Sunday, 30 June 2019

Lothian Buses reply

Dear Tim,

Thank you for your email. Please see answers to your questions below:

Has there been any cuts to bus services with the introduction of trams? 
There were some changes to bus routes and frequencies, but the overall number of buses being used on the network remained broadly the same.

Am I wrong to maintain that electric trams replace diesel buses, when electric buses would be quicker to do, cheaper and have lower greenhouse gas emissions?
The long term public transport offering in Edinburgh will likely be a mix of trams, electric buses, diesel buses and hybrid buses, all of which will be specified to the highest Euro standards for emissions.  All forms of public transport should be considered as more sustainable than using the private car.  At the current time, the mileage range which electric buses can achieve between charges is not sufficient to make them operationally viable for the entire fleet. 

Is Lothian bus use rising, stable or declining?
In the new markets we have entered in the last few years, we are seeing more people starting to use buses.  However, in our core City market, slower bus journey times, primarily caused by congestion and delays due to roadworks, are having an impact on passenger numbers. 

Are you seeing a reduction in road traffic congestion with the tram line?

I hope you find these answers useful.

Kind Regards
Amy Mouat
Customer Service Advisor

Benevolent, charming, we know best for you, dictating policy makers at Transport HQ

Thanks, Geo.  Nice to hear from you.  WMCA is West Midlands Combined Authority brought in by a Conservative government, that another such government, getting on for forty years ago, abolished.  That authority was called the West Midlands County Council done away with by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.  There is nothing new under the sun!  We had county councillors, then.  With this one there is no councillors, so no democracy.  Not that any of our councillors seem to be interested in anything very much!  There is no discussion, debate followed by voting by councillors whom we have elected.  Democratic deficit at 16 Summer Lane, Brum, the home of Transport for West Midlands, the autocratic WMCA and the one and only national tram promotion group, UK Tram Ltd.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Remembrance, heroes and violence

Remembrance is so important because we won.
Help for Heroes - make more war to make more heroes.
Lest we Forget - to wage war.
Remember - the living can learn from the fate of the fallen.
Violence and war should be the last resort when all else has failed.  And is a failure in itself - of sidelining the UN, of diplomacy, conflict resolution, of ignoring UN resolutions and, of just dealings with other countries by the wealthy and powerful.

Friday, 21 June 2019

20.6.19 Everything but the kitchen sink on our urban railway lines!

Hi Andy

Thanks very much for your email.  Much appreciated.

From what I have seen or not seen in my 71 years, the railway, the transport and the green lobbying groups; plus the railway industry itself and trade unions, have never fought to stop the destruction and selling off of railway lines that Beeching rightly closed as being uneconomic in the 1960s.  Beeching never suggested that they be obliterated in the way that even urban railway lines have been.  I would think that Beeching never wanted the lines sold off to any old Tom, Dick or Harriet.  Unfortunately, I don't think he recommended that they all be mothballed in case of future use.  Hence, over these last fifty years, our councillors have given planning permission for every kind of building imaginable - and roads - to go on the lines.  I have estimated that we must have lost over 100 Kms of railway lines in the West Midlands in this way.  The 6 Kms Halesowen Railway line to Longbridge has been sold off to private individuals that makes it much more difficult to reopen as a cycle-walkway, without compulsory purchase that is unheard of for a cycle-walkway.

" the various ‘rail enthusiast train groups’ " are never campaigning groups in the more assertive, constructive and helpful way that I think I am.  They all seem to be passive, deferential, apathetic and would never dream of vigorously pointing out the error of their ways - ie, the errors of transport professional officers and the councillors.  The councillors, in particular, show very little interest in getting about in ways other than the car.  They all leave transport matters to Transport HQ at 16 Summer Lane.

In addition, the rail enthusiast groups are as equally keen on trams, tram trains and train trams as they are on the more frequently seen, ordinary, trains.  They would not dream of opposing a tram extension, even on a rare, mothballed, the UK's only, mainline, half finished railway.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Extend the Stourbridge Shuttle but NOT on the Black Country Railway!

I do want to see the Stourbridge Shuttle extended via the half used 350 space car park on Stourbridge Road; then along Coventry St and High St, back to the bus station.  Phil Tonks seems to like this idea from his reply to my email.  John Parry said he would not oppose it.  I should hope not!

John Parry's PPM is not suitable for a 120 Kms mainline railway of national importance.  It is the UK's only mothballed, easily reinstated, half finished, everything is there as regards every bridge, tunnel and viaduct bypass railway "of national strategic significance".  Nor is a Metro tram or a tram train (still a tram) suitable for a mainline railway of the likes of ours that runs between Worcester and Derby via Dudley Castle Hill/Castle Gate.  A tram and tram train are both suitable for the 20 Kms between Sheffield Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.  Both the tram and the tram train stop at every tram stop on those 20 Kms.  It is ludicrous to spoil our mainline railway that runs parallel to or close to M5/M6 by putting trams and tram trains that must stop, on average, every 650 metres through the urban Black Country.

Trams are called "bus on rails" by the national tram promotion group that has its HQ at Transport HQ at 16 Summer Lane.  Hence, the trams for over £1.5 BILLION now replacing buses and trains in Brum and the Black Country.

Connect Stourbridge Jct and Brierley Hill with a commuter TRAIN not tram of any kind, please.  You all want the tram from Brierley Hill to Wednesbury that you will get, it seems.  Main work starts in the third quarter of this year.  However, connect Wednesbury and Burton on Trent with commuter and regional TRAINS.  After Metro goes on a total of 6.7 Kms, this still leaves a total of 49.3 Kms AND Railfuture's nine railway stations for the settlements that are desperate for their railway line back to relieve motorway and main road congestion.

You will then have a train-tram-train mainline railway "of national strategic significance", at best.  This will be a world first, I understand.  It is not something the UK should be proud of or, noted for around the world.  Such a bizarre use of an important, national, mainline railway will mean something else for the UK to be seen as a laughing stock around the world!

I am available to see Qadar (perhaps Patrick, too?) at anytime and any date over the next three weeks, except morning 20 June to 1200 hrs; from 1100 hrs on Mon 24 June to 1300 hrs and Friday morning 28 June - WMCA AGM in Brum.  And I can't do Monday morning 1 July in the third week.

Best wishes

to Bob Warman of Central TV

Dear Bob - my full contact details are at the bottom of this email.  Tim Weller

Is this value for money? Does this nice piece of idiocy deserve a mention on your excellent programme, Bob?

6.7 Kms of a half finished 120 Kms, 'Out of Use' (mothballed) mainline railway "of national strategic significance", is about to be turned into a short shuttle tram line to transfer passengers to the mainline railway in the next borough.  This, for £449 million when the Taxpayers' Alliance says nearly all of it can be re-opened for £120 million with three new stations. And, for £449 m there is still 49.3 Kms wasted, unused apart from a 2 Kms VLR test track and a new extended cycle-walkway, alongside or near to jam packed M5/M6 and many main roads!!

I am referring to the missing, middle half of this supposedly nationally important mainline railway between Worcester, the Black Country and Derby.  It was very well used for 100 years until the 1960s when we all deserted the railways to buy and use cars. The track bed and every bridge, tunnel and viaduct are all in place under or over every congested motorway and main road. But, not even a single ghost train is to be seen!

Walking and working in our Golden Green Triangle

Thanks, Stuart for your last email.  All very helpful.  This is copied to Roy Burgess who is mentioned here and who also needs to know what is going on.  He founded the Halesowen Abbey Trust in 1986 and has been active in public service ever since.  Now, more in Leasowes Walled Garden, in Leasowes Park, that is as good as any NT garden.  It is included in the annual competition, 'Halesowen in Bloom'.

To keep you in the picture, I have on Monday submitted a request to WCC via their official online website form, for the rough 'path' from Bromsgrove Road to Illey Brook/Illey Mill to be made a right of way.  Reference no 717548.  More immediately, I would like their staff to cut a path through the long grass of the roadside verge at the Bromsgrove Road end.  My very rough path starts at the brambles where I have cut a narrow path through.  I will continue to keep the brambles, thistles and nettles back at that short section on the verge below (south) where the long grass is.  I have done it for my own use, primarily but I also think that the more walkers can keep off that very busy country lane the better.  It is also an extension to our wonderful network of public paths that 'end' at Illey Mill.  Roy also has his many walk leaflets that also use Illey Lane for access from Halesowen.  Walkers may discover, in due course, that there is an alternative to walking on tarmac and risking an accident.

Last Saturday, I had a wonderful walk from home to the new Longbridge High Street on mostly public paths.  The only exception was when I tried the railway line and found, from Dowery Dell, south to the M5 and beyond, that it was still possible, mud free and gave some great views to either side.  It actually became the Princess Diana Way SE of the M5 in Frankley but you must know that!  Many, including children, have illegally walked the railway line ever since it was first opened, I understand.  In the 20th century, trespassers were risking a 40 shillings fine.  I walked parts of it in the 1970s, even before I moved to Halesowen in 1976.  Some were shouted at by train drivers, Roy told me.  Now, the fine for trespassing on the railways is £1,000!

While I was in Dowery Dell below the dismantled viaduct, I cleared two or three branches that completely blocked the public right of way above the wooden steps on the Frankley, south side, of the brook.  It was Roy and friends who built the steps, he told me, very many years ago.  Was it in the 1980s, Roy?  It was done with the knowledge and help of WCC.  My Saturday walk took four hours but I came back by three buses after an evening meal in the High Street 'Beefeater'.

Stuart, if I get the permission of Bernard Williams, would you want to use your strimmer to cut my grass slashed path even shorter, please?  I know, it is not strictly necessary, so don't worry.  The right of way is much more important.  I'll use my slasher, again in a week or twos time.  My contact with Bernard is via Mark at the cricket ground on 07799 332544.  Mark was OK about my slashing a path through the open woodland and speaks with Bernard Williams.  You are always welcome to ring Mark yourself, of course, for confirmation.

There is one badly leaning concrete post on the cul de sac path that I want to dig out and reposition vertically.  I am using my mountain bike to get to the path from home.  The concrete posts are so important in showing the old cart track and how very wide it was, originally.  All part of our very important heritage in caring for the past to benefit the future.  If the posts get removed, any future landowner/farmer may well encroach onto the ancient farm track to get a bigger field.  My preference is one half of the cart track for walkers and the other half of impenetrable brambles to ensure Jenny's caravans are less obvious.  We must keep Jenny pleased with what we are doing and walking the path herself!  I want Mark and Bernard to take a look, too sometime.  Mark said he would.

All the best

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.

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



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!
Brexit makes us look odd.  Out of step when being in step and collaborating is vital.  It discourages inward investment from overseas. It puts other countries off.

"An analysis of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects by the Department for International Trade for  2018-19, shows the UK attracted 1,782, compared to 2,072 in the previous 12 month period, representing a decline of 14% ."  from   27 June 2019 

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


£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


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 8 June 2019


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."