Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by K Tatton Esq (IT 65)

COMMENTS OF THE "TRANSPORT PAPER 1998"

  These comments are made on the basis of a person living in the semi-rural environment of a village (Furness Vale in Derbyshire) which is accessed only by a main Trunk Road A6, some minor roads, about three bus services, two railways with only one station serving the actual village, and a canal.

  Briefly the village is located at the foot of a valley with a few minor county roads, located some 13 miles SE of Manchester.

  Whilst the Government is right to investigate the "New Deal" as a whole, there would appear to be many flaws in the brief and some of the ideas have already been proved just plain unworkable.

  One fact which is not "driven home" is that people have to travel, and that they are now used to travelling in the mode as and when they want to. They are constrained in this thinking by the options available to them.

  This is a summary of some of my points:

  1. Bus Travel

  Not always practical—people want to travel when they want to. In rural areas buses may be infrequent and the routes do not take in all the communities. People who shop do not want to carry goods any distance especially if they have to shop only once a week. Buses are not customated to assist passengers, they are slow as they are almost invariably only single driver manned. Bus lanes are a costly failure and only carry a few passengers and for efficient use should be doubled in width to 7.3m (24 ft) to allow for free passage for other traffic. Why should one company route have the use of a bus lane route, whilst other companies and routes are not so served?

  In urban areas, driver operated services, without the benefit of bus lay-bys hold up traffic, whilst fares are taken—adding to the pollution if nothing else. Bus lay bys should be constructed by the bus companies at their expense and not be subsidised by others. Bus regulation should be re-introduced—the "Hereford Experiment" before deregulation showed what was going to happen but was ignored. One has only to witness nose to tail running in say Manchester to see this. Condition of buses especially emissions, should also be brought into line with taxi and other vehicle inspections—Manchester again is an offender. Regulation is also required to ensure that Bus and Rail services are integrated.

  2. Tram services—These are nothing new, and they still show the same faults as they did in the past, i.e., that they are slow in a city environment, and also hinder other traffic. Manchester is again a classic example with the inner city route fouling up even business areas, is routed parallel to existing (Railtrack) heavy metal routes, e.g., Piccadilly to Deansgate (G-Mex). They are OK when in open country say from Manchester to Bury or Altrincham, but then they are only running on existing Heavy Rail System which was served by trains. If a tram breaks down with even minor damage in central Manchester, then half the central trackwork is blocked, i.e., there are no sidings or alternative routes as there used to be with the original tram system.

  3. Train travel—Quite a good option, but the trains must stop at stations. On the Manchester-Stockport-Buxton route North West Trains have decide to omit stops at Middlewood, Furness Vale and Dove Holes at certain times during the rush hour, to suit their convenience. Surely it costs nothing to stop trains, especially if they ran at higher permitted speeds after the laying of temporary steel sleepers, and rails. Stations should be designed, or the trackwork lowered locally to permit easy access—simple but rarely done. A central train regulation body should be set up and trains re-nationalised.

  4. Transportation of goods—Whilst it is accepted rail is the best option many firms do not have access or sidings or load areas to take a fork lift truck. The Government should now assist with grants for this type of work.

  Good planning is needed in the location of firms which should be on proper designed industrial areas, and not allowed to spawn into former unsuitable areas without a proper roads network. The codes for roads in Industrial Areas must be re-defined, and made more realistic in capacity and layout terms, and provide access for heavy load vehicles, and internal site parking by staff and customer. To charge for this type of parking is clearly a nonsense, and how do you go on with internal parking within a building? Some firms rely on "reps" to get business, and they must travel by car to be effective. Business must reject the JIT (Just in Time) syndrome, and carry effective working stacks of materials, etc.

  5. Highway Authorities It is suggested that Highway operations be taken from local authority control, and their vested interests, in order to ensure that monies are allocated, spent and not frittered away as at present on prestigious schemes, and the like. Former, and now redundant Municipal Engineers, and Highway Engineers should be brought back and re-employed as the nucleus of the existing central roads authority to ensure collation of policies and spending as to where the real need on both a regional, and national basis. It is interesting to travel and notice the different standards of repair, provision and signing. Stringent design criteria should be introduced to ensure decent development, and attention to real maintenance needs to make sure that money is spent on maintenance of roads, and equipment. The authority should also have its own construction staff and equipment—sufficient to do the general day to day tasks. Tenders could be sought from contractors as well as the authority for larger works say over £½ million.

  The authority should also co-ordinate service "opening" and abnormal load routes and routing, as well as bridge design and permitted heights and loadings. Routing of abnormal loads should be at nights, and money allocated to raise or deal with low bridge problems, and other obstructions to abnormal loads. Tolling over bridges should be terminated, and end the Humber Bridge Bill.

  6. Taxation Much of the money will inevitably come from taxation. The present licensing fees should be abolished, and reworked via an inclusion in the Fuel Tax. This should cut consumption and emissions. Most if not all the tax should be spent as intended on roads.

  It is perhaps fatuous to expect a road control system of the A6 between Derby and Manchester to yield any income, and is completely impracticable. It is suggested that there are no 100 per cent proof system of road charging, recording and collection of fees which may be checked by the owners. (Witness the errors in phone charging). Linked traffic systems offer a solution, but lights rarely work at 100 per cent efficiency, so what price a road charging system? and why the A6?—through the "sacred wonderful wonderland" which is an absolute pain to drive on. Solution—redesignate other roads as A6, whilst carrying out a second dualling carriageway at reasonable cost. Derbyshire has lost out in the past, yet probably has the most commercial pressure due to the supply of raw materials which provides much needed jobs and work, although below the national average. It takes about ¾ hour from Turners Vale to reach any national motorway. A by-pass was planned, and designed. The section here lies over about 25 per cent of former tipping land and yet both Borough and County Councils have resolved not to have this work done.

  7. General The above submission is only a brief outline of what is involved. Until such time as use is made of the professionalism which is still being underused, and made redundant, it will ever be so. Such a waste must be terminated forthwith.

K Tatton


 
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