Select Committee on Mersey Tunnels Bills Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 580-599)



580. CHAIRMAN: I think each tunnel has two and the bridge has four. I think that is right. I am trying to picture it in my own mind.

(Mr Bates) And the tunnels obviously have six.

581. MR McGOLDRICK:The Mersey tunnels have six lanes? Is that what you are telling us?

(Mr Bates) Eight.

582. MR McGOLDRICK: So if I can just sum up what you said, we have agreed that the Dartford Crossing has eight lanes and the Mersey tunnels have eight lanes and you have said that you think that the Dartford Crossing carries twice as much traffic as the Mersey tunnels.

(Mr Bates) Over the whole day. The difference is dramatically in the profiles. Dartford is effectively flat over the whole day, so what happens is that traffic builds up to a very high level and then just for the whole day it is very high. The whole of the M25 is the same, so you have a continuous, very high level of traffic all day and then it drops down in the evening. The difference with the Mersey tunnels, as you are aware, is that we have this peak and then it goes relatively low in the middle of the day and it peaks again. That is the problem with capacity, that really daily numbers can be very, very misleading and you have really got to look at peak periods and how that peak capacity relates to the peak demand, not the daily.

583. MR McGOLDRICK: Thank you.

Re-examined by MR GEORGE

584. MR GEORGE: Could we go in the exhibit bundle to B22 which is page 76.You were just saying that it is important to concentrate on the peak hour and we recollect the figures given yesterday of, in the middle of the table, the traffic flow in the eight to nine am peak being, on a recent count, originally 6,250, but Mr Wilkinson said on a later count were 6,400 and towards the top of the table we have got the 6,800 capacity. As far as the question of benefits and disbenefits to the Wirral and so forth are concerned, one can take several views and interpret it in several ways, but if one concentrates on that present position in the peak hour, what message does that send to you as a transport planner as to what should happen for the future?

(Mr Bates) As I have said, we are getting very close to capacity, so we are undoubtedly getting congestion disbenefits now. Clearly something needs to be done to address the rate of growth so that that congestion does not get worse. One of the problems with congestion is that it grows logarithmically as vehicles arrive, so it is not a linear relationship. As more vehicles join the queue, the delay does not grow in a linear way, but it grows in a logarithmic way, so again as congestion gets worse, it gets a lot worse, so again it needs to be addressed in some manner.

585. And does this Bill seek to address that point?

(Mr Bates) This is exactly what the Bill seeks to address, yes.

586. MR GEORGE: I have no further questions.

587. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. It seems a convenient moment to break for lunch. We will resume at five minutes past two, if that is convenient. Thank you.

After a short adjournment

588. CHAIRMAN: The Promoters may have concluded their case. We now come to the position of the Petitioners putting their case. Mr McGoldrick, you have ready said that you are going to call a witness. Does that still stand?

589. MR McGOLDRICK: That is correct, my Lord Chairman.

590. CHAIRMAN: In which case your entitlement in that respect is either to make an opening statement and to call a witness or to call a witness and make a closing statement but not both. I am sure you are aware of that.

591. MR McGOLDRICK: Just about, my Lord Chairman, yes.

592. CHAIRMAN: I just wanted to make that quite clear. You do not have the option of making both an opening and a closing statement. You cannot have two bites at the cherry.

593. MR McGOLDRICK: Yes, I understand, my Lord Chairman.

594. CHAIRMAN: Obviously you can take as much time as you wish to present your case, but it would be convenient for all concerned if we were able to come to a termination of these proceedings today and all five members of the Committee are able and willing to go on beyond four o'clock if need be provided there is a very good chance that we would close by, at the very latest, six o'clock. Can I just ask both the Promoters and the Petitioners whether they can see any insuperable obstacle if that timetable should be adhered to? Would you be prepared to go on until six o'clock if need be?

595. MR McGOLDRICK: Yes, my Lord Chairman.

596. MR GEORGE: Yes.

597. CHAIRMAN: That is extremely satisfactory. Mr McGoldrick, do you wish to make an opening statement or are you going to call your witness?

598. MR McGOLDRICK: If I may call Mr Field first. He has got a hospital appointment.

599. CHAIRMAN: You will have a chance to make a closing statement, just to re-emphasise my earlier remarks.

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