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This article ventures well away from Transport 2000's remit and represents the personal view of the Coordinator -- but one informed by two quoted information sources.
What's the connection between the following:
1. Following a blockade of fuel depots by hauliers and farmers, and a hijacking of their campaign by some of the media on behalf of motorists, the Government plans to reduce fuel duty for cars and lorries, but with nothing for bus and train users whose costs have escalated much faster (and will continue to do so if recent news from Virgin is anything to go by).
2. Following a rail crash in Hatfield that killed fewer people than die on the roads in an average day, the rail network is crippled for a prolonged period with no account taken of the consequent economic cost or of the extra road traffic.
3. Massive flooding in parts of the UK is widely agreed to be linked to global warming -- but no action by the Government to reduce road or air traffic, the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Following a foot & mouth outbreak whose spread (if not origin) can be attributed to long lorry journeys facilitated by cheap fuel, much of the countryside is closed down for long enough to drop out of news headlines, at immense cost to rural businesses that depend on tourism -- and to those people who depend on access to the countryside for their quality of life.
The main answer to the above question is what we may call absolutism -- giving absolute priority to one issue at the expense of others. The relevant issues are, respectively, political pressure from a powerful group, rail safety, the ``right'' of motorists to travel where they want when they want at a price they regard as reasonable, and the value of our livestock for export. Let's think how else the Government could have reacted:
1. It could have used the crisis to show how our society is as hooked on fuel consumption as any drug addict -- and taken measures to reduce consumption, including improving public transport alternatives (which has been cited as something that motorists and fuel protestors would accept). Incidentally reducing fuel use would help developed countries resist price rises by OPEC.
2. It could have insisted that absolute safety on the railways (which can't be achieved anyway by rail-related means alone, as the Great Heck crash showed) isn't worth forcing traffic onto the far more dangerous roads. If the Government can pass emergency legislation in the wake of the foot & mouth epidemic, it can surely require Railtrack to keep speed restrictions within what the network can tolerate.
3. Again, it could have said that the floods show the need to reduce fuel consumption, and the need to restore key rail routes -- for example the line from Harrogate to Northallerton would have prevented a blockage at York from cutting off the North-East of England.
4. It could have introduced a vaccination programme. According to the pro-vaccination website http://www.sheepdrove.com this could have saved the tourist industry its huge economic losses.
Another common element is that sustainable transport users were first in line to suffer:
1. In many areas buses were completely cut off in the evenings (and some daytime services disappeared too), while in others such cuts were imminent when the crisis was resolved. Yes, motorists too had problems in getting fuel, but those who supported the protests clearly can't have been suffering too much. Motorists benefited from the consequent fuel duty cuts, but these haven't helped rail or bus users as in both cases the operators could claim fuel duty rebate anyway.
2. Inter-city and cross country journeys can be and were made by car when rail failed -- that's why the road accident figures jumped -- but what about those without access to cars?
3. As stated above, the lack of alternative rail routes means that a single blockage can cut off whole regions. Motorists can look for alternative routes away from floods -- and there are well funded emergency services to rescue them if they get stuck. And, as we've said, it is public transport users who've suffered from decades of transport policy which have entrenched the car as the ``default'' mode of transport.
4. See next section for why the foot & mouth crisis concerns us.
A third thread is that in not one of these cases have the main opposition parties questioned the priorities of the Government -- indeed, the Conservatives have tended to accuse the Government of not being ``absolute'' enough. So little hope of change through the political process.
There are other examples that exhibit some of the above traits:
5. Congestion. The Government claims to have accepted that ``one can't build one's way out of congestion'' -- in other words congestion relief isn't an absolute priority. But their ``targeted'' roads programme shows that they are still behaving as if this goal is achievable.
6. International trade. The Government claims to have accepted that free trade should not be given absolute priority over the environment -- but, again, its support for the World Trade Organisation agenda suggests otherwise. (Note: in 1996 Transport 2000 nationally joined the Real World coalition which called for a more people-centred trade strategy -- see Newsletter 53 -- and Newsletter 59 expressed our concern about the possible effect on public transport of the closely related Multilateral Agreement on Investment.) For a positive alternative to globalization, the book ``Localization: a global manifesto'' by Colin Hines (Earthscan, GBP 10-99) -- is worth reading even if you don't agree with all it says.
7. Crime. To venture once more outside Transport 2000's field, here again the Government is pursuing an absolutist line. For example, the recent Terrorism Act has very definite threats for civil liberties which may be justified if crime is reduced -- but it's as likely that the threats will materialise but the crime reduction won't.
Absolutism isn't always wrong: we'd strongly support giving absolute priority to reducing global warming by cutting the number of cars, lorries and aircraft. But ``knee-jerk'' absolutism doesn't lead to rational policies against the very real threats to our environment and social fabric.
As we've said, we believe that the Government has been too ``absolutist'' in its reaction to this crisis.
It was reasonable for the Government to give local authorities emergency powers to close rights of way to prevent infection spreading. But these powers should have been limited both in extent (e.g. to footpaths that passed near livestock) and in time (so local authorities can't keep paths closed ``by inertia''): the latter would have spared the Government the embarrassment of having to plead in support of the tourist industry. We strongly commend Cambridgeshire County Council for not imposing a blanket closure in an overwhelmingly arable county -- unlike, say, Lincolnshire.
What is certain is that the closures were imposed in a discriminatory way in that restrictions similar to those imposed on walkers and riders were not imposed on vehicular traffic. The attitude seems to have been that vehicular traffic is ``necessary'' while walking and cycling aren't. Well, maybe few people use public footpaths for their everyday journeys to/from work etc., but our strategy for reducing car dependence is dependent on developing some such routes. For example, we want the people of Lolworth, Conington and Dry Drayton to look to buses on the A14 corridor as their lifeline -- and in all three cases the rights of way network provides the best link.
The initial response to the crisis -- by no means confined to the Government -- was an outburst of ``anti-townie'' sentiment. Closing rural attractions (including footpaths) was considered desirable per se to discourage people from visiting the countryside -- thwarting both the desires of townspeople and the livelihood of rural businesses. Now the feeling seems to be that providing opportunities for motorists to make day trips to ``honeypots'' discharges the Government's obligations to the tourist industry, even though this is probably the least sustainable type of tourism. For example, the National Trust has reopened Ickworth House in Suffolk, but only to people arriving by car. The road goes through a deer park, but if we aren't allowed to walk why can't they provide a shuttle from the entrance? (See end of newsletter for a property where they are providing transport which we've been told is being used.)
The best way to minimise the damage to the tourism based rural economy must be to move as quickly as possible towards the complete removal of restrictions within uninfected areas. A profusion of ``keep out'' signs, reminiscent of Nazi Germany, is no way to welcome the visitors that so many rural businesses depend on. There is a very real danger that loss of patronage during the current crisis may lead to closures which will entrench the current loss of access for ``townies'' (at least those without cars), and further undermine the support network and therefore the habitability of rural areas. Will the Government's rural regeneration task force take preventive action? A significant local rural attraction that lost its buses recently is Flag Fen in Peterborough; others losses further afield include Twycross Zoo (Leics) and the Child Beale Wildlife Park (near Pangbourne, Berks).
We may also ask whether decisions on rights of way can be taken fairly in the current situation. See, for example, the item on Crow Dean in ``Roads News'' later in this newsletter.
We apologise for an incorrect heading for our last newsletter. It was newsletter 74 dated December 2000. The number and date are shown correctly on our website.
It's about time to renew your membership. We'll send out renewal slips with the next newsletter, but you can help us by sending a cheque now. The rates are unchanged: GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5-00 household or affiliate, payable to ``Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk'' and to be sent to 6 Hertford St, Cambridge CB4 3AG. T2000 branch members are entitled to half rate membership of the Cambridge Area Bus Users Campaign (i.e. GBP 2-50 or GBP 1-25 concessionary) -- you can send this out at the same time, but please make it payable to ``CAMBUC''. If you want to receive copies of Transport 2000's quarterly national newsletter ``Transport Retort'', please add another GBP 8 to the cheque for Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk.
We welcome new members I. & P. Rae (Cambridge) and D. Andrew (near Downham Market) also national supporter S. Von Rimsche (Cambridge).
Both the general election and the County Council elections will be on 7 June. The former will be the focus of media interest, but the latter are also important. Remember, unless you're in a ``safe seat'' the best way to make your vote count is to choose between the two strongest contenders, even if your preference is for a third. But don't forget to evaluate the ``strongest contenders'' with respect to the seat in question and not with respect to the national or county-wide situation. The 1997 national and county election results are likely to be a good guide.
Elections are when politicians are most likely to listen, so don't miss the chance to make your concerns known to your candidates in either election -- and, if appropriate, ask for them to be passed on to the national or county party. For some possible questions see the ``Action Line'' at the end of this newsletter, but feel free to push your own concerns. The last issue is probably the one of greatest ``global'' importance and we hope people won't fall for the lure of lower fuel taxes.
Meanwhile here are ``state of the nation'' and ``state of the county'' summaries.
General transport policy.
The promising White Paper covered most of what we wanted (the main exception being parking taxes for supermarkets etc.), but there has been a lot of backsliding and little positive action since. The Government has also backtracked on fuel taxes so that the cost of public transport is still racing way ahead of the cost of motoring.
The Strategic Rail Authority has not yet made a strong impact. Some people doubt whether it will. There are no plans to supersede the previous government's franchising system, which continues to work against the needs of a seamless network, let alone the privatisation of Railtrack, which has been even more disastrous in that public finds are now being diverted from improving the system to paying for Hatfield-related deficiencies. Much needed reopenings are still generally at the ``talking shop'' stage -- we regard a rolling programme of reopenings as a litmus test for whether Government transport policy can deliver.
This government has officially abandoned the principle of ``building one's way out of congestion'', but it's still acting as if it hadn't. There are two main issues: will the Government sacrifice high quality countryside to roads (the Hastings by-pass, for which a decision is expected soon, being the most prominent case at the moment), and will the Government increase road capacity at congestion hotspots even though this may create new hotspots elsewhere -- perhaps the most important example in our area being the A428 west of Cambridge.
The Rural Bus Grant and similar initiatives have tended to reverse the decline in services in most areas. But the Government has done little more than tinker with the deregulated framework that makes it so difficult to plan bus networks. The Government's economic success has also reduced people's willingness to work as bus drivers, leading to staff shortages of alarming proportions in some areas (for example, what used to be the main bus operator in Surrey, Arriva, has recently virtually pulled out leaving the local authority to pick up the pieces).
Other bus issues.
The Government's national telephone information network is now up and running, but this has led to a run-down of alternative, more user friendly, information sources such as printed timetables -- for example, the Great Britain Bus Timetable seems to be disappearing, largely as a result of withdrawal of sponsorship by operators. Internet information is progressing slowly: the north of England is well covered but other regions less so. Some areas (e.g. Bedfordshire, Essex and West Berkshire) had Internet systems which now seem to have disappeared. The minimum standards for concessinary fares are now on stream -- but there is no commitment to a national system which would allow people to go at half rate anywhere in the country. (There is still interavailability between Peterborough and the rest of Cambridgeshire.)
Urban policy including walking and cycling.
Here there has been progress, such as more support for light rail, and the setting up of Home Zones in a few pilot areas. But we need to step up the rate of progress if people are to have priority over cars within our lifetimes.
Developers still seem to have the whip hand -- if they don't get what they want the first time they will try again till they do. There is no procedure for promoting sustainable developments like car-free housing.
Cambridgeshire County Council have made good use of the Rural Bus Grant in improving several inter-urban links, but haven't done so well in spreading the benefits by using several route options on a given corridor. Nor have they stepped in when Stagecoach have cut out important cross-links. Publicity and cross-boundary coordination still leave a lot to be desired.
Price GBP 9-95, by Peter Dawe and Alan Martin with illustrations by Wayne Lindsay.
(Reviewed by our Secretary, Susan Jourdain.)
The benefit of private publishing is that you can express individual, eclectic opinions and not be confined to saying yea or nay to the party line. Mr Dawe starts with a personal view of Cambridge which indicates the real ambiguous attitudes of many ordinary people. He likes the small village but does his shopping at an out of town supermarket and blames new road access for the loss of the village shop. He likes to drive to Cambridge between fields and trees to reach the buzzing activity in the City but not the traffic jams.
The only major problems highlighted by Mr Dawe's preamble are tourists, high city house prices and road traffic. The following chapters illustrate possible solutions.
To reverse the loss of wild habitat, Dawe and Martin suggest a park similar to Regents Park in London. Instead of industry just outside the village, they suggest a Telemanor similar to other, successful small business developments. This would have a car sharing scheme and an E-shopping drop-off point.
Tourists, the authors suggest, should be separated from local shoppers and regional shoppers should be ignored (as they go to out of town hypermarkets, I suppose). Meanwhile, the Science Park is turned into a theme park making the wonderfully complex world simple to understand following the ``safe ride'' zones of the Dome.
The central parts of the book give thumbnail sketches of ways to assist city commuters, including bicycles and email. There are hints on some of the new systems, such as monorail and extra, tolled, roads, but not the smaller items, such as high occupancy vehicle lanes and signal linking.
This book does not tackle the problems of new housing demanded by central Government except by a New Town design. This is itself unsustainable, unlike the Zero Emission development supported by the City Council. There is too much emphasis on making the so-called environment friendly modes (cycling and buses) more acceptable -- that is, protected by structures, and not enough about reducing travel demand which must be an essential element in any real solution.
Lindsay's excellent illustrations of transport solutions show tidal bus lanes and a walking bus for school children, both proven beneficial where the investment can be made. There is a caterpillar-like local bus which will give Stagecoach managers nightmares, and an aerial cable for landing on the roof of the new Robert Sayles.
This book presents the type of solutions which result from the desirable cross-specialty study of problems with complex roots. However, Cambridge City Council is already ahead of them, in word if not in deed.
This shows routes serving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough where there has been a significant loss of facilities since the beginning of 1998. Not all the cuts relate to positive decisions by Cambridgeshire County Council or Peterborough City Council; some of them cover changes to commercial services or routes sponsored by another council. The numbers shown relate to the ``old'' services which may differ from existing ones covering the relevant section(s) of route.
The purpose of this list is not to dispute the benefits that Rural Bus Grant has brought to the county. It is to show that these benefits have been offset by significant losses, some of which could have been avoided by better targeting of the Rural Bus Grant. All the losses shown here are addressed in our response to the County Council's bus strategy consultation except for the three relating to services within Peterborough (D, T, Z) and the five relating to the Sunday network (B, E, S, V, Z) which is not specifically covered in our response.
A: X2/X5: Deterioration of interchange facilities for Cambridge-Northampton passengers. Loss of early evening buses from Northampton to Bedford, and from Bedford to Cambridge via St Neots town centre and rail station roundabout, and other stops not on the X5 route.
B: 14: Withdrawal of summer Sunday bus on A603 corridor west of Cambridge.
C: 22: Loss of through facility from Addenbrookes to Hinxton, Gt Chesterford and Saffron Walden. Scarce volunteer resources have had to be used to replace the last.
D: 30: Rerouteing of the Fengate service in Peterborough means it no longer goes anywhere near the entrance to Flag Fen museum. The entrance from the new Visitor Centre, when it opens, will be even further away.
E: 38/102/601/633: Loss of day trip facilities from Cambridge to Essex Coast via Haverhill or Saffron Walden. Even the replacement routes between Mildenhall and Lavenham have now disappeared. One can get through via Haverhill, but is only allowed 4 hours in Ipswich.
F: 44: Reduction in direct services between Cambridge and Fulbourn via Cherry Hinton Road.
G: 59/136: Reduction in buses serving Bartlow and the Camps.
H: 71: Loss of direct link from Cambridge and Huntingdon to Kettering and Rugby.
I: 109: Severe cuts to direct link from Milton, Landbeach and Waterbeach to Ely.
J: 112: Severe cuts to direct link from Whittlesford and Duxford to Saffron Walden.
K: 122: Loss of section of route between Burwell and Fordham, used by passengers to Ely. Facilities for Wicken and Isleham have also been lost.
L: 125-9: Cuts to Ely local network: Little Ouse and Soham Fen are now totally isolated, and Blackhorse Drove, Gold Hill/Welney, Prickwillow and Pymore have had significant reductions.
M: 125/203/209: Cuts to services from Newmarket to Snailwell, Chippenham and Isleham.
N: 151/351: Cuts to evening buses from Peterborough to Huntingdon, and from Huntingdon to Cambridge via Godmanchester -- once part of the same route.
O: 155: Severe cuts to section of route through Fen Drayton, also used for travel between Over or Swavesey and St Ives.
P: 160/2: Loss of direct links between Cambridge and villages south of Newmarket.
Q: 171: Loss of Haddenham-Earith section, used by passengers to/from Ely and St Ives.
R: 196: Significant cuts to route through Horningsea.
S: 200/640/649: Loss of Sunday services to Suffolk coast and Yarmouth.
T: 301: Severe cuts to buses serving Ufford and Marholm.
U: 355: Significant cuts to buses serving Witcham and Mepal villages.
V: 399/477: Withdrawal of Sunday buses serving Grafham Water and Ouse Valley between Huntingdon and St Neots.
W: 400: Severe cuts to buses in West Hunts.
X: 565/6: Significant cuts to buses serving the Offords, Buckden village (northbound) and Southoe village. Alternative facilities for the last two require crossings of the A1.
Y: Croft Carrier: Loss of link between Christchurch and March.
Z: Peterborough-Spalding: Loss of Sunday service.
This is the title of Prof. John Whitelegg's paper in a recent Transport 2000 publication ``The Railways: Where do we go from here?'' which presents six options for restructuring, ranging from a ``quick fix'' for the current system to full scale renationalisation. We reproduce, with permission, what we consider the most attractive of the options.
Regionalisation of railways by Prof. John Whitelegg, School of the Built Environment, Liverpool John Moores University, 25 Jan 2001, firstname.lastname@example.org
The breakdown of clear lines of communication, linkages and the delivery of transport objectives has now reached epidemic proportions on the UK rail system. Rail operations throughout the world require highly developed and integrated linkages between track and vehicle, operator and passenger, service level and need, transport policy and land use policy and services geared to the needs of every other mode of transport. Current rail operations cannot deliver any of this with any reliability or conviction.
Rail operations are also far more likely to meet broader transport policy objectives (social exclusion and climate change) if they have a clear regional identity, a strong regional management and clear linkages into other regional issues such as economic development, location of new housing, city centre strategies and retailing. A strong regional dimension linked into the existing structure of local government could finally deliver the elusive integration promised in successive government statements and so sadly lacking in reality.
The current crisis in railway operation presents a number of opportunities to revisit the whole issue of railway organisation and to get it right. This time ``getting it right'' means making sure that there is real accountability and democratic control and means that any public funds going into rail operation have to deliver more than a healthy return to the shareholder.
2. The German model.
Regionalisation has already been implemented in Germany. All rail operations that can be described as local (i.e. less than 50km in length) are under the control of a regional authority (the state government or Land) or a regional transport association (Verkehrsverbund). This arrangement brings with it exactly the kind of benefits that are absent in the UK's fragmented system:
The Verkehrsverbund Rhein Ruhr (VRR) runs a coordinated public transport service for a large urban and rural area in Germany covering the cities of Bochum, Essen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Wuppertal. The system includes the famous Wuppertal monorail system (built in 1898), 11,000 bus stops and rail/tram stations and 800 separate routes carrying 4m passengers every day. VRR covers an area of 5,000 sq km with 7.5m residents. As well as some of Germany's largest cities the area also has sparsely populated rural areas. Mapped onto the UK this area would be equivalent to a ``North West Transport Association'' covering Manchester. Liverpool, Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, Lancaster and the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. The VRR brings within one coordinated framework the activities of 27 different transport operators and all Deutsche Bahn (German railway) services that are regionally significant. Inter-city services are excluded.
VRR is managed by a committee consisting of representatives from all the local authorities and determines standards of interchange, punctuality which have to delivered by operators. An S-Bahn train for example must not be more than 2 minutes late at a scheduled stop.
The differences between VRR and travelling around NW England are so dramatic that is very difficult to get a sense of how badly regular users of public transport in the UK are treated. In a small town in the VRR area (Witten) it is possible to board a modern low-floor bus that arrives on time, buy a ticket from the driver for a through journey to Düsseldorf airport (DM13, about GBP 4.50, for a 50km journey). The bus drops the passenger off at an S Bahn station (Dortmund Öspel) for a 5 minute wait for an S Bahn train which then goes directly into the airport. The one ticket covers the bus and the S Bahn. Living in a suburb of Bochum (Weitmar) gives choice of a tram journey to Bochum's main railway station or a bus journey. Tickets bought in advance or on the vehicle cover all trams, all commuter trains and all buses. There is a wealth of information on services frequencies, clean, well lit and well used bus and rail stations and reliable journeys. Not only does this add a great deal to the quality of life of residents in this area of Germany it encourages them to use cars less and supports a virtuous cycle of more public transport trips, fewer cars, less congestion and better conditions for the regional economy. In the context of UK discussions about transport and the economy the high quality public transport is good for the economy.
Investment in new services, new track, new trains, new buses and speeded up tram links is a major part of the work of the VRR. Here the German system of regional government is much more helpful than the UK situation. Considerable funds are available from the State of North Rhine Westphalia (which covers the area of VRR) for public transport investment. The state receives all the funds that in the UK system would go to train operating companies and to Railtrack and the state can augment these funds from general revenue. Developments in the UK since privatisation of railways and deregulation of buses makes the situation here more difficult though the problems are by no means insuperable. The key question for policy makers and politicians is do we really want a high quality, accountable and efficient public transport system or not? If the answer is yes then let's move on to financing and remodelling the supply of public transport services in the UK. If the answer is no then let's save ourselves a lot of bother and settle down to a public transport system that compare unfavourably with India and Bangladesh and massive economic losses as congestion levels rise.
3. Funding a new regionalised system of public transport provision.
This is not the place to rehearse the arguments in favour of channelling public funds into public transport. The advantages of doing so (and even more so in the case of walking and cycling facilities) have been outlined many times under headings as diverse as:
The 10 year spending plan promises GBP 180 bn over the next 10 years. The foreword by John Prescott contains clear policy commitments that are very similar to those being delivered by VRR in Germany. Simply for illustrative purposes we can take this GBP 180 bn as a UK figure and allocate on a proportionate population basis 12.5% or GBP 22.5 bn to the ``North West Transport Authority'' to sort out this region over the next 10 years. We can accept the same public/private split as in the 10 year plan. We can argue about priorities (e.g. no public funds at all into inter-city transport or high speed rail) and we can factor in (without double counting) the revenue from road pricing and workplace car parking taxation. We can reallocate all public funds currently going to railways or buses in whatever form to the new NWTA. Should this not be enough we can augment these funds with the GBP 6 bn that currently goes into subsidising aviation on the grounds that there is no case at all for public funds to support this mode of transport. We can find more cash in the subsidies going to company cars (once again being careful not to double count) and we can really be bold and set up an internal carbon credit system. A car produces at least 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre. We can allocate a monetary value to this amount of carbon (disease, flooding, storm damage etc.) and then set up an internal transfer system so that the NWTA receives GBP x for every passenger kilometre carried in recognition of its role as a carbon sink/carbon reducer.
Whatever the details there is no doubt that:
There are one or two problems to be resolved in adopting a regionalisation approach to public transport in the UK. None of these problems come anywhere near the scale of the problem we currently have which is a failed experiment with the privatisation of public transport and a disastrously poor quality public transport system that simply cannot deliver on social inclusion or attract people away from cars. Problems to be resolved include:
4.1. Revenue funding. The 10 year spending plan is about capital expenditure so how will the gap between fare box income and annual running costs be met? If there is a fundamental ideological objection to funding this gap then we can forget the whole idea but the gap can easily be bridged through a formula-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (carbon credits), a transfer from fuel taxation where alternatives to the car are improved through hypothecation of fuel taxes or through local decisions on the use made of road pricing and car park taxation revenues. A debate and democratic decision at a regional level provides an effective mechanism for arriving at a decision.
4.2. Who will maintain the track, signals and infrastructure for rail services. The German regionalisation model leaves this function with one of the companies hived off from the national rail company i.e. a Railtrack equivalent. This has not worked well. Aspirations and expectation at the regional level for improved services and faster journey times can be and are being frustrated by the priorities and decision making of another company. The debate in Germany about how to reorganise this aspect of provision is not yet resolved. In Sweden there seems to be a higher level of satisfaction with their equivalent of Railtrack. We need to look at models of how this can handled and choose one appropriate to UK needs.
4.3. Is there agreement or disagreement on extracting inter-city services from this whole approach? The argument in favour of this is that long distance travel should bear its own full costs (and environmental costs). Long distance travel (traditional inter-city train journeys) for business purposes should certainly carry their own costs. Leisure travel is discretionary and whilst there are arguments in favour of good fare deals e.g. the German ``Wochenende'' ticket allowing 5 people to travel together for DM35 over any distance, this is a matter for the privatised company wishing to use spare capacity creatively. If this approach were adopted many inter-city services currently used for commuter trips/shorter distance trips e.g. Birmingham-Wolverhampton, Lancaster-Preston, Milton Keynes-London would not be available to regional ticket holders. Is this acceptable?
Any comparison between public transport organisation, fare levels, reliability and comfort in the UK and countries like Germany and Switzerland shows that we are heavily losing the battle. There is nothing in the 10 year plan that will change this. We have a fatally flawed system that is structurally incapable of delivering quality services that really do integrate at the local and regional level. The problem is not one that can be laid at the door of tragic railway accidents or even the strange behaviour of Railtrack. It is a fundamental structural problem created by a disconnected and ill-coordinated system, a lack of democratic accountability and an arrogant disregard for the welfare and quality of life of the travelling public. There is now an opportunity to put that right. The German regionalisation model is real and it works. If anyone doubts this they should compare the quality of life of an average distance commuter in Düsseldorf with one in Manchester or Liverpool. They should try accessing the attractions of Manchester or Liverpool in the evening and make their way back home by public transport at midnight and see how they like the UK version of a well used, well lit, well staffed, reliable and punctual German or Swiss system. The German regionalisation approach can be mapped onto the UK system and it would work. It would have to go through the filter of adaptation to UK circumstances but that is not a problem. The only problem we face is a preference for putting up with poor quality services and a preference that is far greater than our willingness to grasp the nettle and sort it out.What is our reaction to this document? There is room to debate the minutiae of regional boundaries (which need not follow existing county-based boundaries -- in particular it is not implausible to split Cambridgeshire between two regions) without disputing our general agreement with this paper. The only comment we would like to make is that we believe that extracting inter-city services is not the right answer in the UK. Our answer to the last question in 4.3 above is ``no'' -- not least because there are many quite short journeys (e.g. Grantham to Newark) where Inter-City is all there is. (On equivalent lines in Germany there would normally be local trains serving intermediate stations which, unlike ours, would never have been closed.) Furthermore we can't afford to leave Inter-City fares to the free market as it is very likely that the heavy restrictions on use of Saver and similar tickets on Inter-City journeys to/from the London area are a major factor in encouraging people to go by car instead.
Transport 2000 and other organisations have produced a report called ``Roads to Ruin'' condemning the Government's road building proposals, including some local authority schemes approved by the Government.
Locally, the main news item is the decision of the Government Office for Eastern England to uphold the proposal to f divert the Crow Dean bridleway in Cambourne via the existing roundabout. We argued for a bridge on the bridleway alignment to give access to the north side of a ``virtual station'' for Cambourne on the A428 using the existing X5 bus route between Cambridge and Oxford, as well as being much more attractive to walkers and riders. The decision was made in the name of the Secretary of State, but we have since been told that it was in fact made by an unelected official. Given that the order closing the existing right of way is to be made at an unnamed date in the future, there may still be time to press your local election candidates to ask for the issue to be redecided by someone who is politically accountable.
We were represented at one of four seminars on the London-South Midlands Multi-Modal Study, and one of our members attended another. Our general impression was that there was a need to proceed from generalities (on which almost everyone can agree in principle, but with a wide gulf in interpretation) to specifics if we are to make progress.
We've been involved in the development of the A1 Route Management Strategy, attending meetings on the section from the London boundary to the A605 interchange at Peterborough, and making a written submission for the section from there to Stamford (though foot & mouth restrictions have prevented us from updating our proposals). There are two main issues: how to manage congestion and safety problems for traffic on the A1 itself, and how to reduce severance problems caused by the route. We are mainly concerned with the second, which affects buses, walking (including to/from bus stops), cycling and horseriding. Our priorities include eliminating the problems which have led to the decline of bus services to villages such as Southoe (see Newsletter 71), and, on the northern section, Water Newton.
Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk has not been officially involved in the London Orbital Multi-Modal Study, but it has relevance to the Cambridge area because of the effect of M25 congestion on the running of Airlinks bus services many of which use the M25.
Our last newsletter featured CHUMMS, the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal study. The latest CHUMMS newsletter analyses the responses they received by area: in general the favourite seems to be Option 2 (on-line widening plus guided busway). The consultants are preparing a draft report for the Regional Planning Body, though nothing is likely to be made public till after the elections. We are hopeful that the recommendations will include:
The temporary relocation of Peterborough bus station referred to in Newsletter 70 has been deferred to 2002. Unfortunately this delay is not being used to provide a new crossing of Bourges Boulevard to the rail station, even though such a link is envisaged in Peterborough City Council's redevelopment strategy for the station area.
We took part in a workshop on the future of Bradwell's Court. The meeting was divided between those wanting to see redevelopment of the area used to help provide improved facilities at the nearby bus station, and those wanting to move the bus station to maximise the scope for redevelopment. Needless to say, we were in the first camp!
We have also responded to the proposal for a rapid transit system (a guided busway) linking Cambridge City Centre with Trumpington Park & Ride and Addenbrookes. We decided not to support or oppose the scheme but to suggest that the City Council should ask some searching questions, such as the effect it would have on rail reopening proposals and existing bus services.
Bedford Borough Council has approved a development at the former station at Sharnbrook, to which we objected as we want it reopened as a railhead (with bus link) for the Kimbolton area. However the development doesn't completely rule out a new station.
The proposed motorway service area at Duxford, to which we objected (see Newsletter 74), was thrown out after a public inquiry. We want the site to become a multi-modal interchange but not including lorries, and we're still concerned about county council road proposals which will force detours on bus routes 103/112 (weekdays) and 102 (Sundays).
Thea opening of the Shanks Millennium Bridge between Kings Dyke and Flag Fen makes the Green Wheel round Peterborough fully usable -- barring foot & mouth closures.
We have seen reference to a ``Green Bike'' scheme in Stamford whereby people can join a club that enables them to make use of communal bicycles. Anyone know more about this?
The new timetable will bring an earlier journey from Cambridge to Stansted Airport, later trains from Kings Lynn at weekends, and a late evening connection from Peterborough on Sundays -- but the existing connection on Mondays to Fridays now has a margin of just 1 minute less than is needed to make it officially recognised.
Lots of changes to coach routes and local buses serving Stansted Airport. Airlinks' Jetlink network is now as follows, with all routes approximately 2 hourly:
707: Northampton-Brighton via Milton Keynes Coachway, Luton, Luton Airport, Hemel Hempstead, Heathrow and Gatwick.
717: Heathrow-Brighton as above.
727: Norwich-Brighton via A11 corridor to Stansted then Heathrow then as 717.
737: Ipswich-Heathrow via Colchester, A120 corridor to Stansted and London Colney (Sainsburys).
757: Cambridge-Oxford via Addenbrookes, Stansted, London Colney (Sainsburys), Hemel Hempstead, Old Amersham and High Wycombe.
767: Cambridge-Oxford via A10 and A505 corridor to Hitchin (including a new stop at Hitchin station), Luton, Luton Airport, Hemel Hempstead then as 757.
777: Birmingham-Stansted via Coventry, Milton Keynes Coachway, Luton and Luton Airport.
787: Norwich-Heathrow via A11 corridor to Cambridge, then as 767 to Hemel Hempstead.
797: Cambridge-Brighton via Addenbrookes, Stansted, Heathrow then as 717.
This rearrangement accords with several of our suggestions -- but often in such a way as to avoid the benefits we were seeking. We support the new 767/787 stop at Hitchin station and the diversion of 797 via Addenbrookes. We proposed an interchange at Hemel Hempstead, but we wanted this to connect with Silverlink (and, later, Virgin) trains at the station. The bus station is some way away, and we've now lost the Metropolitan Line link at Chalfont -- even though the service passes near Chesham and Amersham stations. Another motivation for Hemel Hempstead was to avoid jams on the M25, but this is thwarted by continued use of the London Colney Sainsburys stop; alternative options include the north end of the village, the east end of the M10, or at Napsbury linking with new rail and bus services in connection with redevelopment of the hospital site.
However, our biggest complaint is the huge fare increases -- e.g. a day return from Cambridge to the Chilterns is up from GBP 10 to GBP 16 (60%), partly because day returns as such have been abolished.
Stansted Airport's other buses (excluding purely local routes) are now as follows:
A6 (Airlinks): To London via Golders Green and the A41 corridor, half hourly. This replaces the former route via Hendon and also the A7 via Stratford which is withdrawn. There is an all-night service, but the extension to Cambridge is withdrawn.
Rail link (First Airport Coaches): Hourly, daily, to Colchester rail station, no longer serves Dunmow.
Village Link 5 (First Eastern National): Hourly Mon-Sat between Saffron Walden and Bishops Stortford via Thaxted and Hatfield Heath.
X6 (Stagecoach): New route, 2 hourly daily, to Addenbrookes, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Sawtry and Peterborough. The northern section replaces former X51, but is even less satisfactory for early arrivals or evening departures from Peterborough.
33 (First Eastern National): Hourly Mon-Sat to Dunmow and Chelmsford. No longer connects with VL5 above in either direction. The only through service between Dunmow and Bishops Stortford is new route 316, hourly during the inter-peak period, not serving the airport, and operated by Buntingford-based London Transit.
133 (Arriva): Hourly Mon-Sat, 2 hourly Sun to Braintree via Dunmow and Felsted.
510 (Arriva): Half hourly Mon-Sat, hourly Sun to Harlow via Bishops Stortford. Minor route changes.
In July, we've been told, First Eastern Counties will start a new route to Stansted Mountfitchet, Saffron Walden, Haverhill and Bury, probably 2 hourly. The 301 between Saffron Walden and Bishops Stortford is now also run by London Transit, still 2 hourly, but the Sunday service (route 302) has now been withdrawn, isolating Saffron Walden from its nearest rail station.
On National Express, the A14 corridor route to Birmingham has finally ceased. There was an agreement with Cambridge Coach Services several years ago whereby CCS would leave this corridor in return for having a free rein between Cambridge and Norwich. Now NE have abandoned this route altogether, as well as the traditional route between Cambridge and Oxford via Aylesbury. The Cambridge to London route has extra stops at Redbridge (we believe Wanstead would be quicker) and Westminster (near Lambeth Bridge and not the Tube station).
We start with outline details of bus changes on 22 April in Cambridgeshire. See the previous section for route X6 between Stansted Airport and Peterborough. Please let us know if you have a complaint about these or other changes that isn't mentioned here. The following routes see new operators:
Huntingdon & District X14 Huntingdon-Cambridge Science Park (formerly Whippet -- our statement in Newsletter 73 that the route was withdrawn was a false alarm based on a mis-statement in the Cambridgeshire Local Transport Plan). This route now extends to/from Hinchingbrooke Hospital, except for the first journey which also omits Fen Drayton.
Whippet 115 Cambridge-Newmarket via Fulbourn (formerly Myalls).
Huntingdon & District 151 Huntingdon-Cambridge via Godmanchester, evenings (formerly Myalls). The 19.15 from Cambridge runs direct from St Ives to Godmanchester, extends to Huntingdon, then returns to Cambridge via the Hemingfords -- a change we suggested when the previous timetable was introduced.
Whippet 461 Gamlingay/Gransdens-St Neots-Lt Paxton (formerly Saffords 190/191). 4 journeys on each leg.
Cavalier 332 March-Huntingdon (formerly Huntingdon & District). Later journeys and connections with 334 (see below).
Whippet 334 St Ives-Ramsey (formerly First Choice 427).
Whippet 461-4 and 475 St Neots town services (formerly Huntingdon & District 561-4).
Whippet 476 Godmanchester-Ermine Business Park (formerly Huntingdon & District 476).
There are minor changes to the following routes. Stagecoach: X4 (Peterboro'-Northampton), X7 (Peterboro'-March), X8 (Cambridge-Wisbech), X9 (Cambridge-Kings Lynn), 42/43 (Peterboro'-Wansford/Oundle), 155 (Cambridge-Willingham), 330 (Huntingdon-Peterboro' via Ramsey). Cavalier: 356/7 March town services. Huntingdon & District: 565/6 Huntingdon-St Neots, 571 Huntingdon-Brampton, 572 Huntingdon-Oxmoor, 577 Huntingdon-Godmanchester.
Some further changes: Stagecoach X46 (Peterborough-Bedford) is changed in a way which further undermines the inter-urban connections at Bedford. The last bus from Peterborough to Huntingdon is now 18.15. Stagecoach 48 is also reduced to 2 hourly -- end to end facilities on withdrawn journeys are porovided by the X6. We welcome the new Whippet 460 between Huntingdon and Kimbolton, replacing the 401. Unfortunately it does not serve Grafham, and there are no comparable improvements to the rest of the West Hunts network. Huntingdon & District 436 (the Somersham-Huntingdon rail link) extends to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, and further to the Business Park when roadworks are complete; one journey on the X14 is interworked and will also so extend.
We now follow with some changes that had been introduced earlier.
N1/N2: Friday and Saturday night bus in Cambridge City, supported by the City Council. Runs between midnight and 03.00. The gap between when existing services end and when this starts is frustrating -- a bus from Cambridge station around 23.30 would be very helpful.
300-303 and 308-313: Extensive changes to Peterborough's rural network. (Passengers should also note that many services from Peterborough bus station now leave from different bays.) Most routes now run the same every day of the week, but Flag Fen, where a new visitor centre will soon be opening, is now totally isolated. Peterborough City Council has recently cut its public transport budget; while this cut has mostly fallen on administration it is not surprising that services are being lost. To make this cut even worse it looks as if the summer open top bus, which could also have served Flag Fen, won't be running either.
333: Links Chatteris, Ramsey, March and Mane (the last formerly served by the 359).
We welcome the return of timetable booklets (and the reduction in number to 5 covering larger areas) and the new 2001 map -- though distribution still leaves a lot to be desired. We understand that soon after you receive this newsletter there should be a new book for Peterborough which will have a map and timetables of all rural services.
We also welcome Cambridgeshire's Rural Bus Challenge award to cover villages near the A428 and south of Newmarket. Unfortunately there's little sign of consultation to develop an integrated network -- we have our own proposals for the A428 which would extend as far as Northampton. Bedfordshire has also won an award to improve services to the villages around Potton; we are lobbying for Gamlingay to share in the benefits, including amalgamating routes 118 and 188 to form an hourly link betwen Biggleswade and Cambridge via Potton and Gamlingay.
The present thinking of the County Council proposes to extend to new corridors the frequency enhancements that have increased patronage on routes to Haverhill, also commercial services to Newmarket and Ely. Suggested corridors are Saffron Walden, Royston and St Neots. We believe these should include restoration of lost links such as Saffron Walden to Duxford, Whittlesford and Addenbrookes, and Cambridge to Buntingford and Ware. The St Neots upgrade could form part of our A428 proposals referred to above.
We start with Essex. Timetable production appears to have got back to normal, but the cost of a set has doubled. The free buses to North Weald Market on Saturdays and bank holiday Mondays have been replaced by a much less extensive network of fare charging services; only the route from Harlow remains reasonably frequent (half hourly). The 324 Romford-Bluewater service through Thurrock has been taken over by Arriva (good news if you use an Explorer or Diamond Rover ticket from e.g. Stansted Airport) but now starts at Hornchurch, requiring yet another change. A new route to Lakeside and Bluewater is Kingston's 511 from Loughton which runs via Debden, the south end of Ongar (filling in a missing link on the A113), Brentwood (including rail station) and Orsett Hospital. The 93 between Colchester and Ipswich has been withdrawn, with different and non-connecting operators running each side of East Bergholt -- a classic example of how to make life more difficult for passengers, especially as this is the only link between the networks of the two First Group subsidiaries. A worthwhile improvement is the extension of Arriva Southend's weekday buses to Wallasea Island, connecting to Burnham on Crouch by ferry on Saturdays. Are Arriva Rovers interavailable with the Dengie Village Link network that runs from Burnham? Finally, the X38 no longer appears to serve Romford on Saturdays, though we are told no change has actually been registered.
In Herts the Rural Ride evening services seem to have disappeared, as have the Rural Wheels Community Bus services to Bovingdon Market.
Suffolk has won Rural Bus Challenge support for a ``Bike & Bus Butty'' which will offer cycling commuters on corridors from Debenham and Brantham to Ipswich the choice between secure parking and taking their bikes onto the bus (or rather onto a trailer that will go with it). Off peak services have not been decided, but could include weekend links with the Suffolk coast -- Orford in particular could do with such a promotion. We note that routes 130, 200 and 201 are interworked to provide a 2 hourly cicular route from Bury to Thetford, Brandon, Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Kennett, Newmarket, Kentford and back to Bury; between Bury and Thetford the 130 provides a combined hourly service with X31 which now runs through to Norwich Airport.
Bucks has a new series of rural routes under the name ``Easybus''. These include a service 2-3 times a week between Princes Risborough, Chesham and Tring.
Oxfordshire has seen cuts in the Oxford to Stratford service. New evening and Sunday services run to Swindon -- just missing arrivals from Cambridge on the X5. We believe Stagecoach Explorers issued on United Counties buses (now called Stagecoach in Bedford or Stagecoach in Northants) may be valid on Stagecoach Oxford (who run the Stratford service) as well as Stagecoach Swindon & District/Cheltenham & Gloucester (who run to Swindon).
Check info in this section for foot & mouth changes, which have definitely postponed the introduction of the Ridgeway Explorer between Reading, Wantage and Swindon. A new route in Herts links Welwyn Garden City at 12.44 Weds & Suns with National Trust owned Shaw's Corner, where the famous writer lived for the last part of his life. The Norfolk Coasthopper (formerly the Coastliner) runs 2 hourly between Hunstanton and Sheringham daily in low season (till end June and Sept-Oct) and hourly in high season (July/Aug), but connections from Cambs via Kings Lynn are still poor. Essex summer services 631-3 (linking Saffron Walden, Braintree, Maldon and Burnham) and 605-6 (linking Colchester, Walton and Harwich) run exactly as last year; connections to/from Cambridge are reasonable for part of the day. Also restarted are the ferries between Felixstowe, Shotley and Harwich, and, as referred to earlier, between Burnham and Wallasea. The Northamptonshire Saunterbus will run every Sunday and bank holiday till 16 Sept, also 24 July, 9 and 15 Aug, on seven routes similar to last year's (though the leaflet warns that some attractions may be closed due to foot & mouth). For details of access to the area see Newsletter 71, though some details may have changed.
Further afield, the Wye Valley Wanderer (Pershore-Chepstow), the Malverns Hillhopper (Malvern-Ledbury), the Beacons network centred on Brecon, the route from Chesterfield and Bolsover to Hardwick Hall, and services in the Peak and Lake Districts, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors will all run. The Peak and Moors networks are modified by foot & mouth problems, which also halted the Daffodil buses in the Moors. The Moorsbus from Hull links at Bainton with a route from Goole to the Yorkshire Wolds, running 27 May-28 Oct and Tue/Wed in the summer school holidays, serving the area between Pocklington and Wharram le Street. No information as yet from other parts of the country, except that the ``Heart of Sussex Link'', route 40 from Haywards Heath, is withdrawn.
Here are some issues on which to quiz your general and local election candidates.
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