years?
Two smaller countries on the periphery did not want to come out.  Only England and Wales wanted out.
52/48% to leave was not nearly enough to justify the vast expense and disruption incurred when things were working smoothly.
This is all a throw back to colonial days when we ruled the foreigners, we knew best and were a cut above the rest.  After all, we did have the biggest and longest running empire in the history of humanity.
Our successful and glorious past leads us to think we can do without the EU.  Our Royal Navy ruled the waves and our Army kept the rest under control.  We can do it again without any membership of the EU.
Brexit was partly an anti-immigrant, anti foreigner vote.  We heroic Brits came racing to Europe's 'rescue' twice in the last century.  Hence, we never joined at the beginning.  To reflect this superiority, we are the only nation with 'Great' as part of our name.  We great, peace loving, Brits are just too great for the war mongering Europeans!  (tongue in cheek)
A week before the June 2016 referendum, Jo Cox was murdered by a pro white racist.  I think, she would still be alive today if it had not been for the referendum.
Europe is showing immense patience, forbearance and still wants us in!
Brexit has too many pitfalls, too much uncertainty, too many risks - especially to peace in N Ireland; offhandedly and so typically dismissed as Operation Fear by the English who have never had much interest in the too often, most unfortunate history of our unwelcomed involvement in Ireland.
It is a most unfortunate diversion from reversing the troubled earth turning into lifeless venus horror show.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Can Deborah Cadman, with Laura Shoaf, fix it for us all?

Dear Deborah, Laura and Waseem

Thank you so much for your reply.  But my examination paper of ten questions and suggestions went all unanswered!

Could you tell me who Paul Clarke is, please?  I don't think I have come across him.  Could I sound him out, please?  To get his feedback?

The most obvious and easiest suggestion for improvement is to put commuter/regional trains back on our 106 Kms of railway lines, starting with the 56 Kms "of national strategic significance" in Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and on to Burton on Trent.  You are putting Metro trams on a total of 6.7 Kms so that only leaves 49.3 Kms that still need the commuter and regional trains and, Railfuture's nine stations back - PLEASE!


I have been told it must be done first for the success of the Camp Hill line reopening.  This is because of overloaded, congested 'Grand Central Shopping Centre and Diesel Perfumed Station Tagged Along As An Afterthought in the Basement of the John Lewis Store', aka New Street Station!  Before you came, we had a cosmetic tarting up job done instead of the additional tunnels and platforms that are still needed.  In the past, Peter Plisner of BBC 'Midlands Today' has called it "one of the worst railway congestion bottlenecks in the UK".  As usual, nothing has changed for the better.

Can you fix it for us all, please during your time in Brum so I can see it on my dying day?  You and Laura would then have achieved something really worthwhile that the hopeless men have been quite unable to achieve in my 50 years in Brum and the Black Country!

Anyway, very best wishes for whatever you can do to improve the daily traffic crawl and the sardine packed trains in the rush hours.  And, the relentless grinding out of greenhouse gases to tighten up the screw on poor planet earth nicely transformed into another planet venus.

Tim

Isn't it funny. Every business case ...

is called robust;
robustly justifies every kind of expenditure from spending £1 billion of public money on 14 Kms of tramline to duplicate a bus route in Edinburgh in 2014;
to spending nearly the same but, this time, private money on the M6 Toll for 43 Kms in 2003;
to splashing out £17.6 billion of public money on 117 Kms Crossrail;
to justify spending £44,000 per metre to extend Edinburgh's £1 billion tram line to Newhaven to replace buses;
to justify spending £44,000 per metre to convert our ready made, but they forgot the trains and stations, 120 Kms mainline "of national strategic significance" into a piddling little shuttle tram line on two short, middle sections, totalling 6.7 Kms.   

"The latest work to refine the scheme and the efficiencies to be developed within the Midland Metro Alliance give a good level of confidence that the project can be delivered within the current funding envelope (SELF: of £44,000 per metre, times 11 Kms.  Eleven times the cost per kilometre of the second attempt at returning trains between Wolverhampton and Walsall.  The first attempt was a failure, last decade!)."  Report to WMCA Investment Board on 11 March 2019

"the scheme has a benefit to cost ratio of 2.03:1."      

Every business case comes up with a great Cost Benefit Ratio that compels massive expenditure, eg to dismantle/destroy the tram network and to rebuild it on the road and railway networks a few decades later.  This is called high Value for Money when it is 2.03:1.  In other words, you double your money.  Therefore, whatever you pay up front, you get more than double that back in destroying yet another urban and intercity railway line, in the case of trams taking over the UK's one and only mothballed mainline.

"As part of the arrangements for the transfer of part of the abandoned South Staffordshire rail corridor (SELF: anachronistic, out of date, inaccurate name DfT now call 'The Black Country Railway') to Metro an agreement with Network Rail is being negotiated to ensure passive provision is made within the Metro works for future rail service use of the route. Implementation of future rail services will be subject to consultation between Network Rail and WMCA and appropriate powers and funding being secured." 

All this, when there is never a business case to cut public spending on the Police, the NHS/social care or education to pay for all this largesse.  "Don't worry your little head over it all, Tim.  You know that you will get back double whatever the final cost is because cost benefit analysis tells us so.  It is another of Mrs May's magic money tree tricks."

The money is always found for the flash, the glamorous, the most prestigious projects to hasten Attenborough's "collapse of civilisations" and "the extinction of much of the natural world" warnings from COP24 in Poland in December 2018.

MY CONDITIONS FOR WITHDRAWING TO FAVOUR ANDY

And copied into the Mayor's Office for their information and action to get me on board, out of the running and well out of the way - please!  MAYOR'S OFFICE, please confirm receipt and action, quickly.

My conditions for withdrawing to help Andy in 2020

I also think Andy was an excellent choice and hope he gets in, again next year.  I do like him and support him whenever I can.  I really don't want to take votes off him, if I do go ahead with standing as an Independent.  But, he must be outspoken against tram extensions; but, for putting the commuter/regional trains and stations back, starting with the completion of the 120 Kms Black Country Railway - extremely urgently and before the Camp Hill line; and, introducing a sea change in our commuting habits.  That is, twelve month, A456 Hagley Road experiment of:
  • never taking the car into Brum city centre unless it is essential for your major business livelihood or, there are at least two adult passengers in the car.  Strict enforcement by random roadside checks when traffic is stationary; and CCTV.  Hefty financial penalties for transgressing.  Once you are down to one passenger or solo, you must go into the slower, outside lane immediately.
  • This is done by 100% bus lanes on every nearside lane of the no 9 bus route and traffic light priority for buses and other vehicles permitted in the bus lane.
  • Cancellation of elite, very expensive Sprint to allow for every bus to be similarly favoured.  The roll out of Platinum buses makes Sprint unnecessary at this time.
  • Electric buses, asap, must be the mass transit for commuters and not anymore tram extensions.
MASS TRANSIT FOR ALL AND NOT THE LUCKY FEW on a tram line.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Common misunderstandings over Metro trams

To be fair this isn’t my area of understanding.  If I get elected, I don’t believe this will be a subject I will be invited to contribute towards.  Because the vast majority are oblivious to the phenomenal cost of trams to replace buses and trains and to push buses out and to turn our local mainline railway into a piddling little shuttle tram line, a test track, a trail of trees and a cycle-walkway.  If the money can't be used to get Network Fail and TfWM/WMCA to FINISH the railway with the forgotten trains and stations, then the money should go to offset years of cuts to the Police, NHS/social care, education.

Trams of course seem to be very much part of WM combined authority vision. Because they have been improperly influenced by vested interests.  The national tram promotion group is in the same building as TfWM/WMCA that have easily been influenced to go for trams instead of the more obvious and sensible measures to reduce urban congestion and air pollution.  Earlier this decade, three top people in UK Tram Ltd were also top people in Centro.  Complicity + collusion = corruption.  And since their introduction they have been very popular as a form of rapid transport.  PTA/Centro got the money in the 1990s by declaring (exaggerating/lying) that passenger numbers would be 15 to 20 million every year.  Only with the extension, that misses out Snow Hill and goes straight to Grand Central Shopping Centre did it rise to 6 million a year.  They got the money because the sole reason for the extension was to connect Snow Hill with Grand Central - NOT to bypass Snow Hill as has been shown to be the true objective!  They have become the WM version of the Tube.  Yes.  The WM version of putting Tube trains on the Eurostar, HS1 line to Paris, in the case of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension.  Pretty idiotic!  They have more money than sense.

Rail is an alternative means of transport and reintroducing the historic lines is an infrastructure cost that perhaps should be argued in addition to rapid light transport, from memory the Wolverhampton segment utilised a fair amount of former rail infrastructure.  Please read my:
and,

Thanks for responding.  I am a fan of trams, although I don't like the cheap and nasty hard, plastic seats on our Metro trams!  If the 1950s was today, I would be insisting that the authorities should NOT dismantle the tram network for diesel buses.  Simply modernise the trams instead of destroying them.  Wise and sensible expenditure.  Like my proposals for seeing a sea change in social attitudes towards bus/bike commuting instead of car commuting to free up the road space for essential business vehicle users.  My family has started!