Tag Archives: transport

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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Liberal Democrat Jane Ann Liston talks about extending railway to St Andrews

Jane Ann Liston on rail campaignThis weekend, the Borders railway gets back underway again. This is a real achievement of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in government in Scotland. The Bill was passed way back in 2006.

We’ll be writing about this more as the first journeys take place on Sunday, but BBC Scotland has done a feature about how the success of the Borders project has inspired other railways campaigners. They interviewed Jane Ann Liston, a regular commenter on this site. She plays a significant role in the StARlink campaign which wants to see the five miles of track from Leuchars to St Andrews reinstated. See what she had to say here

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Safety on trains for women – what do the rail companies have to say?

reading railway station by paul walterThere’s been a lot of discussion about train safety for women over the last week or so after the publication of statistics showing a rise in the number of sexual assaults on trains and the subsequent controversy over Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on women-only carriages.

However, we haven’t heard much from some very influential organisations about this, surprisingly so. The train companies themselves have been pretty silent.

Liberal Democrats Kelly-Marie Blundell and Daisy Cooper took to Twitter to question them.

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Some thoughts on the tube strike

Just about now, people across London will be thinking about how on earth they are going to get home. The underground system, on which so many rely, is shut down for the day due to a strike. What is the liberal approach to sorting the situation?

I am not often out late partying in London. Just over a year ago, I was down for the fantastic wedding of Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling. I was really shocked that the tube stopped running as early as it did on a Saturday night. I mean, public transport doesn’t usually run 24/7, but this was London, for goodness sake. I had a bit of a panic when I thought I’d missed the last Piccadilly Line train back to my hotel, but, thankfully, one turned up.

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Opinion: We need HS2 and HS3 to benefit the north

HS2 Distortion 200The government’s support for HS2, despite the critics, has shown a real commitment to providing adequate transport links to sustain the UK and give the North a fairer deal as we head into the mid 21st century. We Lib Dems can be proud to be some of the program’s most enthusiastic and enduring supporters. The announcement yesterday of the creation of Transport for the North and the government’s support for HS3 means the North may finally start to enjoy the benefits of transport investment equivalent to the £17bn Crossrail and £6bn Thameslink that benefit London.This is a project worthy of our support, but there are a few questions to be answered.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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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  • User Avatarfrankie 20th Jun - 7:24pm
    There is no way of stopping free movement cry a number of posters. Actually there is we chose not to take it. Easier to blame...
  • User AvatarRichard S 20th Jun - 6:46pm
    There should also be an investigation (and potentially prosecutions) for the use of British government money to attempt to influence the results of the referendum...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 20th Jun - 6:10pm
    The Tories’ ‘Harold Wilson, heh? I’m waiting for her to say to her next party conference; “People ask what’s going on. Well, I’m going on!”
  • User AvatarSimon Banks 20th Jun - 5:39pm
    I don't think Trump's America is one of our best allies at all. Other Americas might be. This is a man who's undermining action on...
  • User AvatarInnocent Bystander 20th Jun - 5:34pm
    Did Russian interference alter the way you voted? Then why do you believe it influenced anyone else? Would these "victims" be the stupid little people...
  • User AvatarNick T 20th Jun - 5:25pm
    Good piece, Joe. I, like no doubt many or all Lib Dems, consider free movement to be one of the main benefits of EU membership,...