Category Archives: Transport Planning

Now the Policy Exchange wants to Demolish Poyle

Since when was Tim Leunig an expert on Airport Civil Engineering and Surface Access?  Our favourite SW1 Dumbtank surpasses all previous low expectations.

The UK needs a four-runway airport either at Heathrow or Luton if it wants to compete with other European hubs such as Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, a report by a think tank has said.

The best option would be four runways immediately west of the current Heathrow site in west London, the report from Policy Exchange said.

A four-runway airport at Luton in Bedfordshire would be the next-best option.

The report did not rule out an extra, third runway at Heathrow, but said Thames Estuary airport plans, as supported by London Mayor Boris Johnson and by architect Lord Foster, were not practical.

Policy Exchange said an estuary airport would be too difficult to get to for too many people and would present greater environmental and construction challenges than expansion at Heathrow.

Also ruled out were four-runway airports at Gatwick or Stansted.

The report also called for a complete ban on the noisiest of aircraft at all times, a complete ban on night flights (between 11pm and 6.15am) and steeper landing angles to cut down on noise.

The report was written by Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal think tank CentreForum., who said: “We can and should expand aviation capacity in south east England. Doing so will send a much-needed signal to people that Britain is open for business.

“It is possible to expand Heathrow in such a way that it cements itself as Europe’s number one hub while significantly reducing the noise nuisance over west London. A four-runway airport would be straightforward to construct and relatively low cost by the standards of hub airports. It causes the lowest level of disruption to the wider economy of any likely airport expansion scenario.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “The strength with which the different options are put forward shows precisely why we were right to set up a proper independent review with the timescale to consider fully what is in the country’s interest. Maintaining the UK’s status as a leading aviation hub is vital to our economy and history suggests that, without an agreed evidence base and a high degree of political consensus, it will not be possible to deliver a lasting solution that is right for the UK.”

I have read through the report.  Sadly its incompetence is breathtaking.  It proposes to build new runways 3km to the west of Heathrow – next to the village if Datchet is located by my measurement, very close to Sunnymeads, Windsor and Old Windsor, and also likely to see the demolition of Poyle, Horton and Warysbury and the need to replace a (European protected RAMSAR) reservoir.  It proposes to ‘reuse’ existing terminal and infrastructure, sorry but what airport in the world has a 3-55km taxiway from the terminal to takeoff? Airfreight would in some cases have to taxi 6km.  The space given for peripheral associated uses is too low, no space even for a peripheral circulation road;  a practical design would require the demolition of the historic villages of Poyle and Datchet, and the closure of terminals 1,2 and 3 relocating them within the footprint.

There is no modelling of surface access, he proposes doubling passengers numbers to Heathrow and expects an upgraded Piccadilly line to be able to cope.  Neither is their any modelling of urbanisation effects.  Where will the 75,000 additional workers be housed?

The report suggests a Luton 4 runway airport as a plan B – Err there is not space, Luton Hoo and the Chilterns it calls the terrain ‘challenging’ more like impossible.  Luton could take a second runway physically, but not three more.

By retaining the existing Heathrow Site nor would there be any real estate uplift capture to fund the runway.

I looked in vain for any planning, transport planning, aviation or civil engineering expertise commissioned as part of the report.  Zero – sorry the report is wastepaper basket bound and must be causing some hilarity in the DfT – who need a lugh at the moment.  Tim may have expertise as a transportation economist but attempting a new career as a transport engineering designer is well out of his depth.

if You are going to accept a hub airport case – which is really only a case in terms of attracting tourists from emerging economies – then the only practical site, which we have said on here many times before – is the former RAF Gaydon.

West Coast Mainline – Does the DfT not know how to apply a Discount Rate?

The Transport Secretary has stated on radio 4 that the cancelled West Coast Main Line Franchise figures did not take into account inflation – something only vaguely hinted at in the press release.

I find this unbelievable – the first thing you do with any investment of PPP is discount to net present value?

Was it that certain elements of risk were not discounted – such as passenger variations or interest rate change risk?

Was there not a proper risk assessment model?  Was it a simple spreadsheet error that was not picked up and checked?

On major projects such as this are not the figures ran over by the chief account and chief economist at each department?  If not perhaps the real blame lies not in the staff suspended by at permanent secretary level for poor quality assurance systems?

Transport Planner Needed – Any Freelancers Free?

Will be off to India next week working on some megaprojects, but we are lacking a member of the team

This opportunity is urgent.  Required to travel to Dehli on set days – all travel, accommodation etc. paid for, excellent package at generous international rates.   Please reply as below if interested and available.

Position: Transport Economist

Essential Responsibilities: Responsible for Preparation of base year and horizon year econometric database as well as assessment of economic viability by means of Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) for Indian HSR pre-feasibility project

Educational Qualification: Masters/ Bachelor in Economics

Minimum Experience: 15 Years

Minimum Nature of experience: Should have worked as Chief Transport Economist on at least three completed assignments comprising Feasibility Reports or Detailed Project Reports for rail or road infrastructure projects, out of which at least one should be for a railway project. (Total 3 assignments).

Minimum Man Working days: 40 working days offsite in India.

The schedule for Transport Economist is as below:

15th July to 28th July

19th Aug to 31st Aug

14th Oct to 27th Oct

19th Nov to 1st Dec

Please send me the CVs and contact details asap. highlighting rail experience.

Very well paid expat package.  Need is urgent

Please email me andrew.lainton@btopenworld.com

Why Civil Servants Were Right to Insist on Consultation on a 3rd Heathrow Runway

Civil Servants seem to be getting a kicking from Conservatives at the moment.  Both from number 10 and influential backbenchers such as Douglas Carswell who want to see an insurrectionary style overthrow of power away from civil servants.  (by the way Douglas this Blog is heading to exceed your monthly hit rate within the next few weeks and I am not even a MP).

Civil servants however primarily raise concerns because policy proposed has no evidence to back it up, would be impractical in implementation or would be illegal and bound to be overturned at some point in the courts.  The real danger is replacement of a fiercely non partisan corps of public servants with a tribe of yes people who would stumble from one policy omnishambles to another.

One good example of this is the forthcoming airports White Paper.  With a third runway ruled out in the coalition agreement Ministers were furious that Civil servants strongly recommended that it e included as an option.  It now appears that this will be an option.

Guardian

The government will not block BAA from submitting proposals for a third Heathrow runway in a forthcoming revamp of policy on aviation hubs, in a move that heads off the threat of legal action by the airport owner.

A senior representative of the London mayor, Boris Johnson, said the government would allow BAA to push for expansion of Britain’s largest airport. Daniel Moylan, the mayor’s aviation policy chief, said it did not mean a third runway was back on the government’s policy agenda.

“Boris Johnson understands that for legal reasons the government is going to have to allow examination of every option. But this should not be taken as expressing a preference for a third runway,” said Moylan….

The government is launching two aviation documents in July: a consultation on a “sustainable aviation framework”; and a request for options on maintaining airport hubs in the UK. If BAA lobbies for a third runway through the latter, according to one industry source, the government could use the principles established in the sustainable aviation study to rule it out emphatically or resurrect it.

“If a third runway at Heathrow can meet requirements for a sustainable aviation policy, it will be sifted through for consideration. If it cannot, it will be sifted out. That is a robust and entirely legal position to take,” said the source.

A senior aviation industry source said the options document would allow for a third runway submission, amid speculation that BAA will seek a judicial review if it is barred from submitting an argument for expansion. “The document will be carefully worded so as not to exclude any potential options for increasing hub airport capacity,” said the source.

The Department for Transport said the government remained against a third runway. “The coalition’s position regarding Heathrow has not changed,” it said.

The legal position is very clear and simple.  The EU SEA directive requires evaluation and ‘early consultation on ‘reasonable alternative options’ for strategies leading to development consents.  The previous government had been stung before on not including expansion of Gatwick in a previous airports white paper.  Im sure civil servants would also have been brefing ministers of the implications of the key case on consultation on National Policy Greenpeace v DTI  that you can’t be seen to have made your mind up before the consultation has even begun.

RAND Corporation – Car Sharing will reduce Congestion but Minimal Impact on CO2

Planetzen

In analyzing the potential for growth of car-sharing in the United States, a new study (pdf) by the RAND Corporation e…point out that [a shift towards car sharing could] significant benefits such as easing congestion, reducing the need for parking, and reducing transportation costs, they also report that the potential of such a shift to reduce energy use and carbon pollution is minimal.

“Here are the numbers: If 7.5 million Americans signed up for car-sharing services, the RAND study estimates that greenhouse-gas emissions from all U.S. vehicles would decline just 0.6 percent. If we got outlandish and assumed a future in which 20.3 million Americans (or about 12.5 percent of all eligible drivers) used car-sharing, then emissions from light vehicles would still just drop 1.7 percent.”

…the reason for the meager decline is due to the current driving patterns of those most be likely to use the service.

For the most part, the people who sign up for car-sharing services were barely driving anyway. On average, Americans who use these sharing services see their car ownership numbers drop from 0.47 cars per household down to 0.24 cars per household. In other words, they went from barely owning cars to… barely owning cars. In contrast, car ownership for the country as a whole is about 1.87 vehicles per household.”

“Indeed, as StreetsblogDC’s Tanya Snyder points out, public transportation — taking the bus or train — is a much more effective way for city dwellers to cut emissions.”

A Meriden New Town is a very Bad Idea – But Stoneleigh Garden City a good one #HS2 #NPPF

Stoneleigh Deer Park - Park at the Heart of a New Garden City?

The Daily Telegraph story I commented on last night hinted that the ‘100,000 houses’ Midland New Town linked to HS2 would be in the Meriden Gap, which made no sense.  There is no more sensitive and important piece of Green Belt in the country than that and that location is very badly placed in terms of impact on the national motorway network, proximity to Birmingham and likelihood of attracting commuter HS2 traffic as opposed to city to city.  What is more the fact that it would build on half the Green Belt in Caroline Spelman’s constituency makes the idea ridiculous.

Many of us initially jumped to the conclusion that this was an upgrading to the rejected option of a 13,000 home new settlement in the Solihull Green Belt accepted by NLP as part of their proposals to increase housing planned in the West Midlands RSS  in 2008.- most likely land near the NEC/Birmingham Airport.  But that site simply does not scale to 100,000 houses.   Swamping historic Hampden-in-Arden – unlikely.

So what landowner could have been lobbying/working with HS2?

There is a very obvious candidate.  Stoneleigh Park.

The shift of the HS2 route took the route straight through rather than around Stoneleigh Park Exhibition ground.

The Royal Show is a dead duck and last year La Salle Investment management bought the site, and were not well pleased when the route realignment was announded, submitting evidence to the select committee.

However it is clear they turned a crisis into an opportunity.

Kenliworth Weekly News

HIGH Speed Two rail plans will not deter development at Stoneleigh Park despite the threat that the train line could cut straight through it.

LaSalle Investment Management, which took on a 150-year lease of the site last year, plans to invest £50 million over the next ten years to make the 1,000-acre agricultural business park a centre of excellence, with a roundabout at the park’s main entrance in Stoneleigh Road and a second entrance to handle traffic.

Andrew Bull, European director of LaSalle Investment Management, said this investment will be used to create “a leading science park and attract agricultural and equine businesses from around the world”.

He added: “We are committed to that investment with full knowledge of plans for HS2 and the Royal Agricultural Society of England, which is the ultimate owner of the estate, shares our confidence in developing and revitalising Stoneleigh Park regardless of HS2.

“We have had a good dialogue to date with HS2 and they acknowledge the value of inward investment and job creation at Stoneleigh Park and have been happy to work with us on mitigating any impacts that might deter that investment.

We are in the middle of those discussions with HS2’s engineers about the options for mitigating the impact of a high speed line and welcome the decision to sink the line below ground level through Stoneleigh Park and the explicit assurance by HS2 that further mitigation along the route is possible.

“We continue to share the interest of local residents in a covered tunnel that would take the line under the park and are investigating the potential of this option to leave tenant businesses undisturbed.”

Cllr Michael Doody, county councillor for Stoneleigh, agreed that the investment plans should go ahead because even if HS2 was built it would not be for another 17 years.

He said: “I hope the line is never built as I’m for high speed trains but not the HS2 version.

“Even if it does go ahead though, you can’t expect people to just wait in limbo for years and not do anything.

“If the train line is built it will go right through the planned roundabout north of the showground, but the Government will have to compensate for this.”

He added: “I definitely agree with the invester’s choice to go ahead with its plans.”

So clearly La Salle has been speaking to Andrew McNaughton, the chief engineer of HS2.

Any planner worth their salt would have made the connection here between La Salle, Coventry’s campaign for a parkway station for HS2 and the previous RSS phase two revision plans for growth along a Coventry/Warwick corridor, in part to protect the more sensitive Meriden Gap.

Coventry’s revised core strategy is going nowhere, as it tries to meet housing need without any strategic review of Green Belt,  and it was clear a landlowner promoted south of Coventry scheme, linked to the ‘growth agenda’ would have legs.  Truth be told if I was a consultant advising them thats just what I would have said.

Its scale though could not approach 100,000 homes.  You would need to retain clear gaps between Kenilworth, any Garden City and Royal Lemington Spa.  Also the Stoneleigh Deer Park (now a golf club) could not be build on, though it would make an outstanding public park for any Garden City wrapping around it.  Also 100,000 homes would compete with Coventry rather than being a complementary centre.

My view is that it would likely wrap around in an arc from Warwick Uni to the current site of Coventry Airport and that a design size of 60-70,000 would be more likely (that is without having done any capacity or impact studies).

It shouldnt be dismissed out of hand and Warwick and Coventry Core strategies would be forced to look at something like this if they are required to plan in full for household growth- though more likely 40,000 or so over 40 years to meet Coventry s and Warwick Districts Household Growth alone.  It makes much more sense than the previous plan of urban extensions to the south of Coventry and North of Warwick, a plan that dealt with housing issues but not much else.

Whay create scattered sprawl when you can have it in one Smart Growth location? Map source CPRE Warwickshire

Also you can’t really blame the NPPF for this.  Any landowner will opportunistically make use of whatever government initiative de Jour is available.

At a request of a freind im doing a GIS based quick desk study looking at the key constraints and possible footprint and will post this later today.

Clearly the Green Belt to the south of Warwick/Lemington would need to be extended to partially compensate.

I cannot stress more though that any uplift in land values should be used to fund the infrastructure and public services of a new settlement, in true Garden City spirit, and not to fund an infrastructure project meeting a national need which should be nationally paid for.

By the way I checked if La Salle had ever made political donations on the Electoral Commission database – they have not.  I have not searched for large donations by directors or shareholders.

Spectator – Treasury Backs Road Privitisation because ‘because better roads means more car journeys means more fuel duty for the Exchequer.’

Spectator

 it also represents an increasingly rare species: a concession, of sorts, to Vince Cable, who has been pushing for this kind of thinking since the start of the coalition government, including in a pamphlet for CentreForum last year. Cable is keen to deploy new forms of public-private financing elsewhere. But it’s thought that the Treasury wants to test them out on roads first, and not least because better roads means more car journeys means more fuel duty for the Exchequer.

Indeed many US Road Privitisation contracts contain 100 years clauses preventing improvement of public transport and requiring measures to increase congestion of rival parallel routes in order to create a revenue stream.

The Treasury should remember that money spent on unnecessary travel is a dead weight loss to the economy – like land income – it transfers spending power out of consumers pockets to rentiers,  and to oil producing countries rather than spending it on goods which can be taxed or saving it which banks can then use to fund investment and mortgages.  It is the same mad Treasury logic that says gambling is good because we can tax it.  If the Treasury introduced a tax on insurance premiums they would welcome earthquakes and tsunamis.  The Treasury argument is a classic example of Basitats famous broken windows fallacy.  Indeed his contemporary Jules Dupuit a year in 1849 earlier proved that  there is a net loss to the community if public goods such as bridges are charged by monopoly providers.

The Treasury should abolish the inclusion of road tax and petrol revenues in its assessment criteria for transport schemes for that reason.  Several  rail restoration projects, such as the Wealden Line, have been throttled because they would be so successful at getting people off the roads, and relieving congestion as a result, that petrol and road tax revenues would fall giving the schemes a low net present value. As always the Treasury’s policy of doing what it can to prevent genuine growth wins out.

Demand Responsive Parking Charging Works – the ‘Shoupistas’ were right

One for Eric Pickles – Free Parking is a very bad idea at times and day and locations when it is in high demand.  Donald Shoups books are a must read.

NYT

SAN FRANCISCO — The maddening quest for street parking is not just a tribulation for drivers, but a trial for cities. As much as a third of the traffic in some areas has been attributed to drivers circling as they hunt for spaces. The wearying tradition takes a toll in lost time, polluted air and, when drivers despair, double-parked cars that clog traffic even more.

But San Francisco is trying to shorten the hunt with an ambitious experiment that aims to make sure that there is always at least one empty parking spot available on every block that has meters. The program, which uses new technology and the law of supply and demand, raises the price of parking on the city’s most crowded blocks and lowers it on its emptiest blocks. While the new prices are still being phased in — the most expensive spots have risen to $4.50 an hour, but could reach $6 — preliminary data suggests that the change may be having a positive effect in some areas.

Change can already be seen on a stretch of Drumm Street downtown near the Embarcadero and the popular restaurants at the Ferry Building. Last summer it was nearly impossible to find spots there. But after the city gradually raised the price of parking to $4.50 an hour from $3.50, high-tech sensors embedded in the street showed that spots were available a little more often — leaving a welcome space the other day for the silver Toyota Corolla driven by Victor Chew, a salesman for a commercial dishwasher company who frequently parks in the area.

“There are more spots available now,” said Mr. Chew, 48. “Now I don’t have to walk half a mile.”

San Francisco’s parking experiment is the latest major attempt to improve the uneasy relationship between cities and the internal combustion engine — a century-long saga that has seen cities build highways and tear them down, widen streets and narrow them, and make more parking available at some times and discourage it at others, all to try to make their downtowns accessible but not too congested.

The program here is being closely watched by cities around the country. With the help of a federal grant, San Francisco installed parking sensors and new meters at roughly a quarter of its 26,800 metered spots to track when and where cars are parked. And beginning last summer, the city began tweaking its prices every two months — giving it the option of raising them 25 cents an hour, or lowering them by as much as 50 cents — in the hope of leaving each block with at least one available spot. The city also has cut prices at many of the garages and parking lots it manages, to lure cars off the street.

It is too early to tell whether the program is working over all, but an analysis of city parking data by The New York Times found signs that the new rates are having the desired effect in some areas. While only a third of the blocks in the program have hit their targeted occupancy rates in any given month since the program began, the analysis found, three-quarters of the blocks either hit their targets or moved closer to the goal. The program has been a bit more successful on weekdays.

Of course, price is only one factor that influences behavior. About a fifth of the time prices rose but more spaces filled up, or prices fell but fewer people parked. And the full effects of the phased-in price changes have yet to be felt, because the most expensive spots cannot hit the $6-an-hour maximum until next year at the earliest.

Jay Primus, who manages the program for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said city was trying to reduce traffic and pollution and make parking easier — and not just to raise revenues. “We only need a few people to see there is a price difference and choose to park in a different location to open up just a few spaces here and there,” he said.

Meters here can now charge different prices at different times of the day, and the city has lengthened or eliminated time limits. Since the city made it easier to pay for parking with credit cards, and began a program that allows people to find spots and pay for them on their mobile phones — so they no longer have to run out of meals to feed the meters — fewer parking tickets have been issued.

The program is the biggest test yet of the theories of Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. His 2005 book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” made him something of a cult figure to city planners — a Facebook group,The Shoupistas, has more than a thousand members. “I think the basic idea is that we will see a lot of benefits if we get the price of curbside parking right, which is the lowest price a city can charge and still have one or two vacant spaces available on every block,” he said.

But raising prices is rarely popular. A chapter in Mr. Shoup’s book opens with a quote from George Costanza, the “Seinfeld” character: “My father didn’t pay for parking, my mother, my brother, nobody. It’s like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?” Some San Francisco neighborhoods recently objected to a proposal to install meters on streets where parking is now free. And raising prices in the most desirable areas raises concerns that it will make them less accessible to the poor.

That was on the minds of some parkers on Drumm Street, where the midday occupancy rate on one block fell to 86 percent from 98 percent after prices rose. Edward Saldate, 55, a hairstylist who paid nearly $17 for close to four hours of parking there, called it “a big rip-off.”

Tom Randlett, 69, an accountant, said that he was pleased to be able to find a spot there for the first time, but acknowledged that the program was “complicated on the social equity level.”

Officials note that parking rates are cut as often as they are raised. And Professor Shoup said that the program would benefit many poor people, including the many San Franciscans who do not have cars, because all parking revenues are used for mass transit and any reduction in traffic will speed the buses many people here rely on. And he imagined a day when drivers will no longer attribute good parking spots to luck or karma.

“It will be taken for granted,” he said, “the way you take it for granted that when you go to a store you can get fresh bananas or apples.”

The Worlds Easiest job – The Lebanese Minister for Railways

The fantasy plans for a high speed rail link from Tehran to Damascus are highly unlikely as Syria cant even gets its act together on reopening the Damascus – Beruit link at barely 5% of the distance.

In fact being head of the Lebanese Ministry for Railways must be the easiest job in the world as it no longer has a single km of functioning railway, all of its infrastructure being destroyed in the Lebanese Civil war.

It reminds me of an economic consultant for Bahrain who reckoned the island should build and export railway engines – err what railways?

In fact once, due ton the efforts of the British, French, Prussian, Austrian and Ottoman empires it was possible to catch a train all of the way from Kyle of Localsh to Damascus.

The US spends per day in Iraq twenty times the estimated restoration costs of the Beirut-Damascus railway.

 

Cambridge Science Park Station to Open 2016 – Will also serve Northstowe New Town

Cambridge News

Construction of a second railway station in Cambridge has been given the green light by the Government – meaning it should open in 2015.

The long-awaited station, which will be built at Chesterton sidings and will be called Cambridge Science Park, should boost the local economy and enable travellers to catch trains to London and the rest of the country without having to battle through city centre traffic.

Transport minister Theresa Villiers has confirmed she will make the next operators of the King’s Cross line use ticket income to repay the £26 million construction bill, providing the project generates enough revenue. Cambridgeshire County Council will provide the initial costs of building and that work is planned to start in early 2014.

Cllr Nick Clarke, the authority’s leader, said the scheme will deliver a “really great new station and transport interchange”.

He said: “While there is still a lot to do, we are committed to do all we can to make it happen.”

The station will have three platforms, and will be served by at least four hourly southbound trains, two of which will terminate at King’s Cross, while the third will serve London Liverpool Street and a fourth from Norwich  will terminate in Cambridge.

There will be three northbound trains each hour, to Ely, King’s Lynn and Norwich, and it is likely trains on the Birmingham New Street to Stansted Airport route will also stop there.

The guided busway will be extended into the site from Milton Road, providing a link to St Ives and Huntingdon, while car and cycle parking will also be provided.

Cllr Tim Ward, Cambridge City Council’s executive councillor for sustainable transport, said: “This is exciting news and a major step forward in delivering a new station for Cambridge.

“The city council has supported this project for a long time and welcomes the opportunities this will bring for the wider area and Cambridge as a whole.”

It is thought 2,800 passengers would use a station in Chesterton daily, generating £10 million of ticket revenue annually and cutting city centre congestion.

The station would provide a quick link to the capital for businesses in the Science Park area and also for the new town of Northstowe.

The county council was set to approve funding for the project today and a detailed business case will be put before the cabinet on March 6.

Dave Ward, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “We look forward to working with the county council on this project which will be real boost to rail services in Cambridgeshire and deliver long-lasting benefits for people in the area.”

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