Concern regarding short-term investment
Dear Editor, It has been encouraging to have seen recently several letters to The Post showing concern at the possible expensive short-term investment at New Street being to the detriment not only of the Midland region but also to the whole national rail network.
Lord Peter Snape's original opinion of the scheme being "ludicrous" has been backed-up by transport expert Richard Worrall and by such persistent stalwarts as Henry Harvey. They have now been joined by Post business editor John Duckers (Post December 5).
The main doubts about the present scheme are the future impossibility of extending rail track there and in the assumption that all future national, regional and local rail services could be accommodated at that one central congested point.
A near-perfect proposal to guard against such anticipated chaos had been suggested by Ove Arup in their plan for Grand Central Station. This would have adjoined Moor Street Station and safeguarded additional long-term capacity for services such as High Speed Rail.
It would have formed an integrated hub for trains, metro, buses, taxis and pedestrians. The station could have been substantially constructed to the side of existing lines at the only point where all tracks from the north and east of Birmingham come together.
A plan in The Birmingham Post on October 14, 2003, clearly showed the possibility of providing a bus station and taxi drop-off point, a Metro station and a multi-storey car park, all directly accessible from the Birmingham Intermediate Ring Road, avoiding traffic congestion and pollution in the city centre. Ove Arup had suggested that improvements to New Street Station should be limited to those required for its future role as a secondary station.
Rail Track and others did not accept that plan and that was followed by Birmingham City Council's insistence for expensive development of New Street Station with "an airport-style concourse" and "a glass-covered atrium" for waiting passengers.
Those decisions have not only meant that the first opportunity has possibly been lost, but also that unsuitable developments on that site in Eastside might make future provision of a station there either impossible or extremely expensive.
A glimmer of light has, however, recently appeared in a letter in Post Agenda which includes a suggestion for "freezing all development proposals within a certain distance of rail track there".
An answer might well be that New Street Station should undergo some low cost improvements until an outline plan is quickly produced by the Department for Transport with proposals for a new station adjacent to Moor Street (which by then might have had some services temporarily transferred from New Street, as planned). Upon completion of the new station, mainline services could pass through New Street non-stop to the new one, but local, cross-city and regional trains could stop both at New Street and the new one.
That scheme would cut national expenditure on New Street (which no doubt would still be developed commercially), whilst enabling it to form a city centre station for commuters, shoppers and business people. The new mainline station could accommodate national and international services, possibly with EU support, worthy of the Midland region and at the crossroads of national services.
A suggestion that a new mainline station could eventually be provided "somewhere" is nonsense. There is nowhere more suitable than Eastside, alongside Moor Street Station. Some pretty quick action will have to be taken, however, to secure a suitable site.
This Government will never be forgiven if it misses this second, and last, chance of avoiding a third-world rail system.
RONALD TUNGATE, Henley-in-Arden
Help with research of family history
Dear Editor, I'm researching my paternal grandfather's family from Birmingham and wonder if anyone remembers the names James, Lucas, Murphy or knows of the family?
My grandfather's name was Arthur Edward James, b1893 Hingeston St, All Saints. He had brothers, Thomas Raymond, b1895 Tenby St, and Albert William, b1896 Paddington St.
My grandfather's father was also Arthur Edward and he married Selina Lucas at Birmingham Register Office in 1892. Sadly he died young after falling from a ladder/scaffolding while painting a ceiling; I can't find out where or when, but it must have been between 1896 and 1910 as Selina remarried John/Jack Murphy, a motor mechanic, at Aston Manor in 1910. They had a son called John/Jack.
My grandfather came down to Pontypridd, South Wales, in the first part of the 1900s, but his family stayed in Birmingham. His brother Thomas Raymond married Winifred, I believe, and had a son called Thomas or Raymond and a daughter, Dorothy.
The families were last known to live in the Selly Oak / Kings Norton area. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
MARY WHEELER, South Wales
Taking action against the 'speedophiles'
Dear Editor, During the past school year I have had the misfortune to witness six incidents involving cars failing to stop for the school lollipop patrol near Kings Heath Primary School.
Having reported each incident to the police, I am now of the opinion that after the sixth incident (in which a young female motorist F'd and blinded at firstly one pedestrian and then another before driving off at speed and hitting my arm), the police will take no action against the speedophiles endangering the most vulnerable group of road users, a mixture of women and children under 11 years of age.
You may be aware of the issues associated with road safety on the unique-to-Birmingham five-armed road junction (all two way) near Birmingham's largest Primary School, where, in 2005, the then lollipop lady was involved in a car accident as she ferried children into the centre of the traffic island.
Again, no action was taken against the driver who was never pursued.
The local authority has failed to install even the most basic warning signals near the school despite promises from Stephen Hughes, the chief executive of the council, in June 2007 that lights would be in place before September 2007.
Such a vicious cocktail of high traffic volumes (almost all of which contains one person in a car), parking, aggression by some drivers and high on-street parking mean that the words "safe routes to school" are an oxymoron on a par with "military intelligence".
What is now very clear is that the delivery of safety for children under 11 is not being delivered by any of the stakeholders who have real responsibility, these being the local authority and the police.
At Kings Heath we are fortunate that the governing body and the head have actively engaged with these measures, but of course these people are not transportation experts.
If the council officers apparently scrutinizing the delivery of "safe routes to school" don't understand the council's responsibility, what does this say about the wider issues of congestion, road safety and rising ill health aided by childhood obesity?
MARK JACKSON,. By email