Saturday, 29 February 2020

'Birmingham Greenways' map is brilliant for fossil fuel free travellers

Dear Paul and Mayor and Deborah

Roy Watson's and Heron Maps' excellent 'Birmingham Greenways' map (£5.99) gives "150 miles of traffic free walking and cycling paths around Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull".

Some have been upgraded to an all weather surface and drainage, with good blue signs.  However, all need to be brought up to that high standard, please.  I cycled from Halesowen to see Ian Ward at Shard End last Wednesday evening for his surgery.  And he saw me - v decent of him!  I cycled using as many of Roy's/your traffic free cycle routes as possible.  However, some miles were adventure cycling that needed a mountain bike that I was on.  Especially parts of the Rive Cole Cycle-Walkway were very rough.  Made worse by very many absent blue signs, especially on the confusing Ackers Trust land.

Roy's quite superb 2015 map needs to be the basis of the WMCA improvement work and their/your own maps.  However, Roy's map also needs to be updated by Heron Maps, if only to delete the ITA to be replaced by WMCA, of course.  And, it must be extended westwards to include the 22 Kms major Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway between DY5 Enterprise Zone at Brierley Hill and NW Wolverhampton.

Will you please ensure that you buy your own copy and ensure that the professionals use it to upgrade every mile of the 150 miles of cycle-walkways.  Including the major 22 Kms Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway.

Buy it from:-

Thanks and best wishes

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Criticisms answered

Hi David
"To mark the start of the tramway, the Mayor and Cllr Harley joined workers building a £4.33m wall at Castle Hill, which is the first physical structure of the project.  This is £4 m out of £449.5 m, plus inevitable cost overruns for the tram extension.  There is still time to point out that the tram blocks, it spoils the integrity of the full line from being used through the Black Country WITHOUT CHANGES between other modes.  The Black Country is a similar population to Brum but is very much overlooked; it is in the shadow and very much the poor relation of Brum.  Especially, rundown Dudley High Town where the tram is planned to go.  It's thriving Low Town is Castle Gate and that is exactly where the only feasible site for the Dudley Castle Gate railway station is and where the £4 m wall is being built.  A railway station is far more sensible than a tram stop for a piddling little shuttle tram line of 6 Kms that still leaves 50 Kms wasted!
"The wall is currently being built with money from a grant agreement funded from the WMCA with completion expected this summer.  The wall is part of the preparatory works.  Main works start next year, it now seems but, that may well change as it has done so many times.
"When it opens to passengers in 2023, the Metro extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill will offer people vastly improved transport links with up to 17 stops including Dudley Town Centre."  17 stops means the "bus on rails" (UK Tram Ltd) tram stops even more frequently than the bus that goes directly on the road, without tracks having to be laid first!  Keep the bus between Wednesbury and Merry Hill and use the mainline railway over all 120 Kms for commuter, regional and intercity trains.
Your email: "partly your fault about RailFuture as you were  unable to persuade them abut the 56 Kms Stourbridge Jct to Burton on Trent on the ready built, but only half used, 120 Kms Worcester to Derby principal mainline railway:
You need to learn how to persuade people, not hectoring them and calling them idiots.  I hope I have never called individuals 'idiots'; only their strange behaviour as idiocy or idiotic.  I have been an idiot when cycling or mountain walking at times but, never causing even more road and railway congestion and yet more greenhouse gases, as they have done and are still doing with destroying and wasting railway lines.  In fact, the full time professional transport experts wanting "bus on rails" trams instead of trains on mainline railways are the very ones who call me "an idiot" and behind my back, I've been told!
You have not answered my question about why so many european countries use Trams ? Are they all stupid too?  No.  However, there is no doubt that with hindsight, we now know that the money gone into highly expensive tram construction could have been used for reopening railway lines (like Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Low Level) and for electric buses with free fares for all and not just old crocks like me.  Tram line construction last decade was three times more expensive per Km than building the green field M6 Toll that opened in the previous decade (Dec 2003).  London and other places had electric buses with lead acid batteries in the early 1900s, according to 'A Most Deliberate Swindle' by Mick Hamer, pub 2017.
Trams are a half way house between trains and buses. They are expensive, but provide a clean and efficient way of moving people. Have you been on the WM Tram ?"  I love to use trams, David.  My wife and I have used them in Europe and we like them.  I use the Midland Metro, even on the latest extension to the library, and have never had to pay for the last twelve years because of my advanced years.  I don't love the very hard plastic seats that look so soft, comfortable and inviting as though you can gently sink into them.  You get a rude awakening!  I can even cycle alongside the Metro One line and have often done so since 1999 and, well before the tram works started in 1995 or '96.
Manchester and many European places have successful "bus on rails" tram networks that are all brilliant.  But this does not deny my point that the many billions of pounds and euros that have been spent could have gone to give everyone free fare, electric bus rides without the disruption and expense of rail tracks, first.  And that would have been much more effective in relieving road congestion and air pollution; as well as pumping out fewer global warming greenhouse gases.  Do you agree, David?

I know the trams are coming to Dudley but TfWM/WMCA are still promising the trains too.  We now, David have to encourage them to put the commuter and regional trains back on the full length to finish the 120 Kms.  It can still be intercity trains as we had for 100 years.  Certainly, regional and commuter trains with two changes for the tram to make progress along the full length of the line.  Will you help me, please?

Thanks for writing.  Please keep in contact and keep telling me where I am going wrong.  It is really good of you to show an interest.  You are almost the only one!!  But Andy Street is on board for trains to return, everywhere, except where he is told they must be trams, as in the Black Country!  We have to support him, as I am doing; publicly, too at his meetings.  But not over HS2.

All the best.  See my photos, below.

MY TWO FAVOURITE PHOTOS of all time - the oversight was described by one person as 'bizarre'; another called it 'bonkers'.
Wasted 56 Kms Stourbridge Jct to Burton on Trent on the ready built, but only half used, 120 Kms Worcester to Derby principal mainline railway:

Burton to Bristol via Brierley Hill; Derby to Devon via Dudley - by TRAIN not "bus on rails" trams as they are wanting, plus new extended cycle-walkway!