Lloyd (originator of conversion) said
In its submission to the Select Committee, Transwatch referred to the nimble bus versus the cumbersome train. See Select-8 for a complete rebuttal of their submission.
In its web site, Transwatch claimed that ‘probably a bus would use a terminal space 3-4 times as efficiently as the train. With similar calculations, it can be shown that, in terms of both capacity & use, road transport out-performs rail by a factor of 3-5 across the network. This is important. It suggests that alternatives to rail are not only technically feasible, they would be technically highly efficient’. (Journal of the Institute of Economic Affairs Volume 24, No. 2, June 2004). Again that mysterious plan - with no costs, nor building timescale. Claims must not start with probably and end with certainty.
Transwatch claimed on Radio2 (Jeremy Vine programme, 24 July 2007) that ‘its calculations showed that only 25% of the space of a rail passenger terminal would be required for buses replacing trains’. No formula or costs, or timescale was given to support this wild claim, which were not challenged. It did not mention that it envisaged them having three levels (which research shows would be insuffucient), or for buses to ‘do a loop beyond the terminal’, see Fact 5 below.
According to Transwatch: ‘terminal capacity is a separate issue and more difficult to demonstrate simply’. It is crucial and only difficult in the absence of a timetable based on a full analysis of the precise journeys which passengers make. Conversion proposals have tended to ignore the practicalities of operation, at which any transport operator - road or rail - would regard as the first essential step. Lloyd sought to dispense with timetables for the very reason that they would prove the impracticability of his dream
Fact 1 – Only one study has been published of a
rail route conversion – part of the route from
Fact 2 – This study included a plan drawing of
the station (
Fact 3- The route from
Fact 4 - The idea of multi floors has not been thought through. The time required by buses to pass to/from upper floors has not been evaluated. There are no drawings, no costs, no assessment of the area that would be occupied with ramps. It is overlooked that local authorities can block such schemes as they did BR plans to build above Fenchurch Street & Euston, and would be very likely to do so, especially with stations that are listed buildings with large roof spans. It would be costly. Every terminal (over 50) will be out of action for at least a year. Some large through stations will require multi-story replacements to avoid buses clogging the ground floor area. Passengers will be diverted to existing roads, which will double up as “terminals”. As there will be hundreds to be rebuilt simultaneously, along with increasing clearances of many tunnels & bridges, removing rail infrastructure and laying concrete, the entire system would be out of use for years.
Fact 5 - To ‘do a loop, beyond the terminal’ – as the conversion mini lobby advocates - is ridiculous. The narrow congested streets around most major city stations make this totally impractical. They would have to cross pedestrian flows outside the terminal, leading to more accidents. Some terminals are not at street level anyway, and surrounding streets would give no space for ramps. Buses would return to the terminal at unpredictable times.
Fact 6 – ‘Managing roads to avoid congestion’ has yet to be achieved. It should be proven on an existing road that has widths similar to a railway double track, before attempting it from a converted city rail terminal.
Fact 8 - Claims must not start with ‘probably’ and end with certainty as they do with many conversionist claims.
Fact 9 – No mention is made of the manpower required to clean buses, lorries, bus stations, etc., nor to maintain and clean toilets, waiting areas, etc. Existing railway manpower is included in total railway staffing with which the crudest “comparisons” were – occasionally - made with a handful of lorry or bus drivers. The analogous manpower required to maintain and repair structures (and route) are completely ignored.
See also “Railway Conversion – the impractical dream”