Category Archives: Transport
Will the next government move more freight by rail and waterways to reduce air pollution and road accidents?
Money Supermarket reports that more than half of fatal accidents on British roads involve HGVs, though lorries make up only 10% of the traffic. HGVs are involved in one in five fatal crashes on A-roads and an HGV is five times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident on a minor road than other traffic.
Department for Transport figures are quoted, showing that 82% of articulated heavy goods vehicles exceeded the 50-mph speed limit on dual carriageways and 73% broke the 40-mph limit on single carriageways in 2013. Despite this, in 2015 government raised the speed limit for HGVs travelling on single and dual carriageways in England and Wales. An HGV over 7.5 tonnes can now travel along a single carriageway at 50 mph, up from 40mph. The speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes travelling on dual carriageways increased from 50mph to 60mph.
The arrival of even bigger HGVs (double articulated mega-trucks) and ‘platooning’ trials pending with a driver in the first cab, controlling the following vehicles has raised further safety concerns. Last year, the Government announced that trials of partially self-driving platoons of lorries were set to take place on roads in the UK by the end of 2018.
Edmund King, president of the AA pointed out that we have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries – and that platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America.
A few recent accidents:
The northbound carriageway between junctions 38 (Huddersfield) and 39 (Wakefield) was closed after an HGV overturned following an earlier collision with a car. The HGV was fully laden with glass bottles that had to be unloaded and diesel that had spilled across all three carriageway lanes had to be cleared.
M6 was shut after lorry crash between J12 and J13, near Cannock. The HGV hit the central reservation and later caught fire. Three lanes reopened southbound just after 12:30. Northbound remained closed most of day.
The M6 northbound between J14 (Stafford) and J16 (Stoke-on-Trent) was closed following an HGV fire.
The A38 was closed in both directions, between the A513 near Fradley and B5016 near Burton on Trent due to a crash and an overturned HGV. Around 40 tonnes of grain were spilled in the carriageway.
Police officers investigate the collision involving an HGV, between J25 and J24 near Taunton.
An HGV driver died following a collision on the M6 when his lorry burst into flames after colliding with a safety barrier.
There were severe delays on the M6 southbound between Junction 16 and Junction 15 due to two lanes being closed following an HGV fire. There was approximately seven miles congestion back to J16.
There is an alternative:
A Route One article reviewed reports by continental researchers who believe that their findings offer some support to policies being developed at Pan-European level to promote new multimodal transport corridors. These involve rail, inland waterways, short-sea (coastal) shipping. The researchers concluded that shifting a greater proportion of freight from roads to rail, boat and/or ship for part of its journey would be a sustainable way of meeting continuing rises in freight demand and reducing numbers of road accidents.
The Freight by Water 2018 conference, part of the Inland Waterways Transport Solutions project, highlighted how switching freight from road and rail to water can compete on cost and cut emissions. Inland waterways across the world have proved to be effective and efficient channels for moving everything from beer to building materials.
The conference highlighted several success stories and discussed several opportunities for freight by water, including the Leeds Inland Port at Stourton, which could take at least 200,000 tonnes of freight traffic off the roads. Its conclusion:
The time is right to increase freight using inland waterways throughout the UK and across Europe as an alternative to road and rail freight.
A Moseley resident draws attention to an article by Peter Oborne (left), recalling that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies struck a chord with some voters as he cut the Tories’ Commons majority in the 2017 General Election. These included the intention to impose tougher wealth taxes, to renationalise great swathes of the country’s public utilities, to cancel our Trident nuclear defence system and to introduce rent controls.
He added: “Above all, they saw a man who stuck to his principles, unlike David Cameron and Tony Blair who they regarded as snake-oil salesmen . . . I believe that voters were right to admire Jeremy Corbyn back then”.
Oborne expressed later disappointment: “He’s sat on the fence for so long that the iron has entered his soul, as early 20th-century PM David Lloyd George once said of an opponent. . . Rather than being too Left-wing, I’m convinced Corbyn is not radical enough. Very occasionally we get a reminder of his old passionate commitment to Left-wing politics”:
- He has been outspoken in his opposition to U.S. warmongering in the Persian Gulf against Iran
- He is the only frontline British politician to condemn India’s illegal clampdown in Kashmir
Has Corbyn been “spineless and far too willing to change his mind?”
Oborne notes that in 2013 Corbyn (right) was one of a dozen Labour MPs who voted in the Commons against spending seed money on HS2 high-speed rail project. But then he changed his mind and voted for its construction. The following year, Labour’s election manifesto supported the new link.
Less cogent is his criticism of Corbyn because in the 1975 referendum, he voted for Britain to leave the EU’s predecessor, the Common Market and in the 2016 referendum, he changed his mind and campaigned for the UK to stay. The writer believes that this is a perfectly reasonable attitude, shared by many, because:
- the EU has seen peace between its member states, despite their history,
- poorer regions have received funding,
- many of the EU’s environmental policies have been beneficial
- and the economies of member states have become so closely interwoven that a break would cause serious and prolonged disruption to the British economy.
Oborne continues: “But U-turn Jeremy then supported a Commons amendment in January demanding that we stay in the EU for longer and then called for a permanent customs union and close alignment to the single market . . . and now his Labour party wants a second referendum”
Towards the end he writes: “Next month will mark (Corbyn’s) fourth year in the job and it looks more and more as if he has flunked that chance. His influence is waning by the day. On October 31, with Brexit, this country faces one of the most important peacetime decisions for generations. It will be the last proper chance for Corbyn to show leadership”.
“The savage rules of the almighty Market have created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”: Paul Halas
Paul Halas: “As we approach the 2020s there’s a growing awareness that we need change and we need change now. Running the country according to the savage rules of the almighty Market has created the conditions that are speeding us to destruction”.
In the Western Daily Press (26th April) Paul describes the Conservatives’ genius in persuading millions of long-suffering voters that the national economy operates like a household, so in order for the nation to “live within its means” we all have to tighten our belts.
But this concept – invented by Margaret Thatcher’s think tanks – was directed only at the 99% who always “suffer the destructive effects of austerity” as Halas points out.
The cuts to health, education, transport, disability benefits and other sectors go un-noticed by the I% who can afford to opt out of these systems – symbolised here by one of her ministers.
The household economics concept, Halas continues, ”echoed by every administration since . . . (is) easy to understand yet utterly meretricious”.
He refers us to sources such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, so the writer obediently found the latest report, which certainly did not confirm “the impression that everything in the garden is rosy”. Tax receipts have risen, but there is no indication that “lashings of money are flowing into the Treasury” as had been stated in the same column on 23rd April.
OBR: damned with faint praise?
- The economy ended 2018 growing a little less strongly than we expected in October. In recent weeks survey indicators of current activity have weakened materially, in part reflecting heightened uncertainty related to Brexit.
- The Government’s stated ‘fiscal objective’ is to balance the budget by 2025-26 and past forecast performance suggests that it now has a 40% chance of doing so by the end of our forecast in 2023-24.
- One risk to the public finance metrics that we do expect to crystallise over the coming months is an improvement in the accounting treatment of student loans . . . we estimate that it could increase the structural budget deficit by around £12 billion or 0.5 per cent of GDP in 2020-21.
- Net trade and private investment were markedly weaker than expected, weighed down by a slowing global economy and Brexit-related uncertainty. Business investment has fallen for four consecutive quarters – its longest continuous decline since the financial crisis.
Halas expands on tax issues and the misdirected quantitative easing adventure:
Although the prime function of tax is to regulate the economy and keep inflation under control, the failure of many of the richest individuals and corporations to pay their dues, thanks to absurdly flabby fiscal legislation, has helped fuel the UK’s runaway inequality and damaged society immeasurably.
It is estimated that 80% of new money created (by the government, via the banks) ends up into the coffers of the financial institutions and their clients, rather than funding investment and welfare as it should.
And ends: “The only sustainable way forward is to invest massively in greener forms of energy and greener transport, to create a greener infrastructure and a greener environment. This won’t be possible without a vast reduction in inequality, more public ownership, more localism, and a far more cooperative approach to economics – all policies the Labour Party is adopting. All those with vested interests will doubtless raise a billion objections, but the consequences of keeping our heads in the sand and trusting the Tories to come up with solutions would be catastrophic”.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke at Labour’s conference in Llandudno on 22nd April and received a huge standing ovation, in spite of the relentless media efforts to portray him negatively while often ignoring or even covering up the disarray on the government’s front benches.
A transcript is not available but his 2017 speech is well worth revisiting: http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/articles/jeremy-corbyns-speech-to-the-welsh-labour-conference/
What Labour in Wales has achieved:
A health service free from unnecessary top-down reorganisations and privatisation where your hospitals are not struggling with record deficits due to the legacy of PFI. The NHS in Wales is treating more people than ever before and 90% say they received good treatment
- Free prescriptions for all
- A new treatment fund setup for life threatening illnesses
- On cancer waiting times, Wales is doing better than England and cancer survival rates in Wales are improving faster than anywhere in Britain
- You’ve protected the social care budget which has been slashed in England
- and there are good industrial relations in Wales: no strikes provoked and no operations cancelled unnecessarily
We strongly support the doctors who don’t want patient safety to be put at risk. Last week I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with a group of junior doctors. Let’s be clear, they are not “junior” they are dedicated, highly qualified people on whom we all depend. They are alarmed at the direction the NHS is taking.
As a parting gift they gave me this book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps” which starts with an internal market and ends with an aim of introducing universal private health insurance.
As Nye Bevan said: “Illness is a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community”.
In Wales you have built an education system that has just delivered the best ever GCSE results
- new schools are being built
- primary school pupils get a free breakfast
- the poorest college students still get the education maintenance allowance (EMA)
- And where Welsh students aren’t shackled by mountainous debt and where grants are being maintained.
English students leave university with an average £22,000 more in debt than Welsh students; that is a shocking burden that shackles young people as they start in life. It is no surprise that home ownership has collapsed.
Jobs Growth Wales has helped 15,000 young people into work
- The Young Entrepreneurs Bursary has helped young people to setup over 400 businesses in Wales and your plans to deliver 100,000 quality apprenticeships.
- the Bay Campus at Swansea is already reaping the benefits of high tech jobs in the area.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that tax and benefit changes in the last five years have left the average Welsh household £560 a year worse off.
Tax cuts for the few, the super-rich and big business public service cuts and welfare cuts for the many. We have gratuitous inequality in this country the average pay of the top chief executives compared with the average worker has risen from 47 times in 1998 to 183 times last year.
For too many people in the UK who aren’t the super-rich elite and there are quite a few of them, life is wracked by insecurity, at work and at home, Labour believes that we only succeed if we all succeed together.
The impact of this insecurity on people’s lives can be huge, it affects people’s physical and mental health.
The Tories have failed to invest in modernising the economy, we are way behind other countries on our digital infrastructure, our transport, our energy system and our housing.
70 Labour councils have committed to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 – including major cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, and Liverpool and here in Wales in Swansea, Torfaen and Caerphilly. And Labour in Wales has set out a clear energy policy, Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition and is supporting decentralised energy production through the Local Energy Service.
The Conservative government continues to fail to invest in renewable energy cut subsidies for the nascent solar industry but increased them for fracking and for diesel generators.
If our investment in flood defences had been continued, retaining the senior staff employed to make decisions in these emergencies and protecting the emergency services who responded to save lives and homes during those difficult days and weeks, we would not have seen the level of destruction and flood damage that caused such anguish to so many people as their homes were damaged and their belongings ruined.
Transport infrastructure is absolutely crucial to industrial development and growth. I praise the Welsh government in its support in re-opening and improving valley railway lines, the plans for the improved metro links in the south west of Wales and the crucial need to improve the North Wales line and road links.
We have already challenged the government and won on many important issues:
- We forced them to take a U-turn on cuts to working tax credits meaning 3 million families will no longer be hit this April with a £1,000 cut to their family income
- We made them backtrack on plans to further cut police numbers in their Autumn statement
- And we stood against the horrendous proposal that the UK would run Saudi Arabia’s prison system for them
Our party is one of social justice every child deserves a good education every student the option to study at college or university everyone deserves a decent and secure home to live in nobody should ever be left destitute the grotesque levels of inequality are unjustifiable and must go.
We are living through an era of the most grotesque deepening inequality in Britain and the West. The cynics say that inevitably the next generation will be worse of that this, I say this is not inevitable and not necessary as socialist our duty is to expand the wealth but crucially to share it so the next generation is better off than this one, and our grandchildren will be better off than our children.
This welcome addition to the six policy documents has been posted belatedly, due to an overload of good material.
Getting to work, going to school, going on holiday, visiting friends and family; transport is a part of our daily lives. The problem is, on buses or trains, it’s often too expensive, over-crowded, with too few staff, or the funding has been slashed so the service is under threat.
The privatised railways of our country have made Britain the rail rip-off capital of Europe. We need affordable fares, and railways integrated with bus routes to save money and improve services.
An expansion in public transport capacity is essential if we are to tackle climate change, and we will make sure that every pound we invest creates jobs, improves infrastructure and boosts the economy. So:
- Bring Britain’s railways into public ownership.
- Raise enough money from public ownership to cut rail fares by as much as 10%.
- Create an integrated rail system, which is more accessible, more easily understood and in which passengers and staff have a real say.
- Shifting from the expensive and wasteful rolling stock leasing system to buying trains outright and using government purchasing to support UK train building.
- Greater public control over new train orders can ensure better value train manufacturing in the long run as well as enabling a more strategic approach to rolling stock that supports UK manufacturing.
- Give all councils the power to set up publicly run municipal bus companies.
- Unlock more than £500m every year to invest in increasing bus routes and capacity.
- Save 2.8bn over the next decade which would otherwise have gone directly into dividends for private shareholders in private bus companies.
These are not radical policies; in Germany, 88% of local public transport is run by publicly owned companies.
A large proportion of Britain’s railways are already run by the state – just publicly owned Train Operating companies from other European countries.
Just a few years ago East Coast Rail – having failed drastically in private train operators’ hands, was run more successfully, more efficiently, and with higher passenger satisfaction levels as a public company. This public rail company also returned record amounts of money back to the Government compared to the previous private operator. Until the Tories re-privatised it.
So, it’s just common sense, with a pragmatic, tested model used around the world, that means we can have a People’s Railway our country deserves and which we can all be proud of under a future Labour Government.
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