Tag Archives: transport

Something a bit different – Trams return to Edinburgh

Trams in St Andrew Square Edinburgh
If you think that canvassing on behalf of the Coalition Government is hard, you should have tried canvassing in Edinburgh during the 2012 Council elections. The Liberal Democrat/SNP administration which came in in 2007 actually did, eventually, sort the contract problems and ensured that today could take place.

photo by: Karen V Bryan
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Phil Bennion MEP wins Clean Air award

Phil Bennion MEP at the European Parliament

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion has won an award for his work in improving air quality in cities across the UK, after a successful campaign to cut deadly pollution including from diesel-powered vehicles.

Phil  was given the “Clean Air in Cities Award” by campaigning group Clean Air in London after he successfully campaigned to ensure tailpipe exhaust checks are included in MOT tests under EU law. This will help detect harmful emissions and ensure that newer diesel-powered vehicles remain fitted with exhaust filters that prevent deadly particulate pollution being released into the air.

Around a quarter of pollution in the atmosphere in the UK comes from diesel engines, contributing to an estimated 7,000 of the 29,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution each year.

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Opinion: We are still living with the consequences of nationalised railways today. Turning back the clock will make matters worse.

Northern trainIn a letter to the Observer a group of Labour PPCs, including my opponent Joshua Fenton-Glynn, have proposed that the Labour should nationalise rail services.

This idea displays an ignorance of the true cause of the problems with UK railways that beggars belief. Almost every issue with rail transport can be traced not to privatisation per se, but to nationalisation, or the insufficiently liberal privatisation foisted upon us by the Major government.

In the 1980s investment in rail was at an all time low, due entirely to the nationalised nature of …

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Baroness Sal Brinton writes…Disabled rail travel: We’re not just treated like second class citizens, we’re treated like packages

Link is Very Friendly to WheelchairsWhen people in wheelchairs meet one another, disabled travel experiences are a frequent topic of conversation. Rail, buses or taxi we have often encountered brilliant helpful staff, but frankly, sometimes appalling service.

My train commuter run to Parliament from Watford Junction to Euston is usually very smooth, with unfailingly helpful London Midland and National Rail assistance staff, but both stations are staffed for as long as trains are running. Unstaffed stations can be really patchy.

photo by: Oran Viriyincy
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Opinon: The Calder Valley needs a modern transport system to maximise economic potential

The declaration that Hebden Bridge is the UKs ‘second city’ – lying at the heart of the suburbs of Bradford, Leeds & Manchester – has come as something of a shock to most people living there, including myself. However, underneath the hyperbole lies a serious point; that the Calder Valley lies in a sweet spot for ease of commute to the major employment centres.
But what the Calder Valley lacks – and what holds back prosperity and employment opportunities within it – is a modern, efficient transport system.
We are cursed on the Caldervale line which runs along the Calder Valley

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Susan Kramer: “The whole plan for HS2 has included benefits for Scotland”

Transport Minister Susan Kramer came to Glasgow yesterday to talk about the benefits HS2 will bring to Scotland, even though it’s not as yet planned to come all the way north. It will cut journey times by an hour and bring economic benefit apparently.

She spoke to the BBC here:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Opinion: Conservative run Shropshire takes independence away from disabled and elderly

Shropshire LinkA month ago, we heard from Matt who wrote bravely about how he feels denigrated by Conservatives attacking welfare claimants. Today, Ian – a disabled bus user in Shropshire living in sheltered accommodation – writes about problems with transport as his Conservative council slashes bus services.  

I am writing this article because I am campaigning on behalf of registered users from Three Crosses, Clee Hill near Ludlow and other scheme managers, users and their carers in South Shropshire. We were users of Shropshire Link, a regular, bookable bus service that served all the rural areas.

We have lost our independence thanks to the Conservative Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, Claire Wilde, who abolished the Link service as of 8 October. It has been replaced with a community bus service.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Julian Huppert writes: A local approach to sustainable transport

This is the first of three extracts from the forthcoming collection of essays Green liberalism: a local approach to the low carbon economy. Similar collections will be published under Green Alliance’s ‘Green social democracy’ and ‘Green conservatism’ projects as part of the Green Roots programme, which aims to stimulate green thinking within the three dominant political traditions in the UK. 

A sustainable and low carbon transport system is something which UK governments have historically struggled to achieve, thanks to years of poor forward planning and systems which revolve heavily around cars, a highly inefficient mode of transport. But mobility patterns are …

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Opinion: Government is at its best when it’s boring

If Alistair Darling had ever walked into the pub when I was pulling pints, I would have thrown him out on his ear for introducing the now deceased beer escalator.

Now I find myself applauding him. What he said today about High Speed 2 and transport policy was probably bad politics, but it is exceedingly good government.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

Opinion: the importance of the rural bus

I recently visited Ivy in Ashmore Green. A woman in her eighties, Ivy is still bright and lively. When I met her, she had recently given up driving and was still reeling from discovering that her local bus service, the 76, that connects Ashmore Green to the rest of the world, runs once a week.

Now, all credit to Jacs Minicoaches for running this service, but a bus that runs just once a week is not something around which you can build a life. A thriving community depends on more than just driving-age adults.

  • How are youngsters supposed to get to school

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LibLink…Eluned Parrott AM: Looks to be game, set and match to Abertis

Welsh Liberal Democrats are questioning the Labour First Minister’s actions in entering into an exclusive relationship to buy Cardiff Airport for the nation with no prior consultation of the Assembly and without publishing any clear idea of how it will be run.

Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy and Transport Minister has written an article on this over at Freedom Central. She said:

This is of course without consulting the Assembly, without revealing the price he’s offered, without revealing a business plan for the airports future, or without even stating what his government is planning on doing with it or who he

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Norman Baker MP writes… Green light for more green buses

Last year there were an estimated 2.3 billion bus passenger journeys in England. More people up and down the country get to work by bus than by all other forms of public transport combined, and over 50% of students use them to get to classrooms and lectures. More than that, they provide a life-line for rural communities and just as vital in cities in terms of reducing traffic jams and air pollution by getting people out of cars. But even while people are reducing their carbon emissions by hopping on the bus rather than using their cars, we want to …

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Opinion: Are we being taken for a First(Group)-class ride?

As someone who has used the west coast mainline regularly for the past fifteen years (and would have done so more if the cheaper fares were more readily available), I can testify to a significant improvement in reliability and levels of service in recent years. Much of this was of course down to the £9bn and more of public investment in upgrading the line, and much was down to Virgin themselves – I carry no torch for Sir Richard but there’s little denying that Virgin trains, expensive though they undoubtedly can be, ran what became a reliable, punctual, comfortable service.

But …

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LibLink: Tom Papworth – why Norman Baker is my Liberal Hero

Over at liberal think-tank CentreForum’s blog, Tom Papworth has nominated Lib Dem MP and transport minister Norman Baker for the honorary title ‘Liberal Hero of the Week’. The reason? Norman’s libertarian stance on the proposal that wearng cycle helmets should be compulsory:

I think anybody who rides a bike without wearing a helmet is taking an enormous risk. I’ve fallen off my bike in the past and had my helmet (rather than my head) bounce off the tarmac. I also know that cycling can be very dangerous; the chair of one the neighbouring constituency party was killed a few years back

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 44 Comments

Three intriguing opinion poll results that made me go, “Hmm, really?”

Looking through some of YouGov’s recent poll results (as you do on a summer’s evening during the Olympics), a trio of responses struck me as, well, slightly bizarre. See what you think…

Lib Dem voters LEAST LIKELY to think Britain is best at cricket, MOST LIKELY to think we’re best at cycling

This may simply be a reflection that ‘Britain’ does not play cricket. Or perhaps just a subjective viewpoint: after all, England is currently ranked the best test cricket team in the world (though fourth in one-day internationals); while …

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Norman Baker MP writes… A virtuous circle for cycling

Many of you will know that I don’t need to be asked twice to wax lyrical about the benefits of cycling. Cycling isn’t just about getting from A to B. Quite often it’s the quickest way of getting around, not to mention the healthiest, most environmentally friendly and the most predictable. It’s wallet-friendly, for those of us with an eye on rising fuel prices, and it’s space friendly, at a time when parking spaces in town and city centres are both at a premium and becoming increasingly expensive to use. Each car parking space could fit up to 20 bikes, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Transport infrastructure – our way to avoid depression

The best post-crash indicator of the coming decade is Japan in the 90s: “The lost decade” as they call it.

Understanding that the current malaise will continue for 5 to 10 years means we need to be thinking now about how we will be boosting the economy in 5-10 years and preparing it for growth in the decades after that.

The answer has to be infrastructure. Not only is the construction industry among the hardest hit right now, but infrastructure activity has amongst the most stimulating effect on the economy, and also it creates “facts on the ground” – useful assets that don’t …

Posted in News | 26 Comments

Norman Baker MP writes… Helping people make smarter transport choices

Transport accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s emissions, but people want to travel and they want to travel further and more often. Good transport infrastructure is also essential to a well-functioning economy, so how do we square the circle?

The Lib Dem approach is to say that it isn’t about choosing between growth and carbon reduction: it’s about reducing carbon emissions from transport. That’s why the Lib Dems in Government are overseeing the of spending £2.4bn on transport improvements; the biggest rail expansion programme since Victorian times; electrification of over 800 miles of railway compared to the 9 miles …

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Glasgow Subway Snap-In – a fun bit of activism to stop proposed photography ban

Remember the olden days under new Labour when many amateur photographers found themselves being stopped and searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act just for, well, taking photographs. Liberal Democrats stood up against that then and in Government these searches were stopped.

Chris Huhne, then Home Affairs Spokesman, was robust at the time in saying that photographers and trainspotters should be left alone to pursue their perfectly legitimate hobbies without interference.

We thought we’d seen the last of these authoritarian attacks on innocent pastimes until the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport announced plans to ban photography completely on the subway, giving …

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The Independent View: Why the Lib Dems should put cycling at the heart of their transport policy

More motorways, airports and cities, cried the leader of the “greenest” government ever. The Prime Minister is absolutely right that we need new infrastructure but what we need is not ever wider motorways but a modern cycling infrastructure, to get the ridiculous 50% of journeys under 5km that are currently taken by car, out of the way of essential business traffic.

Millions of UK citizens are too old, young, poor or eco-conscious to own a car. In countries from Denmark to Japan, their governments provide safe cycle-paths. Our roads however are not fit for purpose, as …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 21 Comments

Opinion: Cameron’s road plan is a terrible idea

David Cameron’s announcement that he was planning on getting private enterprise to fund roads in the UK has to be a contender for the worst idea since the Potassium Teapot.

While, in principle, the idea of private enterprise building new roads isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, any private involvement in refurbishing existing roads, widening motorways or improving junctions would be a financial mess.

In this case, private enterprise would borrow some money (probably from a pension fund), widen the motorway or make the junction better, then get some sort of pay off from the Government based on road/junction usage.

Unfortunately, private businesses …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

Julian Huppert MP writes… Boris Island is no more than an election ploy

Just one week after the Government gave the green light to a multi-billion pound high speed rail network, taxpayers are being asked to consider another tranche of infrastructure investment.

But the case for a £50 billion Thames Estuary Airport, dubbed ‘Boris Island’ after London’s inimitable Mayor, is so confused that it no longer constitutes a coherent proposal at all.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Charles Kennedy MP writes…How you can help save our Sleeper

The Caledonian sleeper services are a Scottish institution, a symbol of the comfort and style which was once the hallmark of the railways. They are invaluable for connecting the more remote parts of the Highlands to the UK Capital, allowing Scottish people to reach morning meetings in England and Londoners to catch the Deerstalker Express straight to the most beautiful places in the world. I’ve lost count of the number of individuals & businesses who have been in touch over the years to tell me just how important …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Saving School Transport

County councils all over England are making deep cuts to school transport that Liberal Democrats are right to fight against. School transport cuts are bad for child safety, bad for working parents and bad for congestion on local roads.

The cuts, which mostly have come into effect this term or will over the next 12 months are, in most cases, to reduce school transport to the very least permitted by statute. That means it is being axed for everyone who is not on free school meals or who lives more than 3 miles (2 for primary children) from their nearest …

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Opinion: Transport – time for a home-working revolution?

The weekend is often over in the blink of an eye, and come Monday morning it’s off to work for the masses. The daily commute, whether it be by any means of transport, is often chaotic, crowded and frankly rather unpleasant for many.

It is a self – evident truth that our transport network is overcrowded. Even now with unemployment rates not seen for a generation, many of us will struggle for hours every day to travel to our respective workplaces.

Can the government help?

The government could assist by offering business rate reductions for employers willing to facilitate their employees working from home.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Liberal Democrat members support proposed changes to planning rules, just

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

Our latest survey of party members finds a small majority backing the government’s controversial plans for the planning system in England. By a margin of 48% – 39% Liberal Democrat members in the survey supported the scheme to cut central control over planning but also introduce a presumption in favour of development if plans are sustainable and in line with local policies.

However, …

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Opinion: Hammond is misguided if he wants to raise the speed limit

So it seems that the media have cottoned on to the fact that the Government is considering increasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph, up from the current 70mph.

If they had been paying attention, they would have realised that this isn’t exactly breaking news. Back in June this year, Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, said that the Department for Transport were looking at the impacts of increasing the speed limit. In response to an Oral Question from Stephen Mosley, he said that:

“The existing limit has been in place since the ’60s. We will weigh

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 44 Comments

A tale of two holes – and a £39m price tag

In principle, I have no objection to people digging holes in the ground. Even very expensive holes. Potholes? Bad. But lift shafts, underground tunnels and other such excavations? Good. A big hole that loops back on itself and could* end the universe? That’ll do nicely. The combination of a hole, Bernard Cribbins and Lego? Excellent.

If I had to postulate a general theory of holes, I’d say that a hole that is not used is a bad hole. And two holes that are not used are doubly bad.

Which brings me to the question of the £39 million spent …

Posted in London | Also tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Brian Paddick writes: Building a better future for Londoners

Since I retired from the police I have not had a car. Since then ‘the world is my Oyster card.’ I rely on trains, tubes and buses to get around London and I’m appalled by what I see.

Vanity projects and electoral gimmicks like the new Routemaster and replacing bendy buses are soaking up millions of pounds of the transport budget. The new Routemaster will cost nine times as much as a conventional bus – never mind the millions spent on development! On the right routes and properly regulated so they don’t end up stuck together, bendies do a perfectly adequate …

Posted in London and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Mike Tuffrey writes… The Big Switch: turning London’s buses and taxis electric

Rudolf Diesel has a lot to answer for. The compression engine he invented has become the great workhorse of heavy duty vehicles like the buses, taxis and vans which fill our streets. But the nasty side effect of diesel fuel is fine particulate exhaust emissions that are creating a major health crisis. Tiny particles get deep into the lungs, causing thousands of premature deaths and a big increase in ill health.

The biggest culprit in central London, where the health problems are most acute? Yes, buses, taxis …

Posted in London and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 30th Sep - 11:12am
    Ha ha, indeed Conor!
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 30th Sep - 11:00am
    Bill ".,,,,,This is why November is a key moment for influencing the result of a May election and why Parties which have the resources spend...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 30th Sep - 10:59am
    Economic policy written by Prateek Buch? The person who thinks inflation doesn't really matter? When it comes to pragmatism I am afraid it is hard...
  • User AvatarJohn Penson 30th Sep - 10:56am
    Sounds very interesting. Can you make it an e book so I can read it on my Kindle? Better way to spread the word in...
  • User Avatarmack (Not a Lib dem) 30th Sep - 10:55am
    @Julian Tisi "Yawn. It’s the old debt versus deficit difference again." Yes, it's funny that those dumb economists at the Daily Telegraph don't appreciate the...
  • User AvatarConor McGovern 30th Sep - 10:50am
    @Eddie - fair point. Obviously we have to be pragmatic, but in my view the leadership are being far too timid when it comes to...