Motoring in UK - martin
After returning from 2 weeks in switzerland and France it is cetainly disappointing to be driving back in UK. It seems after you have brought diesel for 45p a lt, driven on open, uncongested well laid roads and not been caught by video cameras and CCTV for speeding when in fact you were not, that driving in Britain is a tedious and joyless experience. We even used trains on one occaision to go from Marsaille to Grenoble (some 400KM) just for the relaxing time it affords, this cost £30rth for two people and the TGV was on time and clean. So even when you choose not to motor, there are viable alternatives. Of course, criticising the conditions of driving in the UK is nothing new, but it seems that we are all paying a hell of a lot of tax for sod all, not the NHS, roads, trains or buses - is it going to Iraq i wonder and field marshal Blairs Caesar escapades?

What can the adverege Brit do to change the state of motoring? Any ideas appreciated...
Re: Motoring in UK - Andy P
You could always vote for me at the next General Election!


Andy

(Leader, The Motorists Party)
Re: Motoring in UK - martin
not intended to be a rant, in case that seemed the case. The contrast though in motoring is so manifest that i thought it worth mentioning. Superficially i suppose that England is a geographically small country with little room for sprawling motorways and A roads and that bottlenecks are all the more likely in such situations. But it's also worth pointing out that the UK has 23million cars on the road whilst the French have 22million, so of course it's going to feel a little croweded here.
Re: Motoring in UK - Tomo
More like The Good Soldier Schweik, I'd say!
Re: Motoring in UK - The
International Comparisons - Trunk Road Networks

Germany has 11,200 km of motorway (and plans to build a further* 3,200 km)
France has 8,000 km of motorway (and plans to build a further 5,600 km)
Italy has 8,860 km of motorway

Great Britain has* 3,200 km of motorway (and plans to build a further 105 km)

Belgium and the Netherlands, both of which have much less land area than the UK, have 1,666 km and 2,300 km of motorway respectively.

Within a few years, even Spain and Portugal will overtake the UK in terms of motorway per 1,000 sq km of land area.


The picture in terms of ?National? or ?Trunk? roads is no different:-

Germany has 41,700 km of National Roads
France has 28,560 km of National Roads
Italy has 46,500 km of National Roads

Great Britain has 15,400 km of National Roads

Even tiny Belgium, with a much smaller land area, has 12, 750 km of National Road.
Re: Motoring in UK - Andy Bairsto
You fail to mention the German sytem is so btoken down that they are having to rebuild every KM providing the biggest road jams in Europe.Germany is a nightmare to drive in camaras everywhere both fixed and in cars ,road serfaces that make them only possible in 4x4s .I live in Dresden and the roads are disasterous.And the extra new roads have all been put on hold because the country is bankrupt.
Re: Motoring in UK - ChrisR
The

What are the relative urban areas of these countries compared to total land mass? And are there figures for England alone (Scotland and Wales will unbalance the figures for the UK, 'cos there's a lot of space there and not many people)?

Chris
Re: Motoring in UK - terryb
Nice statistics, which as we know can be made to prove or disprove anything. What's your point?
Toll Roads - CM
I presume that you were mostly motoring on roads that you had to pay for esp in France. If you leave the autoroutes the RN (equiv to our A roads) can be horrendous, choked full of lorries (as they do not like to use pay roads).

Perhaps the answer is to introduce more in this country (apart from the Birmingham northern relief road) although I suspect it is imperative to have an infrastructure of "free" roads in place and working (!!!) before hand.
Re: Toll Roads - J Bonington Jagworth
It would be nice to have an infrastructure of working railways, too! I live in the Isle of Wight, a microcosm of the UK that used to have a surprisingly good railway system, reduced to a rump in the 60's (the local preservation society has almost as much line now as the official operator). Result, badly repaired roads that are wedged in the summer and overall costs higher than funding the railways would ever have been. Plus ca change...
Re: Motoring in UK - The
ChrisR and TerryB

What's yours?
Re: Motoring in UK - terryb
The

I'm not making a point, I just don't understand the point of your statistics. They don't take into account areas of available/suitable land, levels of vehicle ownership, GNP, relative standards of living and a thousand and one other factors - well, quite a few anyway.

My *opinion* is that I agree the state of the roads in the UK is a national scandal as is the state of ALL the transport infrastructure and much of the other infrastrucure too. If we had a decent railway system, much of the very heavy freight could be taken off our roads local deliveries made from rail yards by much lighter wagons. There's much scope too for using our waterways for similar purposes - as happens in mainland Europe.

On the other side of the coin is taxation in, say, France, is horrendously high compared to the UK. It may not be targetted so much at motorists but you still pay it.

Where, incidentally, I too enjoy driving much more than in the UK, but then I haven't encountered Andy B's record German jams.

*gets off soapbox* - Anyway, I asked you first :-)

Terry
Re: Motoring in UK - Spud
A touch controversial I think but someone has got to do something
or the whole system is going to grind to a halt very quickly.

For both environmental and congestion reasons I would explore
the following ideas.

1. Cap the number of driving licenses to the current level.
A license can only be issued to a new driver when on older driver
has decided to quit driving and give his license up.

2. Young drivers up to the age of 21 should be limited to vehicles
which have an engine size under 1000 cc.

3. Abolish annual road tax and levy the tax on the fuel.
Eg. High mileage = higher tax. Reduce DVLA staff requirements.

4. All Politicians to use either public transport or their own vehicle
and their fuel is not subsidised by the taxpayer by giving them
a fuel allowance.

5. All roadworks must be considered High Priority. If this means
road repairs being done through the night and at weekends,then
they should be.

6. More intelligent programming of all traffic lights.

7. Bus Lane use is perfectly O.K. as long as it is not currently being
used by a bus.

8. Police to respond quickly to traffic snarlups, instead of waiting
further down the road with a Speed Gun.

9. Road Tax, MOT and insurance dodgers to have 5 year driving ban.

10.Convicted drunk drivers lifetime driving ban.

11.All schools should start and finish outside of peak travel times.

12.Little tiny women should not be allowed to use Hummer trucks
on the school run.

13.Special parking spaces should be allocated for all 4x4 jeep type
vehicles and chieftan tanks which are as far away from the
supermarket entrance as possible.

14. Special consideration should be given to anyone driving a
Yaris D-4D and you should always stop to let them through.
Re: Motoring in UK - terryb
Brilliant!
Re 9 - better to take away the licence and put them at the back of the queue for a new one. But if you do [3] then that's one less way of getting 'em off the road.
Re 13 - suits me, no more trolley scrapes on the G Cherokee front wings!
Re 14 - and you would drive a......?
Re: Motoring in UK - Little tiny woman
Hey Spud

Re your number 12. Just watch out Jimmy - that's all.

LTW
Re: Motoring in UK - Dave
I've got a better idea, Spud.

Everyone on the road has a plastic gun that fires darts with a tiny red flag and a rubber 'sucker' on the end.

If you see someone do something stupid, dangerous, careless or impolite in a car you fire at his vehicle.

When U accumulate > 5 suckers on the outside of the car you stop driving for 28 days at the end of which you may remove the darts from your car.

Job done.
Re: Motoring in UK - ChrisR
The

I was just wondering if urban centres are further apart elsewhere than here, hence more national roads. I suspect, but don't know, that our cities are more sprawling than elsewhere - we certainly live in lower density housing than most other (urban/suburban) Europeans. Also, our suburbs have historically been less planned than on the continent, so connecting roads may tend to be minor ones. I have no idea, just looking for a possible explanation.

Chris
Re: Motoring in UK - The
Just the figures presented would indicate that generally speaking all countries: larger/smaller/more/less densely populated richer/poorer have at worst comparable existing provision AND planned comparable provision to our existing provision.

All European countries have areas with a lot of space and few people.

Checking out the details of the smaller counties in the past, if I remember correctly, again showed the UK up in a very bad light in most if not all cases.

The "independent" report (for the Scottish Office? by the "traffic" consultants to the no car Millennium Dome) which was trumpeted as showing motorists in the UK paying "average" motoring taxes itself reported that tolls were a negligible component of of taxation where they were levied abroad, and that UK tax was the highest if Purchase taxes were ignored (and that they were often waived on cars abroad with safety or ecology features).

The rail system is collapsing under the current levels of freight and passenger traffic, and if it were not subsidied it would not "enjoy" its current usage.

So why do we pay taxes to subsidise railways (£1 Million per carriage?!) and close off roads to cars?

Whilst personally I believe that we should have a strategic rail (and canal) network, there are strong economic and environmental arguments for tarmacing over the rail-roads.

There are even arguments that if water borne transport was assessed properly (aparently current figures are measures of the pollution generated while lying in port!) it would be one of the most environmentally unfriendly!
Re: Motoring in UK - ChrisR
But we DO subsidise the roads in at least two ways:

1. We pay taxes that go towards road maintenance. Even those who don't actually drive or never even leave their houses pay direct or indirect taxes that pay for the roads. How else do the roads get there in the first place, do you think?

2. The railway companies pay for everything: maintenance, repair, accident clear-up, safety measures, signage, even their own policing and a lot of other things, too. But road haulage and bus companies, for example, pay a one-off road fund licence for however many miles they cover. Beyond a certain mileage, they are effectively subsidised by lower-mileage road users, and are encouraged to cover higher mileages to keep the per-mile cost down. The same applies to the private motorist on a smaller scale. The railways, by comparison, pay the same per passenger mile for every passenger mile. The only difference, then, is that subsidies to the railways are visible. Subsidies on the roads are paid by individuals and are therefore hidden.

Here's an example of what I mean. If a lorry falls over or breaks down on the motorway, the cost of the delay caused to other road users is borne by the individuals in the queue, not the lorry company. So the people in the jam, many of whom will be losing money while they sit there listening to Steve Wright in the Afternoon, are effectively subsidising that haulage company at huge total cost - as if Steve Wright wasn't painful enough. On the other hand if a train is delayed significantly, passengers can get at least some of the cost of their journey back, or the railway company pays for an alternative service, at its own expense. It's not a perfect system, but it does cost money.

3. Road transport is subsidised through insurance, too. After a train crash the premiums paid by the railway industry go up. The cost is spread over a handful of companies at most, or is maybe borne by just the one. If you or I have a crash in our cars, the extra cost on premiums is spread out over millions of people. In effect, others subsidise my bad driving. Note: I am not advocating individual drivers being charged for the damage they cause. But at one million pounds per fatality, it might make some people think a little.

I don't actually mind subsidising either. Smaller private businesses without economies of scale would fail if they had to pay the full cost themselves, and our private sector economy in general would become even less competitive globally than it already is.

Oh dear, here comes the cutting and pasting.

Chris
Re: Motoring in UK - The
ChrisR wrote:

> But we DO subsidise the roads in at least two ways:
>
> 1. We pay taxes that go towards road maintenance. Even those
> who don't actually drive or never even leave their houses pay
> direct or indirect taxes that pay for the roads. How else do
> the roads get there in the first place, do you think?

Car-riageway taxes on horse drawn car-riages?

And don't motorists ALSO pay ALL the direct and indirect taxes that everyone else pays?

We pay them, AND about £45 BILLION in EXTRA motoring taxes.

Around £5 billion (is it?) is spent on the roads (traffic calming, 24 hour bus lanes - where are the 24 hour buses?).

And around the same to subsidise public transport?

About to be doubled?

So fares are subsidised (effectively out of motoring taxes).

But motorists pay our taxes, their subsidies, and all that on top of our running costs.

Plus the economic costs of an inadequate road system (eg roads blocked by accidents with no alternative routes in existence).

And now we are to pay a congestion tax because the "road taxes" have been squandered.


> 2. The railway companies pay for everything: maintenance,
> repair, accident clear-up, safety measures, signage, even
> their own policing and a lot of other things, too...............

Does their insurance get billed for NHS costs of rail accidents?

And you may well be right that they pay for everything.

But they seem to use a lot of taxpayers money to do it with.

And want (need) more (plus profit).

I'll spare you any more cutting and pasting!
Re: Motoring in UK - Simon Butterworth
The wrote:

> (A whole load of the usual stuff) then:-

> > So why do we pay taxes to subsidise railways (£1 Million per
> carriage?!) and close off roads to cars?

Where do you get £1 million per carriage from?


> Whilst personally I believe that we should have a strategic
> rail (and canal) network, there are strong economic and
> environmental arguments for tarmacing over the rail-roads.

What are the enviromental arguments for tarmacing over the rail roads?. (This ignores the practical aspect that the West Coast Main line hereabouts occupies a considerably narrower strip of land than the adjacent A5- a single carriageway trunk road. How exactly do two lorries pass in Kilsby tunnel?)

Answers in short sentences, marks deducted for use of Hmmmmmm!!.
Re: Motoring in UK - The
Simon Butterworth wrote:
>
> The wrote:
>
> > (A whole load of the usual stuff) then:-
>
> > So why do we pay taxes to subsidise railways
> > (£1 Million per carriage?!) and close off roads to cars?
>
> Where do you get £1 million per carriage from?

Rail firm to buy 700 new train carriages


> > Whilst personally I believe that we should have a strategic
> > rail (and canal) network, there are strong economic and
> > environmental arguments for tarmacing over the rail-roads.
>
> What are the enviromental arguments for tarmacing over the
> rail roads?. (This ignores the practical aspect that the West
> Coast Main line hereabouts occupies a considerably narrower
> strip of land than the adjacent A5- a single carriageway
> trunk road. How exactly do two lorries pass in Kilsby tunnel?)
>
> Answers in short sentences, marks deducted for use of
> Hmmmmmm!!.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

Trains don't use cats.

If cars can clean the exhausts of relatively light buses think what they'd do replacing heavy locos.

Railway companies ship their plant, equipment, trains even, around by road.

Why.

Is it more expensive, and they more dumb?


Pinched from another forum:

Newcastle High Level Bridge with two road tracks above two rail tracks - as it still exists today, a vital road in Newcastle. Furthermore, Stephenson's Britannia
tubular two track rail bridge across the Menai Strait was completed in 1850 for rail, burned out about 20 years ago, but was rebuilt as two lane road above rail. The UK, & abroad, is replete with examples of very high quality road built on twin track rail. The Oban - Fort William road now uses two rail bridges, and the piers of another (they were no more than twin track, might have been single). The North Devon Link Road, a modern (sometime in the 80s? - I worked on it's site investigation in 1972) high quality single two way carriageway road crosses the Bray Valley on a converted railway viaduct. Central Railway Link Route Road into Blackpool - "single 7.3 m wide two-way carriageway with 450 mm hard strips on top of existing railway embankment" which was 2 track. E Grinstead bypass?

People grossly underestimate the width of rail vehicles, and their permanent
way. You should be familiar with the fact that cars are easily transported on rail wagons. I've taken LandRovers on MotorRail, and you can easily open the door inside a closed wagon (so at least a foot of space either side inside the wagon), and there must be at least about 4 feet clearance outside of the offside to wagons on the next line, more clearance on the nearside.

Furthermore: "Of the routes still in use as railways the great majority, some
11000 km, have two tracks...". "The Dept of Transport provide us with a figure for the capacity of a road built on the formation of a two track railway. It is a category 3a 7.2 metre wide single carriageway road, and its capacity will be at the top end of the range given, 17000 vehicles per 16 hour day.

"There are some 4500 km of single track rail routes in use. these can be, and particularly in Powys have been, converted into very good 6 metre wide roads. There is nothing low grade about these: not long ago 5.5. metres was a standard width for trunk roads in parts of the country. I have taken a capacity of 5000 vehicles / day for this type of road". Photos show single track rail in Merioneth converted to two track road..............................
......................on so on, and so forth, etc, etc (covering multi track routes vs motorways etc).
Re: Motoring in UK - Simon Butterworth
The wrote:


(Link to news site re alleged subsidy of £1miliion per carriage to rail industry)

Since Govia run London commuter trains they will no doubt get some grant aid for the operation of these trains but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the report or elsewhere to suggest they are a gift from HMG. However, even if they were rolling stock has an average life of thirty to fourty years. Covering 300 miles per day at a load factor of 50% that is a pretty good deal per passenger.

> >
> Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
>
> Trains don't use cats.
>
> If cars can clean the exhausts of relatively light buses
> think what they'd do replacing heavy locos.

A fair number of the heavy locos are electric. I do not know what emmission control gear modern diesel locos (so why are cats an issue) such as class 66 or 67 have but it will be state of the art. One of those locos can shift the same number of intermodal containers as thirty lorries

> Railway companies ship their plant, equipment, trains even,
> around by road.
>
> Why.

Horses for courses. some plant is flat backed by rail but other times it would obstruct faster traffic (not an issue on the roads!). Old scrap locos often go by road because once they are stripped of re usable equipment they may ride so high on their springs that they are out of guage on the railway.

As you say there are a few examples of railways bieng converted to roads, these are however isolated, and go well beyond "tarmacing over". The ex rail bridge out of Oban at Connell Ferry is IIRC single alternate working under the control of traffic lights. Double deck bridges as like the Menai and Newcastle examples are purpose built. Tunnels are the real obstruction, I have recently cycled through Kelmarsh Tunnel on the former double track line from Northampton to Market Harborough (now a cycleway) if lorries could pass at all they would be reduced to walking pace!
Re: Motoring in UK - J Bonington Jagworth
"There are even arguments that if water borne transport was assessed properly (aparently current figures are measures of the pollution generated while lying in port!) it would be one of the most environmentally unfriendly!"

Seems unlikely. A canal barge can carry more than an 18-wheeler but on about 1/20th the horsepower. About 1/10th the speed, admittedly, but with much more constant loading, the exhaust pollution has the potential to be much less. In practice, with some ancient hardware, this may not always be the case, but new barges would presumably be fitted with new engines. Other environmental impacts would be lower, too, and I'm just considering small inland boats - the economies of scale from larger vessels are better still.
Re: Motoring in UK - The
J Bonington Jagworth wrote:
>
> "There are even arguments that if water borne transport was
> assessed properly (aparently current figures are measures of
> the pollution generated while lying in port!) it would be one
> of the most environmentally unfriendly!"
>
> Seems unlikely.


Just reporting the green argument.

Never (ever) claimed the greens were right!
Re: Motoring in UK - J Bonington Jagworth
If I were a serious green, I would probably be making the case you describe, as marine engines are not as tightly regulated as those for road transport, probably because an old Lister diesel putt-putting down a canal isn't normally regarded as an environmental threat.

However, if it became a major method of bulk transport again, I imagine that something would be done and, overall, the shift from road to waterway would be a Good Thing. Easy to switch to horse-drawn, too, if the Middle East blows up, although pollution might not be uppermost in our minds then...
Re: Motoring in UK - Flat in Fifth
J Bonington Jagworth wrote:
>
> < snip >shift from road to waterway would be a Good Thing. Easy to
> switch to horse-drawn, too, if the Middle East blows up,
> although pollution might not be uppermost in our minds then...

But it might be good for the roses!
Re: Motoring in UK - The
Oops, there I go again trying to keep my posts short and snappy!

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that there was a subsidy of £1 million per carriage, just pointing out the amazingly expensive cost of each one (the subsidy is no doubt even more than a million each;-).

PS Do the electic locos run off solar panels?
Re: Motoring in UK - The
Pinched another excerpt from a railways post you might like:

There is nothing novel in motorways - the UK system had been planned by the
1930's (when the US & Germany were already building them), and as early as
1910 it was recognised that railways, in a rational world, would be supplanted by motorways.

The UK has crowded motorways only because we have not built enough (just 2100 miles), one of the lowest (by head or area) for any European country - in 10 years it will be less than Spain, Portugal or Greece. Contrast that with 11,000 miles of railways, which carry just 6% of UK passenger traffic (a mile of motorway carries about 13 times the traffic of a mile of railway). Recall that cars provide 85% of UK passenger transport, and roads 92%; recall that in the US (a continent!, where one might think rail might be competitive against road), rail provides just 1% of passenger transport.

In 1982 a Government Committee under Sir David Serpell suggested reduction
of the railways to 3,000 route miles; much of the traffic (particularly freight) that existed then has now been lost. Only a couple of hundred miles of UK railway are now economic. The UK railways are bankrupt, which is the way of society / the market saying 'these resources could be used better elsewhere'.

That way is to convert them to the far more efficient roads - even a single track line can be converted to 2 lane road, twin track and wider rail can be converted to motorway grade roads, with a stunning increase in traffic capacity (a US bus lane carried 40,000 seated passengers / hour, more than any UK rail line). Converting the railways to road will provide a massive increase in UK traffic provision, as well as stopping their stupendous drain on taxes (upgrading the already existing East Coast Main Line for max running just 15 mph faster is costing £20 million / mile, but it costs only £10 million / mile to build a motorway from scratch).


PS Bridges can be widened. Tunnels twinned. And if push comes to shove, as apparently happens elsewhere, a rail-road conversion can be one way only (even one way single carriageway motorways).
Re: Motoring in UK - The
You'll have to find this:

A photo (on the front cover of: Dalgleish, A. 1993. The Truth About
Transport) illustrating this US contraflow dedicated bus lane is from an
overbridge to another overbridge, whence the view is obscured. It shows about
a 300 yd stretch of the bus lane (difficult to judge because of
fore-shortening), with 4 buses in it, each separated by about 2 bus lengths
- they clearly achieve intense utilisation of the bus lane, contrasting with
the empty UK M4 lane.

More info:

> Based on single US bus lane carrying 40000 seated
> passengers / hour through the Lincoln Tunnel, at quarter cost
> of railway. Photo shows Interstate 495 High Occupancy Vehicle
> lane into Lincoln tunnel. A spectacular operation - the road
> is typical UK motorway, 2 x 3 lanes with central barrier, but
> *4* lanes flow into the tunnel - the inbound HOV lane is in
> what would be the outside (fast) lane of the 3 outbound
> lanes, i.e. it is contra-flow (has two lanes of contra
> flowing traffic to its side, with no separation), & the whole
> scheme is 'tidal flow' (i.e. can be reversed from morning to
> evening rush hour). American efficiency (compare to M4 bus
> lane botch near Heathrow).


All "plagiarised" from another forum, in case anyone was wondering what "pinched" meant.
Re: Motoring in UK - Cardew
Bogush,
<(a US bus lane carried 40,000 seated passengers / hour, more than any UK rail line).>

Seems a lot!

How big were the buses? how often did they run? How did they get the passengers to dismount?

C
Re: Motoring in UK - Cardew
Bogush,
<(a US bus lane carried 40,000 seated passengers / hour, more than any UK rail line).>

Seems a lot!

How big were the buses? how often did they run? How did they get the passengers to dismount?

C
Re: Motoring in UK - The
I've absolutely no idea: like I said, I just pinched it from a post on another forum.

Perhaps they were double deckers, like your post.

Or it's a typo: bus "line", 4 000, whatever?

How did they get the passengers to dismount?

No idea there either, perhaps they were seated on horses.

I said you might like it, not a lot.
 

Value my car