Sunday, 29 November 2015

Some simple solar solutions for Parliament's and my, James

Dear James and team - and copied to Owen Paterson MP

Your letter was about solar.  It was nice of you to write.

It is not clear from your letter that you understand that for those of us who have solar panels on our roofs (micro generation), each of us is reducing, a little, the necessity for macro generation from large fossil fueled and nuclear power stations.  We are generating our own electricity and exporting what we don't use for others to use.  In other words, each of our homes is a mini power station when the sun shines!  Do you understand that, I wonder?

Therefore, is it not right, and only fair and reasonable after all, that we should be paid for the electricity we are generating for the nation?  We are the true patriots, after all!  Or, do you not get it?

Every single building could be generating some electricity for its own use and, what cannot be used, can be exported for others to benefit from.  Of course, we still need macro generation for when the sun does not shine.  But solar is, at least a help, do you not think?

Do any of you have solar power for your own use and that of the nation?

£8,000 for my 24 east and west facing panels on my mid terrace, three bedroom town house and fitted two years ago this month.  I love my rather complacent, smug satisfaction of reducing my greenhouse gas emissions that we can very well do without!  Enhancing the natural greenhouse effect is most definitely not a very good idea, at all!

Please write back to tell me if you understand how important it is economically and ecologically to use the sun to make electricity, when it does shine!

Please set your own brilliant example to your own colleague and friend, Owen Paterson who has never understood.  And he was Secretary of State for the Environment for a time, too!  But, is there any hope for you, James?  Of course, you understand.

Best wishes


from Clare Klocke: Inter-faith insights are wise

But me ,Susan and Rosanne has a good evening on the 28th  in the interfaith walk and talk on climate change.

Buddist chanting ,wise words out of the mouths of young sikh and a jewish  young adult 
and a great speech from a muslim woman .......Not to mention christian voices .
...Insights in how most religions view us as the custodians of "Mother Earth "
not as those who "will use   her until we lose her ".
.The link between the sin greed and materalism .
....HOPE is essential ( but not naivity .)
That coming together to fight climate change requires those of all nations and all beliefs and may actually by a way of promoting peace .
All in all an uplifting experience .
I only wish all religious(and non religious ) people were so open minded and full of sense .

Sunday, 22 November 2015

West is best at overthrowing governments it calls regimes

Why should a government NOT be ruthless in putting down a rebellion?  Any UK government would be.  Even the good people of Scotland in 2014 had the fear of God put up them, if they dared to be so stroppy as to vote for independence from big brother England.  Our problem, in our so well meaning, we know what is best for you fortress, is supporting the rebels to overthrow their governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria.  And look where it gets us.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Andrew Neil's condemn more; understand less

This was from the heart, of great passion that our side is always right, good and wonderful but what the enemy has done is the epitomy of evil and blame.  Yet, it failed to remind viewers that our Western, European ancestors have done it all first, over the centuries.  And the last century was the most destructive and violent in the history of humanity that was in no way the responsibility of Muslims!

Galloway called it "peerless thunder".  "You would never confuse me with a liberal."   "You have to be iron and steel hard."  "A murder gang; a death cult"  I would shoot them with my own hand.  I want to see them all dead in the street.  Sunni fighting Sunni, said George.  A shoot to kill policy is a bad idea.  I have absolute admiration for Liz Kendall, a person of principle and bravery."

With this war on Islamic State, both our side and IS have killed many more Muslim non-combatants than IS fighters have died at our hands.  Our side must have killed more non-combatants than IS fighters, and even greater numbers this week with the huge increase in French air strikes.

Friday, 20 November 2015

​Switzerland's values v UK/France/US values

Corbyn is NOT a warrior, NOT a warmonger.  He does NOT believe in upping the violence to turn friends into enemies and, then, with more retaliation from our side, making even more ferocious enemies.  Make the UK like Switzerland - famous for non aggression, for being revenge free and, with a first class rail network.  What a fine example for us to follow, James, my friend!  (James Morris, my MP)

Switzerland never attacked Egypt in what the UK, France and Israel called the 'Suez Crisis'.
Switzerland never ousted democratic Prime Minister Mosadeq in Iran.
Switzerland never ousted democratic Allende in Chile on another 9/11.  This time, 1973.
Switzerland never ousted Saddam from Iraq in 2003 or the Taliban in 2001, only to find that the Taliban popped up again, al Qaeda was reinvigorated and Islamic State also rose like a phoenix out of the ashes of our own making in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Switzerland did not remove Gaddafi from Libya to make things worse for the people there.
Switzerland is not part of the crusader ("if you are not for us you are against us" GW Bush) coalition of the willing to oust Bashar al Assad from Syria.
Non-aligned Switzerland does not get attacked, bombed and hated for killing our fellow humans 3,000 miles away.
Switzerland is morally strong on the world stage.
UK/France/US is militarily strong on the world stage.

Humanity v Life support systems

“So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate.”  “But what if it’s all a hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”  Naomi KleinThis Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014)

Monday, 16 November 2015

Love empty but available rail lines; hate their waste, their disuse, their lying idle!

Reflections after my first Railfuture conference
This was an excellent and well organised conference with a range of interesting speakers who all held my attention.  This was easily good enough for the professionals to attend, of whom we did have James Freeman of FirstBus and Matthew Golton of GWR who spoke and, stayed for the whole day.  They are a credit to their profession and I give both 10 out of 10!  More of their colleagues from around the UK should have attended and could have learnt so much from what they are doing, in my opinion.  Now for something different.

To make it less tedious to read, these are my jaundiced and bolshy views about the English rail industry and their transport planners - and, put in bullet points because my stuff and nonsense, I am convinced, never ever gets read, because nothing ever changes!  The professionals, on very good salaries, are making far too many mistakes, from what I can gather.  Here goes:-

  • 15 tram lines, covering 200 miles by the year 2000 as the professionals predicted were never delivered.  After 34 years, only the one line has still to be completed to Birmingham Grand Central!
  • 38 Km unused, strategic and nationally important double track rail line, called the Black Country Line, for 50 years without passenger trains - only some freight for 6 Km!
  • Next door, 57 Km in Birmingham of double track rail lines with their stations demolished and no passenger service - for 50 years!
  • Yet, 160 Km to Birmingham of HS2 at £50 billion of brand new, greenfield, super fast rail lines are essential said Toby top man Rackliff of the (gone)West Midlands (dis)Integrated Transport Authority.  Essential in order to release capacity on the rail network.  But 38 plus 57 Kms are already released and available now to take passenger trains in the Black Country and Brum!
  • Today, in Bristol, some of the nation’s most enthusiastic railway campaigners were not at all put out by being told this.  It seemed to be a thoroughly normal state of affairs for every single one!  Neither Toby top professional Rackliff (when I saw him on the 15 October in Centro House) nor the 130 Railfuture rail enthusiasts, today were at all impressed with unused or underused rail lines in a heavily road and rail congested, urban conurbation.
  • No-one was bothered that, on the 38 Km, a fully operational rail line of freight or trams must be done FIRST before stations are rebuilt and the re-introduction of possibly only a shuttle passenger service can be achieved (so says very top Transport Officer, Laura Shoaf in September 2015 and Passenger Services Director, Tom Magrath in 2000)
  • Both the professional and amateur rail enthusiasts seem to want new trains on new lines but not new (or old) trains on existing urban (partly used) rail lines literally alongside or very near to commuter congested roads in the heart of the densely populated Black Country.
  • They think that HS2 and HS3 should have been built 20 or 30 years ago (GWR Commercial Development Director, Matthew Golton) but are not at all bothered that today urban rail lines are used for freight but not for passenger trains - as was the case for 100 years!
  • Should not electrification have been completed first, 20 or 30 years ago?
  • The professional and amateurs think it is lovely for the Swiss to have electrified their rail network in only two decades, 70 years ago but believe it is quite normal for the hopeless but so brave, battling around the Middle East, Brits to be still at it after five decades and, still, nowhere near being completed!
  • Goodness me!  You can’t have one rail project completed before you go on to the next.
  • Never allow the successful 100 year old passenger service to return to the freight lines but let them stew and steam in their cars in bumper to bumper traffic alongside the lines!
  • President of Railfuture, Christian Wolmar said that there is a rocky road ahead for rail in the coming years but failed to say that this will never be the case for HS2 or HS3 and, certainly, never the case for Crossrail 2 because that is in London!
  • The 40 mins service on the short Walsall to Wolverhampton rail service was a dismal failure last decade but a 20 mins turn up and go will attract the punters, says (no)Railfuture (their top rail re-opening)!
  • Is this, Railfuture being over ambitious in wanting a turn up and go on the 8 Km line or lacking in ambition in not wanting the really useful, SW to NE cross country trains and commuter service between the 38 Km of Stourbridge and Lichfield?
  • Smart Motorways and, now, high speed and underground rail lines must be built before returning the trains and stations to the most important and easily available rail line that could be opened in all the UK.
  • This is the strategic, 38 Km Black Country Rail Line that goes through the heart of a densely populated urban conurbation.
  • New housing estates are going up next to the line but the proud owners must jump in their motors but never walk/cycle or bus to the train station because it will never be re-built!
  • Ah!  But that is where you are wrong, Tim.  Laura says it will be in the 2040s, at the earliest!
  • How very strange that neither the professionals nor the amateurs have it as their top priority.
  • Cross Country Trains should be clamouring for this rail line to be re-opened, double quick.  It would give them a new rail path to bypass Birmingham Grand Central and the competition  between the tocs for the paths there.
  • It would grow their business and boost their profits when the passengers are there for the taking.
  • It would help them to be given the next franchise.
  • How very peculiar that having spent £¾ billion on Grand Central Shopping Centre and basement station to improve the passenger (shopping) experience but never the train congestion there, the professionals and the amateurs still don’t get how the Black Country Line could help reduce the very grandest rail and road congestion bottlenecks in the UK - the ever so shiny and mirror-like Grand Central!
  • How very strange that for all of them, their tops for a Beeching reversal was the £10 million per mile, partly single track rail line through the heart of beautiful, rural, depopulated southern Scotland to the middle of nowhere.  Well, had you heard of Tweedbank?
  • The actual top priority for the West Midlands professional and amateurs is the £100 million per mile tram extension through pedestrianised shopping streets in Birmingham city centre, when bio or electric buses would be more sensible.
  • How very strange that both the professional and the amateur experts want Light Rail, or Very Light Rail or the tram-train or the Parry People Mover on the nation’s most important and strategic, national rail line.  Never good ol’, ordinary diesel or electric trains for passengers to use instead of their cars.  Ghost trains, perhaps!
  • Never, ever learn from what our forebears did with rail lines.  They used them for trains.  Today, we confuse ourselves, love to complicate matters and most definitely waste our taxes on not using them for passenger trains.  Sometimes for freight and, in the past, for roads and, as an interesting innovation, even for offices, hotels and homes to run down them!
  • All your eggs in one basket transport policy of always cars and buildings on urban rail lines and, now in the case of the Black Country Line, carbon capturing trees and shrubs but never trains.  So what?  Whatever next?  Climate catastrophe in a fast warming world?  We better get more trees on urban rail lines.  Double quick.
  • Love empty but available rail lines; hate their waste, their disuse, their lying idle!

The Western Rail Bypass of train congested Birmingham

I attended my first Railfuture national conference on Saturday 7 November in Bristol.

Steve Wright, Secretary of Railfuture West Midlands, suggested a semi-fast rail service on the Black Country Line for the 38 Km from Stourbridge to Lichfield and a further 36 Km on the present freight only line from Lichfield direct to Derby, instead of passengers having to go via Tamworth.  Those 74 Km (over a 100 Km from Worcester) could, perhaps, take Euro-style, sleek, white, ICE trains.  Brilliant! In the meantime, diesel trains from lines finally electrified might be used.  Therefore, cheaper, simpler and easier to achieve than the new mode, tram-train.

It would be the first rail project in Dudley and Walsall for over 100 years, after decades of the total destruction of the tram network, then destruction of half the rail network.  This was followed by the construction (at least 1 Km on a rail line) of fast roads and motorways quickly delivered, one after the other and, over very many miles.

After very many years of asking, Dudley borough on the shortest branch line in the UK, was eventually allowed to have the much more sensible Parry People Mover taking over from a DMU that had to travel over from the other side of Brum every morning and back in the evening!

Re-learn the wisdom of our forebears of putting trains where the people live and work.
The Black Country Line gives us the choice of a train into Brum from Dudley or a train as a direct service to the south or north of the UK. The new line bypasses Birmingham Grand Central and Wolverhampton but with a link to both by changing at Dudley Port on the WCML.

Stop the bypassing of the Black Country with Brum getting all the light rail and heavy rail projects.

Sunday, 15 November 2015


Over 100 years, Western influence in the Far East, Middle East and in parts of South and Central America has been so malign that I think we need to
  • Move out of the Middle East, where our 100 years of military intervention and unappreciated influence has not gone down well;
  • move away from the War of Terrorism;
  • move out of the War industry that gives us such good economic growth and prosperity but, where our armaments, weapons and military intervention kill the people of the Middle East and are used against our own heroes of the armed services.
  • Move away from world leaders and governments being overthrown by our American led coalition.
  • Move towards greater toleration and humility in listening to and accepting the majority decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  • Move out of attacking other countries or deposing their governments, unless we have a 60 to 40 majority of General Assembly members.
  • Move away from revenge foreign policy;
  • away from drone kill as many as possible that also means mistakes are made and many innocents (non-fighters) get wiped off the face of the earth;
  • away from shoot to kill policy, to shoot to maim to bring them to trial, unless your life is in imminent danger when the Police have always been allowed to shoot to protect themselves.
  • Move away from military strength on the world stage, to moral strength on the world stage.
  • Move away from our continuous at sea, never stop threatening to wipe out much of humanity with our wonderful Weapons of Mass Destruction deterrent.

Friday, 13 November 2015

A righteous foreign policy of constant killing and military intervention on foreign soil, in every year, for 101 years!

JUST KILL THE LOT OF THEM FOREIGN POLICY AND BE DONE WITH IT, YOU WIMP CORBYN.  No need to bother with the judiciary or any law apart from our victor's Law of the Jungle.  Of course, WE are untouchable.  (I am caricaturing right wing politics)

Today it has been announced that the murderer of our Western hostages in Muslim majority countries has been drone killed to keep the streets of Britain safe.  Yet, Islamic State rose to power out of the invasion of white armed forces, with the occupation of, and warfare on, Muslim majority countries.

The white, Western powers have been involved in the Middle East to ensure their supplies of oil, originally for their warships and war planes, for 100 years.  The War of Terrorism from 7 October 2001 in Muslim majority countries to the present day has been particularly provocative for some Muslims.  Now, their beheadings of Westerners and a Japanese man in the desert and their intention to bring about another Caliphate in Iraq/Syria has been equally provocative and unacceptable to the 'Christian' Westerners of NATO.  Hence, the killings must continue until Islamic State is eradicated - like the eradication of Communism, Nazism, Fascism and, before that, of German imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  After all, we can't have any rival upstart threatening our power and influence over the world.  And, of course, we only kill the individuals who pose a direct threat to us from 3,000 miles away - like Emwazi, shot to kill today, and threats from Saddam and his WMD in Iraq for all those years that Saddam was about to wipe us out before we finally did something.

Only the West knows Best and don't you forget it.

To be deadly serious, Corbyn is NOT a warrior, NOT a warmonger .  He does NOT believe in upping the violence to turn friends into enemies and, then, with more retaliation from our side, making even more ferocious enemies.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Extravagance for London, Scotland and Brum; austerity for Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall

Dear Laura and Cllr Roger

My subject heading, above is, for me, one example of one legitimate meaning of corruption.

If I may be so honest as to say so, there is this one big flaw in your argument:-

Money is no object for rail projects for London (£15 billion for Cross Rail east-west and now Cross Rail north-south in the planning at similar expense), two very expensive HS2 stations for Birmingham and tram extensions for Brum at over £100 million per mile, to end up replacing hybrid buses.  In other words, business cases are quickly written to make the business cases watertight, unassailable and more secure than Fort Knox - as we have seen with the £50 billion HS2 line - and, the very low priority rail line to the middle of nowhere in rural,depopulated southern Scotland at £10 million per mile.

Business cases are dishonest because they are always made to come up with what the right wing political masters want!  Like the cost benefit analysis that made the Kidderminster, Blakedown, Hagley motorway bypass essential to be built in the 1990s to bypass a mainly rural, dual carriageway and queues at traffic lights in Hagley (we stopped this wasteful idiocy).  So much for it being essential!

Like the business case that made Metro One essential because it would get 15 million passenger journeys a year.  It turned out to be five million every year or less and, been loss making every year ever since.  In other words, it was built under false pretences - corruption in my book.  So much for honest and accurate business cases.

In this age of supposed austerity (now in year six), you and Roger should be livid at the following weird and wonderful and very extravagant public expenditure schemes that go to London and Scotland, with crumbs from the rich man's table going to Birmingham and never the Black Country boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.  This, in 34 years of fruitless endeavour that must have cost millions of pounds in salaries to the team of officers and, in generous expenses to the many PTA, ITA and the Transport Delivery Committee councillors.  This is all the exact opposite of Gordon Brown's prudent economics for the poor taxpayer.  It is what you get with right wing politicians out of control because there is no checks and balances from left wing politicians like me who never get elected - until, extraordinarily, one did on Saturday, 12 September!

For me, this is all corrupt economics and nothing like living with our means, limits and boundaries of steady state green economics.

In addition, passenger numbers on our urban rail network is increasing.  The demand is clearly there for more rail lines in the rail and road congested Black Country.  More capacity is urgent.  It cannot wait until the 2040s before you work on getting diesel (or better, electric) trains on the Black Country Line.

How to build a railway:
This is how it is done at £10 million per mile - ten times cheaper than Metro in Brum city centre:



Earthworks are often the first and most visible sign that the railway is being built. Firstly, surface layers – in this case cycle-path tarmac– are removed. The ground is then excavated down, or built up to the level where the railway line will lie. Embankments or retaining walls are built either side of the track, using earth sourced from other locations which is then stabilised or re-enforced. Some of the pre-existing embankments will also require improvement. Drainage also needs to be created, as well as installing pumps, laying pipes, building storage tanks and building culverts (drains) which allow rainwater to flow underneath, and away from, the railway. 


There are a number of structures along the route: 137 bridges, 42 newly constructed and 95 in need of refurbishment. A variety of work is required to existing bridges in order to help them comply with safety standards and make them suitable for the railway to run over or under. We may have to demolish and re-build some structures, including the creation of entirely new roads. However, where parts of a bridge can be re-used, we will keep these in situ to minimise construction works and we only ever replace what is failing or unsuitable. 


First we create a railway formation (the foundation on which the railway lies). This is flattened, ready for ballast to be laid on top. Ballast consists of layers of crushed stone which form the track bed and also help to drain the railway. We then level and stabilise this ballast using special machinery, before laying sleepers at precise intervals all the way along the route. Then the tracks are finally laid on top and fixed into place.

Electrification and electric trams seem to be beyond the UK's level of competence:
Now in the sixth decade of electrifying our rail network we are, still, nowhere near seeing an end to it.  The Swiss did theirs in two decades before 1939.  34 years ago we went haring off into electric trams to replace mainly trains.  Only 22 Km would have been achieved by the end of the year when we were assured that 200 Km would be up and running by they year 2000, fifteen years ago.

This summer, there was an inexplicable delay of three months when all work was stopped on two major English electrification schemes.

Are we competent in building HS2?  Should TfL come to the West Midlands to advise us?  Should we get a further opinion from the European rail industry who do know what they are doing?

Yours sincerely

Friday, 6 November 2015

Letter to 'Midlands Today' re Dudley Central Mosque

Dear Editor

Could your reporter please explain, in replying to this e-mail, why there was a ten year legal dispute over the land.  Why was it so controversial?  Why could the land not be sold to the Muslims?  What was so unsuitable with the land at Hall Street, please?  The reporter failed to explain.

Could your reporter also explain, as he did not do so in his report, why the council is so reluctant to let them build their own brand new mosque, as other neighbouring councils have done.  Has the council been intimidated by the EDL, in his opinion?

I think your vox pop interviews with people like me who know little about the issue, is not at all helpful when the reporter could have used the time to throw some light on the matter.  His report was in danger of fueling anti-Muslim feeling and prejudice against Islam, when this has been all too frequent with the demonstrations in Dudley.

Why was there no interview with the leader of the Dudley Muslims?  You did interviews with two people from the mosque and three people picked at random off the streets.  One man even said there were too many mosques but not enough churches that completely missed the point of Dudley Council recognising that the old Victorian primary school, as Dudley Central Mosque, was wholly inadequate and unfit for purpose!

Please let us have interviews with people who know what they are talking about - only!

The model of the mosque shown had a dome and a minaret.  However, one Dudley councillor told me that, under revised plans to please the objectors the Muslims, in a spirit of reconciliation and compromise, had excluded both in the most recent plan.  Is this correct?

Here was poor reporting by the BBC on a clear issue of justice for the Muslim community in our borough.

I would be glad of a response, please.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Railfuture is also 'wowed' by the basement station that is the Grand Central Shopping Centre, Birmingham

Dear Lloyd

I have just read Michael Tombs glowing report on the redeveloped Birmingham station that he so approves of.  Here is another point of view.  Please could you forward this to Michael for his comment:-

36 escalators, Michael wrote but, are there any stairs from platforms to concourse?  Surely, there must be!

Bullring Shopping Centre was opened in 2003.  With rising rail passenger numbers throughout the 1990s and continuing to this day, the authorities should have realised that additional tunnels were needed at the eastern approach to Grand Central basement station, then.  The new rail tunnels could have gone in after the demolition of the old Bull Ring and before the shops and stores were built for the new Bullring Shopping Centre.

£750 million of railway money for what is, mainly, yet another brand new shopping centre is a misappropriation of public money.  In other words, corruption.  From the BBC, I heard that Grand Central is likely to be sold to the owners of the Bullring and, Birmingham City Council will profit, as a result.  It will profit from the misappropriation of railway money when, like yourselves, they were also partly responsible for the blunder of failing to build the new rail tunnels in the 1990s.  This, when for years there had been much talk (but never any action, of course) of building an underground railway in Brum!

Both the railway industry, the DfT and Brum City Council are responsible for destroying our original tram network in the 1950s, for destroying about 100 miles of our urban rail network in the 1960s and building roads, offices, houses and trading estates on about 50 miles of former railway line.  There remains 78 Km that the transport authorities refuse to re-open for passenger trains.

78 Km of double track rail lines, some literally alongside roads with bumper to bumper traffic is complete idiocy.  But, this stupid transport policy has gone on for 50 years!

These sincere and well-meaning politicians and officers also demolished not one but two of our magnificent Victorian rail stations.  A third remains standing.  This is Moor Street Station, the closest to Grand Central but it was overlooked for connection to Grand Central in favour of the further away, Snow Hill Station.  Every train that stops at Snow Hill also stops at Moor Street.  Yet, in another blunder, Snow Hill was chosen and Moor Street will never get its £100 million per mile (for construction costs) tram!

After 34 years of wasted endeavour to get Midland Metro, some rail lines remain unused and waiting for electric trams that never arrive, let alone the once popular passenger trains!  The network of 15 tramlines and 200 Km by the year 2000, never arrived.  They were never delivered in that year or, even fifteen years on!

Grand Central Shopping Centre and station - the station tagged along as an afterthought and shoved in the basement of the John Lewis store - remains one of the UK's worst rail and road congestion bottlenecks.  So much for £750 million of railway money that is mostly wasted!

Please correct me, if I am wrong in any detail, above.  If no-one puts me right, I will assume that my information, here remains accurate.

Letter to Toby Rackliff of 26 Oct 2015

Dear Toby - please make time to read and re-read this and then reply

Many thanks, as in 2014, also in 2015 giving me some of your time on the 15 October.  My delay in writing is due to my shooting off to enjoy my retirement with more walking and cycling the big hills in Scotland on the day after we met with Cllr John.

I rather rashly said, "I'll give you a break for five years" - that I now withdraw!  It was some wishful thinking on my part, at the time, when I wanted to move on to other matters and to forget about this whole ghastly business!  However, I still have many questions and so much I just do not understand.  Hence:
  1. When the Borders Railway can get diesel trains back on 49 Km without first putting either freight trains back or electric trams, why must goods trains or Metro go on the 38 Km Black Country Line, first?  Please could you explain in laymen's terms.
  2. Laura wrote, on the 15 Sept: The main obstacle to reopening the Stourbridge – Walsall railway would be the need to completely replace the derelict 15km double track alignment between Round Oak and Bescot with new track and signalling built to modern standards and also repair the underlying infrastructure (including Parkhead Viaduct) to enable it to safely carry heavy rail trains once again.
  3. Could you please explain to me how replacing derelict 49 Km "track alignment, with new track and signalling to modern standards ... " was no obstacle of any kind for Network Rail and Transport Scotland at £10 million per mile.  And, this was the very first Beeching closure reversed by the professionals.  Done, too in beautiful countryside and not in our heavily congested Black Country, where the need is far greater.
  4. Laura wrote, "Similarly the Lichfield-Brownhills section of railway would also need to be completely rebuilt to accommodate future passenger trains whilst the Brownhills - Walsall section of railway was been removed completely many years ago and now is partially used as a cyclepath."  All of this applies, exactly to Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank - the Borders Railway.  Yet, the money was found and the work done.  Even on all the new rail structures!
  5. There is a huge "potential role of Walsall – Stourbridge for rail" PASSENGER not "freight for the next 30 years" as Laura wrote.  Please have some consideration for commuters and rising demand for passenger trains in the Black Country.  With human climate change and resource depletion, it is urgent that we stop wasting transport infrastructure like the 38 Km Black Country Line.
  6. Could I please have the business case study for electric trams on the roads and railways of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall instead of diesel passenger trains on the nationally important 21 Km and wasted double track rail line through an increasingly congested and populated urban conurbation.  This, when according to Patrick McLoughlin, the city centre extension is costing £75.4 million for three quarters of a mile of Metro.  This works out at £100m per mile for road running Metro.  It is also likely to be a similar enormous figure for Metro in Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall when road running.
  7. See letter from McLoughlin to Louise Ellman MP, dated 30 Sept 2015 that gives this and the £750 m Grand Central Shopping Centre as the sole railway money for the seven district authorities in the West Midlands.  Nothing else for us in how many years?  A complete page, in McLoughlin's letter, of rail investment and projects being delivered to the North of England and its Northern Powerhouse.  Nothing more for us.  We are being bypassed and ignored!
  8. I agree with Laura's e-mail as regards the costs, 
"The newly opened 30 mile rail line cost around £300m for largely single track railway (albeit with some long double track passing loops).  In some ways the reopening of this line was actually simpler than, for example re-opening Walsall – Round Oak would be, as rebuilding the track-bed didn’t require the removal of the existing, derelict tracks first."

This, therefore, is £10 million per mile for diesel trains on new rail lines and new structures.  This is ten times cheaper for diesel on new rail lines on the existing formation, than light rail electric trams on roads.

Laura cannot be right with her second sentence, above.  According to the website, Borders Railway did have to lay new track bed and rails.  In addition,
"There are a number of structures along the route: 137 bridges, 42 newly constructed and 95 in need of refurbishment. A variety of work is required to existing bridges in order to help them comply with safety standards and make them suitable for the railway to run over or under." (How to Build a Railway, from Borders Railway website)  Yet, still, £10 million per mile.  Ten times cheaper than road running Metro.  How does the business case resolve this?  Please may I have sight of it?

9.   Could you please give me the amount of the bid that you and the team have put together (during public consultation, too) for road and rail running Metro in Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall?

10.   I cannot understand why you did not make it clear, in the draft plan out for consultation, that you and the team had no intention of putting VLR or heavy rail on the old line.  It seems, that your intention has always been Midland Metro and nothing else for road and rail running through the Black Country boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.

11.   Why were the public and I told that the ITA and Cento were keeping an open mind over the 21 Km from Stourbridge to Walsall when, all the time, you were working on a new bid and business case to get the money for Metro?

12.   Could you please tell me.  Are you (ITA/Centro) in talks with Intu over Metro coming to Merry Hill and the Waterfront?

13.  Could you please explain why you are no longer pursuing Metro on the Camp Hill Line and nearby roads.  Peter Plisner did a report, some years ago, that I saw on 'Midlands Today'.  Why did the business case, at that time, not tell you that it was far better value for money to rebuild the stations and to return the passenger trains?

14.  For me, the PTA/Centro reopening of Walsall to Wolverhampton years ago was not nearly as important as the Black Country Line to bypass road and rail congested Grand Central but, to still allow trains from Dudley Waterfront and Dudley Port (on the WCML) to bring passengers into Grand Central, as you said, Toby that Metro trams would be able to do.  Diesel trains can do it, too but much more economically!

15.  There is much in common between your profession, Toby and mine!  I was a Brum and Sandwell social worker for 35 years.  We all know about the media highlighting of social work blunders, neglect and failures.  I can remember how my colleagues and I all got into a rut of the one and only (foolish) decision that had to be made and no-one challenged it in case conferences (out of respect for, or fear of, the managers)​.  As a retired, old man I am asking you to think of the alternatives, of a different way of doing things, of brainstorming all the options.  For 34 years, since 1981, the councillors and Centro said that the 200 Km Midland Metro network would be the answer to our road traffic congestion problems.  However, it was never delivered over these last three and a half decades.  Yet, you are still endeavouring to get it - to this day!

I am really sorry to be such a pain, Toby.  However, I hope you can understand why I am so critical and dissatisfied with ever worsening road and rail congestion.  It has gone on for the nearly fifty years of my being a student, a failed teacher, a social worker and, now, a one foot in the grave OAP in the Black Country and Brum.  In addition, there remains worsening train and traffic congestion in and around Grand Central and its basement station.  Now, the grandest of many road/rail congestion bottlenecks in England.

All of this - and much more I have recorded, previously and elsewhere - is not nearly good enough.

But, my genuine good wishes to you, Toby.  Thanks again for seeing me.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Let them eat cake - nuclear cake!

WRITTEN: 23 September 2008 e-mail

With the approaching energy gap, Prof Fells' power cuts, fast rising
populations all wanting the electricity high life and not wanting to save
energy let alone be energy efficient, why not leave it to France to sell us
their nuclear electricity?  Let them expand and we get on with offshore
wind and other renewables and, the likes of us - the righteous remnant -
vainly pleading for a low energy present and future!

Oil is more important as a chemical building block for the 500 everyday
products on which we depend than to turn, very inefficiently, into
electricity.  It is urgent that we stop burning oil.

Many years ago, I can remember Jonathon Porritt saying that renewables
would not be enough but we must go down that route.  The Greens were right
since the 1970s when New Zealand was the first Green Party.  Our Manifesto
for a Sustainable Future is correct in its analysis and solutions.
However, such is the urgency of reducing the burning of fossil fuels, I now
think that James Lovelock and Mark Lynas are right, too.  Nuclear is the
lesser of two evils.  BUT, leave it to France AND still use deserts and
rooftops for solar power - everywhere.

Humans won't restrain themselves, so nuclear is what they must have - to
postpone inevitable ecocide!

I hereby resign from my life membership of the Green Party and FoE!