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!

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."

£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?

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, 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


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 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."