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Railways' land for roads?

12th March 1971, Page 16
12th March 1971
Page 16
Page 16, 12th March 1971 — Railways' land for roads?
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

• A recommendation that all railway land should be designated as transport land, and retained as such until a competent national authority decides that any part of it will not be required for transport use, is made in a report published this week. Entitled "The conversion of railways into roads in the United Kingdom", it is published by the Railway Conversion League, 51 Upper Richmond Road, London, SW15, price 50p.

It is further suggested in the report that a full inquiry should be instituted to determine the benefits which would accrue from the use of such land to provide the UK with "a road system adequate for the motoring age". The characteristic segregation inherent in the present railway system should be retained, says the report, to preserve the advantages of capacity and safety.

Railway routes can be turned into first-class roads, often for a fraction of the cost and disturbance of traditional road construction, maintains the report, and this is becoming increasingly realized by local authorities. The report lists over 30 completed railway conversion schemes and more than 100 others in various stages of planning and preparation in the UK. Among them is a plan, whose implementation depends partly upon the results of a feasibility study, to convert part of the rail right of way between Shipley and Bradford into a busway. The DoE and the West Yorkshire Transport Management Committee are involved in this study, which

derives new interest from the proposal that in the local government reorganization a new metropolitan county, with public transport powers, should be established in West Yorkshire.

Among the arguments which the report puts forward is that rail-to-road conversion could be a means of reviving public passenger transport in some areas. Passenger-flow and cost examples are used to support this contention.

In.the scheme proposed for Shipley /Bradford, the study report maintained that a rapid-transit system using existing rails was so much faster than existing stage bus services as to justify the cost on the basis of predicted passenger carryings. But further examination suggested that much of the benefit might be obtained at lower cost by converting the route to a reserved express busway, with links to several towns and cities.

In an appendix to its report the Railway Conversion League comments on the Civic Trust memorandum on heavy lorries, issued in October 1970. The answer to complaints about the effect of trunk road traffic on the environment, and of heavy commercial traffic in towns and villages, is to convert

Britain's existing railway system into a network of high-grade roads which would have a capacity to carry not only the existing traffic of the railways but also most of the trunk lorries and much other general traffic besides, maintains the report.

TT/G goes Dutch

• Through its Dutch subsidiary ETOM, Transport Development Group has acquired the share capital of Joh de Waal NV, Werkendam, Holland, a road haulage company which operates a fleet of about 20 vehicles including low-loaders.

FTA membership increases

• A record 2623 companies joined the Freight Transport Association during 1970. In 1969 new members totalled 1649. National membership of the Association at December 31 1970 was 14,224.

ITA examinations

• As it has been impossible because of the postal strike for most Industrial Transport Association examination candidates to submit their entrance forms for the May 1971 examinations, the closing date for the submission of forms has been extended to March 31.

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