Monday, 29 June 2015

"The rail crisis" The Times 27 June 2015

COPIED TO: Birmingham City Council, Dudley MBC and Network Rail Chief Executives, for their urgent action

Sir,  How bizarre can Birmingham and the Black Country get when it comes to rail?  Is this not a bigger scandal than FIFA?

For fifty years, Network Rail and the authorities have deliberately kept nearly fifty miles of double track freight lines without passenger trains and stations.  Lines that are literally alongside or near to commuter congested roads.  All of them had successful passenger services for about 100 years, until fifty years ago.

Our transport aficionados have been so mesmerised by Midland Metro trams that in 34 years of enthusiastic endeavour, costing taxpayers millions of pounds, they will have finally achieved their one and only tram line by Christmas when it finally delivers shoppers to our dazzling, mirror-like, brand new Grand Central Shopping Centre and station at a cost of £750 million (the old New Street Station).  Cost for the 0.7 mile tram extension at £75.4 million is £100 million per mile!  A network of 200 Km Light Rail (LR) tram lines were planned to be in use by 2000. In 2015, they achieve 22 Km (mostly on a rail line) while 78 Km of double track freight lines remain devoid of commuter and ICE (inter city express) trains!

France, Switzerland and Germany have stunning ICE trains.  Our 13 miles Black Country Line had express trains for about 100 years until the 1960s.  Nothing since then - not even Midland Metro (LR) trams that, extraordinarily, remains their intention after 34 years.  With growing road and rail congestion, why are our experts still wanting to see trams?  The very latest plan is for Very Light Rail (VLR) trams on this local and nationally vital rail line.  This strategic line is to shuttle passengers for only one mile, on one track down our ICE line, to the inter-city line in our neighbouring borough of Sandwell.  The other track will be the test track for VLR.  Why not connect Dudley directly with all parts of the UK with ICE trains to increase capacity and to reduce train congestion at our shiny new Grand Central Shopping Centre and station and, on our road and rail network?

Friday, 26 June 2015

14 examples of public money misappropriated in Brum and the Black Country

TO RAIL MINISTER, CLAIRE PERRY and other eminences for their action - please

Dear Claire - and copied to four members of the Lords and my own MP, James Morris

I know you are not my MP.  I am trying to get my own MP, James Morris (see below) to arrange an appointment with you and Patrick McLoughlin.  Please will you see us?  I believe you are from Bromsgrove, Claire - not far from my home of Halesowen where I am writing this.  Therefore, you must know what I have written here is correct.  My concerns:
  1. Millions of pounds squandered in destroying our Birmingham and Black Country tram network in the 1950s.
  2. Millions of pounds squandered in destroying, in B'ham and Black Country, about 100 miles of our urban rail network in the 1960s.
  3. Millions spent in demolishing stations and building fast roads, homes, hotels and trading estates on about 50 miles of the 100 miles.
  4. 12 miles of an urban train line turned into a tram line costing tens of millions of pounds.
  5. Nearly 50 miles of former passenger and freight lines, still used only for freight in the last 50 years.
  6. In that same decade, millions of pounds wasted in demolishing New Street Station and rebuilding it to make for an underground mainline station perfumed with coal and diesel smoke on the enclosed platforms.
  7. In this decade £700 million misappropriated to address passenger congestion at New Street and nothing about train congestion.  £700 million to turn it into Grand Central Shopping Centre with the station demoted to the basement; tagged along as an afterthought.
  8. Millions misspent with demolishing Snow Hill Station in the 1970s, only for it to be rebuilt to half its former size.  Now, new plans for a new station!
  9. Many tens of millions misallocated since 1981 for building a 200 Km, £500 million tram network by 2000.  Yet, only one tramline of 22 Km, finally, may get completed by Christmas with the extension to Grand Central Shopping Centre and station but, still no connection to Wolverhampton Rail Station, as we did have in the days of trains using that line.
  10. Electrification started in the 1950s but, still, nowhere near being completed.
  11. Nationally, £1 billion spent in the 1990s in privatising our UK rail network instead of modernising it.
  12. Network Rail refuses to co-operate with returning local passenger and ICE trains to the Black Country Rail Line, with its extension to Lichfield.
  13. Millions squandered in building and then removing a monorail at Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the 1980s but then failing to connect it to the Black Country Line at the Waterfront in Brierley Hill.  The monorail fell short by only 400 metres.  No connection, no passenger trains were allowed on the Black Country Line; therefore, too few shoppers and office workers were using the monorail, so it was quickly closed!  Sheer incompetence by the transport authorities.
  14. The West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, Network Rail and Centro have spent millions over the years writing studies and strategies, plans and policies.  Umpteen glossy brochures have been produced with their expensive intents for the future.  Yet, very little is actually delivered.  It has all resulted in the above scandal stretching over six decades and with no sign of any reform or even small improvement.
Please will you see James and me?