Monday, 9 March 2009

Trains not Trucks

Overcrowded roads is a big issue. On the A14 and across the East of England we often hear of accidents involving lorries. We need local freight but I would love to get some long distance trucks off our major trunk roads and give containers the option to travel by rail... OK, I may be turning into a bit of a train spotter but I hope that today's meeting moved this a step closer.

The upgrade of the main East-West railway for freight from the Eastern port of Felixstowe all the way to Nuneaton in the Midlands, would give container traffic the ability to intersect with East and West Coast mainlines as well as Midland mainlines.

Two years ago this didn't even seem on the political agenda- and the Department for Transport allowed bid deadlines for EU funding to slip by into sidings. Many local politicians have now said they would like to go full steam ahead with the upgrade but only 4 local councillors attended today's meeting (were they not aware of it?). Geoffrey Van Orden, Conservative MEP, sent a representative to help shunt the project along with some EU cash.

In the UK we are more than entitled to bid for EU funds (after all its our money). I want to see this project happen - but if the British tax payer is going to fund most of it then lets get our fair share of the EU funds to help.

This is not an expensive project (at least not compared to a new road!). Today's meeting was with Network Rail, Department for Transport and various others. £50 million pounds has been committed by DfT for the bridge improvements- (so the trucks can get under the 30 affected bridges...only 30 in hundreds of miles). Bridge work will be completed within 2 years. There are still pinch points... how to navigate Ipswich... (we were promised an answer on that next month) and signaling problems in Leicester - this could take 5-6 years... surely if this was a real priority it could happen faster?

A bid will go into the EU in June but only for the bridge works. Yet again bidding for EU grants for infrastructure seems pretty low on the UK government priority.

Next time you are stuck behind a slow moving foreign container lorry on our ludicrously over crowded roads think about the computers in the signal box in Leicester.....


Anonymous said...

Convert the A14 into a three lane motorway.

What you will have therefore is a safely designed road from the East Coast Ports through to the West Midlands to join the M6.

You will have proper designed slip roads, good quality surfacing, lots of room for lorries to park at service stations. As a result, they wont have to emerge onto the road from a standing start. That would give people more confidence and less prone to panicing when they see a lorry signalling.

In addition, with the three lanes, lorries will not be allowed in the third lane leading to a faster flow of traffic and we would avoid the situation of queues of traffic for miles and miles as one lorry driving at 59mph overtakes one at 58mph.

Simple Tory said...

I agree with 'Anonymous'!
If you want the real facts from someone in the logistics industry, give me a call.

Vicky Ford said...

Dear both

Having spent Sunday afternoon yet again caught behind lorries overtaking each other on the A14. The railway project won't solve the problem (and a long term solution is needed) but at a fraction of the cost of any road upgrades it might just alleviate part of it.


Anonymous said...

It has to be about joined up thinking... multimodal if you like... cheaper regulated train fares more widely available. A link from the east coast ports via Cambridge to Oxford and by extension to Birmingham by rail and a proper integrated road transport solution without any of those insanely constructed road portions such as Girton Interchange with A14 West and M11.

All parties seem to be scared of the cost but it should have been done years ago.