Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Bristol channel meanderings.

Severn link http://www.severnlink.com/ are proposing a fast ferry from Swansea in Wales, to Ilfracombe in Devon. This will considerably shorten the journey between Wales and Devon, which currently requires a long trip via Bristol. Ilfracombe is currently the terminus for the boat to Lundy island, and Swansea was formerly the terminus of Swansea-Cork ferries, so the infrastructure is there to support a ferry service. The Swansea-Ilfracombe route was formerly run by the steamers of P&A Campbell's White Funnel fleet, which included the motor vessel Balmoral. The Balmoral itself is currently laid up in Bristol, awaiting funding to return her to service.  http://www.heritagesteamers.co.uk/balmoral/
Bristol is also home to a couple of railway campaigning groups. The Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways http://fosbr.org.uk/ are supporters of a frequent suburban train service and the reopening of suburban stations. One such station, Portishead, has its own revival group, the Portishead railway group. http://www.portisheadrailwaygroup.org/  Portishead makes a good case for reopening. Much of the line has already been reopened as a freight route to Portbury docks. Only a small extension would need to be built to the town, and crucially the trackbed has not been built on. A railway line would alleviate local road congestion and improve access to the town, as well as benefitting the environment.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Action required to cut NOX emissions.

The EU says that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are "excessive" in many British cities and is going to take action against the UK, which may result in fines for Britain. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26257703 NO2 levels are particularly high around London. Evidently something has to be done to cut air pollution in greater London. Congestion charging, railway improvements such as Crossrail and the mayor's initiatives to get more people cycling are already encouraging people out of their cars and onto more sustainable modes of transport, but new technology may soon reduce the number of polluting diesel engines in the city even further. Firstly, there are several railway electrification schemes about to start, in progress or proposed. These will include the "electric spine" electrification of the midland main line, the electrification of the great western main line, and the proposed electrification of the Gospel Oak-Barking suburban line. All these projects will eliminate a number of diesel trains from the capital. On the roads, the new bus for London (the so-called "Borismaster") is a diesel-electric hybrid that should burn less diesel than conventional buses, eliminating more NO2. London's famous black taxis have been diesel powered for decades, but now there's a proposal by Frazer-Nash for a hybrid petrol-electric Metrocab (http://www.newmetrocab.com/) that will cut out even more NO2 emissions.