Government - Increase use of public transport

The Ham

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There's been a report released on the future of public transport, which wasn't announced in advance and hasn't had a lot of press (I wonder why that is):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52064509

People in the UK need to shift from cars to public transport to address the challenge of climate change, the government says.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities.

"We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network."

Transport campaigners have been astonished by his comments.

They are made in the foreword to the government’s De-Carbonising Transport consultation.

The document has been quietly published without notifying the media, and the veteran cycling campaigner Roger Geffen told BBC News: "It’s absolutely amazing.

"This makes Grant Shapps the first government minister in the UK to talk about traffic reduction since John Prescott tried (and failed) to achieve this aim in the late 1990s.

“There are some holes in the document, but it suggests that the government really does seem to be taking climate change seriously."
I've not had chance to read the document yet, but it can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/creating-the-transport-decarbonisation-plan
 
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yorkie

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In order to achieve this, they need to ensure that no fares rise more than inflation.

If they want to make fares "fairer" this cannot be done by increasing the cheaper fares, as some people propose under a "revenue neutral" (in other words, most people pay more) scheme.

Current pricing policies appear to be aimed at pricing people off rail on most routes (there are some exceptions where fares remain reasonable), for example York to Leeds is priced very high, which is presumably designed to encourage people to use other modes of transport.

It's a nice idea, but I can't see it actually happening to be honest.
 

squizzler

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In many respects now is a great time to have such a debate. People are experiencing the air quality and quiet streets they deserve. How can people now be expected to tolerate an overnight return to previous air quality, rather than the 'boiling frog' syndrome where it declined over decades?
The nationwide shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak has led to big drops in air pollution across the UK’s major cities, new data analysis shows.
Some scientists have suggested that the number of early deaths avoided due to cleaner air might potentially outnumber the deaths from coronavirus. “It is going to be a very interesting epidemiological study, but they take years to do,” said Lee.
 

hexagon789

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It's a welcome move, but frequencies and capacity would have to be increased significantly in most areas to match increased demand otherwise you simply unclog one part of the transport system to simply overload another.
 

Western Lord

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There is no conceivable rail network, nor any other public transport system, that could cope with the journeys made by car.
 
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Harpers Tate

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There is no conceivable rail network, nor any other public transport system, that could cope with the journeys made by car. ......
Well, yes, except
- no solution will hope to cater for every trip made by car, but it could, if done comprehensively, cater for a greater number than at present. Some move is better than no move.


Part of the "cost" problem is that few actually see the true cost of driving at the time the decision is made to drive. Driving is free at the point of use; refuelling (and other costs) are disconnected from the point of use and are psychologically seen as a separate and unavoidable cost. I don't profess to have any good ideas as to how, but my suspicion is that if one had to "buy" one's car trip before travelling every time, we'd see some shift in usage.

And any massive improvement in the alternatives has to be in place and working well BEFORE any measures are taken to change our decisions.
 

PeterC

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Once the present crisis is over public transport is going to be difficult to sell as people will still associate it with "infection", particularly the London Underground. You can see this from some of the comments after the BBC article.
 
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The strategy is marginally better than previous ones but it's still struggling with the detail IMHO. It's worth looking at Ref 44, ie. ORR's table of emissions. Traction electricity in kWh terms has risen by a third in the past decade to 2018/19: some of that is electrification (GWR, Blackpool, Bolton...?), some of it is higher frequency (VHF2, East Coast) but some of it is heavier, air-conditioned electrics replacing electrics (Electrostars, C700s), partially offset by regeneration. The text in 2.37, however, implies that there's been a huge improvement in carbon emitted and this is due to 'new technology'. Actually, this is due to very substantial decarbonisation of the electricity network itself. Actual kWh used by passenger trains is increasing!
 

yorksrob

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Once the present crisis is over public transport is going to be difficult to sell as people will still associate it with "infection", particularly the London Underground. You can see this from some of the comments after the BBC article.
Is that likely to be any more than any other venue where people gather together. Given that I intend to frequent pubs, cafe's, sports venues, the office etc when this is over, giving up public transportwon't make much difference.
 

jopsuk

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There is no conceivable rail network, nor any other public transport system, that could cope with the journeys made by car.
the "edited by moderator is intriguing. Anyhow, this is a strawman. What we can do is massively increase public transport (and cycling) provision, and possibly also impose restrictions on private cars (congestion charges, modal filtering to discourage short journeys etc) that can replace a significant chunk of journeys made by car.
 

Bletchleyite

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There is no conceivable rail network, nor any other public transport system, that could cope with the journeys made by car.
There certainly is one that could reduce them. A project to bring 8 x 24m trains to the rails of the North could take many of them.

And there are buses and coaches, which are much easier to increase.

And bikes, and walking.

The Netherlands and Switzerland have it about right I'd say. People still drive, but the other options are much stronger than here.
 

yorksrob

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The Netherlands and Switzerland have it about right I'd say. People still drive, but the other options are much stronger than here.
This is the key. Some people will always need to drive.

But our public transport options just aren't attractive enough (i.e.trains aren't cheap/long enough) for those who don't.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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There are three paragraphs from the vision referencing rail electrification:
2.36
We recognise that electrifying more of the railway is likely to be necessary to deliver
decarbonisation. We have delivered over 1,000 single track miles of electrification since
2010. Most passenger journeys are made on electric trains. We continue to expand the
electrified rail network, delivering projects on the Great Western Main Line and Midland
Main Line that will lead to further environmental and passenger benefits.

2.39
Network Rail is currently preparing a cross-industry Traction Decarbonisation Network
Strategy (TDNS). This will consider where overhead electrification, battery or hydrogen
trains might be most effectively deployed and is building on Malcolm Brown’s taskforce’s
recommendations, the existing electrification schemes underway and the research
mentioned above. The TDNS will be completed during 2020.

2.43
The Government is working with industry partners to evaluate the whole network and
build an evidence base to inform decisions about which technology option will be best
where. We will develop a decarbonisation programme for the rail network that will inform
the deployment of electrification and new technologies over the next 30 years, building
on the advice being prepared by Network Rail in the TDNS. We will also, as part of rail
decarbonisation, consider how to make rail an even more attractive option, so that more
people choose this greener mode of travel.
So it seems we must await another Network Rail report for more detail on electrification options.
(Shades of the ill-fated NR Electrification RUS of 2009...)
 

stj

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Cars need to shift away from a status symbol.Most Car journeys could be done in a lightweight electric "noddy car"
 

philosopher

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Once the present crisis is over public transport is going to be difficult to sell as people will still associate it with "infection", particularly the London Underground. You can see this from some of the comments after the BBC article.
I do think the rail industry is going to have a tough time after this crisis. In addition to public transport being associated with infection, working from home will likely become a lot more common. I think the rail industry will have to considerably reduce fares, ease ticket conditions and maintain frequencies at current levels if they want to avoid a decline in passengers numbers in the next few years. All of this off course would be costly to the government which could be unpopular with those who do not use the railway.
 

yorksrob

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I do think the rail industry is going to have a tough time after this crisis. In addition to public transport being associated with infection, working from home will likely become a lot more common. I think the rail industry will have to considerably reduce fares, ease ticket conditions and maintain frequencies at current levels if they want to avoid a decline in passengers numbers in the next few years. All of this off course would be costly to the government which could be unpopular with those who do not use the railway.
Regarding home working, it depends on the likely level of increase. The railway finds it difficult to cope with the traditional morning/evening peaks, so some extension of home working could help to even these out.
 

SlimJim1694

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I do think the rail industry is going to have a tough time after this crisis. In addition to public transport being associated with infection, working from home will likely become a lot more common. I think the rail industry will have to considerably reduce fares, ease ticket conditions and maintain frequencies at current levels if they want to avoid a decline in passengers numbers in the next few years. All of this off course would be costly to the government which could be unpopular with those who do not use the railway.
I beg to differ. Leisure travel will go through the roof. People are climbing the walls already.
 

Bletchleyite

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Regarding home working, it depends on the likely level of increase. The railway finds it difficult to cope with the traditional morning/evening peaks, so some extension of home working could help to even these out.
Agreed and there are all sorts of options - going to the office a couple of days a week, or perhaps going in for say 11-3 to be able to travel on off-peak fares and starting and ending the day at home.

Once you've got your WFH infrastructure in place, those choices become much easier.
 

yorksrob

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Agreed and there are all sorts of options - going to the office a couple of days a week, or perhaps going in for say 11-3 to be able to travel on off-peak fares and starting and ending the day at home.

Once you've got your WFH infrastructure in place, those choices become much easier.
Indeed. I could well see myself working from home one, or maybe two times a week. But all week ? Not likely.
 

tbtc

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People in the UK need to shift from cars to public transport to address the challenge of climate change, the government says.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities
Looks like the kind of well meaning bland statement you'd expect a Transport Secretary to say - not sure there's a huge amount to get excited about here - certainly no commitments/ benchmarks/ money.

The problem is that, when you get beyond the political spin, what is the objective? Is this really about "decarbonising"? In which case you'd be looking at trying to reduce leisure demand, you'd focus on trying to encourage as many people as possible to work from home, you'd push cycling/walking a lot more... I'm not sure that heavy rail is going to be the answer to many of the problems (unless you get into removing thousands of cars from the road with some proper mass transportation like HS2).

And, buses. For all that people complain about train fares rising with RPI, try being a bus passenger where you expect a 5%/10% rise each year. If you want to get working age people out of their cars then you'd get a lot more "bang for your buck" by subsidising adult bus fares rather than further train subsidies.

(also, you might need to look at some heavy rail to see whether it was helping or hindering... a lightly loaded DMU chugging along a rural branch line doing a couple of miles to the gallon isn't going to do much for the environment... the path needed each hour to accommodate an irregular freight train could come at the cost of dozens of passenger services a week/ thousands of passengers... you can forget about heritage lines/ charters... how serious do people want to be about this? easy to use the "green" angle to promote some favoured schemes but got to be consistent)
 

yorksrob

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Of we also have to remember that a disproprtionately large amount of emissions from transport are generated by a small proportion of frequent fliers, so these need to be addressed before Doris and Derek on their day trip to Morecambe.
 

Bletchleyite

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Indeed. I could well see myself working from home one, or maybe two times a week. But all week ? Not likely.
If everybody who could worked from home one day a week, and rotated the day (perhaps the fares system could be set up to discourage everyone just doing Friday?), that's 1/5 reduction in necessary peak capacity. Even that is massive.
 

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