Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sleepwalking into a traffic jam nightmare

Anyone have any idea how many more cars there will be on the roads of Barnet by 2030? The current plan says we'll have 80,000 more people living here by then so the number is likely to be at least 25,000 using conservative (small c) estimates. How many cars is that, most of which will be travelling in rush hour.

Given that parts of Barnet are already semi gridlocked every day and there are no plans for new major roads, which there is no space for anyway, there can only be one possible outcome. Total chaos.

You may ask what plans Barnet Council and TFL are working on to address the issue? At present none. Worse still is the fact that generally transport schemes take 10-20 years from inception to delivery, so we need to start planning now.

The biggest issue in Barnet is not so much links into town, where we have the Northern Lines two branches as well as the Spurs of the Thameslink network. The issue is East-West links where we have only a rather patchy bus network.  The main road artery is the North Circular, which is full to capacity. Amazingly Barnet council in its wisdom has agreed plans for a new mini city bang smack in the middle of one of the most congested bits, at Brent Cross. There can only be one outcome of this flawed plan. Traffic chaos. The developers talk about transport improvements, but in reality this is simply a new station sort of near to Brent Cross on the Thameslink line, which is already overcrowded. As this runs North to South it will do nothing to relieve the North Circular.

Bizarrely Barnet council are completely dismissive of a rather obvious solution. There are several abandoned and underused railways in the Borough which could be easily and comparatively cheaply be regenerated to provide a light rail solution similar to the Croydon tram link service. Bear in mind that Croyden is now a smaller borough than Barnet in terms of population, yet has an extensive tram network.  The Barnet Eye is not run by experts in such matters but recently attended a meeting with someone who is, who has planned many successful systems around the world. His view is that a light rail solution for Barnet has the potential to open up the Borough and make it a far better place to live and work.

The secret of a successful transport system is 'easy interchange' so you provide reliable and quick routes between where people want to live and where they want to go. Where you have scope to link large areas of population with likely destinations, you can see major reductions in traffic.

Any solution should provide good links between the new estates and the places people are likely to need to get to for work. At present Mill Hill East, site of a huge housing development has a patchy tube service and poor and congested links to Mill Hilll Broadway. There is no station for the huge development at Beafort Park and no links from it to the nearby Brent Cross shopping centre, even though a railway line passes next to both. We also have the royal Air Force museum, a major tourist attraction with no station.

It would be perfectly possible to link all of these with a light rail network joining Finchley Central to Brent Cross, with little new track needed, simply running on abandoned or alongside existing lines. This would also improve access to numerous schools, colleges and business parks along the way.

Of course the Barnet Eye does not have the resources to perform a feasibility study, but we urge the council to use some of its section 106 money to do just that. If we could get a modern and efficient mass transit system in Barnet, maybe the current administration might start to be viewed in a more positive light when the history of Barnet is written. I can't think of anyone who will thank them for the gridlock and chaos we face if the matter is ignored.


Patruus said...

Detailed proposals for a light rail system were made quite some while ago, but nothing seems to have come of them -


baarnett said...

That's because Barnet Council would not show a flicker of interest.

It is happy with its OWN predictions of 28,000 extra cars per day at Brent Cross/West Hendon.

Jim Roland said...

Hear, hear