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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
Call to reprieve the Pacers p11 TransportXtra.com/ltt
POLICY | PLANNING | FINANCE | DEVELOPMENT
Covid-19 leaves programme of Clean Air Zones up in the air
AIR QUALITY by Andrew Forster
Natalie Chapman of the FTA: ‘rethink ways to improve air quality’
navirus is having on changes in air pollution emissions, concentrations and exposure”. He pointed out that the Government has already confirmed that the three CAZ schemes due for implementation this year – in Birmingham, Leeds and Bath – will not now be implemented “until after January 2021”. Elsewhere, local authorities in Greater Manchester have put work on their conurbation-wide CAZ on hold. It was due for implementation next year. Bristol City Council has told the
Reading Borough Council has reported a 41 per cent reduction in NO2 at one air quality monitoring station and a 35 per cent reduction at another. Natalie Chapman, head of south of England and urban policy at the Freight Transport Association, told LTT that Covid-19 provided an opportunity to rethink the best way of improving air quality. “Businesses coming out of Covid are going to be in a very different shape,” she said. “A lot of them are not going to be able to afford to replace vehicles [to comply with the CAZ standards].” She emphasised that Covid19 had actually shown the importance of good air quality, noting the possible link between pollution and the severity of illness. But she said the delay to CAZs would weaken the air quality benefits of their eventual introduction, since some businesses would upgrade their fleets to cleaner models in the meantime. “As you push back these schemes [CAZs] they kind of become less relevant because the natural fleet replacement > TURN TO BACK PAGE
Experts offer roadspace reallocation guide AN OFFER of quick and easyto-use technical support to local authorities charged with recasting urban streetspace to meet new statutory guidance in the light of Covid-19 has been sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps by a group of professional representatives co-ordinated by Urban Design Group director Robert Huxford. The initiative was shaped up during last week’s LTT fortnightly online discussion on the topic at which Huxford explained how the timeline for responding to the Covid-19 challenge and opportunity set
out by Shapps required fast action by councils, not all of whom were equipped with the necessary human resources to take the steps required. Shapps has called for “transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities” and says the Covid-19 crisis has provided a “once in a generation opportunity” to do so. Presenting to the LTT online discussion last week, Huxford said “the statutory guidance calls for measures to be taken within weeks. Many highway authorities will not be in a position to respond owing to staff shortages, and the enormity of the task”. He pointed out that
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1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
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6. 7. 8. 9.
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many capable professionals were on furlough, and their skills could be brought back into
use in providing the necessary > TURN TO BACK PAGE
most read LTT stories on
15 May - 28 May 2020
THE FUTURE of England’s clean air zone (CAZ) programme is uncertain because of the impact of Covid-19 on travel behaviour and the economy. The business community is warning that CAZ charges will cripple firms already struggling from the impact of the virus lockdown. Eamon Lally, the Local Government Association’s principal policy adviser, raised wider issues last week. He told members of its environment, economy, housing and transport board last week: “There is concern that the current crisis may have an impact on the legal basis for any [CAZ] proposals as well as the policy direction the Government decides to take on this issue. “We will be seeking urgent guidance for how authorities should proceed, especially regarding public consultation and the modelling of any measures.” A DfT spokesman told LTT that the Government has launched a “rapid call for evidence” to “ensure we can fully understand the impact that coro-
Government that its scheme, due to be implemented next April, will have to be delayed because of the economic damage it would do to businesses already hit by Covid-19 (LTT 01 May). North of the border, the Scottish Government this month announced that work on low emission zones for Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen has been put on hold because of the virus (see page 6). Covid-19 has reduced traffic volumes to such an extent that illegal concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in some towns and cities have been eliminated, at least temporarily. In West Yorkshire, Leeds and Bradford councils both have plans for CAZs. Dave Pearson, West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s director of transport services, told councillors this month: “With decreased motorised traffic, we are seeing from real-time roadside monitoring in West Yorkshire that harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions are on a significant downward trajectory. “Levels of NO 2 are, for example, already at expected clean air zone ‘completed scheme levels’ in West Yorkshire without any intervention.”
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
Fourth LTT Online Reader Discussion Report
DfT’s re-shape streets edict: weeks, not months, to deliver change
Highway and traffic authorities have been told by the Transport Secretary to take measures to deliver ‘transformative change’ to their urban streets within an urgent timeframe. If they don’t, they could be in breach of new Statutory Guidance. Robert Huxford explored how local authorities could best respond in his contribution to last week’s LTT online reader discussion
e recognise this moment for what it is: a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities.” This is Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps’ message in the foreword to the statutory guidance on network management in response to COVID-19. He then goes on to mention the benefits of active travel, including health, reduced air pollution and carbon emissions and local economic benefit. To anyone who has campaigned for these sorts of measures, this can only be seen as welcome backing. But the challenge now is to equip and support the local highway and traffic authorities in delivering things on the ground. In law, statutory guidance is a type of guidance that councils must follow unless they have a very good reason not to. It is not something that can be noted and then ignored. A council may deviate from statutory guidance where it judges on admissible grounds that there is good reason to do so, but they do not have the freedom to take a substantially different course. The Statutory Guidance is issued under Section 18 of the Traffic Management Act, and relates to the discharge of the Section 16 Network Management Duty. Implicit in this duty is a whole-network approach, and not piece- meal measures. The Statutory Guidance specifically calls for “whole-route” approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres. The measures listed under the Statutory Guidance are all the things that one would expect, such as installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities, widening footways, pedestrian crossings and refuges, encouraging walking and cycling to school using ‘school streets’, widening existing cycle lanes to maintain social distancing and reducing speed limits. The Statutory Guidance “expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians”, and states that “measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits
before the restart takes full effect”. That is weeks, not months. There is also a raft of existing statutory duties that impel action: duties under the Highways Act 1980, Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, Road Traffic Act 1988, as well as the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equal- ity Act 2010. The Statutory Guidance was issued on 9 May: “weeks” becomes months on 9 July. Highway and traffic authorities that have not taken measures by then will be in breach of the Statutory Guidance. But the big question is whether local authorities have the resources to respond in time with the extensive network approach required. The annual funding for local councils in England is nearly £12 billion less than it was a decade ago. Spending on highways and transport services (including public transport subsidies) is down by 42 percent over that period, from around £146 per head in 2009-10 to £86 per head in 2019-20, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Skilled staff have been lost, and now, with staff in lockdown and some re-allocated to other COVID-19 emergency tasks, the size of the challenge cannot be understated. The amount of new
A suggested street typology to reflect new movement priorities
funds being made available by central government, is £0, £50, £100 million or £2 billion depending on your perspective. The reality is that light, cheap and quick solutions within a coherent network plan will be required if local councils are to secure the street space required necessary to “change travel habits before the restart takes full effect” Progressive councils are introducing the measures under their own considerable statutory powers, making experimental traffic orders where necessary. Many are able in theory to accelerate the plans that they were working on prior to the pandemic, but these may be in a minority. Councils need as much help as possible. Rather than each trying to find its own way, it would make sense if there were detailed guidance on what to do and where. There are highway, public realm and urban design practitioners who are in a position to provide their expertise. Saskia Huizinga, a public realm specialist, currently on furlough, has been developing a simple street typology that could be very quickly applied to generate a network system of safe shopping streets, strategic public transport and cycling routes, as well as a local network for walking and cycling to enable safe travel to schools, shops and surgeries (see left). David McKenna has developed principles for the Landscape Institute, along with advice on temporary measures and the importance of avoiding unsympathetic designs that could actually increase danger. You can find links to their work online at: https://tinyurl.com/y8byr7zo The layout of most urban areas falls into three basic types: radial, grid and linear, and it should be possible to produce guidance for standard situations based on the intended function of each street and its physical dimensions. Ever since the 18th century there has been a standard range of footway, carriageway and highway widths. Councils already have street classification systems, not only the network classification that drivers recognise, but also systems for prioritising highways maintenance, winter maintenance, and even litter collection which classifies streets as high, medium and low intensity of use, and of course there is TfL’s nine street type system. There is no need to start with a blank sheet. If the “within weeks” requirement of the Statutory Guidance is to be met, then local government needs detailed guidance within days. A coalition of expert practitioners, professional institutions and interest groups, along with central and local government, could be the answer, and to this end, I’ve helped pull together a group of such people to write to the Secretary of State, inviting him to support just such an approach. After the crisis, it is to the long-term that we must turn our thoughts. Most councils have declared climate emergencies. The Statutory Guidance provides the authority to turn these words into deeds. Temporary measures can make way for permanent improvements, but without a change in travel habits brought about in the next few weeks, the once in a generation opportunity will have been lost. We must act, and we can. n
Robert Huxford is director of the Urban Design Group. Along with other professional bodies, Robert is working to create a coalition of expertise and the guidance that is needed to address the government’s new requirements. Please contact him by email at email@example.com to find out more.
(Design produced by Saskia Huizinga)
You can watch Robert’s presentation and see the full discussion by going to: https://tinyurl.com/y8nl683r Our next LTT online event will take place at 2pm on Friday 5th June, and consider the current challenges facing buses during and after the CV-19 lockdown. See p25 for further information.
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Fourth LTT Online Reader Discussion Report
Local authorities share how they are responding
ocal authorities have, in recent weeks, been responding to calls for action regarding street and road space transformations in the light of the pandemic restrictions and changes in traffic levels and travel behaviour. LTT’s online discussion last week heard that, despite some lack of clarity in government guidance, and obvious budget and resource constraints, a number of authorities have been innovating quickly with pop up measures. Most, however, are already aware that more practical and aesthetically pleasing solutions – and therefore more acceptable to the wider public – will need to follow as the response matures. Another part of the package will be measures to promote behaviour change and tackle inactive lifestyles, obesity, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The vision is to bring about a permanent improvement in how traffic is managed in urban areas, creating safer and more attractive places for people. So while initial measures included creating more space for cycling and widening pavements, traffic-management schemes are now supporting road closures, parking bay suspensions and changing car parking layouts. They are looking at creating ‘school streets’, pedestrianising high-streets streets, introducing one-way traffic and separate entry and exit routes in shops to support queuing and help keep citizens healthy and safe. Mark Frost, Assistant Director for Transport, Parking & Environmental Strategy at the London Borough of Hounslow, explained how Hounslow is rolling out schemes in phases, first using cones to widen footways, reallocate road space and better facilitate social distancing for walking. It is also extending bus lane hours to 24/7 where possible, and accelerating planned cycle and pedestrian schemes. Phase two schemes include permanent ‘school street’ closures before September, with a further six beginning consultation in the autumn. Consultation, he notes is a key issue with ‘very little consensus’ on some interventions. ‘It becomes quite difficult if you don’t bring the community along with you, and I think that’s a real challenge for the profession.’ He also mentioned that ‘we’re expected to do more than we’ve ever done in a shorter time frame, but with less money.’ We’re also thinking about our wider policy response, with a focus on emissions-based charges for business and resident parking permits – including an option to restrict permits for the most polluting vehicles and an exploration around means-testing some permits. While a Workplace Parking Levy has been delayed by a year, bringing in a phased WPL could help prevent a car-focused recovery by dis-incentivising car use and funding shorter term walking, cycling and air quality measures he added. ‘Respiratory health and the role of active travel are now more important than ever after COVID-19,’ said Frost. Andy Salkeld, Walking and Cycling Officer for Leicester City Council, said that his city is planning to install at least a mile of new pop-up cycling and walking lanes every week for the next 10 weeks. Pavements will also be widened to help support local shops and to provide safer walking areas, and a bike share scheme will be introduced across the city. What we’re doing immediately is helping key people to get work and so help the rest of us, said Salkeld. He responded to a question, put by audience member Paul Biggs from the Alliance of British Drivers, asking whether rapidly reallocating road space without consultation was ‘democratic or anti-democratic’. ‘The first rule of government is to protect citizens. In Leicester about 40% of households and 66% of people do not have access to a car, so it would be remiss of us, at a time like this, not to respond to citizens’ needs,’ he replied. Leicester’s plan involves reallocating road space around retail shopping streets, taking out suspended parking using the space for queuing. Selected key route road space is also being re-allocated (see image below), primarily to cyclists and, in some cases, away from buses.
PHOTO CREDIT: @RIDELEICESTER
LB Hounslow is introducing experimental traffic orders at 10 locations, using ANPR technology to monitor closures. Residents register their number plates and deliveries have limited time access
Although the number of bus passengers has collapsed significantly, the city is maintaining access to bus stops and continuing to support public transport. The city is planning for more permanent solutions by aligning current rapid responses with the long-term Connecting Leicester project, with the deputy City Mayor acknowledging that it will be difficult to reverse these new measures if they prove, as hoped, to be popular with the public. London Living Streets’ David Harrison outlined London’s plans, outlining the roles of Transport for London (TfL) and the boroughs, and emphasising the key role walking will play in the post-Covid world. TfL has established a Streetspace strategy to help people walk and cycle wherever possible. The project includes: l Quickly building a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials to help reduce crowding on public transport l Changing town centres so local journeys can be more safely walked and cycled, for example with wider pavements l Reducing traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic corridors and neighbourhoods right across London so more people can safely walk and cycle There are also plans for automatic ‘no touch’ green men for pedestrians, wider crossings and the removal of guard railings to prevent bunching, but progress has been slow. Boroughs control the great majority of London’s streets, and are developing plans with TfL. Particularly exciting are proposals for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, where motor traffic can access homes, but cannot drive through and so more people can safely walk and cycle. These have been pioneered very effectively in Waltham Forest and are included in many borough’s transport strategies, but are now to be introduced on a wide scale and speedily in many councils. It is claimed that using temporary materials, these could delivered for as little as £100,000 each. Some of the biggest changes will be in central London where walking will assume even more importance. Roads and bridges are to be closed to motor traffic for periods of the day. London Living Streets, supported by TfL, has produced a Central London Walking Network plan https://londonlivingstreets.com/central-london-walking-network/ to assist the thousands of people walking in and into central London as the lockdown eases. Ruby Stringer from consultants ITP spoke more widely on the opportunities and challenges presented by the current situation. She mentioned the dangers of rising car use as public transport use declines in response to the virus, and social distancing measures, and higher traffic speeds post lockdown. But it’s locking in longer term change that is important, said Stringer: ‘We know that people are most likely to change their habits during periods of change. For most people, this will be the greatest period of change they ever experience, so we must be working right now to ensure that we achieve the most positive outcomes we possibly can. This must involve thinking about infrastructure, but also beyond this to behaviour change initiatives, communication strategies and parking approaches, to name but a few.’
Reporting by Juliana O’Rourke
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
C-charge rises to £15, seven days a week
THE CENTRAL London congestion charge will rise from £11.50 to £15 from 22 June. The charge was suspended because of Covid-19 in March, along with the low emission zone and the ultra-low emission zone. All three were reinstated on 18 May. Alongside the higher congestion charge, TfL will also lengthen its hours of operation from the current 07.00 to 18.00, to 07.00 to 22.00. The charge will also operate seven days a week rather than just on weekdays. TfL will temporarily withdraw the autopay discount, saying its discounted rate provides an incentive to travel in the zone. New applications for residents’ discounts have been temporarily withdrawn. Exemptions for NHS and care workers and Blue Badge holders will remain. London mayor Sadiq Khan said the charge increase and extended hours were temporary measures “to support the transformation of London’s streets” as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased. The effects of the changes will be monitored and will inform a wider review of the congestion charge to be undertaken with the Government as part of the TfL funding deal (see right). AA president Edmund King criticised the changes: “Even though TfL were between a rock and a hard place in terms of finances, these hikes are taking the charges from a ‘congestion’ charge to a ‘taxation’ charge. Traffic at weekends and in the evenings is at its lowest ebb and hence this is no longer a congestion charge. “What are the alternatives for longer journeys? Public transport can’t cope. More walking and cycling, whilst welcome, isn’t viable for all people and all journeys. “There are just 10,000 parkand-ride (Tube) spaces in London, so emergency measures should be brought in to set up park/cycle facilities at the O2, Stratford and other locations.”
Government leads review into TfL’s finances and structure LONDON
THE GOVERNMENT has launched a review of Transport for London’s financial position and structure. The review is one of the conditions of the funding deal struck between ministers and mayor Sadiq Khan to keep TfL solvent through the Covid-19 pandemic when its fare revenues have plummeted. Another condition is the temporary suspension of free travel for under-18s. The financial package is intended to keep transport services in London running until September and comprises £1.095bn of new grant and a loan facility of £505m. The support can be increased by a further £300m of grant and loan (the mix is unclear) if TfL’s revenue loss is higher than forecast. Although Covid-19 is the primary reason for the package, transport secretary Grant Shapps said TfL’s financial problems ran deeper, attributing these to the policies of London’s Labour mayor and to the delayed opening of Crossrail. “The settlement for TfL was needed for two reasons,” Shapps told MPs. “Most important is the significant fall in revenue caused by Covid-19. However, an important secondary factor was the pre-existing poor condition of TfL’s financial position as a result of decisions made over the last four years. “Combined with significant cost increases and delays to Crossrail, this left TfL in serious financial difficulty even before the public health emergency.” Shapps’ remarks will be seen as a criticism of Khan’s fares freeze policy during his mayoral term. This has piled on the pressure to TfL’s budget, particularly given that costs, such as staff salaries, have continued rising. Shapps said the rescue package would “take steps to put TfL back on a sustainable footing while ensuring fairness for the wider British taxpayer”. On the financial and organisa-
tional review, the DfT said: “There will be an immediate and broad-ranging Government-led review of TfL’s future financial position and structure.” It will include examining “the potential for efficiencies”. A London Covid-19 taskforce, comprising representatives of the Government and TfL, has been established to oversee operational decisions during the continuing travel restrictions. The DfT said the “collective focus” would be on taking “all practicable steps to increase the number of services as quickly as possible to benefit pas-
sengers who have no alternative to public transport”. The Government is also to appoint two special representatives onto TfL’s board, its finance committee, and its programmes and investment committee, “in order to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer”. The funding deal requires TfL to raise fares by RPI+1 per cent next January. TfL’s business plan, published last December, proposed this but the final decision was to rest with the mayor who was to be elected last month. Covid-19 has delayed the
mayoral election until next May, so the increase will be introduced during Khan’s tenure. Other conditions attached to the funding agreement include: • restoring public transport services to 100 per cent of pre-Covid levels as soon as possible – TfL said last week that bus and Tube service levels were up to 85 per cent; • requiring TfL to collect fares on buses while ensuring driver safety (see left); • easing congestion by temporarily suspending free travel for over-60s in the morning peak and for under-18s all day. Special arrangements will be made for children who qualify for free travel to schools. The Government said these conditions would “avoid crowding and reduce the exposure of vulnerable groups”. A review of the central London congestion charge will also be undertaken. The mayor reinstated this and the ultra-low emission zone and low emission zone on 18 May (see left).
Byford is TfL’s new commissioner London’s new transport commissioner will start work at the end of June in the midst of the Government’s review of Transport for London’s finances and structure. TfL this week announced the appointment of Andy Byford to succeed Mike Brown. Byford’s most recent position was president and chief executive officer of the New York City Transport Authority. Aged 54, Byford was born in Plymouth. He will join TfL on 29 June. Brown will stay on until the 10 July to ensure a smooth handover. Byford’s career of more than 30 years in transport has spanned three continents. In addition to his New York role, he has been: • chief executive officer of the
Byford: new commissioner
Toronto Transit Commission • chief operating officer and deputy chief executive officer of Rail Corporation New South Wales in Australia • director of operations for Southern Railway in the UK • director of safety and operations for South Eastern Trains in the UK He started his career at London Underground as a
graduate trainee in 1989 and held various positions, including general manager – customer services for the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines. Byford said: “I am delighted to be taking up the role of Commissioner and to have been chosen to lead the organisation where I started my transport career over 30 years ago. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, all transport authorities around the world will need to reimagine how their services and projects contribute to the safe and sustainable re-start of the social and economic lives of the cities they serve.” Mike Brown has been appointed chair of the Delivery Authority for the Restoration & Renewal of the Houses of Parliament.
Fares reinstated on capital’s bus passengers
TRANSPORT FOR London is reinstating a requirement for bus passengers to pay fares on London buses. Free travel was introduced in late April when TfL implemented
middle door boarding to reduce the risk of bus drivers contracting Covid-19 (LTT 01 May). Most card readers are located by the front door, close to the driver. From 23 May passengers have been required to touch-in when boarding 85 routes served by
single-door buses and New Routemaster buses that have card readers by the middle doors. “This is the first step to returning all of London’s buses to being able to accept payments once further safety measures have been introduced to protect bus drivers,”
said TfL. The reinstatement of fare payments was a condition to the Government’s Covid-19 rescue package for TfL. Middle-door only boarding on London buses will continue to operate until further notice.
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New £254m grant to restore bus services back to normal
by Andrew Forster
THE DFT this week announced a £254m 12-week fund to restore bus services in England outside London to normal as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. The Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant Restart (CBSSG Restart) funding will cover the losses that operators incur by restoring normal services at a time when passenger demand remains depressed because of social distancing, which has reduced vehicle capacity, and the Government’s advice that people should continue avoiding public transport if possible. CBSSG Restart succeeds the initial £166.8m 12-week CBSSG grant that has paid operators to provide 40-50 per cent of normal service mileage. CBSSG ends on 8 June and CBSSG Restart is backdated to take effect on 12 May. The two grants will operate side-by-side during this overlap period. Alongside the new grant, the DfT will continue to pay operators Bus Service Operator Grant at pre-pandemic levels. It has asked local authorities to continue to pay concessionary travel reimbursement, home-toschool transport, and tendered service contract payments at pre-pandemic levels too. This request is controversial because councils are themselves cashstrapped by Covid-19 (see pages 6-7). Although CBSSG Restart is initially to run for 12 weeks, it has no definite end date, reflecting the uncertainty about how for long Covid-19 will affect
travel behaviour. “It has a rolling quality to it that is really helpful,” one operator told LTT. “Cliff edges are not helpful to anybody.” The DfT and Treasury will review the grant at the end of each four-week period to assess its perfomance. The DfT wants operators to ultimately run 100 per cent of scheduled commercial mileage for a typical non-school week. But the CBSSG Restart grant formula is structured in a way that recognises this will take time to deliver. The DfT says operators “must consult and agree with the relevant local transport authorities regarding the services that should be provided” and “take all reasonable steps to respond and comply promptly with reasonable requests from local transport authorities”. “Where the DfT has a reasonable belief that an operator has not engaged in good faith with the relevant local transport authorities covered by their operations, the DfT may deny or suspend any CBSSG Restart funding to that operator.” The DfT will provide funding on the assumption that operators provide up to 70 per cent of service levels by 1 June 2020 and up to 100 per cent as soon as reasonably possible after that. For the first four week period (from 12 May onwards), payments will be based on the formula below, where £1.0051/km is the initial CBSSG Restart rate and a 55 per cent service level is assumed (operators running service levels higher than 55 per
cent will be paid at the actual service level they are providing). The formula is: 2019 commercial live kms × (55%) × £1.0051 For the period from 9 June to 6 July the service level will be set at 80 per cent to reflect the expected continued ramp up in services. Payments for the third fourweek period and any subsequent periods will be based on “live” bus kilometres and patronage (excluding concessionary passengers) data for the previous period. Like with CBSSG, operators will not be permitted to achieve any profit before tax through, or whilst in receipt of, CBSSG Restart funding, says the DfT. This will be ensured primarily by the reconciliation exercise. The DfT will decide in June how funding for tendered services will be distributed through the CBSSG Restart scheme. Under CBSSG, the DfT paid £21.5m of the £166.8m to councils for shortfalls on tendered services. There are some concerns about the fairness of the
allocation process and also whether operators have received payments due from this grant stream. Operators will not be permitted to implement commercial fare price increases while receiving the CBSSG Restart funding, or in the four weeks following the conclusion of the scheme. As well as paying for higher service levels, CBSSG Restart includes provision for one-off operator payments to remove staff from the furlough system early; personal protective equipment costs; costs involved in bringing buses out of Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN); and the cost of parts required to make buses fit for service again.
Talks continue between the bus industry and the Scottish and Welsh Governments about a funding package to pay for increased service levels as their lockdown restrictions are eased. Financial consultant Deloitte is advising the Scottish Government on its scheme.
£29m aid for light rail The DfT has announced £29m for operators of light rail and metro systems in England to pay for enhanced services during the restart period as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. Nexus, the Tyne and Wear PTE, has secured £7.6m and said the funding will sustain services until August. Chief operating officer Martin Kearney said: “We will continue to talk to the Government about the need for additional financial support for the remainder of the year at the very least.” Transport for Greater Manchester is understood to have been awarded the largest share – £13.3m for the Metrolink system.
Ministers ‘must fund extra school travel costs’ SCHOOL TRANSPORT
THE GOVERNMENT must fund the additional costs of providing school transport during Covid-19 social distancing, the Urban Transport Group has said. The UTG wants the Government to meet the “full additional costs resulting from the Covid19 pandemic on the provision of transport to schools and colleges”. The Government should also open a dialogue with transport authorities on the operational challenges of schools restarting, it says. Despite some children in England returning to school next week, the UTG briefing paper
released this week said: “At the time of writing, transport authorities have not been involved to any significant degree on any discussions that may have, or are, taking place between the Department for Education and the DfT on the transport ramifications of the return to schools and colleges. “It is difficult to predict in advance: which schools and colleges will be opening for whom and when; the extent of the takeup of school places that become available; and to what extent and where schools traffic will shift to active travel and the car, and thus what demand there will be for capacity on dedicated and
regular school transport.” Social distancing will “dramatically increase the costs of the provision of dedicated services (and for the provision of capacity for school journeys on regular services) and there is no clarity about how these costs will be covered,” says the UTG. “Schoolchildren and students tend to travel at similar times creating peaks that could easily overwhelm the capacity of socially-distanced bus services,” it warns. “With social distancing, many of the secondary school services will have to be operated by double-deck buses but these will not meet the requirement for the use of seat-
belts for primary school children.” The UTG says the bus industry’s approach to social distancing “could mean children are left at bus stops, which would have significant implications for their welfare”. “Avoiding this scenario implies the re-planning of services and networks to prioritise the availability of capacity for school traffic,” it says. The transport challenges of the return to school and college following the easing of the Covid19 lockdown is available at https://tinyurl.com/ya7quyou
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
Oxon to hand back Covid-19 bus grant Oxfordshire County Council is to hand back its £422,230 share of the DfT’s Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG). The 12week DfT grant (from 17 March to 8 June) has been used to ensure bus operators provide between 40 and 50 per cent of bus mileage. The majority was paid direct to bus operators but £21.5m was paid to local authorities to cover tendered services. Oxfordshire County Council received an allocation even though it does not fund any tendered services. The council had planned to keep the money to pay for service enhancements as lockdown restrictions end but the DfT has said the funding should be returned. The area’s two main bus operators, Stagecoach and Go-Ahead also advised that the money be handed back for recycling into the commercial element of the grant scheme.
Covid-19 cuts road casualties Leeds City Council has reported a big drop in road traffic casualities because during Covid-19 movement restrictions. The council has compared road traffic casualties in the first 18 weeks of 2020 and 2019. All casualties fell by 40 per cent, from 643 (2019) to 383 (2020), while those killed or seriously injured (KSI) fell 38 per cent, from 117 to 73. The council has also compared data from week 12 of both years onwards, covering the period of Covid-19 lockdown. “Despite some random fluctuations, the number of casualties has substantially reduced regardless of the mode of transport,” reported officers. “The total number of all casualties fell by 64 per cent from 236 in 2019 to 86 in 2020, while those KSI went down by 54 per cent, from 43 in 2019 to 20 in 2020.”
Covid frustrates road resurfacing Reading Borough Council has had to cut back a residential road surfacing programme because so many more cars are parked on streets during the day because of Covid-19 movement restrictions. “The increased number of parked cars in our residential roads not moving during the day and night makes it impractical for the contractor to resurface roads without requiring the public to move large numbers of cars during the lockdown / restrictions period,” Andy Edwards, Reading’s assistant director of environmental and commercial services, told councillors. The £9m three-year capital maintenance programme is to be reprofiled with £1.5m spent in 2020/21 and £7.5m over the following two years.
More councils warn of Covid cash crunch without extra aid
MORE COUNCILS in England have warned of financial distress unless the Goverment comes up with further funding to cover their additional costs and income losses from Covid-19. The Government has already provided authorities in England with £3.2bn of support. LTT reported last issue warnings from councils such as Manchester, Brighton & Hove, Leicestershire, York and Northamptonshire that their share of the funding would still leave a big hole in their budgets (LTT 15 May). Some said capital investment programmes covering transport and other areas were being reassessed. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been collating council financial data on the impact of Covid-19. To bring some uniformity to the estimates due by 15 May, the MHCLG asked councils to assume current restrictions remain in place until the end of July and that the “situation then reverts entirely back to a position you anticipated prior to Covid-19”. The MHCLG stressed this was for accounting purposes only and “should in no way be interpreted as government policy”. In practice all the estimates are highly uncertain because no one knows how long the restrictions will remain in place and what
Wiltshire: ‘risk to the council’
their impacts will be on council income flows such as business rates and council tax. Leeds City Council is projecting a £123.4m overspend of its 2020/21 budget, after taking into account the £43.7m of Covid-19 grant the council has received from Government. This includes lost council tax, business rates, fees and charges, and capital receipts. “There is a significant concern that the impact of Covid-19 upon the resources available to fund services that the council currently provides will extend into future financial years where the council is already forecasting estimated budget gaps of £52.2m in 2021/22 and £31.7m in 2022/23 respectively,” said officers. The council has launched a review of its capital programme. Leeds wants the Government to underwrite all lost fees and charges and the shortfall in busi-
LEZs for Scots cities delayed by Covid-19
THE SCOTTISH Government has dropped plans to introduce low emission zones in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee before the end of the year because of Covid19. The three cities were developing plans to introduce LEZs initially covering buses only. They would be similar to Glasgow’s LEZ, which was introduced in December 2018 and increases each year the percentage of the bus fleet that must comply with the LEZ standard. The decision to pause further work was made by the Low Emission Zone leadership group, which includes transport secretary Michael Matheson, climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham and representatives from
the four local authorities, Public Health Scotland and SEPA. Matheson said: “The Scottish Government is fully committed to tackling air pollution in the quickest time possible. The unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has resulted in necessary changes to priorities across government and across our local authority partners. “Similar to other initiatives across the public sector, we have come to the view that introducing low emission zones across our four biggest cities by the end of 2020 is no longer practicable. “We remain dedicated to introducing low emission zones across Scotland’s four biggest cities to reduce inequalities, improve our health and wellbeing and deliver sustainable economic growth.”
ness rates. Currently, the Government underwrites business rates if they fall below a safety net of 92.5 per cent of the council’s funding baseline. It also wants the Government to fund any shortfall in council tax and suggests the Goverment authorises writing off council debt payments to the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) for one year. This would save the council £38m. Failing this, it suggests the Government reduces the interest rates for PWLB debt. Rob Carr, Hampshire County Council’s head of finance, told councillors that, even before Covid-19, the council was “not financially viable in the medium term without significant additional Government funding”. “The current [Covid-19] crisis accelerates this position, unless some form of Government underwriting is confirmed.” Cambridgeshire County
Council has estimated a surprisingly small residual pressure of £7.7m, after taking into account the £26.1m grant received from the Government. The estimate also assumes the NHS will reimburse the council £10.3m for procuring care for people discharged from hospital. Wiltshire Council estimates that Covid-19 will leave a shortfall in its 2020/21 budget of anything between £18.8m and £51.5m, after taking into account the £28.8m grant received from the Government. The council’s general fund reserves are £15.1m. Alistair Cunningham, Wiltshire’s chief executive officer place, and Terence Herbert, chief executive officer, people, told councillors: “It is without doubt that this represents a significant risk and threat to the continuation of the council in its current form, and whilst the full picture will become clearer it is almost inevitable that decisions will be required in future to ensure the council delivers a balanced budget in 2020/21 and ongoing. “With the Government’s spending review now delayed there is even further uncertainty over the funding position for 2021/22. However, the medium term financial strategy already had a gap of £24.5m that would have had to have been addressed before the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Transport plans for SE Wales re-assessed TRAVEL DEMAND
THE WELSH Government and councils in southeast Wales are to review travel demand and transport investment needs in the light of the “new normal” following the end of Covid-19 restrictions. In a report addressing the economic impacts of Covid-19, officers told last week’s Cardiff Capital Region City Deal cabinet meeting: “Early discussion with the Welsh Government suggests that all transport-related forecasts should be re-run and it has been recommended that a joint piece of work is carried out via the regional transport authority to inform a shared position on future transport investment in the region. “There is a real opportunity to think about how this might lead
to a more differentiated strategy for the Cardiff Capital Region, striving for better ratios than the current 80:10:10 of car use, public transport and active travel.” Asked about the work, a Welsh Government spokesman told LTT: “Coronavirus has led to significant and unprecedented challenges in the transport sector. This includes obvious short-term effects on demand. “Further consideration of specific forecasts will be possible once more information about the overall impact becomes available. “We will work with our partners, including the Cardiff Capital Regional City Deal, to develop a better picture of how the new normal, post-pandemic will impact on transport needs and demand.”
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Councils bearing the pain of Covid bus payments – Nexus
by Andrew Forster
LOCAL AUTHORITIES’ own financial problems arising from Covid-19 are being worsened by the Government’s request that they pay bus operators concessionary fares reimbursement and tendered services funding at preCovid 19 levels, says Nexus, the Tyne and Wear PTE. Concessionary fare trips have collapsed during the virus outbreak, with some local transport authorities reporting only about ten per cent of such trips are being made. Meanwhile, many tendered bus services are not operating. The DfT, however, asked councils to make payments at pre-Covid 19 levels for both funding streams as part of the initial 12-week package to help stop operators going bust. This period runs to 9 June. The DfT has now said it wants local transport authorities to continue the payments at preCovid-19 levels as part of the funding package for the ‘restart’ phase, which will see bus service mileage increase. Local authorities were under no legal obligation to continue making the payments at preCovid-19 levels, John Fenwick, Nexus’s director of finance and resources, this month told the Tyne and Wear sub-committee of the North East Joint Transport Committee.
Tyne and Wear: funding dilemmas
He said Nexus could make huge savings on its reimbursement budget if it stuck to the terms of its agreements with operators. These ensure the PTE pays more or claws back funding if actual boardings are higher or lower than a threshold in any given year. Nexus’s concessionary fares budget for bus services in 2020/21 is £37.8m, of which £34.9m is for the elderly and disabled (including discretionary concessions) and £2.9m is for under 16s. Said Fenwick: “Once the impact of the ‘collar’ mechanism has been considered, even at 50 per cent of target boardings across the entire year, it is estimated that in circumstances where Nexus strictly applied the terms of its agreements with the commercial bus operators, total payments would amount to £20.6m, a reduction of £17.2m
Strong message for Scots on face covers
THE SCOTTISH Government has instructed people to wear face coverings on public transport, whereas in England it is merely encouraged. Guidance issued by the Scottish Government this week says people “should, and are expected to” wear face coverings, with the exception of small children. The advice follows “careful consideration of the medical and scientific evidence and taking into account the representations of transport staff and the views of the public”. “We believe this measure will also rebuild public confidence in the use of our public transport,” says the Scottish Government.
The DfT’s advice to public transport users is not as stringent, simply saying: “If you can, wear a face covering on public transport.” The Welsh Government’s advice is similar. “Wearing a face covering may be beneficial as a precautionary measure,” it says. “It may provide some extra protection to you and may protect others if you are infected, whether or not you have developed symptoms.” The DfT’s guidance also advises that in interchanges it will not always be possible to maintain the recommended two metre social distance. In these instances it advises people to “face away from other people and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible”.
or 45 per cent.” Nexus funds about ten per cent of bus services in Tyne ans Wear. Its gross expenditure on these in 2020/21 is budgeted to be £13.7m but the PTE receives £2.2m of fares income from the services, taking its net expenditure down to £11.5m. Most supported services have been suspended because of Covid-19. “Clearly, because of the impact of the coronavirus, commercial bus operators are not entitled to 100 per cent of budgeted for payments,” said Fenwick. “Given the level of service provision, it is estimated that total payments due to them could amount to less than half the original budget if contractual terms were strictly adhered to. A 50 per cent reduction would equate to almost £7m (full year equivalent).” Nexus runs the Tyne and Wear Metro and the cross-Tyne ferry, which, like buses have been seen passenger numbers plummet. The Government has paid Nexus £8.6m for revenue losses on the Metro up to 9 June. Fenwick said this represented only 80 per cent of the likely actual losses. The PTE has received nothing from Government for the ferry. He said continuing to pay bus operators the full amount for reimbursement and tendered services would help underpin the bus network, but it would fail to deal with the PTE’s own bud-
getary pressures or those of its constituent districts. Nexus might also struggle to demonstrate that paying operators the full amount represented value for money, he said. “Given that the financial gap on Metro caused by Covid-19 is significant, strictly speaking, Nexus could redirect some or all of its bus concessionary fares reimbursement and/or secured bus services budgets in order to make good Metro’s losses,” he said. “This is, however, a course of action that is unlikely to help Nexus with its current and any future applications to central government for Covid-19 financial support for Metro.” Nexus this week received further funding support for the Metro (see page 3). He suggested that different options, and their implications, be developed further for future consideration by the Joint Transport Committee, “along with the more medium/longer term option for Nexus to work with the commercial bus operators to design a revised bus network”. Nexus has received £494,000 of Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG) to cover supported services, and also £693,000 from the DfT’s one-year bus service support grant. On these, Fenwick said: “It seems appropriate for Nexus to use the full £1.187m to offset its secured services fare revenue losses.”
Social distancing policies on the buses
BUS OPERATORS are introducing a range of measures to ensure social distancing on vehicles. FirstGroup is providing drivers with manual counters to record passengers alighting. When complemented by ticket machine data about boardings, drivers will know when the social distanced capacity limit has been reached. Many operators will use electronic displays on the front of buses give a message such as ‘bus full’, with vehicles only stopping to set down, and with a one-in/one-out policy. Stagecoach has set capacity limits by bus type (mini bus, midi bus, single deck, double deck and coach) and issued guidance to all its businesses. It says social dis-
tancing means that buses will typically operate at about 20 per cent capacity. Stagecoach is advising passengers to sit in window seats and to leave the seats in front and behind a passenger empty. Only one person can sit in a double seat, unless from the same household. FirstGroup has introduced a group-wide policy of passenger limits for every bus type in its fleet. Subsidiaries are permitted some variations, for instance allowing back seats to be used by families. First is marking out where passengers cam to sit. Arriva has taped off seats within two metres of the driver, though wheelchair spaces will remain available. Like many other operators, it will impose a no standing policy.
Review grant rules, says LGA
COUNCILS IN England should be given freedoms on spending Government grants for transport and economic development because of Covid-19, the Local Government Association has said. LGA chairman James Jamieson has written to Simon Clarke, the MP for regional growth and local government, setting out the Association’s thinking. Jamieson asks for allocations to be expedited for “all current grant schemes: Housing Infrastructure Fund, Future High Streets, Stronger Towns, Growth Funds, local transport schemes, ESIF [European Structural and Investment Funds]”. He says the Government should enable councils to reallocate grants from one stream to another, extend deadlines on project completion timescales, and relax conditions “so that councils can get on and deliver, focusing on delivery not process (e.g. Housing Infrastructure Fund)”. Jamieson also calls for a fiveyear highway maintenance funding allocation for councils. The LGA wants the Government to change the rules on Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy so that councils “can invest upfront in schools and roads etc and claw back from associated developments”.
Job loss fears for Gatwick area The area around Gatwick Airport in West Sussex could be one of the worst hit by mass unemployment because of Covid-19, local authorities have warned. In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the local councils and local enterprise partnerships cite a report from the Centre for Cities think tank suggesting that the area “is the most exposed locality to the economic impact of the pandemic”. The letter says around 18 per cent of Crawley’s workforce is employed in the aviation industry and related sectors. “The result is that over half of all of Crawley’s jobs are at risk of being either furloughed or lost completely.” Virgin Atlantic has already announced its withdrawal from Gatwick and British Airways is reviewing its operations. Local leaders want special assistance for the area.
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
8 News: Temporary active travel measures
Councils get to work delivering temporary active travel routes LOCAL AUTHORITIES across Britain are installing temporary roadspace reallocation measures to give pedestrians and cyclists more space as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. Many councils see measures as possible forerunners to installing permanent schemes to support active travel. The programme of measures has the backing of the DfT and the devolved administrations. The DfT published statutory guidance for local authorities in England last month (LTT 15 May). Leicester City Council mayor Peter Soulsby is promising to install a mile of new temporary cycling and walking lanes every week for the next ten weeks. Temporary cycle lanes were recently installed on Saffron Lane and Aylestone Road (LTT 15 May). They will now be installed on some of the major arterial routes into the city, beginning with a 1.2mile stretch of London Road inbound between Shanklin Drive and Victoria Park Road. It will be marked out using cones and signs. Similar arrangements on a 1.6-mile inbound stretch of Hinckley Road will follow. Permanent cycleway schemes that are already underway as part of the council’s Transforming Cities programme will be accelerated for early completion. Pavements will be widened to help support local shops when they reopen. In Leeds the city council is to install
Leicester City Council
Leicester City Council has installed temporary cycle lanes
a cycle lane on the A65 using orcas and wands. A number of footways have been widened and further measures are being implemented “subject to procuring significant quantities of relevant equipment, funding being made available and feedback from local ward members”. Officers are also looking to fast-track where possible schemes under development including the city centre 20mph scheme and the third phase of the City Connect cycleways project. This includes segregated cycle lanes on Dewsbury Road, Elland Road, and Clay Pit Lane. Sheffield City Council has introduced temporary footpath widening including on Chesterfield Road and Fulwood Road. A temporary cycle lane will be installed between Shalesmoor Round-
about and Corporation Street, and Devonshire Street will be part-pedestrianised from Eldon Street to Carver Street. Reading Borough Council has outlined a big programme of measures. “The current low levels of traffic provide potentially unique opportunities to make a step change in the adoption of healthier and more sustainable travel choices,” Giorgio Framalicco, Reading’s deputy director of planning, transport and regulatory services, told councillors. Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders will make sections of Gosbrook Road and Westfield Road one-way, enabling more space for walking and cycling. Water-filled traffic management barriers will be used to enforce the changes.
DfT releases first £45m of £250m fund Local authorities in England this week received notification of their indicative allocations from the first £45m of the DfT’s £250m budget for active travel schemes. Of the total £250m, £225m is being provided directly to local transport authorities and London boroughs, while £25m will help support cycle repair schemes. The £225m for local authorities will be released in two phases. The first tranche of £45m will be released as soon as possible so that work can begin at pace on closing roads to through traffic, installing segregated cycle lanes and widening pavements. In a letter to councils, Rupert Furness, the DfT’s deputy director for active and accessible travel, says: “The main purpose of the initial funding is to promote cycling as a replacement for journeys previously made by public transport. Funding is therefore weighted towards areas which until the crisis had high levels of public transport use, especially for short and local journeys, which can now be cycled.” The payments to councils are indicative. “To receive any money under this or future tranches, you will need to show us that you have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians, including on strategic corridors,” says Furness. “The quickest and cheapest way of achieving this will normally be point closures. These can be of certain main roads (with exceptions for buses, access and disabled people, and with other main roads kept free for through motor traffic); or of parallel side streets, if sufficiently direct
to provide alternatives to the main road. Point closures can also be used to create low-traffic filtered neighbourhoods. “Pop-up segregated cycle lanes will also be funded, but are likely to be more difficult to implement quickly. As the guidance states, they must use full or light segregation. We will also fund the swift implementation, using temporary materials, of existing cycle plans that involve the meaningful reallocation of road space. “We expect all these measures to be delivered quickly using temporary materials, such as barriers and planters. Elaborate, costly materials will not be funded at this stage. Anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded. “As the guidance makes clear, 20mph zones can form part of a package of measures, but will not be sufficient on their own. “If work has not started within four weeks of receiving your allocation under this tranche of funding, or has not been completed within eight weeks of starting, the Department will reserve the right to claw the funding back by adjusting downwards a future grant payment to your authority. This will have a material impact on your ability to secure any funding in tranche 2.” The second tranche of £180m will be released later in the summer to enable authorities to install further, more permanent measures to cement cycling and walking habits. Where applicable, this will enable local authorities to implement schemes already planned in Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs).”
Sidmouth Street will be made one-way (northbound) for all traffic with a contraflow cycle lane in the current southbound lane. North and southbound cycle lanes are to be marked on Reading Bridge over the River Thames by removing one inbound traffic lane. A permanent contraflow cycle lane between the footway and parked vehicles could be installed on Blagrave Street between Reading Town Hall and the railway station. Brighton and Hove City Council was one of the first to act by closing Madeira Drive on the seafront to vehicles (LTT 15 May). It has also created temporary cycle lanes along the A270 Old Shoreham Road to the west of the city. Further proposals include: • adjusting signal timings at ClockTower, the junction of Queens Road/North Street, to give pedestrians more crossing time and reduce crowding • reducing the number of bus stops along Western Road, a shopping street, to give pedestrians more space • removing some parking from Boundary Road, St James Street, and London Road Councillors have asked officers to look again at active travel interventions on the A259 seafront road between the Aquarium roundabout and just beyond the British Airways i360 visitor attraction, a road with generally two lanes in each direction. “The existing cycle lane is constrained and with the increased numbers of pedestrians social distancing has become more difficult,” officers reported. They considered two options for improving conditions but said neither were satisfactory. One option would have removed the southern inside general traffic lane, allowing cyclists to contraflow. Officers said this was costly (£60,000), would require water-filled barriers that were hard to source, and would pose safety concerns because contra-flow cyclists would not receive red signals at pedestrian crossings. Other safety concerns included access/egress issues for cyclists to the new cycle lane. The other option involved taking out the inside lane on both the north and south sides of the road. This would allow the adjacent promenade to be used wholly by pedestrians and no longer shared with cyclists. This option would cost an estimated £58,000 but officers said: “An initial review by road safety has highlighted concerns related to the conflict between cyclists and left-turning traffic. “Using cones will make it feel that the lane is being worked on and drivers might not expect cyclists to emerge at junction. “Coning will require constant monitoring to ensure the safety of cyclists.”
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News: Temporary active travel measures 9
London: Park Lane traffic lanes cut from three to one
TRANSPORT FOR London has defended its installation of a temporary cycle lane and a bus lane along Park Lane, leaving just one of the three northbound lanes of the busy thoroughfare open to general traffic. The dual carriageway Park Lane runs down the east side of Hyde Park. The northbound carriageway was previously three lanes for general traffic. This has been reduced to one lane, with the middle lane converted to a bus lane and the outside lane now a two-way cycle lane, between South Carriage Drive and North Carriage Drive. The speed limit on the road has been cut from 40mph to 20mph. Shortly after its implementation, local resident David Tarsh posted a video on YouTube showing himself standing in front of the empty bike lane with vehicles funnelling into the one remaining general traffic lane. Tarsh told LTT: “This is TfL’s anti-car agenda. What’s disgusting is to take advantage of a [public health] crisis to drive cars off the road.” He said there was already a parallel bike track through Hyde Park. A TfL spokesman said: “Enabling social distancing to happen on the public transport network as lockdown restrictions are eased will require a monumental effort from all Londoners. Public transport should be avoided wherever possible. Many more Londoners must now walk or cycle and doing so will be central to the capital’s recovery.
David Tarsh in his video on YouTube about the Park Lane changes
“The new lane on Park Lane is part of the mayor’s world-leading Streetspace for London programme, which is quickly creating the extra space needed for people who can walk and cycle, leaving more space on public transport for people who cannot.” Asked to comment on Tarsh’s point that a parallel cycle lane already existings in Hyde Park, the spokesman said: “There is an existing narrow shared cycle and pedestrian path parallel to Park Lane in Hyde Park, but the numbers of people walking in the park means that cycling on this path can be uncomfortable, and even more so with social distancing requirements. “With the number of people walking and cycling for both transport and leisure
set to increase considerably as the lockdown eases, it is vital to create as much space for people on foot and bikes as possible. “The new 20mph limit on Park Lane, reduced from 40mph, will reduce road danger. The bus lanes will prioritise public transport over private transport, making sure those people who have no option but to continue using public transport to get to their essential jobs can do so quickly and easily.” Asked about how long the arrangement would remain in place, the spokesman said: “All temporary Streetspace schemes, including Park Lane, will be monitored whilst they are in place to ensure that they are working as they should to enable more social distancing,
walking and cycling. “Schemes will be reviewed by TfL at a later date and could become permanent.” Sadiq Khan has pledged to “transform parts of central London into one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world” as part of the social distancing programme. Some streets would be converted to walking and cycling only, with others restricted to all traffic apart from buses. Streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists. Access for emergency services and disabled people will be maintained, but TfL said deliveries on some streets may need to be made outside of congestion charging hours. Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened to enable people to safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces. TfL is looking at providing zero emission capable taxis with access to both these bridges, and other areas where traffic is restricted. Extra cycle parking spaces are being added with an initial 1,000 extra focused around busy areas such as high streets and transport hubs. Staffed cycle hubs are being set up for Santander Cycles at Waterloo, Kings Cross, Holborn, Liverpool Street and Soho Square.
Scotland: Edinburgh scoops £5m as budget grows THE SCOTTISH Government has awarded the City of Edinburgh Council £5m – half of the initial £10m budget – from the Places for Everyone fund to introduce roadspace reallocation measures to help with Covid-19 social distancing. The Government this week announced that the budget for the fund was being increased to £30m. Edinburgh’s plans include restricting through traffic in the city centre. A report presented to councillors presents a programme of traffic changes across the city to be delivered in the short-term (by end of May); medium-term (by end of June); and longer term (July or later). “Enabling physical distancing to be practiced in the city centre, on local high streets and around neighbourhood shops is a major challenge, given that most pavements are less than three metres wide, and many are around two metres and sometimes less,” said Paul Lawrence, Edinburgh’s executive director of place, in a report to councillors. He said that, in the city centre, the aim would be to reduce the overall amount of road traffic by closing selected cross-centre routes to
through traffic. Some restrictions were already being planned as part of the city centre transformation plan but are being accelerated. “The intention would be to accelerate a suite of proposals from the Edinburgh city centre transformation development plan on an emergency basis and to supplement these proposals by introducing restrictions on The Bridges,” said Lawrence. The North and South Bridge form part of the north-south corridor that crosses Waverley station. Key proposals are the closure to through car traffic of: Bank Street on the north-south corridor at the top of the Mound (LTT 17 Apr); North Bridge (or potentially another point on the same route); East Market Street; and East Princes Street. Also in the city centre, Victoria Street and Cockburn Street could be closed to through traffic and have parking provision reduced. Waverley Bridge – from where tour buses normally depart – may be closed too. “The resulting reduction in through traffic will enable reallocation of carriageway space to pedestrians on key high streets including South Bridge, Minto Street and George IV Bridge,” said Lawrence.
Elsewhere, footways could be widened and segregated cycleways installed in high streets including: Morningside Road, Easter Road, Gorgie/Dalry, Great Junction Street, and The Shore. Automatic green man faciilties were installed at 150 junctions this week, removing the need for pedestrians to push a button to trigger a green man. “There is a risk of infection from people pressing the pedestrian call button at traffic signals,” officers explained. Push button control will be retained between 11pm and 7am to minimise noise. Traffic light settings could also be changed to cut pedestrian wait times and reduce pedestrians congregating at crossings. The above changes to traffic signals are particularly likely to be made to the 200 of the 600 signals controlled by the council’s urban traffic control system. A programme of guardrail removal will also be accelerated to give pedestrians more space. Protected cycle lanes could be installed on roads in the city’s suburbs such as Old Dalkeith Road, Crewe Road South, Gilmerton Road. Some form of segregation for bikes is also being explored at
roundabouts close to the Western General Hospital. Speed limits are to be reduced. The council plans to bring forward the implementation of 30mph speed limits on all suburban main roads that currently have a 40mph limit; and is to review the limit on those streets currently with a 30mph limit if a 20mph limit could complement other measures being introduced. To give pedestrians and cyclists more space for exercise, the council proposes to install bus gates and segregated cycleways on Dundee Street at Fountainbridge and to close Viewforth to provide an alternative to the busy Union Canal towpath. Part of Braid Hills Road/Drive could be closed and the speed limit could be cut on the remaining section. Warriston Road will be closed to through traffic. Other road closures being explored include East Fettes Avenue, Stanley Street/Hope Lane, Arboretum Place, Curriehill Road, Ravelston Terrrace, and Cairnmuir Road. The council is to extend its contract with Turner and Townsend and Anturas Consulting for programme management support until May next year at a cost of £374,925.
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
Cambs busway: GCP defies Palmer BUSES
THE CAMBRIDGESHIRE and Peterborough Combined Authority this week hinted at possible legal proceedings against the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) after it decided to press ahead with the Cambourne to Cambridge busway in defiance of combined authority mayor James Palmer. In February Palmer requested the GCP cease work on the project, saying it did not accord with his aims for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM), of which the route would be the first part (LTT 21 Feb). The GCP this week decided to proceed its the £160m project. The GCP comprises Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the University of Cambridge. Palmer said: “Despite the combined authority’s concerns that the Cambourne to Cambridge busway does not accord with the local transport plan or the wider vision of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) it supposedly is a part of, the GCP have decided to proceed regardless, which risks significant delays and wasted public expenditure in contentious legal proceedings. “In these amended plans, it would appear the GCP has listened to the concerns of Cambridge residents, but anyone outside the city has been ignored, including me. “I believe that, as the directly elected leader of the transport authority, I should have some input into schemes that are purportedly a part of our local transport plan. “The GCP would rather disregard my views, and risk the scheme coming to a halt during the planning proceedings.” Palmer said the GCP’s plan amounted to “a standalone busway that serves only their limited Local Plan, with no consideration of the needs of the rest of the county, the impact of East West Rail or the additional future growth called for by Government and set out in the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Economic Review.”
Operators struggle to commit funds to electric bus town bids BUSES
BUS OPERATORS may be unable to give cast-iron commitments to provide match-funding in the DfT’s All-Electric Bus Town competition because Covid-19 has wrecked their investment programmes. The funding competition will see £50m awarded to electrify a bus fleet in one town or city in England (LTT 07 Feb). The DfT will contribute up to 75 per cent of the cost difference between a zero emission bus and a standard conventional diesel bus equivalent, and up to 75 per cent of the capital expenditure incurred for infrastructure improvements, such as charging facilities. The deadline for local authorities to submit expressions of interest was extended to 4 June because of Covid-19. Councils are required to secure support for their bids from local operators. The bidding guidance states: “All bus companies operating routes in the designated area must sign up to the proposal and to the levels of investment that they are likely to need to contribute, with signatures from the national chief executive officer and local area managing director indicating a five-year minimum commitment that they will run an electric bus fleet.” Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to submit a bid for Oxford. But Susan Halliwell, the council’s director of planning and place, told members: “Whilst the bus operators remain supportive and continue to work with officers to develop the expressions of interest, it is not possible at this stage for the bus operator chief executives to provide the level of financial commitment which is currently set out as a requirement in the DfT’s guidance.”
Oxfordshire was unlikely to be unique in facing this difficulty, she added. “It is extremely likely to be the case that expressions of interest submitted by other authorities will also be non-compliant in this sense.” LTT asked the DfT if it had issued any guidance on this matter to councils. A spokeswoman replied: “The Department will be considering all bids that are received for the All-Electric Bus Town scheme and will provide an update to bidders in due course, once the process has completed.” Shortlisted bids will be invited to submit full business cases, possibly by the end of the year. The Oxford bid could see some
routes covered by fully electric buses and others by zero emission capable buses, operating in zero emission mode within Oxford but switching to diesel power beyond the city boundary. The Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel, which are both subsidiaries of the Go-Ahead Group, currently operate 166 vehicles across the area under consideration. Of these, 60 are projected to be suitable for becoming entirely electric and 106 would be suitable as ‘range extender’ hybrid buses capable of operating longer distance services to, for example, Abingdon, Bicester and Didcot. Stagecoach currently operates 137 vehicles within the area, of which 94 are likely to have to be hybrids and the remainder fullyelectric. Arriva operates a fleet of 15 buses within the area, Red Rose one (plus a spare) and Charlton one. All these would need to be range extenders due to the distance covered by their services. Oxfordshire envisages a fiveyear programme of vehicle replacement, with short-range entirely electric buses introduced in the first stage and hybrid vehicles introduced later, in order to
fully benefit from advances in hybrid vehicle technology. Oxfordshire estimates a cost difference to convert all buses and provide the supporting infrastructure of £75.2m. Of this, the DfT will fund 75 per cent, up to £50m. “As 75 per cent of £75.2m is £56.3m, this leaves a shortfall of £6.3m plus a financial burden of approximately £19m for the bus operators,”said Halliwell. “Investigations are ongoing to determine potential cost savings in partnership with the bus companies with a view to reducing costs, to ensure that there is not an increased burden on either the bus operators or the council.” One issue being explored is whether bus priority could be used to speed-up bus journey times, reducing costs and increasing patronage for operators. This could be used to offset the shortfall in funding for the EV bid. Said Halliwell: “Other manufacturers are emerging in the marketplace offering cheaper solutions for ‘all-electric buses’, which could reduce the costs considerably. However, further investigation is required to determine their viability. This could negate the £6.3m shortfall and the burden on bus operators.”
E-buses ‘could add to road repair bill’ ELECTRIC BUSES are likely to push up road maintenance costs because of the added weight of batteries. Susan Halliwell, Oxfordshire County Council’s director of planning and place, told councillors: “Officers are currently investigating how electric buses, which are generally considered to be heavier than conventional buses, might affect the network and whether strengthening of certain routes might be required. “Bus manufacturers have begun to introduce lightweight electric buses, partly to
increase range. Whilst this would negate the issue surrounding ongoing maintenance, these solutions are currently more expensive and are unlikely to be viable at this time.” The DfT’s All-Electric Bus Towns bidding guidance makes no provision for councils to bid for extra road maintenance costs. But Halliwell said: “Should the expression of interest be successful, options to fund the increase in future maintenance costs will be investigated in partnership with the bus companies and the DfT as part of development of the business case.”
Ealing prepares plan to halve transport CO2 NET ZERO
THE LONDON Borough of Ealing has promised “bold” actions to more than halve carbon dioxide emissions from transport by 2030. A draft strategy to achieve net zero status by 2030 projects transport emissions coming down from more than 250,000 tonnes a year today to about 100,000. Proposed actions include 20mph speed limits on all roads by next year; investing in electric
vehicle charging points so that all residents are within a five-minute walk of a charge point by 2025; a workplace parking levy 2030; and the consideration of road user charging. Jo Mortensen, Ealing’s sustainability programme manager, told councillors: “The council has committed to treat climate change as a current crisis, where a swift, intensive and substantial response is compulsory, not dissimilar to the council’s treatment of the current Covid-19 crisis.
“Climate change presents an opportunity for communities to unite behind a common cause and proactively change their behaviours.” Transport accounts for 28 per cent of borough carbon dioxide emissions and Mortenson said it was likely to prove the “most contentious to engage upon and will require the biggest shift in public behaviour”. “There is a unique opportunity to consider more radical and progressive approaches to how
consumers and business operate and travel around the borough, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions whilst enhancing economic return,” he said. “Achieving these outcomes are not mutually exclusive.” The draft strategy envisages that overall emissions are cut from about 1,149,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 to about 676,000 tonnes in 2030. The council plans to offset the remaining emissions to achieve its net zero status.
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Reprieve for Pacers could help solve train shortage – WYCA
by Andrew Forster
WEST YORKSHIRE Combined Authority has suggested halting the programme of Pacer train withdrawals to help solve a train shortage in the north of England. The Pacers (Class 142-144) were built in the 1980s using lowcost materials including bus bodywork and underframes. At the start of 2019 the Northern franchise had 102 sets on lease. Politicians in the north of England led the calls for the Pacer trains to be scrapped and the DfT’s tender specification for the Northern franchise, issued in February 2015, said they must all be withdrawn by the end of 2019. The late delivery of Northern’s new trainfleet means some Pacers have solidered on into 2020, though many have been sent to scrapyards in recent months as the new trains enter traffic. West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) now says Northern does not have enough trains to meet post-Covid-19 requirements. “The fleet, particularly that of diesel trains, is simply too small to enable all of the services currently in the timetable to be
WYCA’s rough estimate is that between 38 and 43 additional carriages are needed to deliver the train lengths and timetable that Arriva had originally proposed for December 2019 in West Yorkshire, or about 50 to 56 vehicles to bring crowding levels down to acceptable levels. “It is worth adding that colleagues in combined authorities in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Merseyside are also carrying out similar [calculation] 142: most have been scrapped exercises, as is Transport for the North,” said officers. operated with trains long enough “Once this has been done and to meet normal demand, and to the results reconciled (including do so reliably (i.e. without fre- to address overlaps where serquent on-the-day short-forming),” vices cross boundaries), it is said an officer report presented to hoped that a fuller picture will councillors this month. emerge of ‘The North’s Missing “It is clear that the long-term Fleet’, and so frame a clear ‘ask’ solution is electrification, not least to Government and to the indusgiven the large number of good try, backed up by consistent data.” quality electric trains currently not Officers said conversations in use elsewhere, but providing with Northern’s management additional carriages in our region indicated they would agree “that cannot wait for this to happen. an injection of additional rolling “While not all of the new stock into their operation is Northern trains have been put into needed”. service yet, it appears that these Porterbrook owns the 23 Class will not be sufficient. Some time 144 Pacer trains, all but two of could be ‘bought’ if a speedy which remain on lease to Northdecision were made to delay ern. A Porterbrook spokesman further the withdrawal of the told LTT that all the trains still on Pacer trains.” lease were stored. “We under-
stand that Northern still wish to retain these for contingency purposes. As far as we understand, Northern has no plans to operate our Pacer trains on any of their routes as part of amended [Covid19] timetables introduced earlier this month.” Last December the DfT granted the Class 144 trains dispensation from the Persons with Reduced Mobility – Technical Specification for Interoperatility (PRM-TSI) regulations until the end of August this year. Angel Trains had 94 Class 142 Pacers. Of these, 55 previously used by Northern Rail have now been scrapped or offered to emergency services and community and heritage railways. Northern Rail has since given back a further 11 units. This leaves 13 units still on lease to Northern, and 15 to Transport for Wales. An Angel Trains spokeswoman told LTT: “Angel Trains does not believe it is economically viable to upgrade the Pacers to make them compliant with the PRM legislation that came into effect on 1 January 2020.” Porterbrook has just delivered its two off-lease Class 144s to the Cambrian heritage railway at Oswestry.
North’s rail commuting WYCA suggests fewer ‘may escape Covid hit’ but longer trains
COVID-19 MAY not have a big lasting impact on rail commuting in West Yorkshire, the combined authority has suggested. An officer report to councillors said it was impossible to know the timescale or magnitude of the impacts. “It is legitimate to ask both: (a) Will demand return, in the long run, to previous levels, and growth resume? (b) Should we be seeking to return to the same service levels and patterns as previously?” Officers said a significant number of office workers were likely to work from home more frequently, “even if only for one or two days a week”. “On the face of it, this could reduce demand and crowding pressure on the busiest rail services, and could further damage their revenues. However, it is entirely possible that this easing will not last. Previous experience of adding capacity to our com-
muter network has shown that this unlocks demand that is currently suppressed from travelling by rail. “Therefore in our region, where rail’s modal share is generally lower than in London and the South East and car use remains significant, we may well not see the long-term demand drops that have been suggested around London: rather, the change will just ‘buy us time’ to address the chronic crowding issues.” Turning to other types of journey, officers said that, in the short-term, “it seems likely that when travel restrictions are lifted, there will be a sharp uplift in leisure travel by all modes”. “In the longer term, there seems little reason to suppose that leisure travel will not resume its historic growth trends on rail, particularly as attention refocuses on the climate emergency – subject, it must be borne in mind, to the state of the wider economy.”
FEWER, BUT longer, passenger trains may be the way to improve service punctuality on some routes in the north of England, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has suggested. Poor punctuality and reliability has plagued services in the north of England in recent years but WYCA officers have reported that both have improved markedly during the Covid-19 restrictions because fewer trains are on the network. “While this would be expected, it does underline a point that has been made since at least the May 2018 timetable collapse and has become more voluble: that the railway is, under ‘business as usual’, running with more trains than its current infrastructure can reliably cope with – and that there is a case for the ‘fewer but longer’ principle on some lines,” said officers. “This will not be relevant
everywhere – the combined authority would not wish to see services below two trains per hour at any West Yorkshire station – and it cannot be a substitute for urgently needed investment in trains and infrastructure. [But] There may well be cases where this principle could be applied effectively in our region, as services gradually are rebuilt after the lockdowns.” Meanwhile, the idea of reducing train frequencies in Greater Manchester has been backed by rail think tank Greengauge. “Issues such as the overload and unreliability on the Castlefield corridor in Manchester [Deansgate to Piccadilly] may be solved in the short-term – say the next two years – simply by leaving out some pre-Covid timetabled services,” it says in its response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s call for evidence on rail plans for the Midlands and the North (see pp. 14-15).
Concession next stop for Northern? RAIL
THE GOVERNMENT is likely to replace its operation of the Northern rail franchise in with a concession model, though the change may be many months away because of Covid-19. In a report discussing the future of Northern, officers of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority told councillors: “It is anticipated that the OLR [operator of last resort] arrangements for Northern will apply until a new structure is put in place in response to the long-awaited Williams Review. Although not yet published, this is widely expected to be based on an operating concession model.” Covid-19 is likely to delay any transfer, however. In a separate report, Dave Pearson, WYCA’s director of transport services, said: “The continued operation of the railway is coming at a significant cost to the DfT as revenue has substantially reduced, whilst fixed operating costs remain high. “It is clear there will be a sharp focus on ensuring financial efficiency during this period, with likely (but currently unknown) impacts on short-term investment plans. “It will take many months for revenue to increase significantly, with a strong likelihood of long-term changes to rail markets. “Under these circumstances it is difficult to anticipate a return to the commercial rail franchises in the short-term.”
DfT and TfN ‘at odds over NPR’ The DfT and Transport for the North (TfN) are at odds about the consultation on the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, according to Nexus, the Tyne and Wear PTE. “Ministers are keen to consult the public on high level options but wish to focus on Manchester to Leeds,” Nexus officers told the Tyne and Wear sub-committee of the North East Joint Transport Committee. “TfN’s position is that the full network should be consulted upon.” Boris Johnson committed to building a new railway between Manchester and Leeds soon after he became Prime Minister last summer.
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LTT798 15 May - 28 May 2020
POLICY | PLANNING | FINANCE | DEVELOPMENT
Covid-19: temporary active travel schemes p5 TransportXtra.com/ltt
City regions criticise bus fund for Covid-19 recovery phase
by Andrew Forster
ENGLAND’S CITY regions have criticised the Government’s funding proposals to deliver enhanced bus services as Covid19 travel restrictions are eased. The bus industry could reach agreement with the Government next week on a new fund to pay for enhanced levels of service in England outside London. Talks are also taking place about similar deals with the Scottish and Welsh governments. The DfT’s current 12-week £166.8m Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG), launched in March, is paying operators to provide 40-50 per cent of normal service levels. Ministers are keen to see public
transport services return to near normal as lockdown restrictions ease. The first relaxations in England took place this week. Social distancing guidelines mean that bus services are expected to operate vehicles at only about 25 per cent of seating capacity. Operators will therefore require additional Government funding to meet the cost of frequency enhancements. As a first step, LTT understands that the Treasury has agreed in principle to pay for operators to remobilise their fleets. Operators have delicensed many buses to save money during the virus outbreak and vehicles will need to be inspected and repaired before entering service. The new round of funding for enhanced service levels is likely
to have to remain in place for many months. During this time, operators are likely to run high frequency services on their busiest routes to make up for the reduced capacity on each vehicle. Part-route operations could run over the busiest parts of corridors. The additional resource targeted at the busiest routes may result in reduced services on other routes. LTT understands that, as with CBSSG, the Government plans to pay the majority of the new fund direct to operators, rather than via local transport authorities. The DfT is also expected to ask local transport authorities to continue making concessionary fare reimbursement and tendered service payments to operators at pre-Covid-19 levels. The proposals were criticised
this week by the Urban Transport Group (UTG) that represents city region transport authorities in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire. On the plan for local authorities to continue paying operators for concessionary travel and tendered services at pre-Covid-19 levels, it said: “Using public money to pay for services that are not being provided can only be justified as a short-term emergency measure. “Local authority finances are under increasing strain and subject to a host of pressing priorities. There is no guarantee that they will be able to continue to prioritise paying bus operators for > TURN TO BACK PAGE
All aboard the social distance bus director, told LTT this week. The diagram shows First’s proposed seating plan for a Scania double decker. The green seats are those in which passengers will be permitted to sit. They total just 21 of the 76 seats.
6 TfL secures £1.6bn rescue deal
4-10 Covid-19 coverage
13 Axe falls on Oxford’s PickMeUp 18-21 HS2’s new business case
25 Phil Goodwin
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Active travel inspectorate for England
THE GOVERNMENT is to appoint a national walking and cycling commissioner and inspectorate for England. A long-term active travel budget similar to the five-year budget for Highways England will also be created. Announcing the proposals,
transport secretary Grant Shapps also promised “legal changes to protect vulnerable road users”, and said the Government would create at least one “zero-emission city,” with its centre restricted to bikes and electric vehicles. More details will be announced in a revamped cycling and walking investment strategy to be
launched by the Prime Minister in early June. Shapps also announced the launch of a £250m fund for active travel schemes, the first part of a £2bn expenditure to encourage walking and cycling. The Government is keen to promote active travel as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed. It has just
published statutory guidance promoting temporary active travel schemes for local authorities in England. Trials of e-Scooters are also to be fast-tracked because of Covid19. >> READ MORE? Active travel backed
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The psychology of change: Covid-19
FirstGroup seeks £300m loan to cope with virus disruption
01 May - 14 May 2020
FirstGroup’s West of England subsidiary has been trialling social distancing on the 24 route in Bristol between Ashton Vale to Southmead Hospital. “It’s been very well received,” James Freeman, First West of England’s managing
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LTT799 page 13.qxp_LTT759_pXX 29/05/2020 10:35 Page 4
Country’s battery electric car strategy is ‘doomed to failure’ ELECTRIC VEHICLES
by Andrew Forster
THE GOVERNMENT’S push to electrify road transport is based on naivety, the undue influence of the Committee on Climate Change, and a lack of engineering expertise within Government, an academic has said. Professor Michael Kelly, the former chief scientific adviser to the Department for Communities and Local Government, issues the warning in a paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. He warns the Government’s ambitions for EVs and electric heating in buildings will end in damaging failure. “When the penny drops and the progress towards all-electric UK is halted, we will be reminded of Ozymandias [two poems that describe how even the greatest men and the empires they forge are impermanent, their legacies fated to decay into oblivion – Ed]. “The rest of the world can look at Britain and choose whether to laugh or weep.” On battery electric vehicles, he says: “Consider Dinorwig power station, the biggest hydropower energy storage plant in the UK. If all UK cars were battery powered, the nine gigawatts of energy stored behind the dam would be capable of recharging about 60,000 of them, or about 0.25 per cent of the UK fleet.” If all vehicles have to be electric, “something of the order of 70 per cent of Britain’s entire existing electricity supply capacity will be needed”. “When we get coded messages
from the Climate Change Committee, implying that we will have to rethink the extent to which we are going to be able to travel in future, it is the implausibility of meeting that vast gulf in energy sources that is motivating them to question our lifestyles.” Kelly points out that the Government’s net zero greenhouse gas target will also require the heating of buildings to be electrified using heat pumps. This will place huge additional demands on electricity supply, particularly in the winter. Charging battery cars at night, when electricity demand from other sources is low, is only a “partial solution” to the problems, he says. “The current day-night variation in electricity demand is of itself too small to handle the extra load. “Another suggestion is that we can charge cars during the day, when solar power is high. But in the absence of storage, this would mean charging them from midmorning to mid-afternoon on sunny days. This is implausible too, and would be unreliable [even] if we could make it happen.” Turning to local electricity supply issues, he says “we will be adding electric vehicle chargers and heat pumps to almost every home”. “A fast EV charger for a car draws 7kW, perhaps for six hours, and a heat pump needs 3kW, potentially for much of the day. But the cabling and substations in most suburbs were sized and installed before these technologies were even thought of. So while there is sufficient headroom for electrification of a few house-
holds, the whole distribution system will need to be up- graded if demand grows. “This work will be extraordinarily expensive, but without it there will either be regular ‘brownouts’, or drivers will have to be told where and when they can charge their batteries.” Kelly dismisses battery storage as a major part of the solution. “The £45m battery installed by Elon Musk outside Adelaide, South Australia, can power that city for 30 minutes. If you wanted to be able to cover a week’s power outage after a major storm, it would cost around 1,300 times as much using batteries as it would with diesel generators. The idea is ludicrous.” Turning to the raw materials needed to produce batteries, Kelly claims: “If we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs, and assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials: • 207,900 tonnes of cobalt – just under twice the annual global production; • 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate – three-quarters of the world’s production; • at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium – nearly the entire world production of neodymium; and • 2,362,500 tonnes of copper – more than half the world’s production in 2018. “Put simply, we lack the ability to provide the infrastructure required to deliver electric cars and electric heating on the scale required by 2050.” Kelly asks why we are trying to do so anyway and pins the
blame on the Committee on Climate Change. “An unelected body, the Committee displays many of the worst features of the administrative state. It has been grossly negligent in turning a blind eye to the complexity of electric vehicles and the related issue of the enforced switch to electricity for domestic heating. “Committee members don’t have to face the consequences of their policies from voters; politicians, who do have to face the voters, hide behind the Committee in order to duck accountability. “It is this failure of the UK’s political machinery that I believe is to blame for the situation in which we find ourselves. “We have set out to decarbonise the economy without anyone having thought through all the engineering issues, let alone put a cost on the exercise.” Kelly says that, with Covid-19, “it is clear that we will not be able to afford the costs of the net zero transition for decades, if ever”. “To attempt to plough on would be madness; indeed, it would directly sabotage the UK economy, and without any measurable effect in terms of actually averting any climate change.” “Surely now is the time for a root and branch cost-benefit review by independent engineers who have no skin in the game of electrifying the UK economy.”
Electrifying the UK and the want of engineering is available at https://tinyurl.com/yc3g9j5x
CCC touts scrappage scheme to boost EVs
A SCRAPPAGE scheme to replace fossil fuel cars with battery electric versions should be considered as part of the UK’s Covid-19 recovery programme, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said. CCC chief executive Chris Stark raised the idea at the final meeting of Climate Assembly UK, the citizens’ assembly formed by the House of Parliament to advise on how the UK can transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. “The Government could introduce new incentives and regulations to phase out fossil
fuel technology more rapidly and encourage people and businesses to spend money on replacing them with low carbon alternatives,” said Stark. “One idea is a ‘scrappage scheme’, which is a financial incentive to get rid of an old technology (like a gas boiler or old car) and replace it with a newer cleaner one, like a heat pump or an electric car.” Stark acknowledged that the economic downturn meant private individuals were likely to find it harder to invest in things such as electric cars. He echoed the view of environmental campaigners that any sector-specific financial assistance for the aviation sector
should come with climate change strings attached (LTT 15 May). “There’s a great deal of debate about whether it’s right for a Government to prop-up a company that’s failing in the current crisis. If governments choose to do that, one approach that they can take is to attach conditions to any bailout or any support that they offer. “We’ve seen that in France, for example, where the Government have indicated their support for Air France will be dependent on it meeting new climate targets.” Stark speculated that the Government’s role in propping up the economy during Covid-19
might change public perceptions of state intervention. “The Government has ‘stepped-in’ in quite an extraordinary way to our way of life, so we’ve seen some remarkable changes – they’ve acted very swiftly to introduce new measures that are very tough new laws to stop us coming into contact with one another so often. “The Government in general is doing remarkable things including keeping money flowing in the economy. “What we’ve seen in the last few weeks might have changed your view about what the government can or should do.”
Motorway rapid EV charging plan
EVERY MOTORWAY service area in England will have at least six rapid electric vehicle chargepoints in place by 2023, the DfT has said. The chargepoints will be funded by a rapid charging fund announced in the Budget in March. Some service areas will have ten to 12 of the 150350kW chargepoints, all of which will operate on an open access basis. “We are confident this will be more than enough to meet demand from electric vehicles by this date,” said the DfT. For a typical electric vehicle with a battery size of 62kWh, and a range of 200240 miles, a 15-minute charge at a 150 kilowatt chargepoint would deliver a range of 120-145 miles, it said. The DfT is planning for around 2,500 rapid chargepoints across England’s motorways and major A roads by 2030, and 6,000 by 2035.
CO2 ‘a bigger threat than Covid-19’ – TRL Man-made climate change threatens to cause more havoc to lifestyles than Covid-19, according to the chief executive of TRL. “Climate change, unless mitigated, will make the havoc wrought by Covid-19 look like a (regulated, once a day) walk in the park,” said Paul Campion. “We have an unnegotiable imperative to decarbonise transport. Unless we can find ways to do so without requiring everyone to massively lower their quality of life, we will find it even harder to implement than it already looks.”
Electric buses for National Grid The National Grid is procuring a zero emission shuttle bus service to take workers to and from its headquarters in Warwick. The contract will run for five years with the option to extend for a further two one-year periods.
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
Rethink Mids and North rail p HIGH-SPEED RAIL
by Andrew Forster
THE GOVERNMENT should replace many of the existing rail projects proposed for the Midlands and North of England with projects that deliver bigger benefits for cities, intercity connections, and freight, says Greengauge. Greengauge, the organisation founded by transport consultant Jim Steer that helped put high-speed rail on the political map, makes the comments in its response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s call for evidence on rail priorities of the Midlands and the North. The NIC’s advice will inform the Government’s new rail plan for this part of England. Among schemes the Government is reviewing are mega-projects such as HS2 phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and the Midlands Engine Rail improvements that include improvements in Birmingham. Noting that HS2 phase 2b and NPR are not envisaged for delivery until the 2040s, Greengauge says there is a “huge gap” in the Government’s rail enhancement programme for the area, with a lack of investments in the 2020s and early 2030s. Investments in “this crucial interim period” are “all the more crucial now given the need for long-term economic recovery in the post-Covid world”. Greengauge’s submission builds on its Beyond HS2 report, published in May 2018, which recommended that HS2 be reimagined as an X-shaped rather than Y-shaped network (LTT 08 Jun 18). It recommended upgrading the East Coast Main Line to 140mph operation with services from Scotland and northeast England to London continuing to use this route rather than running over HS2. That would free up the eastern arm of HS2 for cross-country services between the North East/Yorkshire and Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol. An edited version of Greengauge’s response to some of the NIC’s key ques-
tions is set out below.
NIC: Which set of rail investments do you believe would, together, best unlock capacity within the Midlands and the North? “Investment in upgrading city centre stations and the immediate access lines into them,” says Greengauge. “This is crucial to the success of NPR/HS2 Phase 2b and has not had the exposure (or the right approach) to date, even though it is exceedingly obvious that these are the locations where capacity constraints bite hardest. “Clearly the perspectives taken by planners of individual projects (HS2, NPR being stand-out cases) are unlikely to have chanced upon the best and most efficient solutions for city centres since they have a partial perspective. “Attempts to address the challenge that cities pose for new high/higher-speed intercity lines by attempting to create new off-centre, inaccessible, hub stations should in general be resisted. They will serve longterm to undermine the economic status of the cities they purport to serve and weaken rather than complement existing public transport networks which, for good reason, are city centre-focused.” The above words will not please those backing the East Midlands Hub station proposal at Toton (see story below). Greengauge later goes on to recommend
that HS2 services should serve Nottingham city centre, though it supports a conventional rail station at Toton. “With Northern Powerhouse Rail, the problem is a lack of attention to the need to expand capacity efficiently in city centres. The advantages of through station operation for city-regions as well as long distance services (fewer platforms are needed) is being overlooked.” Greengauge recently set out proposals for a tunnelled Manchester Piccadilly through station for inter-regional services (LTT 15 May, and summarised later in this article). Greengauge also seems to regard some of Midlands Connect’s Midlands Engine Rail proposals – a multi-billion pound programme of rail enhancements, many focused on Birmingham – as a missed opportunity. “Midlands Engine Rail does little to add capacity, except helpfully at [Birmingham] Moor Street station. There is a major unexploited opportunity to lift rail capacity across Birmingham. This would be achieved from better utilisation of the Moor Street-Snow Hill cross-city tunnel. This currently accommodates around nine
trains/hour. But it should be possible to upgrade this to, say, 22-24tph.” This would require a new short connection to be created on the western approaches to the city so that Birmingham’s HS2 station at Curzon Street could be accessed directly from the Black Country, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Greengauge says a “related issue” is a weakness in current investment plans to address the need to create freight routes that minimise interaction with busy passenger routes. “Indirect and circuitous routing of railfreight is a problem that plagues the north of England and the West Midlands and hampers the important role that the logistics industry plays.” NIC: Which set of rail investments do you believe would, together, best improve connectivity within the Midlands and the North? “HS2 Phase 2b and NPR score well on improving connectivity, as does the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) project and Midlands Rail Engine,” says Greengauge. “But all of these projects focus on city-city connectivity, which is only part of the chal-
‘National rail plan needed’ The Government should prepare a national rail plan, not one focused only on the Midlands and the north of England, says Greengauge. Responding to the National Infrastructure Commission’s call for evidence on the rail needs of the Midlands and North, Greengauge says: “While the geography to be covered by the integrated plan represents a very large part of England (covering five of its eight regions), the scope of questions that the NIC is posing is even broader. “It includes questions on connectivity with Scotland and internationally (rail links to ports and airports). “So, while the focus may be on the North and Midlands, questions of capacity and connectivity with London, with its major airports, with the ports and the Channel Tunnel in southeast England and the east of England also arise. “With an ambition to level-up the economy, an integrated rail plan might as well be comprehensive.This means adding in important connectivity corridors for the North and Midlands to Wales and southwest England too. “Frankly it would be inexcusable if it doesn’t.”
Councils release blueprint for Toton HS2 access RAIL
A THREE-PHASE plan to connect the HS2 station at Toton, between Derby and Nottingham, into local and regional transport networks has been published by councils and business leaders. The access strategy for Toton station – now dubbed the HS2 East Midlands Hub – envisages investments being delivered over 30 years, with the first tranche of improvements delivered within ten years and up and running before the HS2 station opens. The station forms part of HS2 phase 2b, which is being reviewed by the Government as part of a wider rail plan for the Midlands and the North (LTT 21 Feb & 06 Mar).
The station access proposals are part of a wider strategy to improve access to a cluster of sites that will be managed by a proposed development corporation. These are: the hub station; housing at Toton and Chetwynd; an innovation campus; the soonto-close Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site (which will become a zero carbon technology and energy hub); the new East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park; and East Midlands Airport. Measures proposed for delivery within the next ten years are: • extending the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) light rail network from the Toton Lane park-and-ride site to Long Eaton via two new stops, at the Innovation Campus and the HS2 station
• new bus services between the HS2 East Midlands Hub and Amber Valley, Bridgford and Clifton • bus rapid transit between the station and Derby city centre via Pride Park and Derby railway station • extending the East Midlands Hub A52 access route to the A6005 in Long Eaton • capacity enhancements to the M1 at junction 25 • four rail services an hour from the HS2 hub station to Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and beyond. This requires the construction of the Trowell Curve from the Midland Main Line • a new rail service between Mansfield, Derby and Leicester with stops at Ilkeston, Langley
Mill, Kirkby in Ashfield, Sutton Parkway and the HS2 hub Phase two of the programme, to be delivered within 20 years, comprises: • extending NET or bus rapid transit from the HS2 hub station to Derby • a new rail station at East Midlands Airport, connected to the Midland Main Line via a spur south of Kegworth village Phase three, to be delivered within 30 years, comprises: • a new rail line between East Midlands Airport and Derby via the South Derby growth zone and Rolls Royce sites • a tram-train connecting NET into a proposed new development site to the west of East Midlands Airport. This would also serve
stops within the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site and could serve Kegworth village and the East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park. The proposals are backed by the D2N2 local enterprise partnership; Derby City Council; Derbyshire County Council; East Midlands Airport; East Midlands Councils; Highways England; Leicestershire County Council; Midlands Connect; the Midlands Engine; Nottingham City Council; and Nottinghamshire County Council.
Access to Toton, the HS2 East Midlands Hub is available at Midlands Connect site
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plans – Greengauge lenge. Even then, the primary city-city connectivity needs from rail within the Midlands, which is a better NottinghamBirmingham connection, is not actually provided by HS2 – although it could be.” It recommends “localised changes to the HS2 Phase 2b alignment”. “The currently planned HS2 alignment veers northwards towards Toton at the critical point as it approaches Nottingham. One of the DfT’s strategic alternatives to Phase 2b envisaged creating a Birmingham-Nottingham-East Coast Main Line (ECML) route that would in effect create a faster NE/SW axis and put Nottingham onto it – a complement to the route via Derby and Sheffield. This would be achieved by upgrading the NottinghamNewark line and creating a SW-N connection with the ECML just north of Newark. “A combination of Phase 2b between Birmingham and Nottingham (with a conventional speed link to Toton to serve Mansfield) should be examined as a first stage, in conjunction with electrification of the Midland Main Line and the completion of a rail freight route (fully segregated from the ECML) between Peterborough and Newcastle.”
NIC: Within the set of investments you identified, which individual investment(s) should be the highest priority? Greenguage prioritises the following: 1. A national electrification programme for England and Wales applied to all main lines, strategic freight routes and the busiest commuter rail routes. “In England, the obvious starting points would be completion of a 100 per cent electrified trans-Pennine route (via Huddersfield – the TransPennine Upgrade scheme); and the completion of Midland Main Line electrification from Market Harborough to Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds 2. ‘Burning platform’ investments to redress operating constraints. “We give two key examples. The first, which brings benefits at a city and regional scale, is the plan to get ahead with creating a ‘superhub’ at Manchester Piccadilly with through underground platforms connected with the existing railway (and in the long-term with a re-specified NPR and HS2 Phase 2b). This frees up the newlycreated surface connection between Piccadilly and Victoria stations [Ordsall Curve] for the expansion of a Manchester city-region network (in the style of Merseyrail Electrics). “The second falls into this category not because of current operational shortcomings but because of a potential missed opportunity when HS2 Phase1/2a opens. This is the upgrade, electrification and extension of the cross-city route in Birmingham (Snow HillMoor Street) needed to connect places with weaker economies in the Black Country and surrounding towns with the HS2 station at Curzon Street (which adjoins Moor Street).” 3. Major hub station upgrades. The most pressing would be: a. Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow Central on the West Coast Main Line b. Birmingham Moor Street to support the creation of HS2 into an X-shaped network c. Leeds, where incremental development is reaching its limit, and ahead of TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU), NPR and HS2 Phase 2b implementation, a rebuild with a reduction
Freight: too many circuitous routes
in terminating trains/increase in cross-city operation and creation of a Leeds city-region metropolitan rail network is required (with electrification of the York/Selby-Leeds-Bradford Interchange lines). This may require a third running line into Leeds from the east. 4. First stages of the eastern leg of HS2. “This is a lengthy route, and its function and value as currently envisaged is going to be determined by the successful operation of a very intense high-speed service over the Birmingham-Euston Phase 1 section of HS2, which remains to be proven. However this issue is resolved, significant value can be derived from progressing two parts of the project – between Sheffield and Leeds (which requires a combination of new build and upgrade of existing lines) and between Birmingham and
Nottingham (with an interim non-high-speed connection to Toton and Mansfield). The reasoning for this prioritisation is that this addresses the two main city-city connectivity challenges: the busiest city commuter connection in the North and the core east-west connection in the Midlands” 5. Reducing the London-Glasgow/Edinburgh journey time to 3h10. This requires a programme of investment north and south of the Scottish border (see story right) 6. Three international connectivity schemes: (i) the western connection into Heathrow Airport. This should be used for an expanded set of rail connections direct to the airport from the Midlands (as well as the South West and South Wales) (ii) an equivalent arrangement for Manchester where there is also a western airport access scheme that is a necessary concomitant of the first ‘burning platform’ scheme for Manchester city centre noted above (iii) a new lower Thames rail tunnel for use by Essex-Kent passenger rail services and railfreight using the Channel Tunnel, allowing it to avoid London. Meeting rail needs in High Speed North is available at https://tinyurl.com/y7as7nyk
‘Electrify the Welsh network’ Greengauge recommends electrifying much of the Welsh rail network on a reverse ‘E’ plan. The routes to be covered should be: (i) the South Wales Main Line, initially to Swansea, later to Carmarthen, Haverfordwest and Milford Haven (ii) the Newport-Crewe Welsh Borders line, which should also be upgraded for higher speeds (iii) Shrewsbury-Aberystwyth (after Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury electrification) (iv) the North Wales Coast line to Llandudno/Holyhead
Electric freight network urged Greengauge proposes an electrified railfreight network linked to freight interchanges serving cities with over 250,000 population. Noting that the West Coast and East Coast main lines are already wired, it says: “What’s missing is the electrification of lines where freight takes diversionary routes to allow high-speed passenger operation and to access the key ports at Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton, and the creation of suitable strategic freight routes across the North and the West Midlands. “For trans-Pennine freight, a route using the Calder Valley and Copy Pit lines together with a new northern access to Liverpool via Ormskirk should be created – and the route electrified. “In the West Midlands there is a need to identify suitable cross-conurbation strategic freight routes that avoid the current practice of lengthy complex routing for freight that entail double-backs and long journey times with diesel traction. Currently such secondary routes are unfortunately more likely to be seen as a lowcost means of expanding local passenger rail coverage.”
‘Scrap Lower Thames Crossing road’ The Government should scrap its Lower Thames Crossing road tunnel and replace it with a rail crossing, says Greengauge. The rail crossing could be used by KentEssex passenger services and freight trains to/from the Channel Tunnel (see point 6(iii) in the main article above).
‘Increase track work during downturn’ Network Rail should take the opportunity of the depressed demand on the rail network caused by Covid-19 to conduct a major programme of engineering works. “There is a need to use the period where rail demand is diminished post Covid-19 (i.e. perhaps the next two to five years) to continue and expand Network Rail’s programme of engineering works, making use of extended possessions with service diversions to make optimum use of this period,” says Greengauge.
Vision for faster AngloScots rail RAIL
IMPROVING RAIL connectivity to Scotland is a higher priority than building the HS2 Phase 2b high-speed line from Crewe to Manchester, Greengauge has told the National Infrastructure Commission. Greengauge says the Government should focus on bringing the rail journey time from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh down to three hours and ten minutes and increasing anglo-Scottish freight capacity. This is more important than building HS2 Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester “which probably has a weak business case, especially if compared with a line of route upgrade”. Greengauge proposes about 50 miles of new highspeed lines in the West Coast corridor and some substantial upgrades. It suggests: • 400-metre platforms and segregated fast line approaches to Glasgow Central • a high-speed line between Rutherglen and Carstairs • dynamic freight loops between Carstairs and Tebay • modernising Carlisle and Preston • a possible high-speed bypass of Penrith • a new high-speed route between Oxenholme and Lancaster • the HS2 Phase 2b route or a route upgrade between Wigan and Crewe • ETCS resignalling from Crewe northwards For the East Coast it suggests: • 400-metre platforms at Edinburgh Waverley and Newcastle • a high-speed line through “Mid-East Lothian” (the existing East Coast Main Line only runs through East Lothian) • dynamic freight loops north of Newcastle • fully segregated freight lines from Newcastle to Peterborough • improvements at York and Darlington station approaches Greengauge also backs extending the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Carlisle.
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DfT still wants 18 trains on HS2
THE HOUSE of Commons transport committee has asked HS2 minister Andrew Stevenson to explain why the Government is sceptical about cutting the number of trains on the London to West Midlands leg of HS2 from 18 to 14 an hour. The reduction was recommended by Doug Oakervee in his review of the project for Government (LTT 21 Feb). But Stevenson has since told the House of Commons transport committee he is sceptical about following that advice. Committee chairman Huw Merriman has written to Stevenson asking him to explain why the Government thinks it necessary to run services at such a high frequency, and what assurances the Government is taking to ensure it can be done reliably. Stevenson has told MPs that “being transparent to Parliament is going to be a cornerstone” of his tenure as HS2 minister. He plans to provide Parliament with sixmonthly updates on the project.
Pinchpoint road package ‘on hold’ The DfT has put on hold the £150m two-year Local Pinch Point Fund for road improvements because of Covid-19. The DfT has told councils that consideration of their expressions of interest is on hold, though they may be considered later this year.
HE helps fund Weston cycleway Highways England is contributing £1.3m towards North Somerset Council’s new £2.09m one-mile of cycleway between Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon, which will complete a 24-mile cyclepath between Brean and Portishead. The path will allow cyclists to avoid using the busy A370 road. Highways England has spent more than £85m since 2015 on measures to improve and build 160 cycle ways across the country.
Government hid HS2 problems to keep it on the rails, say MPs HIGH SPEED RAIL
A COMMITTEE of MPs has accused the Government of hiding the problems afflicting HS2 from Parliament and the public in order to ensure the project was not scrapped. “The Department and HS2 Ltd seemed to believe that a lack of transparency with Parliament and the public on the problems facing the programme would in some way protect it,” says the report by the House of Commons public accounts committee. Its probe follows the National Audit Office’s recent report into the project (LTT 07 Feb). Last summer the Government announced that the estimated cost for all phases of HS2 had risen from £55.7bn to £88bn (2015 prices) and the opening of phase one (London to the West Midlands) had been delayed
from 2026 to 2029. The revised costing and timetable were revealed after HS2 Ltd formally notified the Department that it could not deliver Phase One to budget and schedule in March last year. But the public accounts committee says the DfT and HS2 Ltd “were aware of the scale of the issues facing the programme as early as October 2018”. “Despite being aware of these issues, the [DfT] permanent secretary withheld from us that the programme was in significant difficulty when she appeared before the previous committee in October 2018 and May 2019, even in response to specific questions about the programme’s delivery timeline and budget,” says the committee. The DfT and HS2 Ltd defended their actions, telling the committee that there were commercial sensitivities to the
discussions at those times, and that options were still being pursued to remedy the situation. The committee is not impressed, however, stating: “Failure of an Accounting Officer [a permanent secretary] to provide accurate information to Parliament is potentially a breach of the Civil Service Code and a breach of Parliamentary Privilege.” Reacting to the committee’s report, HS2 critic Lord Berkeley said the problems affecting HS2 were apparent long before even October 2018. “Unfortunately, the report has failed to take into account the even earlier warnings that I, and others, gave the Government several years previously about the cost increases, the many senior whistleblowers who were silenced, and the failures of successive ministers to properly inform Parliament.
Review transport priorities – ICE FUNDING
A RAPID review of major transport plans is needed to reassess priorities in the aftermath of Covid-19, the Institution of Civil Engineers has said. “It would be prudent to conduct a rapid review of the phasing of major programmes, particularly within transport, to ascertain what should be reprioritised in the medium-term,” says the ICE. This should be conducted within two years. The ICE has just published a call for evidence alongside a Green Paper about how Covid-19
could change public attitudes and behaviours. Lockdown restrictions have shown that connectivity can be delivered effectively for many people by technology such as broadband rather than transport networks, it says. Meanwhile, current public attitudes “describe a future picture of working and engaging in social activities more remotely, with reduced appetite for travel and spending time in large towns and cities”. The ICE says there is “demand for transport provision that continues social-distancing measures
and is designed specifically to prevent the spread of disease”. Within towns and cities it expects this will lead to more emphasis on walking and cycling. The ICE’s work will help the Infrastructure Client Group develop a recovery plan as part of the Construction Leadership Council’s industry recovery plan. The call for evidence runs to 14 June. Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems is available at https://tinyurl.com/y7kx5hhu
Don’t forget urban transport – NIC
THE GOVERNMENT must not its commitment to funding major public transport in English cities because of Covid-19, the National Infrastructure Commission has said. NIC chairman Lord Armitt makes the point in a letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak. “While the impact of Covid-19 on future behaviour is uncertain, I would urge caution over speculation about a flight from the cities post-pandemic, which runs contrary to long-term trends in the attractiveness and resilience of cities,” says Armitt.
“Urban public transport investment – and particularly starting to plan now for the transformative new projects – remains key to supporting future economic growth and levelling up the country. “More broadly, there is a need
to boost the connectivity of towns and cities outside the southeast of England, to reduce regional inequalities. “The current crisis is only likely to sharpen economic disadvantage in long struggling communities, and upgrading transport and broadband connections (alongside skills) has the potential to improve economic opportunities.” Armitt also recommends the creation of a domestic replacement for the European Investment Bank. A UK national infrastructure bank could play a “major financing role and crowdin private capital”, he says.
“For example, on 16 May 2016, the then secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin, wrote to the then Chancellor George Osborne MP, stating that the Government could not keep to the HS2 budget, but suggested they obfuscate and keep this confidential.” Quantity surveyor Michael Byng, a persistent critic of the Government’s HS2 costings, said last week: “The realistic estimated cost of Phase 1 was known in early December 2016. My original estimate was £53.6bn, later revised to £47.8bn, compared to the budget for the project, provided in a [parliamentary] written answer dated 21 December 2016 of £24.3 bn.” High Speed 2: Spring 2020 update is available at https://tinyurl.com/y8u59gry
Green light for Old Oak HIGH-SPEED RAIL
THE PLANNING application for the Old Oak Common HS2 station has been approved by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation OPDC). The station, promoted by HS2 Ltd, will have 14 platforms: six for HS2 services and eight for Crossrail, Heathrow Express and Great Western trains. HS2 expects the station to be a catalyst and gateway for Old Oak and Park Royal, one of the largest regeneration sites in the UK. Plans to transform the wider area around the station, a former railway and industrial site, are being led by the OPDC. The station will be built within an 850-metre-long box. HS2 Ltd says it is forecast to be used by 250,000 passengers a day. The station design has been led by consultant WSP, with architectural support from WilkinsonEyre. A joint venture of Balfour Beatty, Vinci and Systra (BBVS) was awarded the contract to build the station in September 2019. Work should start next month.
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Wiltshire creates team to lead M4-South Coast road upgrade
by Andrew Forster
WILTSHIRE COUNCIL is creating an officer team to take forward road improvements as the council grows increasingly optimistic that the Government will back a major road upgrade between the M4 and the Bournemouth/ Christchurch/ Poole conurbation on the Dorset coast. Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset and Dorset councils have been lobbying with local MPs for a better road connection between the M4 and the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation (LTT 14 Sep 18). The present main route is the A36/A46, which passes through Bath, Warminster and Salisbury. Bath and North East Somerset Council has long pressed for a plan to remove the through traffic from Bath. Wiltshire’s preferred corridor to upgrade is the A350. This runs south from junction 17 of the M4 via Chippenham, Melksham and Westbury. At Warminster the A350 meets the A36 to Salisbury, from where the A338 serves the Bournemouth/Christchurch/ Poole conurbation. The A350 continues from Warminster to Poole but through environmentally sensitive areas. Wiltshire is forming a major transport projects development and delivery team following the Government’s recent announcements of funding to develop three major road schemes and a study into road connections between the
The A350 in Westbury. A bypass could be built
M4 and the Dorset coast. Four Wiltshire road improvements were included in the Western Gateway shadow subnational transport body submission to the Government’s Major Road Network (MRN) and Large Local Majors (LLM) funds. These were: • A350-M4 junction 17 improvement • A350 Chippenham bypass improvements – phase 4 and 5 • A350 Melksham bypass • A338 Southern Salisbury improvements In February, Boris Johnson announced development funding of £1.33m for the Melksham bypass and £170,000 for the Salisbury improvement. This was followed in March by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing £170,000 to develop the M4 Junction 17 improvement. The council expects a decision on the Chippenham scheme application shortly.
Wiltshire also this month revived the idea of building a Westbury bypass, a project that has been controversial locally. An eastern bypass was rejected by a planning inspector and the Government in 2009. Councillors were this month presented with a table of major projects that names the Westbury bypass alongside a reference to “MRN/LLM2”, suggesting the council will seek funding from the DfT to develop a project when the second round of applications to the MRN and LLM funding is invited. The table shows a date of 2024/2025 for the bypass beside a statement reading “strategic outline business case/sub-national transport body approval?” In March, the Government confirmed a new study of connections between the M4 and the Dorset coast (LTT 20 Mar). Local MPs have been lobbying for such a study for some time.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We expect that this study will identify which corridor provides the main strategic route for the area. It may recommend the trunking and detrunking of key routes, and may identify priority investments in the area that can be taken forward after the dualling of the A303/A358 [eastwest route] is complete.” Alistair Cunningham, Wiltshire’s chief executive officer for place, told councillors this month: “This [the study] is a major achievement, offering an unprecedented opportunity to argue for investment far beyond levels available to us through usual channels. “Maintaining a portfolio of projects developed to a credible state of readiness is key in that regard – continued success requires the council to have corresponding capacity and funding to progress development of the schemes.” Cunningham said that, to date, responsibilities associated with scheme development and delivery had “been shared between a very small number of staff in the transport planning and asset management service areas”. “That very low client base results in a high dependence on external consultancy support. Whilst the sharp upturn in funding for projects incorporating transport infrastructure is of course welcome, the scale of that increase necessitates a corresponding shift in the council’s approach to, and capacity for managing those projects.”
Preferred options to complete dual A66 ROADS
THE GOVERNMENT has announced the preferred options to complete the dualling of the A66 Transpennine road between the M6 at Penrith in Cumbria and the A1(M) at Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire. The proposals include five new bypasses, junction improvements and an underpass at the congested Kemplay Bank roundabout near Penrith. Highways England said all the options chosen were the most popular in a public consultation held last year. The schemes are: • a northern bypass of a threemile section between Penrith and Temple Sowerby
• the northern bypass option for Kirkby Thore
• the most northerly of two options bypassing Crackenthorpe • taking forward the single option to dual a five-mile section between Appleby and Brough alongside the existing section of single carriageway • similarly, converting a 1.9-mile section of the route north of Bowes – the current, single carriageway Bowes bypass – into a dual carriageway • a bypass south of the Old Rectory between Cross Lane and Rokeby instead of a conversion, which would have required demolishing buildings
• the most northerly of three bypass options linking sections of existing dual carriageway between Stephen Bank and Carkin Moor • an underpass instead of a flyover at Kemplay Bank All the preferred options will now go into a period of further analysis, development and design before a second public consultation and scrutiny period next year. Highways England has also announced the award of the £45m design contract for the project to Amey Consulting in collaboration with Arup. Powers to build the road improvements will be secured through the Development Consent Order process.
Cash for ten rail reopening projects
TEN RAIL reopening proposals have been awarded a share of £500,000 from the Ideas Fund stream of the DfT’s Restoring Your Railway fund. The projects are: • reopening Meir Railway station between Stoke-OnTrent and North Staffordshire • passenger services on the Barrow Hill line between Sheffield and Chesterfield • passenger services on the Leicester to Burton line • reinstatement of branch lines on the Isle of Wight • reinstatement of a passing loop between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction • reopening of Wellington (Somerset) and Cullompton (Devon) stations • passengers services on the Bury-Heywood-Rochdale lines • passenger services on the Clitheroe to Hellifield line • reinstatement of rail access to Devizes via a new station at Lydeway • passenger services on the Totton-Fawley line in Hampshire The DfT has awarded funding to each of the proposals to help prepare a business case.
£30m for Welsh local transport The Welsh Government has announced the award of £30m grant funding for local transport. The payments include £3.6m to begin construction of a bus interchange in Merthyr Tydfil, £2.2m to improve bus services in Flintshire, and £3.5m to take forward the North Wales Metro programme of public transport improvements across four local authorities.
Hotel conversion for 55 Broadway Westminster City Council has granted planning permission to convert the former London Transport headquarters at 55 Broadway into a luxury hotel. The building was built in 1929 in an art-deco style as the headquarters of the Underground Electric Railways of London Ltd, which became London Transport in 1933. Transport for London sold the property last year and vacated the building earlier this year.
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A14 across Cambs opens to traffic
THE FULL 21-mile A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon road scheme has opened to traffic. The east-west route will improve travel conditions from the east of England to the Midlands and the North. Part of the Highways England project, a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon, opened last December. The project has also included upgrading the A14 between Swavesey and Milton, and a new road for local communities, the A1307, that runs parallel to the A14 between Cambridge and Godmanchester. Cambridgeshire County Council will take over the ownership of the A1307 east of Huntingdon and along the Alconbury spur, and part of the A141 west of Huntingdon. These use the path of the old A14. Work to transform the old A14 for local journeys in and around Huntingdon, including taking down the 45-year-old Huntingdon viaduct in the town, is continuing and should be completed by 2022.
Oxford explores new Thames footbridge Oxford City Council is to explore the feasibility of a new pedestrian bridge over the River Thames to help the redevelopment of the Osney Mead district on the southwestern edge of the city. The council is to spend £300,000 on an initial feasibility study and has been allocated £6m by Oxfordshire County Council for scheme delivery from the county’s £215m Housing and Growth deal with Government. Matt Peachey, Oxford’s economic development manager, told councillors: “Should the feasibility work demonstrate that it is not possible to deliver the scheme within the budget envelope, or timeframes agreed with the county council, the city council will, through the funding agreement, retain the option not to move forward with the project, and return the remaining funding.”
EEH prioritises corridors for transport studies programme
ENGLAND’S ECONOMIC Heartland is sifting a shortlist of transport corridors to determine which should be the subject of studies to inform investment planning. An initial long list of corridors was drawn up following discussions within the EEH’s strategic transport forum and the secretariat’s review of responses to a draft transport strategy. Corridors are now being scored against the four principles of the EEH’s transport strategy: achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions no later than 2050; improving quality of life; supporting the regional economy; and ensuring the movement of people and goods through the region. A recommended draft programme of studies will be presented to the forum in June. The EEH plans to start two studies in 2020/21 and then three every year thereafter. The shortlist is:
The M40 could be studied
• Oxfordshire – Milton Keynes: although the future of the Government’s controversial Oxford-MK expressway road plan is unclear, the EEH says the Government remains committed to funding a connectivity study between Oxford and Milton Keynes. “Subject to the outcome of the current review into the Oxford-MK section of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, EEH will work with the Government and local partners to
develop the connectivity study,” it says. The study will “incorporate opportunities such as Aylesbury to Milton Keynes (A418)”. • A1 corridor through Central Bedfordshire: Highways England has completed a study of the road and has submitted it to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the DfT. • A6 corridor from Luton to Kettering: this study could be
EEH to consult on statutory status ENGLAND’S ECONOMIC Heartland has outlined the transport powers it may seek in its forthcoming application for statutory status. Transport for the North is currently the only statutory STB. Last year the then transport secretary Chris Grayling said he did not want to create any more statutory STBs at this time (LTT 19 Jul 19). That has not, however, deterred other non-statutory STBs from preparing applications for statutory status, including Transport for the South East (LTT 01 May) and EEH. The EEH is preparing a consultation on applying for statutory status in the summer, with a proposition being submitted to the DfT next spring. This could see statutory status granted in spring 2022. The general functions of a statutory STB include preparing a transport strategy and providing advice to the secretary of state about the exercise of transport functions for the area. EEH programme director Martin Tugwell told the EEH’s strategic transport forum this
month that the “added value” of becoming a statutory STB was that the secretary of state would have to have regard to its transport strategy when making decisions on national strategies. The legislation governing STBs allows them to make proposals to the secretary of state for further powers. The EEH envisages requesting powers that it would hold concurrently with consituent authorities. These could include: • The right to be consulted about new rail franchises • The right to have a role in setting the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for rail • The right to have a role in setting the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) for the Strategic Road Network • The ability to enter into agreements to undertake certain works on the Strategic Road Network, Major Road Network or local roads – this would enable EEH (working with partners) to promote and expedite the delivery of regionally significant crossboundary schemes • making capital grants for the provision of public transport
facilities, enabling EEH to support the funding and delivery of joint projects with constituent authorities • securing the provision of bus services • entering quality bus partnerships • introducing integrated ticketing schemes • promoting or opposing infrastructure Bills in Parliament Tugwell said the Williams Review of the railways could recommend significant changes to the structure of the rail industry, including the role of STBs in both rail operations and infrastructure enhancement. As a result, he said it would be “prudent” to keep the following functions under review as potentially being appropriate for a statutory STB: • acting as co-signatories to rail franchises • being responsible for rail franchising In keeping with proposals of other STBs, “it would [also] be appropriate to seek the functional power of competence as set out in section 102M of the Local Transport Act 2008”.
extended to Corby and further into the Midlands • the A420 between Oxford and Swindon/South West: the road suffers peak-time congestion, particularly at the north end near Botley • London-BuckinghamshireMilton Keynes-Northampton: including the idea of a rail link from High Wycombe to Old Oak Common, connecting Chiltern Railway services to HS2, Crossrail and Heathrow • the A41 corridor (WatfordAylesbury-Bicester-M40) • the A43/A45/A14 corridor (connecting the M40 and M1) • the A505 (M11-Luton): Hertfordshire County Council is currently undertaking the A505 corridor study and any EEH study would look at the corridor beyond Hertfordshire, including Luton to Aylesbury • A10: studies of this corridor are already underway by Hertfordshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. An EEH-led study would be “subject to further discussion with partners”. • Peterborough-NorthamptonOxford: including exploring rail opportunities • Luton to east of Milton Keynes: exploring road and public transport connectivity, particularly the M1 and the growing number of freight distribution centres in the area • the A34 between Oxford, Abingdon and beyond: “The A34 is the critical north-south route for Oxfordshire and is the main highway linking current and future growth areas in the ‘Knowledge Spine’,” says the EEH. • the M40 and A34: this could be incorporated into the A34 corridor study • North Northamptonshire: particularly connections of the A14 and A45 • the A508 into Northampton • Northampton-CorbyWellingborough: this could be incorporated into the Peterborough-Northampton-Oxford proposal listed above • the A414 (Hemel Hempstead-Hatfield-Harlow): Hertfordshire County Council has already conducted a study of the corridor. “The need for an EEH-led corridor study will be subject to further discussion with partners,” says the EEH • Luton to Dunstable and Houghton Regis • Luton to Hemel Hempstead
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German rail contract problems weigh on Go-Ahead’s mind PUBLIC TRANSPORT
THE GO-AHEAD Group is undertaking a “comprehensive” review of its loss-making German rail contracts. In Baden-Wurttemberg the company reports a shortage of drivers and problems with the late delivery of trains. “In light of ongoing challenges, a comprehensive review of our German rail business is underway including an assessment of longer-term financial expectations.” The problems are reported in a trading update for the year ending 27 June 2020, and which includes the period of the Covid19 pandemic. Overall group operating profit for the year is
expected to be in the range £63m to £75m. The DfT has put in place a funding package for regional buses, with Go-Ahead providing between 40 and 50 per cent of normal scheduled mileage and carrying around ten per cent of the usual passenger numbers. “In our regional bus business around 30 per cent of revenue is derived from contracts and concessionary income. In the vast majority of cases, local authorities across the country have continued paying for these services at pre-crisis levels.” Bus Services Operators Grant is also being paid at the same levels as before the Covid-19 outbreak. About 50 per cent of the
company’s regional bus staff have been furloughed. Go-Ahead expects operating profit for the regional bus division in the full year to be in the range £17m to £21m. On London contracted bus routes, Go-Ahead said it was running 75 per cent of normal service levels. Revenue remained at pre-Covid-19 levels, with variable cost savings returned to Transport for London. Go-Ahead also has contracted bus operations in Ireland and Singapore. For the full year, operating profit for the London & International bus division is expected to be in the range £46m to £50m. On UK rail, the GTR franchise (Gatwick, Thameslink and South-
ern) is operating under the DfT’s emergency measures agreement (EMA) until at least September. The EMA has a maximum management fee of 2 per cent of the pre-pandemic cost base, comprising a management fee of around 1.5 per cent and a 0.5 per cent performance-related payment. Southeastern commenced a new direct award on 1 April on terms mirroring the EMA. Because of Covid, the originally planned full year capital expenditure of £140m has been cut to about £90m. The Bank of England has confirmed its eligibility for up to £300m financing through its Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
Grand Union revises S Wales plan Voi poaches from Bird
PROSPECTIVE OPEN access train operator Grand Union Trains has revised its proposed South Wales to London service, extending them to Carmarthen. Grand Union has applied to the Office of Rail and Road for a 15year track access contract commencing in December 2021. Services would initially operate at two-hourly intervals from Cardiff Central to London Paddington, calling at Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway. These services would make use of redundant electric trains from the East Coast (Class 91 and Mark IV coaches), owned by Eversholt Rail. In “late 2023 or 2024” Grand Union proposes extending its services to Carmarthen with intermediate calls at Swansea and Llanelli. The line west of Cardiff is non-electrified, so Grand Union
plans to acquire a fleet of bi-mode trains from Hitachi, of the type used on the Great Western Railway franchise. Grand Union says the services will ensure South Wales reaps the benefits of the Great Western electrification programme. “Apart from token additional services in the peak, South Wales has not seen an increase in the frequency of its regular train service to/from London with the recent infrastructure changes despite the very reasonable request of the Welsh Government,” it says. “Carmarthen and Llanelli have only a token through service to London dictated by the use of marginal capacity in First Great Western resources. At the same time Bristol is seeing its London service frequency increase by almost 100 per cent to four an hour to/from Bristol Temple Meads station.” Grand Union proposes that
Severn Tunnel Junction station should become a major parkway station, with direct access from the M4. It also proposes calling at the proposed Cardiff Parkway station if and when it opens (LTT 13 Sep 19). Grand Union plans to initially deploy take five or six East Coast trainsets, though only three will be needed to cover the Cardiff diagrams. This will allow train maintenance to be conducted by existing depots during the day, when depot activities are lighter. The extra trains will also enable Grand Union to run additional services to support major events in South Wales, for example at the Principality Stadium and Celtic Manor Resort. Grand Union proposes selling tickets on trains. Its application to the ORR does not explain how this policy will work at gated stations, such as Paddington, Bristol Parkway and Cardiff.
EYMS wins N Lincs DRT contract
NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE Council has awarded Go-Ahead subsidiary East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) a contract to provide a “transformational” demand responsive transport service. The council, headquartered in Scunthorpe, already has a DRT service, CallConnect, which is delivered in partnership with
Lincolnshire County Council. The new contract will take DRT provision to a “new level”, says North Lincolnshire, encouraging use “from groups who have previously not used or considered using public transport”. The contract will run for five years with the option to extend for up to a further five. The contract represents an expansion of EYMS’s interests on the south side of the Humber
estuary. Almost all of its operations are currently on the north side within the local authorities areas of Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire. It operates one route across the Humber Bridge, the 350 between Hull and Scunthorpe (shared with Stagecoach), and a route between Goole in East Riding and Scunthorpe. North Lincs received three bids for the contract.
SWEDISH E-SCOOTER firm Voi has recruited the UK head of rival firm Bird oversee the company’s launch of services in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. Richard Corbett joins from Bird UK, a subsidiary of rival US Bird. Voi said Corbett had been “responsible for leading efforts with the UK government to legalise e-scooters” and had masterminded the launch of escooter trials in Olympic Park, east London. Voi predicts that 50,000 escooter rides a day could be being made in London by the end of this year. This assumes that each scooter will be used by between seven and 11 people a day. The service could launch this month. As well as being in talks with Transport for London and London boroughs, Voi says it is discussing plans with the councils covering Manchester, Salford, Bath, Darlington, Hartlepool, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, and Edinburgh. The Government announced earlier this month that it would amend secondary legislation to allow trials of e-scooters to begin across the UK from June.
Bus builder calls for new vehicle spend Bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis is urging the UK Government and devolved administrations to commit to a programme to build up to 10,000 ultra-low and zero emission buses over the next four years. The company says many would be battery electric but others could by hydrogen powered for routes where battery range is inadequate. ADL employs 2,500 staff in the UK. It has seen orders for new buses slump because of Covid-19. Rival manufacturer Wrightbus recently called on the Government to fund 3,000 hydrogen fuel cell buses (LTT 01 May).
Shearings enters administration The parent company of Shearings, one of Britain’s best known coach operators, has gone into administration because of Covid19. Specialist Leisure Group offered tours, cruises, holidays and hotel breaks. Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: “Today’s events show the need for the Government to urgently step in and provide support to the wider coach tourism industry, during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been lacking to date.”
French firm wins VLR track contract The University of Warwick has appointed French company Ingerop Conseil et Ingénierie to design for a low-cost trackform on which proposed Very Light Rail vehicles will operate. The company will conduct concept and detailed design on the track form, as well as component-level validation via component manufacture and testing. The work will inform plans for a VLR system in Coventry being promoted by the city council, the university’s Warwick Manufacturing Group, and Transport for the West Midlands.
Leeds appoints to transport framework Leeds City Council has appointed consultants AECOM, Arup and Mott MacDonald onto a major schemes framework agreement for highways and transportation services. The council received 11 expressions of interest.
Warwickshire refreshes LTP Warwickshire County Council has appointed consultant WSP to help refresh the council’s local transport plan on an 18-month contract.
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The wisdom of crowding
John Dales Urban Movement
he idea of ‘the Wisdom of Crowds’ may have its roots in Aristotle, but wasn’t popularised until 2004, with the publication of a book with that title by James Surowiecki whose thesis was that large groups of people, if made up of folk with diverse and independent opinions, are collectively more wise than individual experts. I just want to talk about crowds and wisdom. The Way We Live Now (as Anthony Trollope put it in 1875) is not how we lived prior to mid-March. There are all sorts of ways in which our established patterns of living and (perhaps especially) travelling have been transformed by our corporate and personal responses to the Covid-19 virus. How We Will Live in Future is understandably, therefore, the subject of much discussion. Indeed, it can seem (can it not?) that one of the most crowded places these days is the ‘intellectual’ space occupied by those jostling to have their hot takes about ‘What Will Happen Next’ heard. This being the case, you may be glad to know that I claim no special insight in relation to what follows. I’m just trying to think things through. It’s odd to reflect on the fact that, prior to 2020, social (or physical) distancing was a phrase used only by public health professionals. Yet now it’s one of the most commonly-used terms in public discourse; and the message that our health might be endangered unless we keep far more distant from other humans than we used to is likely to be one of the most lasting legacies of the present crisis. It’ll almost certainly be the most challenging for transport practitioners. The most obvious upshot is that we’ll simply not be able to pack ourselves onto buses, trains, tubes and trams in anything like the numbers we previously did. But it’s not just that our ability to do so is limited by government ordinances, it’s also that our unwillingness to be squeezed in with strangers will likely endure long after restrictions are lifted. It was one thing to experience, close up, the garliceating proclivities or halitosis of our fellow passengers; it’s quite another now to be aware that ‘bad breath’ has potentially a far more sinister meaning. This very day I was in a meeting where Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation, asked the question, “When is social distancing going to end?” As he did so, it struck me afresh that there will be no single answer. Because, while the Government may relax its official instructions, as it did just a few minutes after Steve asked his question, we ourselves may not choose to exploit that freedom. Or, we may already have been taking liberties for weeks. The popular saying is that rules is rules. But this over-
looks the fact that ‘rules’ may not actually be rules, and that they change, may be hard to interpret, and may be wilfully misinterpreted (aka ignored). Different people seem to have different instincts when it comes to law-abiding, while some find it easy to dismiss rules that are easy to question (“Why is it 2m here, but just 1m in France? And 1.5m in Australia?”). We can see, therefore, that just because a crowd might possess a wide diversity of opinions doesn’t mean that all in it will pursue a wise course. That very diversity is as likely to lead to conflict. As you will likely have experienced yourself, and certainly have seen in the news, the propensity of some individuals to follow rules – even those they made – is very low. At the other end of the scale, there are many who will simply choose not to exercise their official freedoms, even when they have them, because they fear the possible consequences for their health (even if this fear is not, by then, justified by scientific evidence). Put simply, if somewhat tritely, the wisdom of crowding is likely to remain highly questionable for a large swathe of the population for a far longer period of time than is strictly necessary; and the period when it is strictly necessary may well be longer than many are currently hoping or expecting. All of which means that, when it comes to transport, ‘the numbers game’ has suddenly come to dominate policy-makers’ thinking. At least, that’s the most plausible reason for recent Government pronouncements concerning investment in walking and cycling. “Public transport simply won’t be able to do nearly as much heavy lifting as it did. If everyone who can do goes by car, the highway system will simply break down. Therefore, walking and cycling will simply have to carry a much greater load.” Three months ago, it would have seemed an impossible dream that the Department for Transport might write to all English local authorities, as it did today (28th May), saying that “to receive any money (from a £250m Active Travel Fund), you will need to show us that you have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians, including on strategic corridors.” But it happened. Twisting my title one final time, might it be that the concern about over-crowding on our transport systems has finally imparted the necessary wisdom to those in power? That the act of having to stare the transport ‘numbers’ square in the face has opened eyes long thought shut to the pressing need for change? Perhaps they’d already been prised open a little by the work that went into the Department’s Decarbonising Transport plan, launched in the same week that ‘lockdown’ was announced. In his foreword, the secretary of state wrote that “Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time” and that “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less…” Whether the motivation is, Coronavirus, or the Climate Emergency, or both, UK transport policy is becoming more aligned with the greater good, even if some in the crowd would still beg to differ. John Dales is a streets design adviser to local authorities around the UK, a member of several design review panels, and one the London mayor’s design advocates. He is a past chair of the Transport Planning Society, a former trustee of Living Streets, and a committee member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. He is director of transport planning and street design consultancy Urban Movement. Tweet John @johnstreetdales
But what happens when the bus can only carry 15 people?
With cars, the numbers just don’t add up. So it’s more walking and cycling for the urban transport win
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Can we have a transport plan for life after lockdown in rural areas, please? Alistair Kirkbride
You won’t have read the newspaper article “A ‘new normal’: how coronavirus will transform transport in Britain’s rural communities” because it hasn’t been written. This is a pity but quite telling. Replace “rural areas” with “cities” and a really great article does exist that illustrates the inspiring vision for a post-coronavirus transport “new normal” in cities. Where is the equivalent vision and Government announcements for rural areas? This doesn’t just relate to the 17 per cent of the population who live here, but also to the tens of millions of urban dwellers who are already heading to the beach, National Park or countryside as the lockdown gradually lifts. In 2014, 2.9 billion visits were made by adults in England to the countryside and understanding the significance of leisure travel on emissions is becoming clearer. In short, rural access and transport matters. By default and in the absence of deliberate interventions, rural areas are likely to (once again?) be largely overlooked by the ‘big ticket’ Government transport announcements. The result will be the return of car dependency, blighting and associated problems of transport-related social exclusion. The lockdown experiences of rural residents walking and cycling to the local shops and around quiet lanes will become a distant memory – filed next to “do you remember the summer of ’76?” This isn’t inevitable, and it is certainly not desirable. There could be a “new normal” of access and transport solutions for rural areas that builds-in the benefits that have been realised during lockdown, and locks out longstanding transport-related issues that have blighted rural areas. The benefits that people in rural areas have been experiencing have been as startling as in cities: quietness and a lack of traffic drone, low traffic levels leading to people walking and cycling more and, ironically, making new friends through conversation. New ways of living mean a proliferation of home delivery services, remote
The benefits that people in rural areas have been experiencing have been as startling as in cities.
Grant Shapps’ transport announcements this weekend about upgrading the A66 and the new Covid-19 bus grant was overshadowed by the brouhaha over the lockdown travel diaries of the PM’s top aide, Dominic Cummings. So when Shapps appeared on the Sunday’s political talk shows, he struggled to get a word in about his spending spree. On Sky’s Sophy Ridge, after a series of detailed questions about Cummings’ movements, Shapps tried to steer things in a new direction, saying he’d come on to talk about transport. “Well that’s been derailed,” Ridge replied curtly, returning to the Cummings theme. A little later Shapps tried again, telling Ridge that viewers probably wanted to know about his transport plans. “Thanks for the job tips,” Ridge countered, returning again to Cummings. Twenty minutes later and Shapps was in the BBC’s studios being grilled by Andrew Marr. As the questions about Cummings flowed, Shapps once again tried to shift the
working and more mainstream use of tools for online social contact (all pointing to the role of broadband as an essential service rather than a nice-to-have). It has also been clear that community networks are alive and well, and that neighbourliness is innate and a hugely valuable social asset. So can we conceive how these experiences and ways of living can be woven into a new normal of access and transport for rural areas? Firstly, a lot of journeys in rural areas can be fairly short. Local shops have generally done good trade during the lockdown; residents have been walking and cycling (and scooting, using wheelchairs and running...) into and around their village centres and along trafficfree roads. Secondly, the significant rise in the use of home deliveries has been striking, especially for older and more vulnerable people, many of whom have had help to crack the online system. In rural South Lakeland, a typical optimised route is about 30-50 miles comprising about ten deliveries. I suspect we will find out that this is taking significant traffic off our local roads and reducing emissions compared to individual trips to supermarkets. There has also been the emergence of co-ordinated deliveries from local shops, which is welcome from the perspective of local economic resilience. Thirdly, rural broadband has probably been creaking with the demands of homeworking and teleconferencing. Whilst many rural jobs have been furloughed or lost, many other people have realised that many aspects of their job can move online quite easily. Couple this with a walk, run or cycle ride (on the quiet roads) at lunchtime, and the prospect of long commutes to offices looks a bit odd. Developments of better configured social spaces and facilities for home workers creates new opportunities for local cafes, pubs and village halls and helps to lock-in the attractiveness and practicalities of homeworking. Finally, the coming-to-the-fore of formal community networks and informal “neighbourliness” has been remarkable. All of these lead back to what a “new normal” might look like for access and transport in rural areas. How people’s changed experiences, habits and norms are likely to stick cannot really be known; travel will increase as more people go back to work and school, but
there is the opportunity and need to very deliberately work out how to preserve as many of the benefits that people have experienced as possible. Shifting roadspace and priorities for active travel plays out slightly differently in rural areas compared to urban. The sorts of interventions that would help to lock-in lockdown behaviours are fairly low cost – 20mph speed limits, “Access only” restrictions and sensitive signage to indicate active travel priority on backroads and in village centres. This is a great opportunity to formalise Quiet Lane designation in legislation. This would transform large areas for both rural residents and visitors. Clear evidence is emerging that points to the many potential benefits of ebikes in rural areas. Recent CREDS research demonstrates the potential for ebikes to replace the short and middle distance car journeys in rural areas with the associated carbon reduction gains. Neighbourliness and community cooperation suggests both a possible reinvigoration of community transport and deeper and wider ridesharing within communities; these would ideally all be part of integrated communityscale transport services rather than schemes stranded in siloes. What about buses? In the short- to medium-term, there is an expectation for suppressed demand for public transport use. However, some operators are leading the way in working out effective social distancing solutions and exploring areas where incumbent operators are not as progressive in their approach. It will be interesting to see how operations get through this crisis in other countries that have different governance arrangements and economic models for their local transport systems, which is a(nother) good reason to rethink transport regulation for rural areas. Re-opening plans after lockdown will be fraught with problems and risks for all sorts of reasons. The clear vision being demonstrated by an increasing number of cities is showing that “decide and provide” based on what people have spent two months experiencing is welcomed by the public. Isn’t it time there was similar confidence, support and vision for rural communities as lockdown lifts?
discussion. “Your questions go beyond my areas of expertise, I came on your programme expecting to talk about transport.” Quick as a flash Marr retorted, “Since your expertise lies in transport, did Dominic Cummings stop at any point on his drive from London to Durham?”
asked one of the audience watching on from New York. Which prompted a number of explanations about the initiative by former Prime Minister John Major seeking to be the motorist’s friend and give people the opportunity to report unnecessary motorway lane closures, to much ridicule. We’re not sure how serious the cones shortage is, but LTT is keen to establish the full facts, and if so, maybe run a story under the headline ‘Corona Cones Supply Crisis’.
There was much merriment in the ‘chat room’ that runs alongside the fortnightly LTT online discussion last week, when the topic of traffic cone availability came up. The subject was road space reallocation and the Government’s new requirement that councils prioritise active travel in the legacy of the lockdown. One issue explored was how to quickly make pop-up changes to road layouts. Ideas suggested included road markings, hay bales and the use of cones. But, said one of the council participants, “cones are in short supply at the moment”. “It might be time to revive the ‘cones hotline’ then” came a swift reply. What was that,
Alistair Kirkbride works freelance on rural travel with a focus on national parks, visitor experience and carbon reduction. Email: email@example.com
Talks over the latest tranche of Covid-19 support funding to buses apparently involved difficult negotiations between the DfT and industry reps. This included head-tohead conversations between DfT local transport director Stephen Fidler and Confederation of Passenger Transport CEO Graham Vidler. As they negotiated a deal, it was presumably easy to quickly agree when they realised there was only one letter of difference between them…
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The revenue implications of Khan’s active travel ambitions
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced £2bn of investment to boost cycling and walking in response to the Covid pandemic (LTT 15 May). Meanwhile, the mayor of London has plans that he hopes will increase cycling ten-fold and walking five-fold post-lockdown. These intentions take advantage of current constraints on use of public transport and are certainly praiseworthy, but there are serious questions about feasibility. Increasing cycling in London ten-fold would take its share of trips to that found in Copenhagen, where there are segregated cycling lanes on all roads with significant traffic. Moreover, the city is relatively small and flat, such that you can cycle from the centre to the edge in an hour or so, as I have done but would not attempt in London. Yet car use in Copenhagen is only slightly less than in London, while public transport mode share is half that in London. This indicates that you can get people off buses onto bikes, which are cheaper, healthier, better environmentally, and no slower in traffic than public transport. But it seems more difficult to get people out of their cars, even in a city where virtually all motorists have current or past experience of cycling. And a decrease in use of public transport, while helpful while the pandemic lasts, would lead in the longer term to loss of fare revenue and of level of service. Transport for London analysed cycling potential in 2017, considering which trips by motorised modes could reasonably be cycled, mainly taking into account trip length. If achieved in full, cycling would be responsible for 40 per cent of all trips, which would be consistent with the mayor’s ambition. However, a large proportion of potential cycling trips are currently done with at least one other person, which would limit switching. Beyond that observation, considerations of behaviour change and public acceptability were not taken into account. Boosting walking five-fold is even more problematic, to say the least, given that its mode share of trips in London has long been stable at 25 per cent. Some modest increase in the near-term is likely as people avoid short bus journeys. Perhaps the mayor has in mind to increase the distance walked per trip, which again would be expected in the near term. Yet walking is the slowest mode of travel and time available for travelling is always a constraint. A TfL analysis of walking potential in 2017 estimated that there are more than two million potentially walking trips in London per day, compared with just under one million at present, but most potential walking trips could also be cycled. So it is very hard to see how a five-fold increase in walking could be achieved, even before we consider behavioural factors, in particular the reasons why so many people prefer to drive rather than walk short journeys. To see if the mayor’s ambition is realistic, we need a full analysis from TfL, taking into account behavioural aspects, including travel time constraints, and avoiding double counting. It also needs to show that the cost of new cycling infrastructure to meet objectives is affordable, given the current loss of revenue, and to recognise the implications for public transport of the longer-term loss of fare income. David Metz Centre for Transport Studies University College London www.drivingchange.org.uk
Social distancing helped virus control but cannot be the future
Roger Davies gives an excellent guide to socially distanced transport (‘Every piece of our transport system will be changed forever by Covid-19’ Viewpoint LTT 15 May).
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Reading between the lines, however, he implies a dystopian future where socially distanced hospitality and visitor attractions can only be afforded by the affluent. Most people would face a miserable and restricted life. When the UK entered lockdown only about one in 400 people were infected, but this was doubling every few days. The country was clearly en-route to a public health catastrophe. Lockdown stabilised the situation, although many would argue, without invoking hindsight, it should have been done sooner. Social distancing breaks the chain of infection and with a two metre distance outdoors the chance of infection is minimal. Indoors, social distancing is not quite so effective unless there is good ventilation. This compounds the problem for hospitality industries and public transport so social distancing cannot be anything but a short-term solution here. Public transport, from planes to buses, would be an economic black hole if social distancing were applied long-term. For hospitality, pubs, cafes and restaurants, social distancing would require much higher prices and all but the very rich would effectively be excluded by price. Long-term restrictions on these activities will have knock-on effects for town centre shops and all tourist destinations. Retail is already damaged by an accelerated switch to on-line shopping, and to survive needs hospitality and entertainment as part of its offer. Holiday accommodation and attractions also need pubs, cafes and restaurants as part of their offer too. Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye stated that “Social distancing does not work in any form of public transport, let alone aviation.” The Government is looking to relax social distancing rules after lockdown, but to be economic bus and train passengers will have to occupy most seats and sit next to each other. The current thinking of 15 passengers in a train carriage and five on a single deck bus is economic lunacy. If this idea was abandoned, then another way forward might be found. If there is a reversion to more car use, then we will have the problems of more road casualties, congestion and air pollution. It is not clear that a car journey is safer than travelling by bus; the reduced risk of Covid would be offset by in-car air pollution and the increased chance of a crash. If the incidence of infected people was brought down by the lockdown to about 1 in 4,000 people or less and most of the infected people were isolated then the chance of meeting an infected person on a bus or in a pub would be remote. The air travel industry is suggesting temperature checks on customers to exclude the infectious. Trained sniffer dogs, Covid-19 testing kits and apps could all have a part to play, along with education. Social distancing and extra hygiene will still have a role. There is no need to put the vulnerable under house arrest, but they will need to take great care about social distancing. The hospitality and public transport industries need to argue the case for a different approach and explain it to the public so that they understand the arguments and are reassured by the reasoning. Most people will not want a life that consists only of work and staying at home, so they will have an incentive to listen. Ray Wilkes Shipley West Yorkshire BD18
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Living laboratory As every planner and traffic engineer knows, it’s the small things in life that often cause the most controversy. Removing a parking place, installing a cycle lane, or relocating a bus stop – all can generate strong feelings among those who use the streets daily for living and trade. Resolving scheme designs to everyone’s satisfaction can be time-consuming and sometimes soul destroying. Which is why the programmes of temporary active travel measures being promoted by the DfT and the devolved administrations for social distancing sounded so bold. A few weeks in, however, and councils already have schemes in on the ground. Those that haven’t had better hurry up – the DfT wants those in England to have something to show for their money within four weeks. The quick delivery of schemes raises a host of questions. Are they schemes that councils were poised to implement anyway, and now being accelerated with temporary measures as for starters? Are they easy to install schemes away from locations that would cause controversy? What forms of community consultation and engagement are actually taking place? The Freight Transport Association fears that, withbusinesses such as shops still closed because of lockdown, owners will only learn about new schemes affecting their deliveries when they turn up for work for the first time in the coming weeks. Stepping back from the nitty-gritty, there is a sense that we may be living in a pivotal moment in the unfolding story of urban transport planning, one in which potentially big shifts in roadspace allocation occur not just for a few weeks but for the long-term. As one contributor to LTT’s discussion on the topic said last week, once these schemes are in, it will be politically hard to take them out if they’re judged a success. Many big and medium-sized cities do seem to be grasping the opportunity. But is it a mainly metropolitan agenda? What’s going on in the market and industrial towns, and even within the suburbs of cities? Ultimately, of course, the test will be how well used all these new facilities are, and how well they cope if traffic levels do return to near normal. It’s an interesting experiment borne of necessity. And the results will be eagerly awaited.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (continued)
LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
We’re heading for climate catastrophe, no doubt about it
I was alarmed to read in your editorial comment (‘Climate Constraint’ LTT 15 May) statements that lend support to the case that there are uncertainties, doubts or defects on the science around climate change. It is important that all those involved with trying to deliver zero carbon transport realise that the evidence on the subject of climate change is as good as it gets and far better than many other examples of policy-driven science. I have spent 47 years dealing with science and evidence related to transport and traffic and including some major policy relevant issues around decarbonising transport. I have been very fortunate in working for over ten years with two globally top-rated science policy institutes, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and the Environment. Working with 500 scientists all of whom are committed to science and have no other interest but policy driven by excellent science is a remarkable experience and the “story” in both Sweden and Germany is that climate change science is robust and as good as it gets and we should take note and shape policy accordingly. Are you really saying the science is not “robust” and you “have reservations”? It would be astonishing if you really thought there was anything “robust” about your “reservations”. John Whitelegg Church Stretton, Shropshire
Climate change is too serious to permit dissenters a voice
For almost a year now LTT has published a steady stream of lengthy, often aggressive letters from climate change sceptics, most of them with fairly explicit axes to grind (Fair Fuel, Association of British Drivers, Transport Watch, etc). I wrote to you about this trend almost a year ago and again just before Christmas. Your response was that you get a lot of these letters and felt people in the transport planning profession should be aware of the level of anger they represent, though you would try and tone that down. There is another example in the most recent issue from a regular, Paul Biggs of the Association of British Drivers, who thinks that green transport is ‘wishful thinking’. Neither he nor others of their ilk (Paul Withrington of Transport Watch) seem to have toned down noticeably. I appreciate that you don’t get to choose who writes to you, and understand your point about relaying the views of some of those on the receiving end of transport planning. However, the editorial comment alongside the Biggs letter in the current issue (‘Climate constraint’) takes sides with its suggestion that climate science is not sufficiently robust to bear the weight placed upon it by decarbonisation. This is supported with a reference to Phil Goodwin’s thoughtful article in the same issue on trade-offs vs imperatives in appraisal. Phil can no doubt speak for himself, but I read it to say that an imperative requires a higher standard of proof than a trade-off. The implication is that you agree with the climate change sceptics that this level of proof has not been reached. As your editorial rightly says, LTT is not the right forum for a debate on the science. This being so, it might be wise to accept the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion on the subject. An authoritative overview of the climate change issues from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences (https://tinyurl.com/yx3y79va) amongst many others. However, you seem willing nonetheless to treat with respect the contrary opinions of a range of lobbyists with obvious axes to grind, who have found ‘stuff on the internet’ from eccentrics and obsessives. This is a major issue, because it goes to the other leg
of Phil’s argument, that there is an acceptable level of public agreement and trust in the policy, democratically endorsed. Clearly the agreement of all main political parties does not in your opinion meet this test. However, editorial support in a serious professional journal to such biased and fringe views risks shifting the frame of discourse (‘the Overton window’), which is no doubt exactly why such people write their articles and letters. It is no good saying (like Trump) that “there are very fine people on both sides” on a matter of such gravity. Nor, unfortunately, can we rely entirely on peer review to strain out scientific fraud: there are too many outlets and peer reviewing is unrewarding work. It is worth remembering that Andrew Wakefield’s unsubstantiated claims linking MMR vaccine to autism was originally published in The Lancet, a very highly regarded, peer-reviewed publication. It spawned a whole anti-vax lobby, and has been responsible for hundreds of deaths. It would be a pity for LTT to follow this example. Alan Wenban-Smith Birmingham B13
The question discussed in the comment column was not decarbonisation per se, but whether the urgency of climate change is such that all road-building should cease. That’s an interesting topic to discuss in all its respects – Ed
London’s cycle routes aren’t suitable for a big surge in use
The emerging London Streetscape programme for temporary active travel measures (‘Temporary footpaths and cycle lanes to ease Covid-19 pressures’ LTT 15 May) seems to assume that existing cycle routes are fit for purpose a) for new commuter cyclists unaccustomed to peak traffic, and b) for a huge increase in cycling (now supposed to become the principal replacement mode for many thousands of Tube passengers). But they manifestly are not. Routes end prematurely, failing to provide a safe journey into the central business district: • CS8 ends the wrong side of Parliament Square – a major hazard – as is Wandsworth gyratory • CS2 ends the wrong side of Aldgate – it should continue into the heart of The City • CS7 is blocked by coach parking and powered two wheeler parking approaching Southwark Bridge • CS5 should continue north to Victoria, and not end half way around the Oval • CS6 gets very indirect at both ends: it should go directly to Kings Cross and the Elephant & Castle, and continue through both these major hazards / deterrents. Most cycle lanes are also not wide enough for existing demand, let alone a big increase in demand; they must be an absolute minimum of 2.0 metres or else you cannot overtake within the lane. Remember, cyclist speeds vary a lot – one slow cyclist in a narrow lane causes a long queue. Many bus and cycle lanes are peak hours only – they are blocked by parked vehicles / moving vehicles between 10-4; they are no use after school (e.g. CS7) CS3 takes space away from pedestrians in Cable Street – it should and could be located on-carriageway, as stakeholders recommended in 2010, and Cable Street should be traffic calmed – not a through route. Most cycle lanes, and all bus lanes, end well before major junctions, where cyclists are most at risk but often have no facilities e.g. CS8 at Vauxhall and Chelsea and Lambeth Bridge Advanced stop lines are not Covid-19 compliant – cyclists often wait ten-abreast – and they are unsafe anyway (see TRRL’s report of 2011). Cyclists should now queue single file to maintain two metres distancing, but this requires much longer green times… and increases the risk of Left Hooks Even where lanes / tracks are adequate, cyclists (and walkers) get very short green times at major junctions: often only five seconds e.g. CS2, CS6 causing bunching
and limiting capacity. Walkers have to endure long waits and short greens; non-compliance is 70 per cent. Holding left turn junction arrangements can resolve most of these serious hazards – and give walkers ample time to cross both carriageways – but it has often not been implemented, even at redesigned junctions where it’s easy to do so e.g. Archway; Southwark Bridge – and the notorious Bow roundabout. Even where cyclists (and walkers) now have safe holding left turn crossings with long greens east-west, they still don’t have them north-south, or vice versa, e.g. CS2, CS6 – so two-stage right turns cannot be safe. All the above problems apply to existing routes. But planned new routes will also end prematurely: • CS4 will end at Tower Bridge – it should continue to London Bridge • CS9 will end at Olympia – it must now continue along Kensington High Street, etc There is also a large (90 degree) hole in the map in southeast London where there are no existing nor new cycle routes shown between the A24 and A21 – upgrading LCN22, throughout, is therefore urgent. The Central London Grid, proposed in 2009, adopted by then mayor Boris Johnson in 2013, and subsequently endorsed by Sadiq Khan, still does not exist. Without it, cycling around Zone One will remain difficult and dangerous – especially for novices. The Grid should have and could still provide a coherent network of safe walking and cycling routes within Zone One. But Grid implementation requires a cross-borough task force – not seven London boroughs doing it their own ways. Task forces are also a better way of getting radial routes done quickly and to a good standard – throughout – its extremely unlikely that the same old people / processes will deliver a high quality continuous network “within weeks” that the DfT (and Covid-19) now require. Rik Andrew London SE6
Temporary street measures: think about the disabled
The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) welcomes the measures that Transport Scotland and many local authorities are taking to encourage safe and sustainable travel during the coronavirus crisis. MACS wants to ensure that the mobility needs of disabled people are fully considered in the planning and delivery of such measures and has therefore produced a short briefing paper, the content of which is as follows. In terms of process, it is essential that the impacts on disabled people (including people who have difficulty walking, wheelchair users, people with cognitive impairments, including dementia, blind and Deaf people) are considered. The requirements of the 2010 Equality Act still apply, but an equality impact assessment can be done quickly and minimum bureaucracy, so long as it also takes into consideration needs of disabled people. It is essential to promote an awareness that many disabled people (who have limited mobility or sight for example) cannot easily avoid others to maintain physical distancing. Councils should consult with local disabled people’s organisations and/or local access panels. In terms of specific measures, we would urge councils to consider that: • many disabled people are more reliant on their cars and taxis than others. Appropriate provision must be made for parking, access etc • safe space for pedestrians should be separate from cyclists • pavements should be kept free of obstacles/clutter, including roadwork signs, bins, encroaching vegetation, etc, which are a particular hazard for visually impaired people and constrain footways for everyone • any areas separated off to provide extra walking or cycle space must take into account how disabled people can get on or off the pavement; this is especially important at bus stops
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (continued) Comment 25
• barriers (for example used to delineate a temporary pavement from a traffic lane) should be detectable by a blind person using a long cane • attention should be given to making sure enforcement (for example of traffic speed, parking/cycling on pavements) is effective. David Hunter and Keith Robertson Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland Edinburgh
A rail investment plan to lift North & Mids out of recession
The UK economy has taken a big hit from Covid-19. The economy will need to be rebuilt and people who have become unemployed will need to find new jobs. Building new transport infrastructure that adds value to the overall transport provision is a highly effective way to increase employment and stimulate local economies. So I very much welcome the Greengauge 21 report Revisiting High Speed North as an excellent route map upon which to proceed (‘East-west rail tunnel touted to ease Gtr Manchester’s rail capacity crunch’ LTT 15 May). The pace of investment in rail infrastructure and electrification needs a big step change upwards. Cities are the instruments of economic growth. They need to play a much bigger role in defining their ambitions for new transport infrastructure and transport services. I have to applaud Greengauge 21 for basing its plans on using Manchester Piccadilly rather than Victoria for a tunnel in deference to Manchester's wishes. Cities are capable of allocating land for expansion of rail stations to meet future demand. Their businesses want to attract employees, shoppers and theatre-goers from a wide area and this will be best achieved with a strong voice on service options. Whilst there needs to be an overall long-term strategy for rail expansion in the north of England, work does need to start now in relieving the worst bottlenecks because these are so urgent. This strategy needs to be applied in stages with each stage delivering obvious transport benefits. Greengauge 21 offer many possible solutions, which all have great merit. But this should not close the door to
other ideas. My own thoughts include: 1. Would the proposed east-west inter-city tunnel route relieve enough of the Castlefield corridor congestion or would a ‘Thameslink’-type north-south tunnel also be required to meet future demand? 2. What provision can be made for connecting Liverpool Airport to Merseyrail and to the inter-city network? 3. Can a direct connection between Bradford’s two stations be built quickly as an early win? 4. How quickly can a grade-separated junction be built at Crewe to permit direct trains from Stoke-on- Trent to Liverpool and Chester? 5. From my own business travel experience, rail journey times between the East Midlands and the North West are very slow. Can the Derby to Stoke line be upgraded for 125 mph running and sub-30 minutes journeys? 6. Can the route between Stoke and Crewe be upgraded to avoid the slow running through Kidsgrove? 7. What can be done to deliver direct and fast rail services between Nottingham and York / Hull and Newcastle? 8. How best can direct rail services be provided between Manchester Airport and Leicester / Derby / Nottingham? Graham Nalty Derby DE24
Retaining lockdown’s benefits in the economic recovery
Covid-19 has been a real shock to our way of lives. But it has also provided us with a real-life demonstration of living within a net zero carbon based economy. It has: improved air quality; lifted light pollution; halved carbon dioxide emissions; reduced travel, particularly by public transport and by cars; encouraged more walking and cycling; cut road accidents and fatalities; and enabled birdsong to be heard above traffic noise Inevitably, there have been downsides. The economy is forecast by the Bank of England to shrink by 14 per cent in 2020. Its recovery remains uncertain. Jobs and disposable incomes are at risk with unemployment rising substantially. Social distancing and interaction is likely to last for the rest of 2020 if not beyond into 2021. Deaths over normal levels are rising significantly
Nonetheless, the aftermath to Covid-19 does provide an opportunity to change our economic, environmental and social structures. International research has shown that if we want to achieve a zero carbon based economy by 2050 then the changes brought about by the pandemic to travelling habits have to continue at the same rate of change if we are to succeed. Initial indications are not good as China’s economy reverts to previous practices with the return of congestion and air pollution. Change, however, will not be achieved by lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing. Inevitably people will want to travel, meet and visit. So other measures must be put into place if we want to get the economy moving upwards again. Even so, we do not want to revert back to pre-Covid conditions: health and well-being are as important as our economy and wealth. Whilst that is not meant to sound like an either/or valuation, it would suggest that the mechanisms, appraisal techniques and policy judgments in the future have to become more rounded as a result of peoples’ experiences of Covid-19. Covid-19 has shown what can be achieved by not travelling, so how can we achieve some coherent basis for travelling and yet, at the same time, maintain health, well-being and environmental benefits? Transport is caught very much in the middle. There could be a positive or negative response. Initial reactions to the aftermath of Covid-19 are not encouraging with public transport use being discouraged. Whilst one understands the problems with social distancing, the use of buses, trains and trams must be a key part of the future, particularly in urban settings. Congestion charging, workplace levies, parking restrictions, clean air zones, shared spaces, and treelined streets must stay and be supplemented. Nor can transport changes resolve matters by themselves as changing spatial and technological dimensions must be part of the solution: more home working, more flexible working time arrangements, video conferencing, home deliveries and integrated, and flexible travelcards to cite just a few examples. Rigid timebased season tickets could be replaced by loyalty cards that are more attuned to modern day working practices.
Tony Bolden Littlehampton, West Sussex BN16
You’ve read LTT – now join in our next online conversation! The theme is:
Every fortnight we bring you your LTT magazine with unrivalled news, comment and analysis about the local transport scene. And now every fortnight – in the week between LTT issues – we bring you a discussion online that helps our audience of professionals keep connected with the key issues and each other during this time of isolation in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve so far had four highly successful online discussions, involving up to 100 LTT readers. Next Friday we will be holding our fifth conversation, again chaired by editor Andrew Forster.
THE FUTURE OF BUS SERVICES: COPING WITH CV-19 AND BEYOND 2pm, Friday 5 June Panelists include: n James Freeman, Managing Director, First West of England n Jonathan Bray, Director, Urban Transport Group n Alex Hornby, Chief Executive, Transdev Blazefield n Senior Transport Officer, County Council (TBC)
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BURGESS Peter. M.Sc. (Econ), B.A.(Ind.Econ), Cert.Dip. AF, MCILT Transport Economics Limited DfT Business Case Support. Economic Impact Reports. Mode Split Revenue Support Grant. Waterbourne Freight Grant. European Funding (Evaluator): (INEA) Connecting Europe Facility; (EASME): HORIZON 2020 (SMART cities and Urban Mobility). Innovate UK bid support: Economic and Environmental Impact criterion Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.transportecon.com STAVELEY Peter. MSc CMILT Public Transport Consultancy Railway and bus operational planning, public transport strategy, railway timetabling, capacity studies, software development, data manipulation. 247 Davidson Road, Croydon, CR0 6DQ Tel: 07973 168742 Email: Peter@PeterStaveley.co.uk www.PeterStaveley.co.uk
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LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
30 The LTT Directory
The next issue of LTT will be published: Friday 12 June Advertising booking deadline: Tuesday 09 June
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The best jobs for transport specialists start here Below is a selection of the top vacancies currently advertised on the UK’s leading transport jobs board: www.Jobs-in-Transport.com
Senior Engineer Highways Transport Operations Manager
The post holder will manage a team of 11 people to ensure safe, effective and value for money transport is in place for children and adults.
To meet our growth ambitions, we are seeking high calibre Principal Civil Engineers (Roads and Infrastructure) in our Gloucestershire office to work on an expanding portfolio of the biggest and most challenging UK projects. Using your excellent people, technical and delivery skills, you will drive a variety of civil and structural designs for new build, renewal, maintenance and assessment works. There will also be the opportunity to work on overseas projects and with our internationally based design teams.
You will lead the successful delivery of major transport tendering exercises, overseeing the detail of all aspects of the processes, as well as ongoing transport procurement throughout the year.
The successful candidate will be responsible for engaging with clients in both the delivery of projects and the development of future work as well as the mentoring and personal development of team members
This role will suit someone who is a strong operational manager with procurement expertise. Client Transport expertise is desirable, however candidates with transferable skills will be considered.
We will value you for going beyond to exceed expectations and deliver innovative solutions nobody else can. After all, we can't achieve great things without you. So, you can look forward to fantastic rewards, benefits and development opportunities.
£48,894 - £51,402 We are looking for someone is an experienced operational manager with procurement expertise.
APPLY NOW: http://bit.ly/2X7Dkmj
Closes: 4th June
Active Travel Hub Lead £41,675 - £44,632 The postholder will coordinate, develop and mobilise active travel projects and programmes, working with internal and external partners, including Public Health, Planning, Innovation, Environment and other staff to lead and deliver this agenda. They will provide strategic oversight of active travel programme and policy being planned and delivered across Oxfordshire, and influence over partnership and jointly managed projects such as Greenways. The postholder will continually work to integrate active travel across all Council activities, services and policies. Your demonstrable knowledge and skills in active travel policy and project development will be key to your success in this role. Working with others both across the County Council and externally, you will also be comfortable in working collaboratively in taking forward complex workstreams and representing the Council on active travel matters. Your written and verbal communication skills will be vital to ensuring effective progress of high-profile projects including the Active and Healthy Travel Strategy and Local Cycling and Walking Plans. You will also need to demonstrate project and people management skills and be comfortable in the collection and use of data to inform development of policy and projects. Closes: 3rd June
Closes: 12th June
APPLY NOW: http://bit.ly/2yIMw7i
Senior Research Fellow for Young People, Transport and Health £33,397 - £40,322 You will join the Centre for Transport & Society (CTS) at UWE Bristol, a group of 10-15 academics and researchers focused on the interactions between society, mobility and technological change. The post-holder will receive input and support from staff at UWE Bristol and Sustrans, while also working alongside the other four Health Foundation funded post-holders in other organisations. We are seeking someone who has the ability both to conduct high quality research and to interpret and communicate evidence in a way that is compelling to policy and delivery organisations in the transport sector. We are looking for someone skilled at listening to the experiences and views of young people and highly motivated to make a difference to their lives. Closes: 16th June
APPLY NOW: http://www.uwe.ac.uk/jobs
APPLY NOW: http://bit.ly/3goziNU
Head of Highways £68,486 - £71,999
RECRUIT HERE To advertise please contact Jason on: 020 7091 7895 or email: email@example.com
About you This is a once in a career opportunity to shape a Highway Service for a new authority, to be able to consider all the activities that local authorities undertake and manage on their highway network. The local and economic climate is exceptional and that brings significant demands and pressures that will test and develop your managerial and engineering capabilities whilst working in a new political landscape for the Council. The service has a high profile with the public and the Councillors, with many more councillors in the new Unitary Council, developing effective and efficient mechansims for communicating about the service is a real challenge and there is an opportunity to modernise the service. Skills & Experience/About You We are looking for a qualified professional with a proven track record of delivering high quality highway services showing the ability to think differently and show innovation in service delivery. If you are looking for your next challenge and have the experience then we want to hear from you! Closes: 27th June
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Published 12 June 2020
LTT799 29 May - 11 June 2020
Covid-19 leaves programme of clean air zones up in the air
FROM FRONT PAGE
cycle will happen anyway. We would rather see the action and resources being used on longer lasting measures that will help the congestion challenge; so retiming deliveries, looking at bottlenecks, and supporting businesses with the adoption of other technologies – for instance, electric vans and the ultra-low emission truck,
once we finally have a definition of one.” Asked about the future of CAZs, a DfT spokesman told LTT this week: “We understand the pressures local authorities are currently facing due to the coronavirus outbreak and the priority must be to work together to slow the spread of the virus. “Improving air quality as soon as possible remains vital and we
Experts offer guidance for roadspace reallocation FROM FRONT PAGE
advice and guidance. The letter to the transport secretary, which has also been copied to the Prime Minister’s transport adviser at 10 Downing Street, Andrew Gilligan, has been signed by a number of leading experts, including the chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ municipal expert panel, the head of Urban Design London, the president of the International Federation of Municipal Engineers and over a dozen leading traffic and urban design experts. They say that “to aid the implementation of the requirements, we urge the Department for Transport to support the creation of a partnership between professionals, professional organisations and local government to produce urgent detailed technical guidance that all can benefit from.” They point out that highway authorities are confronting common scenarios, and rather than each attempting to generate its own detailed design solutions, effort, time and costs will
undoubtedly be saved by the production of detailed guidance in common. A number of pioneering authorities had already developed robust approaches to network planning and detailed measures in specific types of streets, and these could very beneficially be shared and built upon. “There are many professionals like us – engineers, urban designers, transport planners, landscape architects and more besides – who would gladly help in the production of guidance, as well as supporting local authorities in implementation, including many professionals who are currently furloughed.” The letter says that, as professionals in this field, they are keen to support the secretary of state’s objectives to reallocate road space and achieve modal shift in urban areas in response to the Covid-19 situation. “To aid the implementation of the requirements, we urge the Department for Transport to support the creation of the proposed partnership to produce urgent detailed technical guidance that all can benefit from”.
continue to engage with local authorities and keep plans for all clean air zones under constant review. “We’re committed to creating a green legacy from the pandemic, building on the unprecedented levels of walking and cycling we’ve seen across the country. We’re investing in sustainable forms of travel – just this month we announced £2bn to encourage more people to cycle and walk, along with fast-tracked trials of e-scooters and a boost for electric vehicle charging points.”
“The statutory guidance requires measures within weeks rather than months. To achieve this requires the provision of practical detailed guidance and support within days rather than weeks. As professionals working to a common purpose, we urge the DfT to support and aid us in the sharing of this necessary expertise, and would be delighted to work with your officials to this end.” Huxford told LTT that he hoped for an early indication of support from the DfT for the project, and that he and colleagues were already working on the necessary material. This team included Saskia Huizinga, a public realm specialist currently on furlough, who has been developing a simple street typology that could be very quickly applied to generate a network system of safe shopping streets, strategic public and cycling routes, as well as a local network for walking and cycling to enable safe travel to schools, shops and surgeries. Also involved are David McKenna, of Transport for London; Colin Davis, a public realm and streetscape expert; and Chris Sharpe, of Holistic City Software, who has been working on mapping support.
Young professionals’ views of the future
THREE-DAY rail season tickets to support flexible working, and transport hubs redesigned to encourage safe post-pandemic social interaction. These are among the topics of opinion pieces prepared by young infrastructure professionals in a programme run by the National Infrastructure Commission. The Commission’s inaugural young professionals panel of 16 members was appointed in April 2018. As the first cohort reaches the end of its term, the Commission has published their opinion pieces under the banner ‘Generational Shift’. NIC chair Sir John Armitt said: “Listening carefully to the perspectives of those at earlier stages of their careers is vitally important to any industry, both to challenge outmoded habits and to ensure services are being shaped inclusively to serve the whole of society. “The panel has offered valuable
insights to the Commission across a range of discussions and their latest contributions provide both inspiration and provocation for the sector. I’m very grateful for them for their work.” The topics are: • how Coronavirus could shape the next generation of infrastructure • shifts in consumer behaviour: make do and mend? • crowd-funding local infrastructure • experience vs things • flexible working – working with or against flexible electricity networks? • opportunities for infrastructure design to combat loneliness • could post-pandemic Britain be a breath of fresh air? • flexi-ticketing on the railway Appointments to the next young professionals panel are being finalised. The membership will be announced shortly. The opinion pieces are available at https://tinyurl.com/y7ujpa5x
E-bikes cleared for NI E-BIKES
THE NORTHERN Ireland Executive has passed legislation authorising the use of electric bikes on public roads without needing registration, licensing or insurance. The regulations bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, removing a barrier to ebike uptake. The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations (Northern Ireland)
2020 defines the class of e-bike that is to be treated as not being a motor vehicle. Specifically, the cycle must be fitted with pedals that are required to propel it and be assisted by an electric motor that has a maximum power rating of 250w. The motor cannot propel the cycle when travelling more than 15.5 mph (25 km/h). Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon recently announced a plan to designate a walking and cycling champion within her Department.