Getting about, or not
On the one hand we are panic stricken over carbon emissions and their effect on global warning, on the other we appear to be pussy footing about any real challenge to clogged up roads for getting about. Clearly more and more people are using the train and probably a lot more want to. So is putting up fares for rail users going to help?
Here in Birmingham we are still waiting with bated breath about an announcement about New Street Station (£350 million, no hang on that's a porkie, the government are offering £128 million) which has become hideously overcrowded. But it seems like we are going cap in hand to the minister for a titbit when what is needed is an expanded national service, one that gives people a choice not only of not using the car but one where you don't have to get on a plane to get into Europe. Now you can only do that in London and the South-east and once more Thames-link (£5.5 billion upgrade) appears to be putting that region at the front of the queue.
A news station at New Street will be a breath of fresh air (literally) for passengers but it doesn't do much for a clogged up system which doesn't have too much room to manoeuvre. Two tracks between Coventry and Wolverhampton taking high speed intercity, local traffic and freight.
Can we afford a decent transport infrastructure that moves away from dependence on roads. Can we afford not to as we build more and more roads akin to car parks.
"A vision that doesn't add up."
The problem is not only does the government view the West Midlands as only one of a number of regions but we in the area accept that view and are grateful to the minister for her largesse. We should be arguing that we are central in the nation as a whole, an inseparable part of the entire organism. As it is it is a part of a body which is atrophied. If the Midlands is seen as the heart of the nation then the condition is serious, even terminal. Someone needs to look long and hard. Thames link £5.5 billion, New Street £350 million? You must be joking Minister.
Don't expect to find our Birmingham MPs laughing though. Khalid Mahmood thinks that a tram system for Birmingham an extravagance so we will have to put up with the deregulated buses as far as he is concerned. Khalid loves buses, problem is fewer of us use them because they get caught in the congestion.
Posted by John Tyrrell at July 25, 2007 8:32 AM