Saturday, 27 February 2021

More ways to spend money & get nowhere

Hi Tim.

Hope you are well.

I would like to bring to your attention, this article which appeared on the web regarding how much money this nutter of a mayor & the transport authority is applying for to the government to fund forthcoming transport projects in the East/ West Midlands.

SUMMARY BY SELF of what train driver, Dave wrote, below:
25% of Snow Hill station was converted from use by commuter trains for use by grandiose "bus on rails" trams in the 1990s.  This, when the tram could have gone down the side of the station, even then, as it now does.  But all too late!  Bringing back the 25% is to cost a colossal £27 m but, when that will be done is anybody's guess.

The item which really caught my eye is the cost of reinstatement of platform 4 at Birmingham Snow hill for returning services back to heavy rail.
According to this article, the cost to do this is £27million, yes, £27million.
All this to relay a few yards of track and to alter the signalling and is not expected to be completed until 2026.
Now the question is, when Snow hill was reopened by the West Midlands transport authority,  with funds paid for by the government as the railway was still run by British railway, who was the individual, or group of individuals who made the decision to allow the Metro from Wolverhampton to convert platform 4 at Snow hill for it to gain access into Snow hill station, when  there was space at the side of the station (the route it uses now to gain access to the city centre) without the need to abolish platform 4?
Would this individual or group of individuals like to offer an explanation to the public why they are now begging for £27million  of public money to reinstate this platform ? 
Or will they remain in hiding until all this gets blown over or forgotten about?
In my opinion, the cost of this scheme should be funded by the Metro alliance, use private money, after all, it was for their benefit it was closed in the first place.

SUMMARY BY SELF of what Dave has written, below:
Trains from Coventry to Leicester were popular for 100 years.  That was stopped to give priority to fast intercity trains.  That 'do it cheap and quick' blunder has been acknowledged and the 'experts' want to reinstate Coventry to Leicester by bypassing Nuneaton for the basement bargain price of only £5 m!

Another interesting point is the scheme to run services to the East Midlands from Coventry.
These services used to run in Pe-privatised and Privatised days from Coventry to Leicester, Nottingham, and Lincoln.
These services would run via Nuneaton which required a reversal of train direction to gain access to the line to Leicester.
When the West Coast Mainline was upgraded to allow Virgin to run faster & more frequent services, Nuneaton East junction was remodelled and the crossover was removed.
This means that now there’s no access for trains arriving at Nuneaton from Coventry to carry on their journey to Leicester and beyond.
However, this has not deterred the Transport authority who want to run a service to Leicester from Coventry, but now does not want it to call at Nuneaton ( which has connections to the north ).
The only way they can do this is to link the Coventry line with the Leicester line by means of a flyover or tunnel under the West coast main line.
This would not be a cheap solution.
Would be far better to re alter the junction at Nuneaton and return to services running as they did before.

So there you have it, two examples of how people who hold position on these authorities to make decisions costing taxpayers millions of pounds and have no knowledge of transport needs as they claim to have.

MY SUMMARY:  The Pre-Metro, ultra-light rail, gas and flywheel powered Stourbridge Shuttle, is planned to bridge the gap left by the light rail "bus on rails" tram terminating at Brierley Hill town centre.  This slow, shuttle tram shuttles passengers on a successful for a 100 years, mainline railway between Stourbridge Jct on the mainline, to drop passengers off at Harts' Hill to get the light rail "bus on rails" Metro tram to Wednesbury on the same mainline railway!  You then change to the bus to get to Walsall railway station.  In the 21st century, we get two changes when from the 19th century for 100 years none were necessary to get all the way to Walsall and, even to Derby, direct from Stourbridge Jct!

We do have to travel less, to lockdown, for both Covid and Climate but this is getting ridiculous.  No wonder people just jump in the car!

As I send this to you pre metro operations company at Stourbridge are now applying to run a light rail service from Stourbridge to Round oak on the existing portion of the Stourbridge to Walsall freight line.
No doubt this will be approved by this nutter of a mayor and his cronies at the transport authority.
I guess the light vehicles they use will be tested on the new portion of line from Dudley to Harts' Hill, then taken by road transport to Stourbridge.

You couldn’t make all this up? 
Total incompetence by the authorities and the idiots who run them.
As I’ve said before Tim, we have no hope.


Friday, 26 February 2021

Fare Free Public Transport Meeting

On Wednesday 24th March 2021, the Climate Action Network West Midlands will be hosting an online meeting about Fare-Free Public Transport for Birmingham and the West Midlands. We will be doing this to draw attention to the growing global movement for FFPT, and to argue for Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands to initiate a feasibility study about adopting such a scheme.

Currently, about 100 cities around the world have full FFPT systems. In Europe they are located mainly inFrance and Poland, but we should not overlook Tallinn (serving 430,000 people) or Luxembourg (serving over 600,00 people). While the Covid crisis has severely disrupted the use of public transport, we feel that the planning for the extension of the global FFPT movement into this area should begin now, and not wait until we are in a post-Covid situation to extend the scheme to our city and region.

As CANWM, our main concern is with reducing carbon dioxide emissions to net zero in Birmingham by2030, as part of the Climate Emergency response. We note that surface transport makes up 28% of the city’s CO2 total, and although the Birmingham Transport Plan proposes measures to deal with air pollution and congestion and other adverse factors, we feel that it does not go nearly far enough. We need to shift a large proportion of the cars off the road, and the best way to tempt motorists out of their private cars would be a full FFPT system.

Our vision is for a public transport system that is truly public, and free at the point of use. This would go a long way to curb NO2 and particulate matter pollution, congestion, delays, and accidents as well as dealing with our preoccupation with obtaining a net-zero carbon city.

Electric Vehicles represent a move away from fossil fuels, but they are currently expensive and would do

nothing to reduce congestion. They also emit particulate pollution from tyres and brakes and would require vast amounts of electricity if widely used. It would be far preferable to move to a social mass transport system, with electric or hydrogen-powered buses complementing increased access for walkers and cyclists.

Local train and trams should also be part of the FFPT mix, but we should note in passing the remarkably high cost of extending the tram network and consider that the investment should go into FFPT instead.

Similarly, we note the vast sums being made available for HS2 and a planned expansion of the airport.

There is not a lack of resources for transport investment, it is a question of priorities.

Birmingham City Council’s Climate Emergency plan, adopted on January 12th this year, acknowledges that a feasibility study looking into FFPT would be acceptable, but the council will not do it by itself. We would like Transport for West Midlands to undertake a parallel study, but being an unaccountable body, we have little purchase with them.

Therefore, we are inviting you to register for the online meeting on Wednesday March 24th, 19.00 to 20.30 hours GMT, and take part in the discussion led by Wojciech Keblowski. Wojciech is a critical urban geographer working on transport and alternatives to capitalism and is based at the Free University of Brussels.

Mass rapid transit adds to multi-modal, multi mixed-up public transport

Some of us would like fareless buses for ALL and not just elders like me. Dunkirk, Tallinn and Luxembourg have totally fareless public transport and about 100 other towns and cities around the world. Better than building an underground/overground mass rapid transit to accelerate ecocide from all the greenhouse gases!

FROM: Bath and Bristol Area Tram Association -

WECA’s Joint Local Transport Plan states: “Transformational infrastructure in the form of mass transit (e.g. light rail, tram, tram-train or underground) is identified for these corridors.

“This is necessary to provide a step change in the capacity and quality of public transport on the busiest corridors, that can respond to the significant forecast increase in trips across the region. It will also provide a more attractive alternative to trips by car. “

Feasibility work is underway to investigate how potential “mass transit corridors” could work, with the document acknowledging it will be “very challenging” to implement an ‘on-street’ system through certain areas.

The estimated cost of delivering WECA’s “transformational major schemes package” is £3bn-£5bn.

David Andrews and his fellow campaigners argue that while trams have a higher initial cost than buses, this is “more than repaid over their lifespan through much lower running costs, less pollution and “generally higher standards of service”.

BBATA representatives say they fully support the new vision from WECA and Bristol’s mayor and look forward to working with them to achieve the “long overdue initiative, at speed”.

WECA has said a variety of transport options are currently being assessed to understand which technologies might work best for the region.

Over the next few months, route options will be developed across Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire that have the potential to connect the highest volumes of people, city and town centres and employment hubs.

Following this early work, a public consultation will be held later in 2021.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

This will save you work for something much grander!

Dear Karen - I am being positive, constructive and helpful, here.  And, saving you money to go towards something much more worthwhile.  Honest!!

No need, at all to encourage active travel on a new shared footway alongside A456/Manor Way!

You do not need to change anything, apart from possibly putting in the Toucan crossing at Chadbury Road.  The crossing is needed to encourage bus use by allowing access to Chadbury Road from the westbound bus stop near the HAAC.  It would encourage some users of the HAAC to walk or cycle into the club, too instead of driving.

Please, Karen you need to save the money to urgently upgrade the major, strategic, 22 Kms Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway to NW Wolverhampton via Wombourne.  Most of the Dudley section is in a disgraceful condition.

I have cycled into Brum for four decades but have NEVER needed to use Manor Way because there are brilliant, alternative cycling routes via pleasant residential roads to the north, on the Halesowen side to Carters Lane.  I cross the A456 on the Carters Lane road bridge and then use the superb traffic-free walking/cycling route for SIX MILES into Brum centre from Carters Lane/Watery Lane!  Please try it yourself, with Les.  I do use the footways from the east end of Dog Kennel Lane to get to Chadbury Road.  But that section can only be widened from Woodbury Close public right of way to Chadbury Road.  It is short and cyclists have to watch out for walkers, give way to them and, give a verbal warning of their approach.  Even my own family used it on my recommendation - and that was quite a victory, I can tell you!

The very few cyclists do not warrant destroying a wooded/shrub nature reserve that is a welcome barrier from the noisy traffic fumed bypass/Manor Way.  No need to destroy nature of which we are part!

Cyclists must be kept cycling, definitely but should be encouraged to find more pleasant and safer, low-trafficked routes via the side roads, even if it does take them longer.  It did take longer for me cycling to work in Brum - every day - but it was great keeping very nearly entirely off Manor Way, except for the very short Grange roundabout section - when I use the footway, still!

Have I convinced you and Les over this - when I so miserably failed over the very fine Dudley Railway needing TRAINS and stations?  I am even willing to show you both if we all got our bikes out!

Best wishes


£400 m wishlist - I'm sorry, but this proves, Midlands Connect, you don't have a clue, in my opinion

"£27 million to reinstate platform four at Snow Hill to allow more local and long-distance services to terminate there."

Platform 4 has been out of use to commuter and regional trains for well over 20 years when this important railway line was converted to a wealth flaunting, unnecessary, show off, "bus on rails" tramline that led to the destruction of 3 or 4 Kms of perfectly good double-track railway line and, of Wolverhampton Low Level station being converted to a conference and events centre!  And, one or two jaywalkers have been killed by the tram, too.  Tragic blunder.

"£20 million for a regionwide smart ticketing system for bus, tram and rail journeys across the Midlands"

Simply extend the regional Fare-Free Public Transport for all, that old crocks like me have enjoyed for over 13 years!  Why should elders get priority over those who really do need to travel to and for work?  Use the £15 billion to 2040 for mainly tram extensions to replace some buses.  Trams only bring even more changes and delays to public transport journeys, after all.  Now, what do they call this failure?!

"The unparalleled challenges of a global pandemic, the UK's exit from the European Union and the ongoing blight of climate change mean that decisive action, demonstrable progress and strategic innovation are more important than ever.  This is especially true for our transport network."

 Your, "ongoing blight of climate change"  should mean retrenchment, not regeneration with £400 m going into dangerously enhancing the natural greenhouse effect and, hence the climate emergency.  Spend greenhouse gases in the short term to cut them in the medium to long term.  Act on the measures many of us have proposed over the years.

To Jacob

Thanks so much for your email.  My answers:

Five years ago, confirmed by the election for Mayor in 2017, we had the creation of a completely new regional government organisation that I had no idea would be the result of getting a Metro Mayor four years ago!  So, we have workers like Deborah Cadman on £180,000 a year, as Chief Executive, to an unknown number of employees in many layers of a deep hierarchy.  What is worse is this.  Not one of these new decision-makers was elected.  But that will not make a scrap of difference if the election of the Mayor is anything to go by.  He has no official powers and simply says, and rubber stamps, whatever is decided by unelected officials for him.

Yet, from out of our numbers, we get members of councils who are so hopeless they have allowed professional officers, whom they have agreed with, to do this:
  1. An electric tram network completely obliterated and replaced with diesel buses.
  2. About 100 Kms of our West Midlands railways were used for housing and trading estates and roads.
  3. The UK's very last, fully in place but, only half used, is now converted after 50 years to shuttle tramline, VLR test track and proposed extended cycle-walkway.
  4. A worse public transport journey for eleven different bus routes from west Brum and the Black Country because of the rebuilding of the tram network that has always had priority over trains and buses from Metro's start in 1981.  The bus now has a longer and slower journey into Colmore Row because of the tram taking over.  If you change for the tram, this is no quicker if you have to wait upwards of 15 minutes for the tram at Five Ways to take the direct route that was taken by the bus.
1) What is your official policy regarding the specific role of the metro mayor, both nationally and locally?
The Metro Mayor should be challenging the policies/decisions by the officers and not simply rubber-stamping them.  That should be his role locally and regionally.  He/she should be insisting on full council chamber debates in each of the seven district councils over the wisdom of spending £15 billion to 2040 for mainly underground and overground Metro trams to replace buses and trains.

2) What are the main points on which you are campaigning in the run up to the 2021 West Midlands mayoral election?  To expose the four scandals, above.

3) Would you change the way in which the WMCA currently works with the metro mayor?
The mayor should be more proactive and questioning and not simply a mouthpiece and PR person for the WMCA.

Please comment, if you wish.    Tim

Agenda items for proposed meeting with Kevin O'Keefe, CEO Dudley MBC


  1. Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway
  2. Housing in line with you all declaring a climate emergency and then doing nothing.
  3. Cycle-walkway on the opposite side of Duncan Edwards Way from the tramline.
  4. Stourbridge Jct to Round Oak/Harts' Hill by ... ?
  5. Why ultra-light rail, VLR, LR and HR all on one mainline HR railway?
  6. Urgent repairs to most of Dudley's stiles out in our southern greenbelt/Golden Green Triangle bounded by M5, A456, A491.  I'm so ancient, I'm struggling to climb them even when they are not rickety!
  7. West Midlands National Park progress
  8. Nice, new Dudley Central Mosque for our Muslim brethren.
  9. Dudley Leisure Centre site in Wellington Road
  10. Regional Fare-Free Public Transport for all.
  11. Is declaring a climate emergency consistent with spending billions of pounds of greenhouse gases on a multi-modal, mass rapid transit public transport system?  This, when it is heavily dependant on steel and cement that have high greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Feasibility Study

The campaign is asking for a feasibility study to be set up precisely to go into those questions, at a city and regional level. It would be an attractive project for a university depart for a fairly modest fee I suspect, but it would be better if the BCC and T4WM commissioned such a study themselves. Given the dire situation we are in regarding the climate, not to mention the other problems of congestion, delays, accidents and dirty air, why should there be resistance to looking into the one scheme that would act as a major inducement to tempt motorists out of their vehicles?

At a first glance, with £27 billion of national money being earmarked for road building schemes, and over £100 billion for HS2, there does not appear to be a shortage of money for transport investment.

At a local level, there is the £15 billion being set aside for tram investment that has already been mentioned. Putting that on one side for now, once you have removed expenses for ticketing infrastructure and factored in the co-benefits from less congested roads and fewer health problems, the experience of other schemes is that they can start to pay for themselves after a while.

However, even if a substantial permanent subsidy were required, would it not be worth it? Proper public services always need state (national and/or local) funding and a post-Covid new way of doing things needs to start developing its blueprint in the here and now.

As I said, we need to set up feasibility studies to go into the nuts and bolts, the mechanics and the finance of new schemes. We do need hard financial information it is true, but how can a layperson or an unofficial body get access to these figures? When I wrote to T4WM about this issue recently they did not even reply. It does not inspire confidence.

Bob Whitehead

4 words to explain irrefutable advantage of FFPT

REWARD for leaving your motor at home.

COMPENSATION for slightly higher risk of Covid transmission.

REDUCES congestion and pollution.

MAXIMISE existing mass rapid transit, in this way, without changing to trams at the most colossal expense in reducing reserves of fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gas emissions - both at the same time!

Climate and monetary COST is a big down side

UK Tram website has:

"Our aim is to provide best value public transport solutions which can help resolve the congestion and environmental challenges faced by many of our cities and conurbations".


Bill Gates says making steel and cement around the world is responsible for about 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Getting out of this deadly greenhouse is urgent and must START, please.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Urgent prison reform from David Beedon

 Dear Tim

Thank you for your positive feedback. As you may have gathered, I am quite passionate about reform of the penal system so it was good to have such an attentive group to speak to, albeit online. I am pleased you found it informative.

Regarding your question: "I would like to make the point that if we were as good as Japan and Scandinavia, our penal system would be so effective that it would save money and not cost so much.  Does he agree?” My response is “Absolutely!” The problem is the wicked dynamic between public opinion/perception and penal policy. Although paternalistic, until the last half a century, penal policy in the UK was largely shaped by policy-makers and ‘experts’ (not a fan of the term, but you know what I mean). The criminologist/sociologist Stanley Cohen wrote a seminal text in the early 70s called “Folk Devils and Moral Panics” which observed how easily the media whipped up public opinion into an out of proportion frenzy which, increasingly, politicians have tried to satisfy by out-doing one another with being ‘tough on crime’. 

Sadly, I suspect most people’s knowledge about mass incarceration is poor and they think locking up people in more numbers for longer solves the problem of crime. So I am not so sure that they care particularly about cutting costs through higher initial investment in better rehabilitative practices leading in the longer term to fewer folk being incarcerated at £43,000 per year cost to the tax-payer. This would require more prevalence of critical thinking skills and less expression of the punitive national psyche. That’s why I welcome any opportunity to bang the drum!

I don’t know about the Japanese system but I know in Scandinavian prisons the incarcerated are looked upon as citizens to be helped to be restored to society. In our penal system we tend to look at them maloptically as deviant human beings needing correction or fixing. Norwegian prison officers train for 2 to 3 years, in the Prison Service officers receive 12 weeks' training. 

You ask about a written version of my talk - I’ll tidy it up and get a copy to Lesley to put on the EI website. Thanks for the extra stimulation.

Every blessing,


The Revd Dr David Kirk Beedon

Monday, 22 February 2021


How do you distinguish between light rail and heavy rail?

When is a tram a train and a train a tram?

Is it sensible to have on a former mainline railway between Worcester and Derby, a conversion that will eventually mean, at best, two changes?  One from train to tram at Stourbridge Jct and a second change from tram to train at Walsall station to get to Derby.

Or, it might mean, from train to ultra-light rail at Stourbridge Jct to Brierley Hill; change to light rail to Wednesbury for the bus to Walsall railway station to get the train, again for Derby.

How do all these changes make sense in encouraging users to move from car driving to public transport?

Metro Mayors should be SELECTED, not elected!

I saw your interview, Elizabeth with Liam Byrne on Friday's 'Midlands Today'.  Liam is incredibly eloquent and slick in his answers.  I admire these professional politicians for their instant, clever answers that I find quite impossible to catch them out on.  Until your interview!

Liam was either being disingenuous or worse or, most surprisingly, mistaken after four years, as to the powers of the Metro Mayor.  Liam, if elected, is unable to do any of the things he spoke about in your interview.  He is no more than a representative, a public relations man and, as respected journalist Jonathan Walker of the 'Birmingham Post' wrote, a "figurehead" for the Combined Authority.  A Combined Authority that also has a Chief Executive, Deborah Cadman on more than double Andy's salary, I believe!  Here is my evidence:-

I've just been reading up about the Bristol Mayor Marvin, who is the Bristol City Council leader but without that title.  It is the Metro Mayors, like Andy Street for us, who have no official powers and have to work alongside the council leaders in the W Mids Combined Authority.  Similarly, the West of England Combined Authority that also has a Metro Mayor as a figurehead without any formal, official powers.


"The role of (Bristol) Mayor replaced the previous Council Leader and leads the city council and its full range of services – from social care to waste collections. The Mayor also performs a broader role representing the interests of Bristol’s citizens on a national and international level.

"In May 2017 Tim Bowles was elected as the first West of England Combined Authority Mayor (commonly referred to as a ‘Metro Mayor’) and will work alongside Marvin Rees and the council leaders for South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset" (my emphasis).

I think that it is unsatisfactory that all participants endanger themselves and, possibly, spread the virus for an election for a Mayor that has no powers and is no more influential than you or I!  Shortly after he was elected in May 2017, Andy volunteered the information in a BBC 'Today' interview that he had "no formal powers".  Andy has the integrity, the honesty to say that.

In my opinion, Metro Mayors should be selected in an open, fair and transparent process.  Not elected!

I would like you, Elizabeth to challenge Liam to be as equally honourable as Andy, and to no longer mislead and exaggerrate as he did on Friday evening in talking to you.

With every good wish

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Multi-mixed-up public transport

Trams in the W Mids are taking over some bus and train routes to give us multi-mixed-up (whoops, sorry) multi-modal transport at 10x the cost per Km of rebuilding a railway in southern Scotland in 2015! Result: a slower, longer, worse public transport journey - PROGRESS!!!

to Liam Byrne MP

Dear Liam

As a man of good conscience, will you please act to right the wrong of x suspension?

She is definitely not antisemitic.  The charge of antisemitism has been used by the opponents of Labour to get at pro-Palestinian voters, like me who love Israel and all Jews but, who are distressed by the behaviour of the State of Israel towards their neighbours for very many decades.  The story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind.

In modern dress, that would be the Good Palestinian as the hero of the parable in helping a Jew.  A story told by a Jew against his own tribe/people/faith!!  An astonishing parable told by Rabbi Jesus, the JC of Nazareth; just like another JC - of Islington North, this time, who comes to mind.  Read the story in Luke's Gospel, chapter 10.

Please get x reinstated and I will vote for you as my second choice, after the Green Party candidate who will be my first choice on the 6 May.  If you don't succeed, I will vote for Andy as my second choice.  And, I'm a declared Independent candidate who wants no-one to vote for him!  See below.

Very best wishes in getting x reinstated and you might get another success.  Certainly, my vote.

The money is there for the taking!

Therefore, it is not capital or revenue or even exists! But the point for me is this. It shows that the money is there for the taking for whatever highly dubious, over-indulgent, luxury, vanity project they want.

Our job is to keep reminding them of their priorities. The protection of the people from 250 years of burning up our one-off geological inheritance to make for over 420 ppm of CO2 and, 199 other greenhouse gases too. Earth turning into another venus comes to mind!


One elder apologises

Rachel, mass transit means masses of people on public transport that ends up being underground and overground tram lines at the second most expensive cost to build after HS2. It’s time for decisiveness and speedy implementation of regional Fare-Free Public Transport for ALL to cut greenhouse gases and to leave a healthier planet for you youngsters to take over from elders, like me who have failed you. I am sorry!

Friday, 19 February 2021

To Mayor Marvin Rees

QUESTION FOR 24 FEB: Could we move away from car culture by encouraging families to use public transport that is free for ALL and not just for old crocks like me who are on our way over and out? What a great compensation for CAZ coming in and to boost bus and train use!

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

To Nigel Tolley of SLUG

Hi Nigel, I would be intrigued to have your reasons for never opposing the break up of the unused 56 Kms of the 120 Kms Black Country Railway into a total of 6.7 Kms for two tram sections, 2 Kms test track and an extension of the cycle-walkway from Brownhills to Lichfield. The site of Dudley railway station is being used for a tram stop and National Innovation Centre. You might well be right and I am wrong! Please reply to:

Best wishes Tim

Monday, 15 February 2021

RailNOfuture - true to form and maintaining its abysmal track record

Dear Don - and all of you in Railfuture who want a bigger and better railway but seem to do nothing to ever get one!  Except to say 'Amen' to whatever the authorities want.

You wrote, "Longer term goals
  • Reinstating the Stourbridge - Dudley - Walsall - Lichfield line to relieve heavy congestion on the existing Black Country rail & road networks.
Rome wasn't built in a day. We will get their.​   Donald​"​

That has been your stated goal in your literature for many decades, Donald.  For exactly the same number of decades as you have all fully supported the break up of the same, 120 Kms mainline railway with trams on two short sections (and much else put on it, too!).  Is that correct?  Is that called hypocrisy, Don?  RailNOfuture says one thing and does the opposite?

Is it true that you cannot​ possibly "get their​"​ because I have seen no evidence that RailNOfuture has done anything to stop the only feasible site for a rebuilt Dudley Railway Station from being given over to the £28 m National Innovation Centre for VLR - that is now being built.

​Not one member of RailNOfuture submitted an objection to Dudley's Development Control Committee when the planning application went before them on 17th October 2016.  I was present, as Rob Mayor, BBC reporter will confirm, when the decision to use the railway station site was made.  And, as a result, to ditch any hope of the mainline Dudley railway from ever being reinstated!

Dudley town will never again have a railway station.  The largest town in the UK without one!  It will now have a piddling little tram stop for ever and a day.  And, it has to shuttle passengers on your own former and existing mainline railway to your neighbour's in Sandwell.  What a joke!​

​Never mind.  It's not the end of the world.  Please learn from your mistakes.  But do try and STOP destroying the remnant that remains of our railways. 

​Best wishes to each and every one and, my genuine concern for you all to turn over a new leaf - PLEASE!


Sunday, 14 February 2021

Antisemitism from 2016

 29 April 2016 from John Davison:

If ‘the establishment’ were genuinely concerned about the awful treatment of European Jews, why was there not proper compensation at the time?  Seemed to be an endorsement of transferring people to another territory.

Now Gaza is excused.

SELF: How very true.  War crimes in 2014 were excused because it was our friend and ally who did them.  And our side has been the experts in such things in every single year since, at least, 4 August 1914 (centuries of empire building and ruling the waves by force before then).  Gaza was graciously ‘given’ to the Palestinians as their unofficial state in order, it seems, for the Israelis to take over more and more of the West Bank of Judea and Samaria with a little less troublesome conscience.

In 1948, the Jews were given Palestine and renamed it Israel.  Ever since, Jews from all over the world have been relocating there.  And still relocating to this day into more and more of everything except Gaza.

But it is anti-Semitism for one person to suggest, the very far-fetched, totally impractical and most outlandish notion that Israel should ever be relocated to the USA.  Do the Jews and Arabs of Israel (and the press, media and politicians of the UK) have no sense of humour?  What is the matter with them?

INCIDENTALLY: In Hebrew the meaning of the name Israel is: May God prevail. He struggles with God. God perseveres; contends. In the Bible when Jacob was in his nineties as a token of blessing God changed his name to Israel.  (source: the Great, good God Google)

This is not a hundred miles from the Arab word, ‘intifada’, meaning struggle or ‘to shake off’.      Tim Weller

Fear not. FRASER PITHIE will have all the answers.

This is most helpful with its counter-arguments, Fraser.  How do you counter my fear that we will still need the same number of intercity trains as now, to cater for those passengers who wish to stop at the majority of stations that HS2 does not stop at?

Is HS2 like flying through the air on land?  Why not stop destroying our current railway lines, like the half-finished, half used, 120 Kms Black Country Railway and use planes for flying through the air?

How do you counter Bill Gates who says that around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the manufacture of steel and cement?

What is your answer as to how we must not be too concerned about ever-rising greenhouse gases from infrastructure spending to frivolous spending?

Is it permissible to argue that yet more soil disappearing under steel, concrete, brick and tarmac is, in effect, burying nature when humans are very much part of nature and, therefore, we need nature to work properly for our own survival?

How do you counter Chris Packham's ten points against HS2? 

You wrote, "We have only half the railway track that we had in 1963."  Would you say that this is a very sad reflection on everyone in the railway industry in losing so much of their livelihood so carelessly?  How do you explain this serious oversight, Fraser?

What is the proportion or length lost to trams, please in the seven towns and cities of the UK that have trams to further mix up, in confusion, our multi-modal transport system?

How is it that Dudley is the largest town in the UK without a railway station but it only gets a tram stop (and £28 m National Innovation Centre), instead of train station, for its 150-year railway "of national strategic significance"?

Builders prefer to build homes on greenfield sites.  And, to build railways on greenfield sites, too - if they're sufficiently wealth flaunting and prestigious.  They say, "We're not going to bother with freight only or mothballed railway lines.  They're old hat and 19th century.  We want something that is more expensive and flash than Maglev train projects in China, Japan and South Korea."  So we go for trams on the UK's last, mothballed mainline, "of national strategic significance" 120 Kms between Worcester, the Black Country and Derby.  And trams are the second most expensive mode to construct after HS2 at over £200 m/Km.  The current W Mids Metro Eastside extension, that is being built, is £133 m/Km.  Even more expensive than most Maglevs!

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Is regeneration of our towns and cities GREEN, ie sustainable?

Is regeneration of Dudley town centre GREEN, ie sustainable and in tune with the much-vaunted, chest-thumping declaration of a climate emergency last year?

Does it mean prestigious, vanity, fossil fuel-fed expenditure to encourage all the ungreen, unsustainable lifestyles we have so come to love and depend on?

Dudley regeneration gathers pace with:-


Dudley town centre has £1 billion to invest on nine planned projects with one goal - to improve the borough.  Or, is it only to improve the town centre of Dudley?

for Save Halesowen Countryside Facebook page - when available

I'm still plugging away with maintaining two official public rights of way in our 32 sq Kms Golden Green Triangle bounded by M5, A456, A491 that includes the Clent Hills Country Park.

Recently, on a snowy weekend in January, I saw a traffic jam of 4x4s at 1,000 feet on the summit ridge of Walton Hill.  Nine of them, at least, all out on essential travel (of course) at 9 pm one Sunday night!  One driver, quite understandably, told me that he thought it was a green lane.  They had all driven up from the main car park on Walton Hill Road.  It certainly looks most inviting on foot or in the cosy, warm comfort of your big, 'aren't I impressive', 4x4, with no gate or notice to tell drivers that the smooth, nicely surfaced track was not for them.  It is part of the N Worcestershire Path and is a bridleway.  Not for your motors, please - just your walking boots or, finite fossil fuel-free bikes - and not e-bikes, either!

TUC webinar on 11 Feb 2021

Should the TUC be at all concerned?  When West Midlands Metro tram extensions mean:-

  • at ten times the construction cost/Km of rebuilding a railway line in Scotland in 2015;
  • convert 6.7 Kms of a half unused but ready built 120 Kms Black Country mainline railway into a tramway;
  • convert eleven direct bus routes through the Birmingham Five Ways underpass and Broad Street into a tramway that mean all round the Wrekin diversion for bus passengers;
  • that then make for a slower, longer and worse public transport service for the eleven bus routes from west Brum, Dudley borough, and Sandwell;
should the TUC be at all concerned?    Tim Weller

First duty of government

Thanks for using my question at the very end, after a worthwhile hour.  You very properly missed out the last few words about how low-income people are, too often certainly in the Thatcher decade, being expected to pull themselves up by their bootlaces.  I feel a duty, a conscience to help them out financially/practically.  The well off can look after themselves in a way that the poor cannot.  The first duty of government is to look after those at the bottom of the pile who have no-one to help them and to ensure a much more sustainable, justice-centric and equitable society.

I think the 6 Mayor elections should be postponed because of the risk from these more virulent variants that are around - nominations that need collecting and all the people at the count.

You need to remain as Mayor with a postponed election!

Best wishes


PHOTOS to smile over:

Half a billion destroys the above half-finished 120 Kms railway and these trees, all for a 'shuttle' tramline that does not even connect with the two stranded mainline railway sections!  So what is the point of doing it?

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

More Covid election spread when the Mayor has "no formal powers"

 Should we risk Covid spread when the Mayor has no formal powers and is the excellent figurehead for the WMCA, only?

Thanks for the email.

Last Friday, we had the announcement of the 6 May elections going ahead.  However, when journalist Jonathan Walker correctly calls the Mayor position a figurehead and, within a month of being elected in May 2017, Andy himself was conceding that he has "no formal powers", in an interview on the 'Today' programme, should many hundreds of political workers and reporters risk getting Covid, themselves and spreading it?

Should, perhaps the post of Mayor be subject to an open and fair selection (not election) process on Andy's retirement or resignation?

What do you think, Andi?  Are you happy with GP workers getting 105 valid nominations for Steve Caudwell and helping to spread Covid and, even more virulent variants?  I don't think I am!

Monday, 8 February 2021

All important democracy must override raging pandemic

But announcing the decision, UK constitution minister Chloe Smith said: 'Democracy should not be cancelled because of covid'."  Jonathan Walker on 'BusinessLive' on 5 Feb 2021

Democracy is far, far too important for Covid to stop the election of our Metro Mayor who has no official powers and is solely the mouthpiece of seven district council leaders and Cabinets who rubber-stamp decisions by senior officers who, in the case of the £15 billion mainly Metro underground and overground tram extensions, are influenced by the national tram lobbying group that shares its HQ with the Mayor!!

"Democracy should not be cancelled because of covid. More than ever, local people need their say", said UK constitution minister Chloe Smith

We have our say by writing and phoning officers and members of councils.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Spend on the poor; on making them richer!

Spend on humanitarian aid for Yemen.

Spend on Fare-Free Public Transport for all
Spend on green jobs to address the climate emergency.
Spend on a Basic Income scheme and more generous Universal Credit
Spend now to save on greenhouse gases in the medium to long term.
Spend on renewables - solar, wind, hydro.  PV on every roof.
Spend on trains and stations back on our wasted/part used 106 Kms of double-track railway lines in the Black Country and Brum.

Metro election for a public relations, rubber stamping, figurehead Mayor!

"As such, the mayor acts as a figurehead on regional issues such as jobs, skills and transport and a vital link between the West MIdlands and central Government."  Journalist, Jonathan Walker, BirminghamLive

What is the point of an election?  The Mayor is simply a PR man and rubber stamp for unelected officials.  And he does Chair WMCA Board meetings but, he has no decision making powers that can override the seven leaders.  I believe this is correct but will check with Tim Martin, Head of Governance.

It is absurd that we risk yet another resurgence of Covid and a fourth lockdown for our Metro Mayor election on the 6 May when the person elected has not one single power to make any change at all in WMCA policy.

All he/she can do is exactly the same as you and I.  Only the power of persuasion, a good argument and the power of the pen!

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Pay freeze for workers on more than £150,000 a year

Thanks Stuart and Doug. I think a pay freeze for workers on as much as £150,000 a year must be only the start. The more you get paid, the more you will spend. The more you spend, the more you are taking of finite, precious resources that poorer nations and future generations might just possibly need. But it's worse than that.

Because we are now well and truly trapped in the most prodigious consumption of finite fossil fuels, we are all so dangerously changing the planet's climates for the worse, that Attenborough was warning in Dec 2018 of this:-
"the collapse of civilisations, the extinction of much of the natural world and time is running out".

It is urgent that we not only lockdown for Covid but lockdown our greedy overconsumption for Climate.
Selfish, thoughtless overconsumption is one of the two main drivers of global destruction - the other is ... ?

Five years ago, confirmed by the election for Mayor in 2017, we had the creation of a completely new regional government organisation that I had no idea would be the result of getting a Metro Mayor four years ago!  So, we have workers like Deborah Cadman on £180,000 a year, as Chief Executive, to an unknown number of employees in many layers of a deep hierarchy.  What is worse is this.  Not one of these new decision-makers was elected.  But that will not make a scrap of difference if the election of the Mayor is anything to go by.  He has no official powers and simply says, and rubber stamps, whatever is decided for him by unelected officials.

Yet, from out of our numbers, we get members of councils who are so hopeless they have allowed professional officers whom they have agreed with to do this:
  1. An electric tram network completely obliterated and replaced with diesel buses.
  2. About 100 Kms of our West Midlands railways were used for housing and trading estates and roads.
  3. The UK's very last, fully in place but, only half used, is now converted after 50 years to shuttle tramline, VLR test track and proposed extended cycle-walkway.
  4. A worse public transport journey for eleven different bus routes from west Brum and the Black Country because of the rebuilding of the tram network that has always had priority over trains and buses from Metro's start in 1981.  The bus now has a longer and slower journey into Colmore Row because of the tram taking over.  If you change for the tram, this is no quicker if you have to wait upwards of 15 minutes for the tram at Five Ways to take the direct route that was taken by the bus.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Status symbols for our own self-aggrandisement

Metro is all part of the most unfortunate, greedy and immoral HS2 syndrome. These are the two most extravagant and over-indulgent and totally unnecessary expenditure that is of no help to the hordes on low incomes. They need the money, not you and me for our status symbols and personal self-aggrandisement. Use the £106 billion for HS2 and the £15 billion for trams for FFPT for all; for UC and Basic Income generous enough to keep everyone living in dignity.

To Cllr Steve Caudwell

Dear Steve

Thanks very much for replying, although I fear it was only because you are our GP candidate for W Mids Mayor on the 6 May.  However, I suppose I should be grateful for that fact.

You wrote,
"I'm replying from this account as I keep my Councillor account strictly for Council-related matters; so if you need to get in touch in future I'd be grateful if you could do so here."

My first email, as is this, solely about "Council-related matters".  It is councillors like your good self who are responsible for the four biggest and longest-running scandals in UK finance/transport history!  Here they are:

  1. Your colleagues completely destroyed our electric tram network in the 1950s.
  2. From the 1960s onwards, our well-meaning councillors destroyed about 100 Kms of our railway network in the W Midlands region.  Used the railways for homes, offices, shops and roads.  BEAT THAT! So,
  3. In 2021, you are all in your fourth decade of having built and maintained and partially mothballed a 120 Kms Black Country Mainline Railway "of national strategic significance", converting it into two short sections of tramway totalling 6.7 Kms; a test track in between; and, an extended cycle-walkway to make it run all the way from Walsall to Lichfield (proposed).
  4. Making public transport worse by adding to congestion with trams mixed up with buses, cars, vans, taxis and lorries and, pushing out the buses to make eleven different bus routes take a longer and slower journey!  This, by giving priority to trams and excluding buses from the Five Ways underpass and Broad Street that are now dedicated to trams.
Your colleagues have given me so much fun, over the decades, pointing out the bleeding obvious!!

Are you proud of letting your colleagues do all of this, Steve?
Or, have you said something - ever?
Even when you may not have been a councillor?
Or, will you now, please, ask one or two pertinent questions about the eccentric and bizarre behaviour of your colleagues, Steve?

I do hope so.  It is still not too late to stop the mainline conversion to tramline.  Maps, here:​
​You wrote,
​"I am interested in the arguments for and against trams - I acknowledge the cost but I see there are concomitant benefits too, so a nuanced discussion is welcome."​
Here are both sides of the case:​
​And good ol', well blessed Solihull gets blessed with even more - HS2, Metro trams, swish Sprint hydrogen buses and all the other transport modes.​  Extravagance for the rich and austerity for the poor!

​With best wishes and thanks again for writing, Steve.