PHOTOS: Last weekday of the A38 tunnel closures

On Monday the St Chad’s and Queensway tunnels will reopen, after 6 weeks of refurbishment. Today is the last weekday of the closures.

Great Charles StreetFrom 2 September onwards, there will be 2 weeks of night time closures to finish the remaining works.

night closuresWork in progress for the tunnels. Contractors say they will be ready for day time use on Monday.

work in progress

Bus timings that were changed on the Great Charles street for the last 6 weeks:

Bus stop changes Traffic congestions during the last 6 weeks of the closures:Traffic congestions during the closuresSoon to follow: Interview with Kevin Hicks, traffic manager, Birmingham City Council, giving more details of how the traffic flow will improve in the city centre now with better signalling systems. 

Network West Midlands say they already have their data open for developers

Public transport authority, Centro have said that they already have their data available to open data users.

Reacting to a guest post on Brum Transport about Network West Midlands opening up their raw dataCentro spokesman Steve Swingler said:

“We make our data available in a number of ways. Data such as the NaPTAN bus stop location information is made available through data.gov.uk.”

data

The NaPTAN data “uniquely identifies” all points of access to public transport in Great Britain.

He further added:

“Bus departure information both scheduled and real time departures is captured in the TravelineNextBuses API which is available through NextBuses.

By making our data available in this way Centro is maintaining the national standard for the provision of this type of information.”

Through an earlier guest post from Simon Whitehouse on Brum Transport, we were trying to look at the possibility of opening up transport data in the West Midlands.

This could enable developers to build more applications, websites and mobile services and get creative with data.

Audio: “2nd runway will be a need in 20 years in Brum”

With the proposed expansion plans being announced for the Birmingham airport, opinion has been divided for a while now.

While airport officials have been arguing the case for the expansion, local residents have opposed it on various grounds.

To get to know more about various sides of the argument, Brum Transport spoke to Howard Wheeldon, independent aerospace analyst.

‘Why there is a need for expansion?’

Airports are a noisy affair, but vital to the local and national economy. Planning for future traffic is always crucial to the aviation industry, he says.

Challenges faced by the expansion plans

On being asked about the problems the expansion plans are likely to face, he says villages and nearby roads surrounding the airport are a cause for concern. The initial airport plan in the 1930s never had the forward thinking the aviation industry demands:

Boost to local economy?

Talking about the job prospects that the expansion might create, he says, while the figures might not be as high as are being claimed now, but will definitely expand the wider regional economy:

Soon to follow: Reactions from local residents on the proposed 2nd runway at the Birmingham Airport

Audio: Dan Byles, MP, North Warwickshire – Does Brum airport need a 2nd runway?

Recently a public consultation on the proposed expansion of the Birmingham Airport was held at Coleshill, the area to be affected the most by the new plans.

Local residents and local MP from North Warwickshire, Dan Byles discussed the various aspects of the expansion plans with airport officials.

On the sidelines of the consultation, Dan Byles spoke to Brum Transport about the why the residents of the area are opposing the proposed expansion:

Talking about the possible links between the much debates high speed rail corridor, HS2, he said it is interesting to hear from the airport officials that the airport expansion and the HS2 project:

Noise levels are a cause of concern for most Coleshill residents around the airport.
Expansion of the airport’s capacity, both by expanding the present runway and creating a new one will further add to their problems, he said. More from him in this audio clip:

He further added that there are a lot of questions to which the Airport authorities need to have answers soon.

Earlier, on 2 August, Brum Transport reported live from the consultation.

The new plans discussed at the consultation included two proposal:

  1. Extension of the present runway, which will increase the passenger capacity from the present 9 million to 27 million annually.
  2. Plans to create a second runway, which will further increase the passenger capacity to 70 million annually.

While Coleshill residents are not opposed to the first idea, the second runway is a cause of concern for many.

Soon to follow: Reactions from residents of Coleshill on the proposed 2nd runway and aviation expert Howard Wheeldon’s analysis of the expansion plans. 

AUDIO: ‘City centre car crime data does not represent entire Brum’ – WM Police

West Midlands police have said city centre crime data is not representative of the rest of the city.

In an interview with Brum Transport, Sergent Andy Gregory, crime prevention manager, West Midlands Police, explained:

“The B4 area of Birmingham has a large transient population. People come to the city centre for work, shopping, etc. Very few live there.”

Brum Transport contact the West Midlands Police after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, filed by HONESTJOHN.CO.UK revealed that Birmingham has the 7th highest rate of car crimes in the country.

Talking about car crimes in the city centre and the transient populations, he said:

He said car crimes include not just ‘theft of the vehicles’, but also ‘theft from the vehicles’.
The data revealed by the FOI also includes break-ins, number plates being stolen and other car crimes:

To reduce car crimes, the West  Midlands Police has urged car owners to use parking facilities certified by the ‘Park Mark’ scheme – a crime reduction initiative run by the Association of Chief Police Officers:

The West Midlands region has about 300 Park Mark certified car parks, under 7 different local authorities.

Earlier this week, Brum Transport had reported about the FOI data and carried an interview with David Ross from HONESTJOHN.CO.UK 

Video: Rail unions say 4-9% fare hike unacceptable

With rail fares hikes between 4.3 to 9.1 per cent, rail unions have said Birmingham might see a rise in the number of cars on the streets again.

Earlier, on 13 August, Brum Transport spoke to rail unions protesting the fare hike at the New Street and Birmingham International stations.

Ken Usher, regional organiser, Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union explained the impact the hikes are likely to have on commuters. He said:

“Between 2008 and now, we have seen an almost 48 per cent hike in rail fare. This is bound to lead more people to start using cars again.”

RMT has urged the government to roll back the decision to allow for nearly 4-9% fare hike by rail companies.

More from him in the video below:

Live updates of the protests are also available on an earlier post on Brum Transport.

Audio: FOI reveals Birmingham 7th highest in car crimes in UK

Data based on a Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by HONESTJOHN.CO.UK has revealed today that Birmingham has the 7th highest rate of car crimes in the country.

While the national average is 121 offences per 10,000 vehicles, Birmingham’s car crimes rates are 2.6 times higher the national average, with 313 offences recorded per 10,000 vehicles.

Brum Transport spoke to David Ross, news cars editor, Honest John to find out more about what car owners can do keep their cars safe and reduce insurance premiums.

A press release from Honest.John.co.uk has clarified that the West Midlands police statistics do not include details of whether a vehicle was registered to a Birmingham postcode. It also does not give details of the type of car crime.

More details on vehicle crimes in the West Midlands can also be obtained from police.uk

Soon to follow: Audio interview with West Midlands police about measures being taken to reduce car crimes in the region. 

Birmingham one of the worst in the country for car crimes

Figures from the West Midlands Police show Birmingham is the 7th in a list of worst cities in the country for car crimes.

The data was released this morning by HONESTJOHN.CO.UK as a part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request they filed with 42 police forces in the country.

Between October 2011 and September 2012, around 313 offences per 10,000 vehicles were reported in Central Birmingham. The national average is 121 offences per 10,000 vehicles.

Car crime hotspots in Birmingham

The city centre area of Birmingham is one of the hotspots for car break ins and other crimes with 1800 offences per 10,000 cars.

The West Midlands has a large number of car crime areas including Birmingham, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Central Coventry also has quite high crime rate with 434 offences recorded in its city centre.

Nationally, Manchester has the highest car crime rates, with figures at 505 crimes per 10,000 vehicles.

More details on the types of offences recorded, statistics from more than 40 police forces in the country are available on the HONEST JOHN crime segment

Soon to follow: Audio interview with David Ross, new cars editor, HONESTJOHN.CO.UK

The Guardian datablog: National trends in rail fare hike

Earlier this week, The Guardian published some national data on the rail fare hike. It includes fare hikes from 2004 onwards and is compared against the inflation rates.

The data is sourced from the Office of the Rail Regulator and is visualised with interactive charts on datawrapper.

On 13 August, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced train fare hikes after the Retail Price Index inflation figures were released.

Regulated fares are set to go up by 4.1 per cent from January 2014 onwards and some season tickets can go up by 9.0 per cent.

The chart below has data from 2004 onwards and shows percentage changes in rail fares compared to changes in inflation:

Guardian interactive data on train fare increase

Another chart, on passenger feedbacks, is also very interesting. It uses:

“official statistics that show a surprising number of praise comments compared to complaints from passengers. “

This is in sharp contrast to the reactions and protests by trade unions and campaign groups that seem to convey that passengers are enraged with the recent fare hikes.

This data on the Guardian datablog also gives figures from 2007-08 onwards, showing a consistency in the passenger feedback trends.

Fines for careless driving – police wary of enforcement

PHOTO: Elvert Barnes (Creative Commons)

Drivers flouting lane discipline can now be fined £100 on the spot and three points on their driver’s licences for offences like middle lane hogging, tailgating and other careless offences.

However, the Police Federation has expressed concerns regarding the enforcement of these new measures.

Steve White, vice-chair, Police Federation of England and Wales, said:

“This is a very positive move by the Department of Transport. But in practice it will wholly rely on having adequately resourced police service to enforce.”

In an interview to The Telegraph, he said, the number of police officers per 100,000 of the population is at its lowest since the 1970s.

Increase in Penalties

Endorsable fixed penalty offences (for which drivers get points on licences):

From £200 to £300 – driving without a third party insurance rises.

From  £120 to £200 – failure to identify driver

From £60 to £100

    • speaking on the phone
    • speeding
    • reversing on a motorway
    • not stopping at a red light

The changes to the system of fines, announced by the Department for Transport,  are a part of the changes that will give the police the powers to issue on the spot fixed penalties for careless driving.