Monday, August 31, 2009

BAA caught lying... again.

The list of BAA lies is very very long, Terminal 4 was going to be the last one, then it was Terminal 5 to be the last expansion, the planes noise data is based on theoritical levels and future emissions calculations are based on planes that don't exist.

The Advertising Standards Authority has caught them for the last one:
BBC NEWS | England | London | Heathrow noise claim 'misleading'

According to BAA, the Government said that a third runway would "would have to result in a Heathrow noise footprint no larger than with two runways in 2002, and that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide around Heathrow would have to be within the future EU limit."

So BAA would buy a brand new runway but not put extra planes on? Give me a break...

Read on this article on why they get away with it: BAA's close links with the DfT.

Concerns over their influence have been heightened by the presence of Tom Kelly, formerly the official spokesman for Tony Blair when he was prime minister, who has taken charge of "all aspects of BAA's communication activity" since being appointed as group director of corporate and public affairs for the company in late 2007, when the campaign for a third runway was in full swing. Kelly heads a network that plugs BAA directly into government and Labour, several of whose senior figures are involved in the pro-runway campaign. Julia Simpson, another former adviser to Blair, left Downing Street in 2007 for BA.

On the other side of the fence is Joe Irvin, former head of corporate affairs at BAA, who has switched to Number 10 to be a key adviser to Gordon Brown. Irvin was also involved with one of the main aviation lobby groups, Freedom to Fly, which was funded by BAA and BA - as was Stephen Hardwick, a former adviser to John Prescott and ex-head of public affairs at BAA. BAA also employs financial PR company Finsbury, which is headed by Roland Rudd, a close friend of business secretary Peter Mandelson, who was in favour of the third runway.

BA has fostered close links with government for years through PR firms Brunswick, headed by Gordon Brown's friend Alan Parker, and Lexington Communications, run by Mike Craven, a former Labour press chief. Senior Labour figures, paid to help the runway lobby funded by BAA, include Lord Soley, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who has appeared in the media to promote the runway for Future Heathrow, one of the BAA-backed successors to Freedom to Fly.

The issue of Heathrow was tackled in a recent report on lobbying by the public administration select committee. After the inquiry, MPs concluded that lobbying needed to be open to public scrutiny. The report said: "There has also been widespread public concern that some areas of government policy have effectively been captured at an early stage by interest groups, usually within industry, and that public consultations have been unbalanced in the favour of these interests." It named Heathrow as an example of this.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Traffic pandemonium: just a sign of things to come?

Thanks to Thames Water who shut the Northbound Clifford avenue section to replace aging water mains the A205 South Circular in Richmond (This Is Local London), combined with Transport For London who revamped Richmond Circus to add more car lanes but still no cycle lanes (I'll post again on this) plus some more water mains replacement in White Hart Lane, Richmond was totally grid locked this summer.

Great planning guys....

One of the fundamental issues is that our borough has the plight of being sectionned by a train line with only a few crossings: a bridge on the Quadrant, another one in Church lane, a level crossing in Manor Road, a bridge on Clifford avenue and then some more level crossings in Sheen Road by Mortlake train station, White Hart Lane in East Sheen/Mortlake, Vine Road in Barnes. There are then only three bridges before Putney, including on Dryburgh road -which is closed during rush hours...

IFlowers placed by level crossing gates at Elsenham Station in Essex where Charlie Thompson and her friend Olivia Bazlinton died.'ve been lobbying long to get a footbridge in North Sheen and believe level crossings are a problem in general, I'm not the only one it seems according to this BBC article:

More people die on level crossings than in derailments or train crashes, killing on average one person a month.

Network Rail says that every year 2,000 people are reported to misuse level crossings with motorists ignoring warning lights or weaving round barriers.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union (RMT) says that even crossings with barriers and warning systems are unsafe and should be replaced with bridges or underpasses over a period of ten years.

The bad news is that it's only going to get worse for local residents, with longer wait at crossings if BAA gets their way.

Yes, BAA, the London Heathrow airport operator who's wanting to put more planes overhead. Because they just figured out that Heathrow is poorly deserved by trains. No, not really, the truth is that they are trying to curb on car mouvements around the aiport in order to land more planes without breaching too much the European directive on air quality (thank god for the EU). Insane? Yes, but these are the facts.

So, if Airtrack goes ahead the trains frequency will double -from 8 to 16- with no or little benefits for local residents as it's far from certain the extra trains will stop in North Sheen for instance, while Manor Road will be continuously clogged with a traffic jam caused by the level crossing barriers being shut for 45 minutes in one hour!

This is obviously not acceptable, and this train line should be buried under street level from Putney to Richmond. Period.

Our MP Susan Kramer is running a petition: The consultation closes on 18 September.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chaos in Chalkers Corner

A316 by A205 Chalkers CornerIf you're just back from holidays you're in for a surprise at rush hour: Chalkers corner is completely grid-locked, so is Lower Richmond Road (A316) Eastbound, Manor Circus and Richmond Circus aren't better...

I'll post later on this but it seems it's largely due to Clifford avenue being closed to Southbound traffic due to water mains replacement.

To compound the things, they (not sure who is "they") have reversed the one way in Kingsway (from Lower Richmond Road) for no apparent reason as now Shalstone road and Kingsway are both only leading into Clifford avenue (Northbound), creating even more congestion...

Daft really?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Britain about to jump on the high speed bandwagon?

UK rail mapVery exciting news today: BBC NEWS | Business | New high-speed rail plan unveiled

At long last, Network Rail has made a proposal for a second high speed line to link London to the Midlands and further North.
I do hope sincerely it's more than just talk, as high speed train is the best way to curb air pollution and give this country the transportation infrastructure it badly needs.
France had embarked in such a programme 25 years ago, and now train has the lion share in passenger numbers between Paris and London, Lyons, Marseilles, Nantes and even Bordeaux.

With Edinburgh only 2 hours from London, who needs to endure the hassle of flying?
And there's probably no need to expand airport capacity in London...

Unfortunately, it won't be before 2020...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I could not agree more with Jon!

Saw this post, not much to add bar that he's got a rationale explanation for the tragic short sight that's affecting people in charge of our transport networks:

RER at Châtelet-Les Halles, CC / Flickr
Jon Worth » Crossrail and multi level governance
Second, why, oh why, would anyone seriously want to oppose Crossrail as Next Left alleges that Cameron does? OK, the line does not serve too many Tory constituencies, but London is projected to grow over the next few decades and the London transport network is already horribly saturated. Why can we not even manage to get behind one high speed, high capacity line? After all Paris has just five similar lines (RER), each with 10 carriage trains, some of them even double-decker. The hub station alone – Châtelet-Les Halles – handles almost half a million passengers a day on its RER platforms. Anyone who has ever tried to take the Central Line at peak times must clearly see that more east-west capacity is vital.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Antidiots screen

On my way to work this Tuesday and on the M4, I saw no less than three minor accidents, merely some bumper to bumper action probably caused by bored distracted people and others who forgot to fill their petrol tanks? mechanical failures. That's life on a congested motorway, but more annoying are the rubbernecks kind.

They slow right down to check, ohhh nice flashing lights, ohhh creased bumper, ohhh woman standing behind safety barrier in the rain. And the re-accelerate, slowly, only to brake when they have caught up with preceding vehicles.

Nothing To Do With Arbroath "reports" that the Highways Agency is considering Giant screens at crash sites to end 'rubbernecking' danger. See the picture -doesn't need many more words.

Just that... by the time they've arrived, erected their 70 metres screen, etc... they'd have plenty of time to actually remove most, OK maybe not all, but most of the sources of distraction.

So I think this is another ill conceived idea from our DfT. What we need is not more powerless traffic wombles in their checkered green 4x4 but a fleet of rapid response plaform lorries, strategically placed along the motorway. They'd get rid of any hard-shoulder mishaps in minutes.

But that won't happen because it would be a far too sensible plan for the Department of Transport whose idea of transport is just about bulldozing houses to create more airport runways.

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