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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cutting off your nose to spite your face


A new report released yesterday revealed that 71% of workers in the UK travel by car. What's more, the report's authors urged both the government & employers to encourage people to use their cars less.

The report was compiled using data from DEFRA and the DfT and revealed that 1 in 10 workers spend more than 2 hours in their cars to travel an average commute of 8.7 miles (that's a speed of less than 5 miles per hour - it's almost quicker to walk).

What's more, the North West of England was found to be the most hazardous region to travel in terms of collision rates, travel times and levels of CO2.

The report's authors? Those well known tree-huggers the RAC.

It comes to something when an organisation that exists to capitalise from the motor industry (and not 'motorists' who are fictional constituency) is calling for alternatives.

Yesterday's North West Tonight devoted a fair slice of their programme to this report, and contrasted it with the daily experience of rail commuters in the region who are precariously packed like sardines into trains each morning and evening (see below). This truly ridiculous state of affairs could indicate that either demand for the railways is growing fast, or that the network is seriously underfunded and neglected - or both.

And all of this relates perfectly to the Longdendale Bypass. If the conundrums and contradictions that capitalism produces never cease to amaze you, then you'll love the fact that the National Grid want to use the Woodhead Tunnels to store cables, a plan which will jeopardise the use of the tunnels for the purpose for which they were built - train travel. That's the same National Grid that have objected to the bypass (you can their objections here and here) on the grounds that it will harm their assets and infrastructure. The cynical bastards want to have their cake and eat it.

But if you want even more cynical bastards you can take your pick. As we've reported before, High Peak Borough Council are against the plans for Woodhead Tunnel, but for the bypass. Tom Levitt is silent, but this lick-spittle is only reflecting the silence of his masters - Ruth 'Cilice' Kelly has remained silent about the issue. And you would have thought that Roy Oldham would have been up in arms about it - he was energised enough in 1980 about the closure of the Woodhead Line to appear at the Public Inquiry to protest.

The conspiracy of silence over this potential act of desecration only fools those who look to these people for leadership. We are facing a future where the car is clearly going nowhere, both metaphorically and literally in years to come. We need another way, and those campaigning for roads have misread the signs leading only to oblivion.

1 comment:

Liam said...

I was at at the Channel M C Charge debate and we were briefed from a presentation by the GMPTE as to why we needed the TIF. One fact was raised that the current trains are filled at 270% over capacity.

There is a DESPERATE need for public transport, however I have a feeling that once the TIF goes ahead, the cost of public transport will go up to cover the costs of the interest of the C Charge and then there would be no real economic value for people to get out of their cars.