Thursday, February 03, 2005

Underground, overground....

Further to my posting in December on the madcap scheme by our local Liberal Democrat/Tory masters to build an underground rail network in Birmingham...

According to the Evening Mail, the Liberal Democrat 'transport expert' (sic) Paul Tilsley believes that the people of Birmingham would never stand for the 'years of mayhem' caused by the construction of the overground Metro.

I don't know what colour the sky is on Cllr Tilsley's world, but does he imagine that building an underground system would be accomplished with no visible signs of activity above ground? Nope - didn't work like that here when they built the Jubilee Line.

The Cabinet member for transportation, Cllr Len Gregory seems to be returning to the good old days where the car ruled Birmingham. For the past few years, there has been a concerted attempt to get the people of Birmingham out of their cars and onto public transport. Remember that each bus can take the same load as 30 or more cars, which is going to reduce the environmental impact and lead to fewer cars on the road, so that those users who need to use cars can do so more easily.

They caved in to the roads lobby and scrapped a major bus lane - reducing punctuality by 11%, which has led to a 15% drop in passenger numbers, despite an outcry from Friends of the Earth and Transport 2000. He's also started a congestion forum, but not accepted groups of bus and train users. They've also reneged on a long-standing agreement with Centro and Travel West Midlands to improve bus routes.

Cllr Gregory wonders about the safety of running trams through crowded city streets. Well, Nottingham seems to cope and there's a collection of pictures here from Strasbourg, Melbourne, Freiburg, Leeds...

While they dither over this waste of time and money (£150,000 spent on the feasibility study), the millions already invested in extending the Metro are put at risk, as is the £1 billion in government funding for regional transport, as spending targets are missed.

Let's hope that we can keep this kind of Liberal Democrat and Tory expertise out of government, eh?


Anonymous said...

Hi, just popping in to say hello and thanks for your comments on my blog (and the link!). Good point about the Jubilee Line - maybe we should send Cllrs Gregory and Tilsley down to London to look at the reality of building underground railways..

Zoe Hopkins

George Riches said...

And how much extra will an underground solution cost the taxpayer?
How much more inconvenient and unattractive will an underground solution be for the traveller? For a short hop the traveller will spend more time descending to and ascending from the platform than he/she actually spends on the train.

PoliticalHack said...

Which is why the council's own report shows that passenger numbers would be lower on an underground system than on a street-running tram.

It has never been anything less than a political stunt (currently costing £300,000 - so far from cheap.)