Saturday, November 11, 2017

Congestion, capacity and carbon

This is an alert for those interested in the provision of infrastructure in the UK.   At   you will find the proposals from the National Infrastructure Commission with an invitation to comment by 12 January 2018.

With 200 pages to digest and respond to it is only practical to provide a few prompts for those who might be motivated to respond. 
One of the interesting statements is the claim that. "It is not possible for the UK to build its way out of congestion. … The most effective strategy to manage congestion is pricing.”  The case against road building is very welcome but there is no evidence that pricing is a more effective demand management tool than lower speed limits (which would be systemic, immediately available, fair and at virtually no public cost).  A brief comparison has been carried out by GreenSpeed at  in the absence of the SEA that should have carried out.  As described, road pricing would be regressive (ie roads for the rich to drive larger vehicles further and faster), technology dependent and intrusive.  I  fact the GreenSpeed report  could have been titled 'congestion, capacity and carbon' as lower speed limits are targeted to effectively address those three issues.  The NIC refer to the 'knowledge corridor' between Oxford and Cambridge but encouragingly only mentions East West rail and not the Expressway (ie a road link that it says would just fill up with vehicles).

On other matters the NIC report seems to have overlooked gas from fracking and concentrates on how the whole energy supply system could be electrified.  It seems that  the supposed need for a bridging fuel is no longer necessary given the advances in efficiency and cost of solar, wind and batteries (or other storage).  Unfortunately Hinkley C is not described as the expensive white elephant it is now destined to be but taken as a given without criticism.

There seems to be an awakening to the advantages of express coaches but not yet to the extent that they might provide the capacity for commuting into London in a more flexible way than HS2, which will require the area around Euston to cope with about an extra 30,000 people per hour.  Saving a few minutes in the journey from Birmingham/the North will not seem so worthwhile when the station is closed due to dangerous overcrowding.

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