A re-opening of a passnger line and and odd comment from a Think Tank.

rjhowie

Active member
In earlier threads I have reported on the re-opening of the Borders Line here in Scotland (Edinburgh to as far as Galashiels roughly) which will be the longest such re-start in GB as it is over 30 miles. It is well under way and doing well schedule-wise but a think tank earlier this week made a condemning statement that it would be a futile project and griped that it be financially a waste. Leaving aside practical things such as the vastly increased housing along the route this project was decided on a few years ago so where has this lot of economic "experts" been?
 
Think tanks are rarely impartial politically. They tend to represent certain interests from one side of the political spectrum or another. Sometimes this leaves them a little adrift from reality as the rest of us experience it...

Paul
 
Got a point there. We have had 3 passenger lines re-opened in recent years and two of them have had massive use and this latest is great as it is 30 plus miles. Originally it went diagonally across country to Carlisle just over the Border in England but at least we have got it as far as Galashiels . Once well served by lines the Borders region will get a great boost when re-opened and with a greater population along the line than in yesteryear a great way to commute to Edinburgh. One of those other 2 re-openings was in the Greater Glasgow suburban network to a sizeable country town and was thus electric and proved itself re the extra cost.
 
Got a name for that think tank? Almost certainly a right wing one. They always refuse to say who funds them, but various forms of big business, including road haulage, bus company and airline interests. All massively anti-rail (because it requires state support). I recall that thirty years ago one of these think tanks (forget which one) proposed turning Britain's railways into roads and guided busways on the grounds that it was more 'efficient'.

I used to teach economics once, in a previous life, so obviously I have no confidence whatsoever in the remedies of the 'dismal science'!

Paul
 
Dash it Pauls2, I wish I could recall the name but I wasn't quick enough at the time I am afraid. In an earlier thread, I also said that one of the leading lights in the restoration of that line was a lady who is a great age now and is as happy as Larry that they are getting it back. Other small towns beyond Galashiels are slightly miffed that their section of defunct track bed all the way through that part of the Borders to Carlsile isn't included but that douby lady has suggested to them they be as active as they were! Trouble with that dream is it would probably double the costand there is a tunnel that a bit of needs rebuilding so hope springs eternal. However when they closed the route all those years ago the locals came out and blocked the last train and the police had to appeal to the local MP to get them to disperse. I am glad the hard work has paid off and the "Think" Tank can get, well.....stuffed!

Roll on 2015.
 
Hi everybody.
Well, I hope everybody does not jump on me too quick, but I have just been asked if I would like to take part in a local think tank here in the Somerset area. As you may know I have just sold my business and retired (well, semi anyway) and through that business I have always been a member of the local trade association and Chamber of Commerce. It is those bodies that have asked me represent them on a think tank being set up in association with the Somerset county council and five local district councils looking into better organisation and coordination of public transport.

The foregoing will mean assessing the bus and rail services throughout the county and coming forward with Ideas that will within the present budget or even a reducing budget improve services and encourage commuters to use public transport more widely. Now, there is a challenge for you!

I was thinking of saying no to the request, but having read the opinions of what I consider to be some of the most respected members of this forum which mirror opinions I have read in other forums around the net, I am now thinking I might just give it “a go” if only to perhaps get someone different (if that’s what I am) onto one of these bodies.

I am informed that the think tank will be made up of various passenger groups, trade and business interests as well as council members and representatives of the transport unions. The total number of members should be between 12 and 15 so it should not be too big as to be overly cumbersome and hopefully allow for good discussion and debate.

As stated, I have not completely made up my mind whether to take part or not, but it could be very interesting as well as being quite a lot of hard work through travelling around to various community meetings and other site visits with a view to compiling an action report for the Council(s).

Any constructive views would be appreciated.
Bill
 
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Locally in Ottawa Canada OC transpo has a route planner which shows different options from getting from A to B. It does include all bus routes and even some of the adjacent system. They now have GPS on the buses and each bus stop has its own unique number so you can text to see when the next bus will be there in real time. I'm not sure what you have locally but it might be worth thinking about. They also have the equivalent of the London Oyster card which is interesting in that it gives you more information about where people travel and when. Their off the shelf computer system works out the optimum size / route for buses taking into account the local commuter rail and has been responsible for reducing the costs per passenger mile travelled.

So something to take with you.

Cheerio John
 
Is this what you are referring to?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-25035749

The Institute of Economic Affairs is the think tank referred to here and it is certainly right wing. I'm not up to date on my UK political organizations, but I believe this is the same bunch that was taking funds from US companies, Phillip Morris comes to mind, to say that smoking doesn't have a negative effect on your health.

Bill:
I don't believe the think tank you were invited to is the same sort of organization that's denouncing the reopening, if it's the same one in the article I posted, of the Borders Line. Those are more nationally oriented and offer general criticisms based on a political ideology whereas the one you described appears to be designed to get local input from a broad range of interested parties. I would think the latter body would be a bit more impartial. At least I hope it would be.
 
Ha ha - IEA - the daddy of them all! Of course - their right wing anti-rail bias goes back 40 years. Actually, I'm pretty sure they were the ones advocating concreting over all of our major railways to turn them into roads back in the 80s. Plus ca change....

Paul
 
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Must say is a potentially interesting and thought provoking opportunity to be involved in a wide public "tank" and as someone who was a volountary judge in public life in th noerth of the Kingdom over the Border, go for it. No doubt there will be others who go in feeling they could in some way contribute to the project(s) and being interested in public transport especially rail get your feet under the table. Nothing wrong either in tapping minds you kn and that includes here then you can weigh up what you get and flex them to suit the more local areas being mused over. It was small groups of determined folk who have got that 30 mile Borders re-opening and I have now been told another group got together for the line beyond Galashiels to Hawick and further. Yoor group will take time (short one hopes) to get to know each other and be mutual progressors. Such folk are can contribute more common sense than sensless planners and formal "experts" who know little about daily live in places. Go for it and tap brains including her! Good luck you lucky opprtune man!
 
Locally in Ottawa Canada OC transpo has a route planner which shows different options from getting from A to B. It does include all bus routes and even some of the adjacent system. They now have GPS on the buses and each bus stop has its own unique number so you can text to see when the next bus will be there in real time. I'm not sure what you have locally but it might be worth thinking about. They also have the equivalent of the London Oyster card which is interesting in that it gives you more information about where people travel and when. Their off the shelf computer system works out the optimum size / route for buses taking into account the local commuter rail and has been responsible for reducing the costs per passenger mile travelled.

So something to take with you.

Cheerio John

You needn't go to all the way to Canada to see such a system in operation - they exist in the UK too, and indeed Dundee/Tayside offers most of the same (minus the Oyster-type card), with the realtime GPS tracking of buses meaning that the due times of arrival at any stop can be accessed directly from any PC or smartphone, as well as being advertised on screens at the majority of stances themselves, regardless of which company is running the service - hardly rocket science, nowadays.

A similar organisation to the one Bill mentions has also been examining the possibility of using the existing rail network in Tayside to support a shuttle service serving the major local centres 'slotted-in' between the present national services, which could be achieved with the reinstatement of some passing loops, and would offer a radical solution to the issue of mass transportation for a reasonably low start-up cost.
 
You needn't go to all the way to Canada to see such a system in operation - they exist in the UK too, and indeed Dundee/Tayside offers most of the same (minus the Oyster-type card), with the realtime GPS tracking of buses meaning that the due times of arrival at any stop can be accessed directly from any PC or smartphone, as well as being advertised on screens at the majority of stances themselves, regardless of which company is running the service - hardly rocket science, nowadays.

A similar organisation to the one Bill mentions has also been examining the possibility of using the existing rail network in Tayside to support a shuttle service serving the major local centres 'slotted-in' between the present national services, which could be achieved with the reinstatement of some passing loops, and would offer a radical solution to the issue of mass transportation for a reasonably low start-up cost.

For us North America, the new fangled technology is all new to us. We're lucky where I live to be getting some new diesel locomotives to replace our ancient F40PHs! We too just got the new GPS information boards as well so now we know when the trains are late. :)

The short-turn transit links are becoming somewhat popular here as well. The Boston MBTA system has recently started work on a short, 2-mile, line to serve South Boston running between South Boston Fan Pier, World Trace Center area to Back Bay Station. The idea behind these short-turn services is to alleviate the heavy local traffic of people commuting to the rail and bus stations. Isn't this a novelle idea?

John
 
Now is a good time for railways and I suppose that won't feel comfortable for the road hauliers/builders etc. that may or may not be represented in 'think tanks' from any side of the political spectrum. Like the HS2 doubters, it's easy to find statistics/consultants to prove that it is a waste of money, but I'm old enough to remember similar doubts about the channel tunnel...

R3
 
Hi everybody
Now is a good time for railways and I suppose that won't feel comfortable for the road hauliers/builders etc. that may or may not be represented in 'think tanks' from any side of the political spectrum. Like the HS2 doubters, it's easy to find statistics/consultants to prove that it is a waste of money, but I'm old enough to remember similar doubts about the channel tunnel...

R3

rumoure 2, I am afraid you are a bit wide of the mark in stating these are uncomfortable times for the road haulage industry. The simple facts are that it is the large road haulage companies which are indeed financing and developing the rapid growth in rail freight here in the United Kingdom.Distribution companies such as Stowbart, DHL, Malcombe, and Wincanton have develop their own “rail arms” which are closely integrated to the road haulage operations. The large supermarket companies are also developing their own rail freight distribution operations to act in conjunction with their regional distribution centres.

The above companies are using rail operations to replace the more traditional “night road trunking operations” which are used for bulk distribution between central warehousing and regional distribution centers. It can often be that central warehousing will send for example 12 thirty-eight ton articulated vehicles per night to a regional distribution centre. Put all those trailers together and what do you have, a train. The forgoing has been brought into existence by the high price of fuel and the now famous class 66 rail power units which modified to British requirements can maintain a sustained speed of over 70 mph, which is exactly what night trunking operations to regional centres require. Traditional HGV road transport then move all the stock consignments between the regional distribution centre and high-street retailers, supermarkets or locally-based parcel companies.

As Britain moves out of recession these are indeed good times for the distribution companies due to the huge growth in home delivery parcel operations and within that rail movement is very much part of their plans.

Separate to the above, can I thank rjhowie and others who have encouraged me to join the Somerset county council think tank on the development and coordination of public transport here in in the county. I have decided to take up a place on the development committee and have already received a tremendous amount of paperwork which I have been reading for the last two days.

I would have to say that some of the practices and procedures which are used in decision-making (or not as the case may be) I have found totally appalling by way of the huge amount of bureaucracy that any decision has to go through before any action is taken. The phrase “jobs for the boys” very much comes to mind when reading all the above paperwork.

I will post on that tomorrow as some of it I think previous posters in this thread will find it absolutely laughable.


Bill
 
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