Tag Archives: transport

What’s our line on the Charles Line?

Few Liberal Democrats in England’s south-east will be aware of the depths of resentment in the north at the long-term imbalance between infrastructure around London and in and around the cities of northern England.  I’ve lived both in Yorkshire and London for the past 40 years, moving to work in London while staying engaged in politics in the north.  My own resentment has grown, as the last Labour government cancelled the metro tram schemes planned for Leeds and Liverpool and the trans-Pennine link remained as slow and unreliable as when I had first travelled on it in 1967, while the work on the Elizabeth Line was sustained and has now transformed transport connections across the Home Counties.

Boris Johnson’s expansive rhetoric on ‘Levelling Up’ briefly raised expectations that at last government would invest in revitalising the north.  Realization that ‘levelling up’ has in practice meant only small pots of money for tarting up high streets and restoring local buildings has deepened cynicism about London’s neglect of the former industrial north.  So the conference in Doncaster last Friday of the Conservative Parliamentary Party’s ‘Northern Research Group’ was worth noting.  Johnson’s easy promises helped the party to win all those ‘red wall’ seats.  If voters now feel betrayed, the Conservatives will lose them all again.

George Osborne, a powerful proponent a decade ago of the idea of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ recanted his commitment to austerity, which had led to cancellation of the eastern leg of the HS2 rail line and a determined Treasury resistance to a new line across the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester.  He noted that the Treasury had wanted to cancel the Elizabeth Line on several occasions, that it had taken over 30 years from proposal to completion, but that the outcome is proving transformative for the already-prosperous London region.  Conventional cost-benefit analysis has not taken into account the transformative effects of new rail links across the north.  Bits of electrified line, localised improvements of junctions, have left the journey from Liverpool to Leeds, Hull and Newcastle far slower and awkward than between Reading and East London.  

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Liberation from cars – at least in cities …

I came to the Spring Conference for free and was dropped off at a bus stop outside my hotel, returning home three days later from a stop across the road. The travelling was on two routes operated by Transdev, one of the most forward looking bus companies in the country. Changing in Leeds Bus Station from one stand to another was my longest distance pulling a case, with no need to cross Leeds or York City Centres.

Since gaining my all-England concessionary bus pass a decade and a half ago (thank you Gordon Brown) and as a rail card user, I had become increasingly multi-modal in my travelling habits. Shortly after the 2022 Autumn Conference which never happened, I gave up driving completely.

As a former member of a Transport Authority and a lifelong student of public transport, I felt that I was as best placed an anyone else I knew when it came to making the best of inadequate bus services, which is possible in northern cities. I’m not sure I could say the same about trains. Of course it ought not to be like that. Other European countries do it differently. In or out of the EU, the UK has been woefully negligent in learning from our closest neighbours in terms of best practice in punctuality, frequency, cleanliness, safety, costs and convenience.

Round our way, a number of bus services get cancelled, often at short notice, “due to shortage of drivers” which means that constant tracking of vehicles takes priority over using timetables. If we are in a crisis caused by an absence of qualified staff, most passengers would probably settle pro tem for fewer journeys that were guaranteed to happen. I’d like to think that settling for this relatively unpalatable solution was one of the functions of management but this doesn’t seem to be case. The only way in which the whole mess is the fault of users is that we have failed to elect politicians willing to opt for radically new ways of paying for public transport. This would be preferable to control ultimately resting at the other end of the country, or indeed in other countries, with bosses constrained by the priorities of private sector shareholders.

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9 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Shell boss £10m pay packet shows need for “bonanza bonus” tax
  • HS2 Delay Must Trigger Barnett Consequential Funding for Wales

Davey: Shell boss £10m pay packet shows need for “bonanza bonus” tax

The Liberal Democrats have reiterated their calls for a tax on the bonuses of oil and gas company bosses, following the news that the former chief executive of Shell’s pay rose more than 50% to nearly £10m in 2022.

Shell announced today that former chief executive Ben van Beurden received a bonus of £2.6m in 2022, up from £2.2m the previous year. Under Liberal Democrat plans, this would be taxed at …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine – Sturgeon’s dead cat distracts from multiple failures

In her Scotsman column this week, Christine Jardine highlights 3 major SNP Government failures and suggests Nicola Sturgeon’s publication of her tax returns is merely a dead cat to distract from them.

The first failing is the lack of dualling the main route to the north of Scotland, the A9. It was supposed to be one by 2025 but that is not going to happen and fatalities on this road are going up.

Failure to make the promised improvements will impact the economy as well as the health and well-being of isolated communities with poor access to vital services. But most of all it is a failure to make the main route north safe for all of us. Safety was a major factor in the decision to upgrade a road on which the number of deaths still managed to record a heart-breaking 20-year high in 2022.

Thirteen people lost their lives on the stretch from Inverness to Perth of which approximately 77 miles remain to be dualled and the tender for the latest stretch – Tomatin to Moy – was announced this week to have been delayed. Promised improvements now will have to wait while thousands continue to face the real fear of driving on a road which switches intermittently from dual to single carriage and on which you can meet a tractor or road works at any moment.

And then there is the unbelievable capacity to make a mess of a good idea that is the proposed Deposit Return Scheme. Anyone who wants to sell drinks in bottles, or cans, in Scotland after August is supposed to sign up for the new scheme by the end of this month, but businesses are saying they may not bother because of the additional costs they will incur. This weekend no Scottish Government Minister would appear on the main Sunday morning shows to defend the scheme which has even been criticised by SNP MPs.

On a practical level, retailers are unhappy that the vending machines will cost around £20,000 to install and take up valuable retail space. Producers are also beginning to ask questions, and then there are the problems of different pricing for different parts of the UK. Which raises another not insignificant problem: the Internal Markets Bill.

A leading lawyer this week claimed that Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme could create an unlawful trade barrier with the rest of the UK where a similar scheme will be introduced in 2025.

Finally, the Government is yet again delaying the full implementation of welfare powers.

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Caroline Pidgeon writes…Elizabeth Line: Much to celebrate, but much to learn as well

Today’s opening of the central section of Crossrail is something to celebrate.

The benefits from Crossrail (or the Elizabeth Line as it has become) will be immense.

It will transform travel across London, but also large parts of the South East.  Indeed, it is myth that it is solely a London project. It will cut journey times, provide much needed additional train capacity and encourage people to switch away from making many journeys by car, including in time many people who travel around London by the M25.

Most importantly it will lead to a transformation in genuinely accessible travel.  Passengers will be amazed by the long platforms and trains of 200 metres in length; taking rail and tube travel to a new level.   All 41 Elizabeth line stations will be step-free to platform level, staffed from first to the last train, with a ‘turn-up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance. 

 However, whilst celebrating its opening, there is no excuse for forgetting that, as a project, it has fundamentally failed the basic test of being delivered on time and on budget.     

 The central section of Crossrail is opening three and half years late and even then one key station, Bond Street, will not be ready.   Crossrail’s total construction bill is already £4 billion over budget and its delayed opening has drained TfL of much needed fares revenue over the last few years.  The project will have cost around £20 billion on completion, though a good chunk of this has been paid for by London businesses.

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Twenty steps to pedestrian paradise – part 2


In part 1
, I talked about how pedestrians have been relegated to be second class citizens for the last half century or more. In this part, I will give you my twenty top tips to make life easier for pedestrians and get more people walking:

  1. Don’t make pedestrians wait at traffic lights. People on foot must press the “beg button”, asking permission to cross the road. They shouldn’t be forced to wait. Where possible, pressing the button should stop traffic and allow pedestrians to cross right away. On some roads,

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Twenty steps to pedestrian paradise – part 1

Are footbridges like this one built to benefit pedestrians? It allows people to cross the road safely distanced from cars, vans and trucks, so you might think this is pedestrian infrastructure. It is not: it is for the benefit of car drivers.

Someone sat down and weighed up the time lost by pedestrians in having to climb all those steps, cross the bridge and come down the other. They decided it was better to inconvenience people on foot – including disabled and elderly people with restricted mobility – than make drivers sit at traffic lights for any longer than they need to. These footbridges are there for motorists.

You can see judgements like this everywhere. People on foot are told to use dark, narrow, graffiti-covered, urine-soaked subways in order to spare drivers the inconvenience of slowing down or – horror of horrors – stopping. Traffic lights make pedestrians press a button and wait for a minute or more before deigning to allow them to cross, standing by the side of the road which drivers speed through. Shopping streets have narrowed pavements to cram in more space for cars to drive and park. Often our pavements themselves are used as car parks. Dark paths with overgrown vegetation create an atmosphere of fear. Pedestrian routes are left untreated in icy weather long after the roads have been gritted.

And that’s when pedestrians are even allowed. A walk from my neighbourhood to the area on the far side of the local river would once have taken five minutes. Two railway lines and a motorway now block the way and the same journey takes nearly half an hour. A bridge not far enough!

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Fifteen minutes to paradise: cities for people

Over the last year the pandemic has brought home just how much time we spend – and waste – travelling. How many hours are eaten up stuck in traffic or on trains or buses, just going about our daily lives. Instead of responding to our needs, towns and cities demand that we shape our lives to suit them, and too often that means long, inconvenient, polluting trips.

How much better would it be if all the places you needed to visit regularly were within 15 minutes of your home: shops, cafes, restaurants, medical centre, park, playground, leisure centre, cinema and theatre as well as school and work. And all accessible without a car.

That’s the vision Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is following.

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A longer read for the lockdown – Winning the battle for our roads

This is the first in a series of articles exploring how we can improve the places we live and work

Entire neighbourhoods in Maartje van Putten’s city were being demolished to make space for the motor car, and still it demanded more. Bicycle use was falling year-on-year. Worst of all, road deaths were soaring.

The place was Amsterdam, the year was 1971. 400 children had died on the roads in the Netherlands that year – an agonisingly high toll. It could have continued, as it did in most other countries. Instead, Maartje and thousands of other Amsterdammers – including many mothers worried about what the future held for their children – decided to take a stand.

Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the child murder) was a grass-roots movement and Maartje van Putten was its first president. They marched, they blocked roads, they even got arrested. Many motorists were outraged: how dare these people take away their right to drive wherever they want at any time. But campaigners persevered. They sat down with politicians, they talked, and in time the politicians listened.

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Lorely Burt writes: A real step change in connectivity for the West Midlands

As we start party conference, it is slightly odd not to have to pack a bag, book train tickets or google where to eat at the seaside. This year I’m thinking about what kind of snacks I need for our marathon online conference!

But this year, as we embark on Ed Davey’s first conference as leader, I believe we are in a good place as a party – strong, united and ready for a year of action and growth.  In my own part of the world, in the West Midlands we are ready too.

But as I look around the region, I see the impact of coronavirus and I worry about the potential long-term scarring for the young, those on the margins, the vulnerable and elderly. The rebuilding must start now. We need to create jobs and invest in our communities, and avoid returning back to the days of austerity.

Before COVID-19, the West Midlands was one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. The upcoming Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review offers us an opportunity to finally force the government to put fuel into the Midlands Engine. As the former MP and now Baroness Burt of Solihull, I back any sustainable infrastructure investment that can improve the lives of people living and working within the region. Midlands Connect, the strategic transport body for the Midlands, has developed a rail scheme with its partners that should deliver a real step-change in rail connectivity to Birmingham International and Coventry railway stations.

The ‘Birmingham Airport Connectivity’ project is central to fulfilling the region’s levelling-up agenda, aiding the region’s green economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting enterprise, development and regeneration across a number of important growth sites across the West Midlands. It will deliver new, direct rail services to Birmingham International and Coventry stations for over 2 million people, including those living in and around Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. Plus it’ll create an extra service an hour from Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading to Birmingham International and Coventry.

Birmingham International railway station is at the epicentre of a number of nationally-important assets including; Birmingham Airport, the second busiest airport in the UK outside London; the National Exhibition Centre; Resorts World arena and shopping park; and Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant. Close by, the arrival of the HS2 Interchange station is stimulating huge investment and regeneration. To realise the full benefits of this transformational opportunity, the Urban Growth Company is promoting investment in 140 hectares of mixed-use development at ‘UK Central’, set to create up to 5,000 new homes, 650,000 square metres of commercial space and support 70,000 new and existing jobs.

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Post shielding face masks for extremely disabled passengers

I have been shielding for months due to a medical condition listed as extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 but keeping in touch with work. Over the last few months, I’ve been updated with changing company policy and watching the Government updates closely.

Workplace pay was revised in line with the Government’s change of advice for those who no longer need to be shielded. If my condition had been less severe, I’d be back to work now instead of staying safe at home.

Around the same time, TfL emailed me to say that from the 15th June face masks will be mandatory on public transport. They ought to be already based on video and photos I’ve seen. Buses will not take the usual number of passengers to allow for social distancing aboard so spaces will be limited, and people might have to wait for the next bus. Not all bus stops have seats, many disabled people can’t remain standing for long, and drivers can’t recognise hidden disabilities. Many buses are still using middle or rear doors too for driver safety.

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What’s in a (Net Zero) date?

One of the questions that’s likely to be asked in tonight’s Channel 4 environment leader’s debate is about the target date by which the UK should reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In the summer the government legislated for 2050. In September Liberal Democrat conference voted for our policy paper Tackling the Climate Emergency, which argued for 2045. The Labour conference voted for 2030 (though that’s not in their manifesto). The Green Party has gone for 2030, and Extinction Rebellion campaigns for 2025. 

Against these targets, our policy can look rather cautious. 2045 seems like a long way away; doesn’t that mean that government will do nothing until a few years beforehand and then rush to hit it? I’m sure Lib Dem Voice readers know what’s wrong with that argument – although this was the approach that a Conservative minister genuinely suggested to Ed Davey when we were in government.

Arguing over the net zero target date in isolation is simplistic and misleading. In reality, reaching net zero will require enormous effort, stretching over decades and affecting all sectors of the economy; it’s not something you can leave to the last moment. The real debate we need to have is over how we plan to meet the target; what’s the policy programme that cuts emissions fast where we know how to, and lays the foundations for progress where we don’t yet know the right solutions? And when you start to think about what’s needed for electricity, heating, transport, aviation, industry, farming and land use – and how you persuade people to change the way they live their lives, because it isn’t only about government action – you start to understand why near-term targets like 2025 or 2030 are an unrealisable fantasy.

Liberal Democrats set out, in our policy paper and in the manifesto, how we can make rapid progress in cutting emissions from power generation, through accelerating the uptake of renewables, and in heat in buildings, through a massive energy efficiency programme. Between them we think we can cut UK emissions by more than half over ten years.

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Investment in transport in northern England is far behind London


Embed from Getty Images
So, what should we make of yesterday’s report from IPPR North about projected spending on transport in the North of England up to 2033?

Lets first look at those figures:

The north of England is set to receive £2,389 less per person than London on transport, according to a new study which has stoked concern that the north is “held back by government underinvestment”.

The study, by IPPR North, analysed the government’s planned infrastructure projects between now and 2033 and found that planned transport spending in the capital was set to be £3,636 per person, compared with £1,247 in the north.

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Jenny Randerson writes…Now is the time to reform our fares system for the future

t is no secret that our rail fares system is broken. With customers having to choose between over 55 million fare combinations, it is understandable that they would have no confidence in getting the best value fare for their journey. 

That’s why I welcomed the largest ever public consultation on fares reform which took place last summer, and saw responses from almost 20,000 passengers, business groups, local authorities and accessibility groups from across the country. 

The public has spoken – over 80% of respondents want to see fundamental reform within our fares system and they now cannot be ignored. 

The rail industry has been at the heart of this initiative for reform alongside Transport Focus, and I am encouraged by their proposals which set out a two-stage process to deliver meaningful reform. 

The first stage would see the outdated Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) replaced by a new set of regulations underpinning the fares system. Then, the necessary commercial changes could be rolled out as part of refreshed government contracts with train operating companies. But, of course, these stages rely on the Government. 

That’s why I am today calling on them to act on the industry’s proposals and implement these recommendations. 

But this cannot be the only change. As Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson, I am in regular contact with commuters, accessibility groups and businesses – they tell me that they want value for money, fair pricing, simplicity, flexibility and assurances that they are getting the best value fare for their journey.

With a reformed system, this could all be within reach and I am encouraged to see that the industry’s proposals seek to address these understandable concerns of passengers. 

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5 February 2019 – today’s press releases (part 1)

It’s been a busy day today, so we’ll break today’s releases up into two pieces, starting with…

  • Govt must take action on projected rise of car emissions
  • Cable: Brexit causing the economy to stagnate
  • EU citizens in Holyhead face 224 mile round trip to register for settled status
  • Davey questions Justice Minister on potential Brexit bribes

Govt must take action on projected rise of car emissions

Today a report from Friends of the Earth, and the think-tank Transport for Quality of Life highlights that a rise in emissions from the roads could have a hugely detrimental effect on climate change and public health.

Commenting former Liberal Democrat …

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Why Heathrow deserves a more thorough debate

It is now August and a good time to reflect, especially on those issues which have received insufficient attention.

Although Brexit has understandably dominated politics for many months, it is worth noting that just six weeks ago Parliament made the decision to back a third runway at Heathrow airport.

The vote – by 415 to 119 – approved the National Planning Statement (NPS) that paves the way for the £14 billion construction project. Peers did not get a vote.

Some people, whatever their past thoughts on the pros and cons of a third Heathrow runway, might think that the issue has now been …

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Caroline Pidgeon highlights Oyster “cash mountain”

So, Transport for London has £321 million of our money and is keeping quiet about it. Lib Dem Assembly Member and former Mayoral Candidate Caroline Pidgeon has made the headlines by uncovering the fact that TfL is sitting on this vast sum of money on Oyster cards which haven’t been used for over a year.

From the BBC:

Ms Pidgeon, chair of City Hall’s transport committee, put the “soaring” figure partly down to the number of people switching in recent years to making contactless payments with their bank cards.

She said: “TfL never stops bombarding us with advertisements and information campaigns,

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What did Christine Jardine choose for her first question to the Prime Minister?

Being a good, local MP, a pressing constituency issue, of course, concerning the airport in her area which has just launched a consultation on noise.

Here she is in action:

And here is the text:

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TfL’s Uber decision is no victory for liberalism

The decision taken by Transport for London to revoke Uber’s licence undermines a key theme of Vince Cable’s speech from just a few days ago, a belief in competitive markets. Whilst the company has only operated in the capital for a relatively short time, the benefits it has bought to London’s transport market for both Londoners and tourists alike have been numerous. Uber not only provides a cheaper, more accessible transport solution to its customers, but it has also forced its competitors to innovate, an example being black cabs now accepting card payments, freeing their users from having to carry large amounts of cash. If the Liberal Democrats are to be a proud champion of enterprise, the party should feel no shame in its support for companies such as Uber, which provide choice to consumers in what is otherwise a monopolistic market.

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Notes from a new councillor: Why we need decent bus services

I attended my first Cabinet Meeting recently as Oxfordshire County Councillor. OCC is led by a coalition of Conservatives and Independents. The question I put was:

Many villages in Wheatley Division are suffering because of the cut in bus subsidies. Elderly and vulnerable people are isolated; younger people cannot get to college and apprenticeships; those who relied on buses for work are now using cars and increasing the traffic on our already congested roads. Does the member agree with me that saving up to £4 million pounds from cutting bus subsidy was a false economy, and will she work with me to find room in our forthcoming budget to reinstate bus subsidies?

Well the member did not agree with me, and proceeded to inform me about all the community transport initiatives underway throughout the county. I am already well versed in these grass-root efforts, having been along to a fair number of community transport meetings over the last two months.

My problem is that offering locals buses twice a week for shopping; or relying on volunteers to get people to hospital appointments; or telling village residents to cross a busy highway (A40) for the nearest bus; is not good enough.

Connecting Oxfordshire, Local Transport Plan 2015 – 2031 includes the vision behind providing local buses. Here are three of the key outcomes (p. 16):

1. To support the transition to a low-carbon future.

2. To support social inclusion and equality of opportunity.

3. To protect, and where possible enhance, Oxfordshire’s environment and improve quality of life.

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Southern Rail Debacle. Time for the Tory MPs in the South East to step up!

Rail users have had to put up with an appalling service from Southern Rail over the last few months. Even before the strikes the company’s service was one of the worse amongst all the train companies across the UK but now the situation has become totally unacceptable.

Businesses in the South and South East of England are being adversely affected, important hospital appointments missed, everyday family routines of commuters are being wrecked, people are losing their jobs because they cannot guarantee their employer what time they will get into work or, on strike days, even that they will get into work.

All this because of the deplorable non-service provided by Southern Rail. This cannot go any longer.

It is time for the Secretary of State at the Department of Transport (Dft), Chris Grayling MP, to act now before it is too late and serious long term damage is done to tens of thousands of lives and businesses as a result of the shocking rail service southern commuters have had to endure for far too long.

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“Please offer me a seat”

avril-coelho-conference

As a disabled commuter who is unable to drive for medical reasons, I rely as thousands of other people to on public transport to get to the shops, to  get to work and back and to get to medical appointments.

Whilst I have a disabled person’s freedom pass, drivers don’t always notice that I need a priority seat. Certainly as my disabilities are hidden, other passengers don’t see my epilepsy or the three worn vertebrae in my spine. I need to sit where it’s not too hard to get up again and where the driver can see if I do have a seizure. I know that should I have a seizure, bus drivers have a protocol to follow.

I have been on a busy Tube and not offered a seat despite talking about my need for one with another standing passenger who was two weeks away from giving birth. Her need was obvious to anyone with sight but nobody got up. We were stood next to many seated men with briefcases and mobile phones in their hands who might have all needed their seats but it’s unlikely. A seat came up and I offered the lady the seat as her and her unborn baby needed it. The heat became unbearable and triggered a seizure and without anyone giving up a seat within the ten seconds I had to sit down, I fell down on the Tube floor. Only then did the men seated get up. Not to offer me their seats though! They picked me and my bag up and carried me of the Gunnersbury platform bench and left me alone there! My bag could have been stolen before the seizure ended.

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Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…Consumer rights should cover train franchises

The recent poor performance of the Southern rail franchise, operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, have cast concern at the Government’s decision to exclude rail from the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. An Act which allows customers to be adequately compensated for any excessive disruption. In addition, passengers being forced to travel in cramped conditions when ironically, there are tight regulations preventing the overcrowding of animals when they are transported by train, but no similar rules relate to people.

Recent news headlines have been filled with these chaotic tales and the genuine distress of travellers, but what is more worrying is that this relentless and overwhelmingly negative impact appears to have no end in sight despite the recent reinstatement of 119 services. Both Tim and I have provided numerous comments on how the Government should and must intervene in a situation that is completely and utterly out of hand, and we share the exasperation of GTR’s customers.

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Renationalising the railways is trendy but not smart

Virgin trainWho should own the railways? Both contenders for the Labour leadership, Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn, believe it should be the public sector. They point to rising ticket prices., widespread industrial action and a lack of seating (or so Corbyn claims.) as evidence that privatisation has failed. The public seem to agree, with 62% now in favour of renationalisation. But is it worth it?

It certainly wouldn’t be progressive. Households in the highest real income bracket make up 43% of yearly rail journeys, with those in the lowest income bracket making up only 10% of journeys. Nationalisation would mean that low-earners who very rarely use the train would be funding through their taxes reduced ticket prices and the maintenance of rail travel for the highest earners in the country. Such large amounts of public sector finances would be far better spent on services which low earners need most.

Nor would nationalisation eradicate large scale industrial disputes. Look no further than across the Channel: in the run up to Euro 2016 the French railways endured huge strikes. Even under a Socialist government the railways were not immune from clashes with the unions.

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Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…For our transport sector Brexit means we are currently going nowhere fast

Although few people have talked about it, Brexit is going to raise serious issues about how we get about. Our transport sector faces practical problems that need to be solved, or at least grappled with. These are issues that affect us in everyday life. I am pretty sure that people who voted to leave still expect to be able to fly abroad to their summer holidays and to buy goods that have been transported safely and in a timely manner from other countries. There is a simple, practical fact about which nobody—no referendum, no decision—can do anything: the continent of Europe, the land mass, stands between us and much of the rest of the world.

One immediate issue is the Channel Tunnel. The dream of the Channel Tunnel long predates the European Union, but the tunnel was constructed while Britain was a member and it has been executed and managed with EU membership at the forefront. It is privately financed and privately run by an Anglo-French consortium and its scale is simply enormous—400 trains a day, 50,000 passengers a day and 54,000 tonnes of freight a day. We cannot ignore that the British border is in France, an arrangement which has already been put under considerable doubt.

It is clear that many who voted to leave did so in the expectation of tighter border controls. This conflicts with the inspiration behind the Channel Tunnel, to have freer and faster movement of both people and goods between Britain and France. Any moves to implement tighter controls or to apply them in different ways will inevitably have an impact on business and on the enormous investment that the Channel Tunnel represents.

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Are we really heading for driverless cars?

The Queen’s speech last week contained some cracking headlines about spaceports, drones and driverless cars as part of the ‘Modern Transport Bill’. In terms of the cars, I believe the legislation is really just about providing clear regulation frameworks and insurance liability rather than any serious public investment. However no sooner was the speech completed when various ‘experts’ were being interviewed on TV accusing the government of wasting time on pie in the sky projects rather than focusing on the real transport issues.  One such expert on Channel 5 news that evening even said that driverless car technology was ‘decades away’ and that at the moment the cars couldn’t even do basic things like drive in the rain!

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On Sadiq Khan’s Hopper bus ticket: an idea you may have heard of before

One hour bus ticket 2009So, Sadiq Khan has made his first big transport announcement, one hour Hopper bus ticket.

Now, even though I live 400 miles away, I know fine that this is not be an original idea from the new London Mayor. Someone has been campaigning for this since 2009. Who could that possibly be?

Step forward Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon. The photo was taken in 2009 in tandem with this article in the Standard and the policy was in the 2012 Lib Dem London manifesto.

Boris blithely dismissed it in the same way Cameron dismissed the raising of the tax threshold policy, saying it was too complicated and costly.

His successor saw the sense in it and used Caroline’s idea in his manifesto. 

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London Mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon welcomes TfL takeover of suburban trains

Caroline PidgeonToday it was announced that the Transport for London would take over London’s suburban rail network. From the BBC:

Transport for London (TfL) has announced it will be taking over the running of the capital’s suburban rail network.

It will take over the routes as the various rail franchises come up for renewal.

The new partnership between the Department for Transport and TfL says it aims to ensure there are more frequent trains and increased capacity.

The first rail franchise up for renewal is South West in 2017.

Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon welcomed this move, although she did say that it really wasn’t happening fast enough:

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Newbury by-pass – memories 20 years on

In January 1996, protestors took to trees and tunnels just outside my home town of Newbury, trying to stop the building of the by-pass.

It was a bit of surprise to be at the centre of such national furore over our by-pass.

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Willie Rennie’s concern for “knackered” Fife commuters

Two weeks into the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, Willie Rennie has told the Scottish Transport Minister that more needs to be done to support commuters who are facing delays of up to two hours each way in their daily commute.

He quoted some of the problems people are facing:

I drive from Dalgety Bay to Bo’ness and have found myself getting frustrated by being forced into huge queues over Clackmannan bridge then joining light traffic coming over Kincardine. My mileage has also been trebled which is an issue financially. Surely it would make sense to allow cars to use the A985 from 7.00pm to 6.00am and all weekend as a starting point to ease local residents misery on this.”

“My main problem is time -up at 4.40 and leave work at 15.15. Travelling 4 hours.”

“Absolute disaster and a total shambles. Two weeks on and completely inadequate. Platforms overflowing. Insufficient coaches available to cater for the masses caught woefully short by the inadequacies caused by the Scottish Government. Increased cancellations. Promises not kept. People falling ill on overcrowded trains due to lack of space and resultant lack of ventilation. Cancellations. Delays.”

Willie is worried about the cumulative effects of these delays on travellers at a time of year when the dark nights and weather conditions don’t make for easy driving conditions. He said:

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