Tranport policy is a fundamental failure of this and previous governments. We need a carefully planned and boldly implemented transport system if we are to build a future to cope with climate change. Until the recession, CO2 emissions from transport had been rising inexorably. In the long term, only good public transport can reduce emissions.
Nationally, trains have been neglected for many years. Most money goes to London and the South East, now under the guise of catering for the Olympics – a party that will last for 3 weeks! You only have to compare with European continental trains to see how far behind we have fallen in this country. Important in an election? Yes to Greens. Trains (and trams) powered by renewable electricity will have to be the main source of long distance transport to reduce climate change and to overcome the lack and high price of oil supplies.
Nationally, one of the longest intercity train services is between Liverpool and Norwich, via Sheffield, Chesterfield and sometimes Long Eaton and Alfreton. Many of the trains are two coaches only. These have been overcrowded for years between Manchester and Nottingham. We were promised at a meeting in Chesterfield in March that the trains would be expanded to 4 coaches in May. We later heard they were talking about May 2012!
Derbyshire County Council (DCC) have been lamentable on this issue. The reopening of the Matlock to Buxton line was a “key” element in their Local Transport Plan 1 in 2000. They contracted Scott Wilson to produce a feasibility study which stated that it would be relatively easy to reopen the line as most infrastructure was still in place. DCC (then Labour) got cold feet and refused to proceed with it. The Multi-Modal study on the East Midlands section of the M1 recommended that the East-West rails lines, some intact, should be reopened to passenger traffic. This report was supported by DCC and Chesterfield Borough Council (CBC). Virtually nothing has been done to implement this recommendation. It was DCC that cut off Chesterfield Town Center from the rail station by building the so-called “bypass” between the two. There are no bus services of any use to the station, and only a few per day to Bolsover. DCC refuse to support anything to provide such a service.
In general DCC has been very supportive of bus services, and their support of Community transport has also been excellent. Unfortunately their information systems are awful. Take the journey by bus from Chesterfield to Wirksworth for example: we assume there must be reasonable services, but they do not give details in their timetable booklet that we all have to pay for. Information at bus stops is either non-existent or poor quality. Our case is that, for a little more money, good information could persuade more people to use buses, thus reducing the necessity for so much subsidy. The bus companies are equally guilty here, but they are let off the hook by bad management at DCC. The bus companies tell us that it is DCC’s job and not theirs to provide bus information, while DCC tell us the opposite! Nothing gets done except one playing off against the other. As the licensor and contract provider DCC should be in the driving seat.