Monday 18 December 2023

Environment Monday - The case for investment to beat the climate crisis

 Two tweets really caught my eye this week. The first was the top ten rail stations in the UK by passenger numbers in 2022 and the second was this years figures, which see a marked change due to the opening of The Elizabeth line.

I was astounded to see some of the figures. A station I use all of the time, Farringdon, now has more passengers passing through it than Euston or Kings Cross. In fact, five of the top ten are now Elizabeth line Stations. It is also worth considering that Farringdon, London Bridge and St Pancras are on the Thameslink lines. The Elizabeth line and Thameslink have seen massive, multi billion investments. These figures show that investment pays off. Even more telling are the figures for the busiest passenger flows

Again, many of these aree brand new flows, created by The Elizabeth line. The Elizabeth line was a massive and very expensive project, which many queried the value of. These figures vindicate the project. The line uses electric trains, which are the most sustainable form of travel. The millions of passengers using this, not travelling in cars etc are the way forward. 

I've used the Elizabeth line a few times since it opened. I don't often have need to go to East or West London, but when I do, it is an amazing addition. I use Thameslink most weeks, and the interchange with the Elizabeth line at Farringdon is one I have regularly made use of. 

When we talk about climate change and the environment, we always talk about problems. There is not enough time and money spent developing solutions. Transport is a major contributor to CO2, so it is clear that we need better solutions and we need to invest. In the London Borough of Barnet we saw Brent Cross West station open earlier this month. For this to really justify it's investment, we need the West London Orbital Railway to open ASAP. Unlike the Elizabeth Line, all of this railway already exists. It simply needs upgrading to fascilitate regular passenger trains. 

A whole swathe of West London will see massive improvements in public transport, which should mean less journeys and pollution on the North Circular. The existing rail line is a lightly used freight line, which has Victorian age signalling. I'd also like to see the line upgraded for freight, much of which moves in the early hours of the morning, removing Lorry journeys and even more pollution. 

The bottom line on all of this, is that we need to spend money. London is a City that deserves world class public transport. There is no central, joined up plan to strategically improve London's transport. There are just big one off schemes, that always seem to be delivered 20 years late. The purpose of having a London Mayor was to sort this out, but sadly this simply hasn't happened. Most of London's railways were built in the Victorian era, many for freight rather than passengers. What we need to do is to work out where passengers need to travel between and build lines that go there or stations that serve them. In our Borough, we have a huge national museum at Hendon, which is next to the Thameslink line. There is no station. We have Saracen's Rugby stadium, that sees huge crowds every fortnight. It is next to an abandoned tube line to Mill Hill East, on the Northern Line that could easily be reinstated. Perhaps the strangest of all these planning cock ups, is that Brent Cross now has two stations and neither properly serves the shopping centre. Luton Airport recently had a new link from the station to the terminal, such a link between the shopping centre and the two stations seems to me to be a no brainer, but no one has even suggested it. 

It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

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