The Chair of the North East Party and Tees Valley Mayoral Candidate, John Tait, discusses the current issues facing the transport system in and around the Tees Valley and how he intends to tackle them, if elected on 4th May 2017.
I know this is a strategy as opposed to a tactical document, but the current version is so high level and so vague as to be vacuous. The five aims are so general as to be ultimate motherhood and apple pie statements: no one in their right mind would object to them.
Furthermore they fail the SMART test: the plan should contain specific, measurable, and time based objectives.
What is needed is a more specific vision of the transport system we want and need for the Tees valley in the second half of the 21st Century.
The failure of successive Labour and Conservative administrations to support and develop the Tees Valley Transport networks is a major cause of our current economic problems.
We might fail but at least we will have put forward what we are trying to do, and what we are not trying to do. People with better ideas can put forward their alternatives: and those outside the area controlling the funding can explain to the public in the Tees Valley why the money is going elsewhere if the plans aren’t funded.
We shouldn’t cut our coat to fit our cloth: we should expect central government (and other stakeholders) to give the sort commitment to the Tees Valley which has pushed through schemes like Crossrail and other ambitious transport developments in London.
More specifically the Tees Valley Strategic Transport Plan should aim for:
1) A new Tees Road Crossing Strategy to include the option of a new Tees Bridge or Tunnel to the East of the existing crossing points to provide much more rapid access from Hartlepool to the A19 and the South, a generally relieve congestion in the Portrack/Newport area.
A specific objective of any detailed plan should be the reduction of the through traffic on any bottleneck to around 40 000 vehicles per day. It is unlikely that a “Strategy” based on de-bottlenecking the existing network will achieve that.
2) Electrification of the Northallerton and Darlington/Middlesbrough lines through to East Cleveland (Saltburn and Teesport).
A proper strategy needs to go way beyond a little tinkering to accommodate longer trains and preparing for electrification which might be indefinitely postponed. Furthermore a wider and more ambitious electrification scheme going beyond the Northallerton – Teesport route will be more cost effective than a piecemeal scheme.
3) Specific journey time targets to major centres within and outside the Tees Valley: 45 minutes from Hartlepool to Darlington; 20 minutes from Hartlepool to Middlesbrough; 1 hour from Redcar to Newcastle; 1 hour 15 minutes from Hartlepool or Redcar to Leeds, etc.
Achieving these goals would have a dramatic impact on the employment, study and leisure opportunities open to people in the Tees Valley.
4) Not just a unified bus and train ticketing scheme, but a specific aim of having the lowest price per mile of public transport in the country (as opposed to the current situation where we, one of the poorest parts of the UK) has one of the highest prices per mile.
5) A new Tees Parkway Railway Station north of Eaglescliffe Station close to A66 to improve cross-modal transport access.
The strategic plan should include these objective and other broader, but specific envelopes within which tactical funding and delivery plans can be developed.