Posts Tagged ‘Transport’

More Pro-Congestion False Statements

October 10th, 2008 No comments

I saw this letter in the Bolton News from none other than Lord Peter Smith, Leader of AGMA, once again reeling off the usual false statements:

While we believe the strengths of the TIF package speak for themselves…

It still amazes me how they make it sound as if they actually believe their own bull.

In Bolton, … Extra seats would be added to peak time trains

Already getting them mate – nothing to do with the TIF.

and an earlier morning train could operate from Clitheroe to Manchester via Bolton in the mornings to further ease overcrowding.

Wow! A Whole Train! I can hardly contain my excitement. Also note the word ‘could’.

Bolton station could undergo extensive improvements, with new platforms built on the Wigan line at Lostock station. Passenger facilities at Hall i’th’ Wood, Bromley Cross, Lostock, Blackrod and Westhoughton stations could be improved.

There’s that word ‘could’ again, twice this time. I’m not particularly interested in improved facilities at Blackrod. I just want to turn up and get on a train.

cyclists will see the creation of a high quality route along the former Bolton-Bury rail line.

How about a rail line along a rail line (there’s a novelty) and reverse some of the damage caused by Dr Beeching?

Across Greater Manchester, the package will deliver thousands of extra seats on trains and trams, new Metrolink lines

Extra seats we’re already getting and Metrolink lines we won’t.

and a travel smart card system.

Perfectly achievable without congestion charges by politicians with the balls to make the bus/train companies comply – ah wait, I see the problem with that last statement.

To help fund this, a limited congestion charge would be introduced, affecting vehicles heading towards the city centre between 7am and 9.30am and away from the city centre between 4pm and 6.30pm, for five hours out of every 24.

Please, please, everyone quoting this last remark, get it through your thick skulls: There is nothing limited about a congestion charge which is in force for FIVE HOURS during the working day, and 100% of the time that most workers will be travelling.

Stop claiming it is limited.

Response to Manchester Congestion Charge Consultation

October 10th, 2008 1 comment

The following is my response to the TIF proposal consultation document.

The concept of the TIF bid is fundamentally flawed, as the proposals do not provide a viable alternative to car transport, particularly to residents of Bolton and Wigan.

The Alternatives

GM transport comparison tableRather than just rejecting the idea, I have actually taken time to research and consider alternatives to using the car. Let’s take a look at those alternatives. I will be referring to the table on the right which compares relative journey times and other factors.

Click the table for a large readable version.


I live in Horwich, only ten minutes walk from Blackrod railway station, and work one mile inside the M60 (the proposed outer charging zone), right next door to Clifton railway station on the same Preston-Manchester line as Blackrod. It would seem an obvious choice of transport, yet it is not actually possible for me to get the train to work, as there is no service at Clifton*. I have taken this up previously with the GMPTE and have written replies from them stating that they have no intention in rectifying this situation and nothing in the TIF proposals will either.

I believe I am in a very small minority of commuters who live and work adjacent to railway stations on the same line; if GMPTE can’t handle that very simple public transport journey, what hope is there for the rest of Greater Manchester?
* One train a day that is too early to actually connect with does not constitute a service.

Blackrod to Clifton direct (not possible)

If there was a service, it still loses out to the car on anything but a bad day time wise, and on all other factors (see table) every time. Even the best option, a direct (non-existent) service would take 48 minutes compared with an average car journey of 37 minutes, or 24 minutes on a good day.

Blackrod to Clifton, changing at Bolton (also not possible)

In reality, if the train did stop at Clifton, it would not be the Preston-Manchester service, but the Blackburn-Manchester service. This would therefore involve changing trains at Bolton increasing both the journey time to 59 minutes and the risk of being affected by cancellations and delays.

Blackrod to Swinton changing at Salford Crescent

The one alternative that is actually possible, a situation that will remain so under TIF proposals, is to travel to Swinton Railway station, changing at Salford Crescent (after farcically passing through Clifton station). As is clear, this would take over twice the journey time by car; clearly not a viable alternative. Read more…

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New MART website

August 31st, 2008 No comments

MART (Manchester Against Road Tolls) have finally got around to updating their website, include a new forum, so get over there and make your views known about the flawed Manchester Congestion Tax*.

Yes it is a tax – a charge is avoidable, a tax isn’t. Most people driving into Manchester have no alternative.

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Another Two Bite the Dust

August 3rd, 2008 No comments

I was disappointed today to see yet another country road lost to the nanny-state council tactics of reducing speed limits unnecessarily. In this case the B5203 Blindfoot Road and Mossborough Road (between The East Lancs Road and Rainford) has been reduced from national speed limit (i.e. 60mph) to 40mph.

This is a farce – this is not an urban area, it is a country lane. When I was training for my Advanced Driving Test, this was a favourite road used by group observers to test driving skills, but councils and government aren’t interested in driving skills any more, they’d rather just make you crawl everywhere instead “because we know what’s best for you”.

I then turned onto the A570 Rainford bypass towards Ormskirk. For those who do not know this road, it is a high quality dual carriageway road, but St.Helens Council have seen it fit to reduce to 60mph. It’s obvious that the council is responsible – as soon as you cross into West Lancashire, you cross back into common sense and the road becomes de-restricted again.

You have to wonder how long it will be before the whole country is one big 30mph zone.

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Dick Leese bottles Bolton vote

June 27th, 2008 No comments

Apparently Richard Leese has now done a u-turn and decided that a full referendum across Manchester should be held for the Congestion Tax.

What he really means is that there is a serious chance that the Bolton referendum would go against him and mean the CONgestion charge would be killed, so he thinks he’ll stand a better chance if he goes for a full referendum.

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Ridiculous Train Fares

May 20th, 2008 No comments

We’re off up to Glasgow next month. Since we’re going without the children we thought we’d try going by train instead, that was until we saw the price.

By car it is a 400 mile round trip which, even with current silly diesel prices at £1.20/litre, would cost around £45.

By comparison, the cost of a two return so-called ‘saver’ rail tickets is £120! Note that this is not some last minute booking here, the trip is over a month away and the cheapest ‘advance saver’ available is £120.

It’s a no-brainer – the car wins hands down. When you add the cost of taxis to and from Glasgow Station, it means that we could drive to Glasgow and back three times and still be cheaper.

Car Seat Legislation and Large Cars

May 4th, 2008 No comments

You’ve got to hand it to the British Government: they introduced legislation that a child seat is now required for all children up to the age of 12. We only have two children, but I’ve noticed that after you’ve installed two child seats into our ‘family sized’ estate car, there is no room left for another adult, let alone another car seat. Anyone with more than two children therefore needs a larger vehicle, but is then taxed at a higher rate by a government who forced them into that purchase in the first place.

Either one part of the government doesn’t know what the other half is doing, or it is brilliant scheme to raise taxes. My guess is the former.

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What value TomTom Traffic?

April 22nd, 2008 No comments

CarsIt’s coming up to renewal time for TomTom Traffic, and I’m wondering whether to bother.

My journey to work involves a motorway and a number of A roads. Depending on traffic, the first part of my journey (on the A6 to the motorway) can take me 20-25 minutes (6 minutes without congestion). That is a considerable delay, yet TomTom Traffic has never flagged it. Similarly, delays on the A666 are never reported.

The only delays that do get a mention are on the M61, but even then the information is next to useless: regardless of the actual amount of traffic or delay, TomTom Traffic will always report the same delay over the same fixed length of motorway i.e. between junctions. These figures are:

Section of Road Delay reported
M61 J5-J4 16 minutes
M61 J4-J3 22 minutes

The traffic could be stationary or just slower than normal but TomTom Traffic cannot differentiate, so the reported delays have little use.

On longer journeys I’ve often been in the middle of a traffic jam before TomTom warns about it, or the location of delays or roadworks are often several miles out. Considering TomTom Traffic is supposed to use the same source as, the two sets of information rarely tie up.

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UK Gov Transport Discrimination

October 25th, 2007 No comments

So, Ruth Kelly has come out and said that the current scheme to use of the hard shoulder on the M42 as a running lane is to be extended.

While I don’t agree with this policy, preferring to see money spent on properly widening the motorway or actually improving alternative transport, one part of this news item strikes me as odd: none of the proposed extensions of this policy will (thankfully) occur north of the Birmingham conurbation.

From this, you should surmise that these are the congestion hotspots that the government has identified to be targeted. If so, why is Manchester being targeted with a congestion tax and these are not?

Before anyone points out that the Manchester Tax is inside the M60, I experience zero congestion inside the M60, but heavy congestion on the M61 and M60 around Manchester.

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Glasgow Traffic Lights

August 29th, 2007 No comments

Red Traffic LightWhen traffic lights were first introduced, they worked purely on a timer basis, even if there was no traffic coming the other way.

As they developed, we saw the introduction of pneumatic sensor strips in the road which were then replaced with induction loops to detect traffic and keep the traffic flowing as best as possible (Anti-car Ken Livingstone’s meddling in London aside).

However, whenever I go to Glasgow, I find myself regularly sat at a red light for long periods, when there is no other traffic (road or pedestrian) at the junction. Even in the middle of the night. They don’t seem to take the actual amount of traffic into account.

Now this is a serious question, and maybe someone can clarify the situation – do the Glasgow traffic lights still operate on a timed only basis?

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