In just a few weeks, on 11th September, a ground-breaking rail consultation closes. Dependant on the outcome, and that relies on input from the public, the railways around the West Midlands could be better connected and better used.
The consultation looks at the railways in the region of the West Midlands (ie Warwickshire through to Shropshire). A copy of the consultation is available from David Ride at Centro in Birmingham or online at www.centro.org.uk/consultation/consultationhome.asp
So, you alight at a station and what might you want? At Wythall Station you might want a safe route to the Transport Museum (no chance, try crossing that dual carriageway at the roundabout); at Tamworth you might want a bus to your destination (barely a route passes the station). However, the document, as it is, suggests you want a car park.
This car park provision – is it viable? Maintenance will cost about £200 per annum but what about construction costs? Fortunately Network Rail in July 2008 gave an indication of these in a press release about Rugby Station: ‘This forms part of a £90m initiative to provide additional car parking spaces at a number of stations on the West Coast Main Line. The project will take a year to complete and will increase the total number of spaces from 470 to around 750 providing an extra 280 spaces.’ Putting the numbers into the calculator gave a silly answer for construction cost per car park space.
The current document, to which we hope your responses will make a difference, focuses on journey to work flows in major cities and fails to see that, even in a major city such as Birmingham, not everyone is headed for the centre. Past lobbying too, has been ignored as the 1000 signature petition generated in 2005 by Councillor Martin Mullaney and the 1000 letters by Birmingham FOE in 2007 leaves Kings Heath local rail services well below other aspirations. Bromsgrove figures in the document, as does Longbridge, with car park prominence. Frankley, long in the Local Transport Plan is not there, and railway freight is described as a nuisance (rather than an environmental good and possible Longbridge business catalyst).
The summary document asks that responses to the consultation indicate how and why a proposal would pay for itself. If, for instance, you would use the train if the stations had bike racks, or are put off by lack of train/bus connections, indicate how often.
Please respond to the consultation, no matter how briefly by writing to Centro, 16 Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD; or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org