Monday, 11 May 2015

'Booming Brum' says Railnews; Birmingham is a rail desert, in fact

In Brum and the Black Country, there has been 50 years of nearly 50 miles of freight lines that used to have successful passenger trains for 100 years.  This is disgraceful negligence for 50 years.

There are a further 50 miles of urban rail lines in Brum and the Black Country that were closed 50 years ago and now all built on.  Not even one mile was mothballed out of these 50 miles!  This is disgraceful incompetence and thoughtlessness.

Now, we are to see all of one mile of the 50 miles of freight only lines, that is to get a shuttle tram when the full 13 miles of the Black Country Line would give much better value for money, would return it to a mainline instead of a new branch line and, do much more to increase capacity and reduce congestion.

“(The UK) has one of the biggest deficits in the world”  Nick Robinson BBC Chief Political Correspondent on ‘Today’, 8 May 2015

Public expenditure for 34 years has been syphoned away, by the West Midlands Integrated (actually, Disintegrated) Transport Authority (ITA), into one very expensive project to put LR trams on railway lines to replace trains and, on roads, to replace buses.

Yet, in 34 years, only one tramline out of the dozen or more that ITA, PTA, Centro wanted, finally gets opened - and, finally completed, in September.  Yet, nearly fifty miles (80 Km) of successful passenger lines for 100 years remain closed and stations demolished.  This is negligence, incompetence and an improper use of public funds; and, serious failures in transport policy and practice.  It needs investigating, stopped and turned round.

It is further compounded by the utter and complete idiocy of now developing and testing Very Light Rail trams on one mile of the 13 miles (21 Km), Black Country high speed Line.  This is the UK’s only north-south line that can easily be reinstated.  It is the most important but wasted asset for 50 years in our national rail network.  It will remain so for the next 50 years by Centro’s and the ITA’s decision to deliberately reduce rail capacity and increase road and rail congestion by this one, stupid decision.

Survey - do you want VLR shuttle trams, LR trams, heavy rail passenger trains on Stourbridge, Dudley, Walsall, Lichfield line?

Charles Loft is author of 'Last Trains: Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England'.  He said on the BBC World Service on 28 March 2015, "The future of rail investment is in high speed inter urban lines and light rail commuter services and trams."
  1. Do you know if, in the 19th and/or 20th centuries, we have ever had express trains on the existing but, part, still unused Oxford, Worcester, Wolverhampton Railway Co line (part is now the empty Black Country Line)?
  2. If so, did we also have a local train service on this same line?
  3. In the 21st century, is it feasible to put both express and local trains back on the Black Country Line from Stourbridge Jct, through Dudley, Walsall and on to Lichfield?  Is it possible to have regional and national passenger trains in the daytime and freight trains at night?
  4. Or, should we be putting Very Light Rail, instead of Light Rail Metro on that line because "light rail investment provides the basis for restoring heavy rail services at the appropriate time" - letter to Tim Weller from Tom Magrath, Passenger Services Director of Centro, dated 18.9.2000.
  5. As we are now seeing Beeching rural rail lines being reopened (48Km in depopulated southern Scotland at £10 million per mile), do you agree that it is even more essential that we have the Beeching urban rail lines reinstated with trains and stations?  There remain nearly 80 Km still not concreted, bricked or tarmaced over in Birmingham and the Black Country and still no stations have been rebuilt at Winson Green and Handsworth (areas of chronic deprivation, including being deprived of their stations) after 50 years.
  6. Do you want the Beeching urban rail lines reopened for trains or, do you want them, instead, for Metro LR trams at about, on average, £100 million per mile in Brum city centre - at about ten times the cost of reinstating what we had for about 100 years?
  7. Why is Birmingham City Council jumping the queue and getting further Metro extensions ahead of all the policies, plans and strategies that certainly, at one time, stated that Metro Line 3 (on the Black Country Line) was to be next after the tram line to Hagley Road, Edgbaston?
  8. In an age of a continuing huge deficit, supposed austerity and, severer public spending cuts now due, how do you justify the spending that is so extravagant but still misses out on making full use of our rail assets or even misses out on building the much needed rail tunnels at Grand Central?  And the Black Country still misses out completely -  apart from getting the £25 million for one mile of VLR and, the short extension of £54 million to, finally, bring Metro One to the one remaining rail station in Wolverhampton!
  9. How come the electric trams of old ran on roads (instead of buses) but most of the new ones in Brum and the Black Country run on many more miles of rail lines than roads (replacing more trains than buses)?
  10. What is your individual list of rail spending, in order of priority, please?  If increasing rail capacity and reducing rail/road congestion is the number one priority for you, how does this work out in your spending wish list, in order of priority?
  11. Or, do you feel, we can only ever have everything that is on offer from the rail authorities, regardless of any order of priority, their competence or, of more decades of the Black Country missing out?
  12. A second rail service used to run from Stourbridge Jct.  It CAN be re-opened.  What do you want on it - VLR, LR, heavy rail freight, heavy rail passenger services?  If you agree with Charles Loft, at the head, what should go on our Black Country Line?  He said, "The future of rail investment is in high speed inter urban lines and light rail commuter services and trams."  For 100 years, the BCL was inter-urban, it seems, running between Oxford and Wolverhampton.  Dudley to Wolverhampton and Dudley to Birmingham are both now built on - yet another example of failure/idiocy by our leaders and chief officers who should have advised the members better.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

More on inheriting the earth

I heard Stephen Simcox speak this afternoon on the subject, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

I did speak to him at the close of the Tuesday talk to make one or two of these points.  He is welcome to come back at me, again, of course:

1) That he seemed proud of his 27 years of military service, having mentioned it twice, I believe.  Perhaps, rightly proud.
2) I thought it was inappropriate for him to tell us so much about the work of a Roman centurion.  I felt that he was somewhat carried away by his background and work in the military and, therefore, that explained all the details.
3) I would have liked Stephen/Steve to have mentioned that Jesus was a man of non-violence and NOT a man of violence.
4) From my reading of the Jesus of the Gospels, it is unacceptable for any true disciple to want to inherit any part of the earth - let alone the lot!  But we have inherited so much, with our so good and perfect Western and Christian European empires in recent centuries.  And, we 'Christians' inherited the earth by militarism and certainly not meekness!
5) I think all of us Christians should have the meekness to understand that we belong to the earth (NOT that the earth belongs to us); that we are part of Nature; and, that it is none of our business to even begin to contemplate that we could  start owning the earth - but, of course, only on the Lord's behalf to make it better for Him and His return!
6) For me, having any kind of authority or power over others is not in line with the Jesus of the Gospels who rejected any such earthly power and dominion in the Temptations and throughout His ministry.  Our modern day Caesars need to exercise their power and authority with extreme caution and wisdom.  Preferably, only with the clear mandate of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  Our modern day Christs should stay well out of it!
7) I hope that you will not ask Stephen to deliver the talk on "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God", although it might be fascinating to hear what he has to say.  No doubt, he would say that the modern day centurions of our angelic British armed forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and countless other countries we have fought in, every single year, over the last 101 years, are the true peacemakers!
8) I do take and understand that Steve did do sterling and exemplary work during his time in the military, especially in Bosnia and Rwanda - if violence was no part of it.

Important but missing essentials

Missing words/ideas
     even, Non-intervention - unless with the clear mandate of the General Assembly of the United Nations to intervene in a peacekeeping mission

Distinguishing marks of which world faith?
no homosexuals in position of leadership
no abortion
no physician assisted suicide
no stem cell research
no killing of cells, foetuses
no physician assisted suicide for the elderly terminally ill, even with their informed consent and when they have full capacity and the
pro-life only for the unborn
pro the armed forces whenever the state says it is right to attack, invade and occupy other nations

Does Christian belief ever fall out with science?  It has done in the past over the age of the earth and its shape as a sphere and not as a flat surface.
God given truths are true for eternity.  Scientific truths are only true until the next theory is proved and verified and the work peer reviewed in a recognised journal.  Scientific truths are only true for as long as the evidence allows or the truth remains substantiated.

Values are:
too right wing when the life and teaching of Jesus is very left wing
not Sermon on the Mount compliant
personal salvation predominates instead of Jesus Christ as role model dominant
humanity is expected to exploit, consume and control nature, the earth and life support systems
The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof actually means that the Lord’s people own the world and can do with it as they want.  Only the Lord's people have the divine right to rule, on behalf of the Creator, over the rest of His Creation. In other words, the earth belongs to them, rather than they belonging to the earth - a fatal misconception in the Bible, a flawed book.