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> Council admit election pledge is unworkable
Richard Garvie
post Jun 28 2011, 08:11 AM
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During the election campaign, residents in Thatcham were promised by the Conservative Party that the council would "look far and wide" to come up with a solution to fix congestion around Thatcham Station. They haven't looked that far as they still don't know how much it would cost, but they apparently know enough to say that it will never be resolved.

From the council:

"There is nothing that the Highway Authority can do to resolve this problem whilst there is a level crossing at this location. The only way that the problem could be resolved would be to build a bridge over the railway thus removing the need for the level crossing. However this would be extremely expensive and there is unfortunately no likelihood in the foreseeable future of the Council being able to fund such an expensive proposal. The cost of providing this structure at present is unknown. Given the vertical alignment at the level crossing it is likely that any such structure would also need to continuously span the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Kennet, which would considerably add to the cost.

There is very little funding for transport schemes being provided from central government in the current economic climate but where it is this is only provided for projects of high strategic importance. It is highly unlikely that this location in Thatcham would ever be deemed to have significant strategic importance to the highway network even if central government funds were to become more widely available at some point in the future."
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Andy Capp
post Jun 28 2011, 08:18 AM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 09:11 AM) *
During the election campaign, residents in Thatcham were promised by the Conservative Party that the council would "look far and wide" to come up with a solution to fix congestion around Thatcham Station. They haven't looked that far as they still don't know how much it would cost, but they apparently know enough to say that it will never be resolved.

I could have told everyone that without it being in a manifesto pledge. It's why we haven't got one already. The level crossing is a blight on Thatcham (and Newbury) life though.
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Richard Garvie
post Jun 28 2011, 08:41 AM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Jun 28 2011, 08:18 AM) *
I could have told everyone that without it being in a manifesto pledge. It's why we haven't got one already. The level crossing is a blight on Thatcham (and Newbury) life though.


I just thought that to dismiss an idea, you at least need to know how much it would cost.
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Bloggo
post Jun 28 2011, 08:56 AM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 09:41 AM) *
I just thought that to dismiss an idea, you at least need to know how much it would cost.

The problem is that it would cost the tax payer money to determin the cost of building the bridge when it is pretty much agreed that in the present climate there won't be that funds available anyway.
What the lack of a solution to this traffic pinch point wont do is limit further possible house building in the surrounding area effectively compounding the problem.


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Andy Capp
post Jun 28 2011, 10:07 AM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 09:41 AM) *
I just thought that to dismiss an idea, you at least need to know how much it would cost.

Even the simplest engineer would tell you the bridge alone would cost millions. Where would the money come to fund a bridge like that on a country road?
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BMR
post Jun 28 2011, 10:37 AM
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I think it is agreed that with all the water courses, and the lie of the land, building a bridge would be prohibitively expensive.

The real problem is the length of time the level crossing barriers come down before a train passes, and after the train has passed. Traffic is stopped minutes before a train apprears, and if a train stops at the station, before or after passing the level crossing, the barriers remain down until the train is out of sight, and the result is that traffic can be stopped for up to 15 minutes.

In comparison, in Holland, there is a station in Hilversum, Hilversum Parkway, which looks quite similar to Thatcham, in that the station in adjacent to a fairly busy road, with slow and fast trains using the station, some stopping, some not stopping. What is remarkable to a Brit who is used to the way things work in Thatcham, is just how short a time the barriers need to be down for. In Hilversum, it is very rarely more than 30 seconds from the lights warning of an approaching train, to the barriers descending, the train passing, and the barriers ascending. While a train is stopped at the station (before or after passing the level crossing), traffic is allowed to cross the road.

If the rail companies could improve their huge inefficiencies relating to level crossings, there would be no need for a bridge at Thatcham station.
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Richard Garvie
post Jun 28 2011, 11:52 AM
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Unfortunately barriers will be down longer now the control is being removed from signal boxes to Didcot control. My point really is that it it was always known that nothing can really be done to improve the congestion, why did the Conservatives make such a big thing about it on the doorstep?
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Andy Capp
post Jun 28 2011, 11:53 AM
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How long and far does it take a train to stop?
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Andy Capp
post Jun 28 2011, 11:56 AM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 12:52 PM) *
Unfortunately barriers will be down longer now the control is being removed from signal boxes to Didcot control. My point really is that it it was always known that nothing can really be done to improve the congestion, why did the Conservatives make such a big thing about it on the doorstep?

Things can be done about the congestion; it just won't mean a bridge. As for why did they make such a big thing about it: you are in politics, I'm sure you know, hence this mischievous thread.
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NWNREADER
post Jun 28 2011, 12:49 PM
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The debate has been going on so long there is no sense in running to the expense of a current costing when it is well known from that past work the cost would be too great. Network Rail have no wish to contribute.
It makes sense to not let the matter rest, as some small contributions may be possible and it has to stay on the table for when the pigs fly past and the money does become available for the bridge 'solution'. A solution which, by making the route more usable - will lead to an increase in traffic on the route and subsequent clamoring for restrictions....

One element that has always furrowed my brow is that the barriers come down just after a train leaves Newbury. I appreciate the 125s etc take a long time to stop, but a train moving off from standstill?

I doubt the location of the control centre will make any difference as the system is probably semi-automatic.

I think you are stirring, Mr G, but your lack of knowledge of the background has let you down.
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Richard Garvie
post Jun 28 2011, 03:41 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Jun 28 2011, 11:56 AM) *
Things can be done about the congestion; it just won't mean a bridge. As for why did they make such a big thing about it: you are in politics, I'm sure you know, hence this mischievous thread.


The reason they did is was that it would be an amazing delivery if they pulled it off. By promising something you can't deliver, it is bound to bite you on the bum and now it has. I would love to watch the councillors in question go back to those doorsteps and telling residents that nothing can be done, and that has been the Conservative administrations position for years.
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dannyboy
post Jun 28 2011, 04:41 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 04:41 PM) *
The reason they did is was that it would be an amazing delivery if they pulled it off. By promising something you can't deliver, it is bound to bite you on the bum and now it has. I would love to watch the councillors in question go back to those doorsteps and telling residents that nothing can be done, and that has been the Conservative administrations position for years.

They looked & there is no solution , seems they have done exactly what they said they would. No-one ever said 'we will sort the problem out'. Classic electioneering.
A bit like offering to look at sorting out the Robin Hood.
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Andy Capp
post Jun 28 2011, 05:03 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 04:41 PM) *
The reason they did is was that it would be an amazing delivery if they pulled it off. By promising something you can't deliver, it is bound to bite you on the bum and now it has. I would love to watch the councillors in question go back to those doorsteps and telling residents that nothing can be done, and that has been the Conservative administrations position for years.

As if anyone really votes purely on what the manifesto says anyway.
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Richard Garvie
post Jun 28 2011, 05:05 PM
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QUOTE (dannyboy @ Jun 28 2011, 04:41 PM) *
They looked & there is no solution , seems they have done exactly what they said they would. No-one ever said 'we will sort the problem out'. Classic electioneering.
A bit like offering to look at sorting out the Robin Hood.


The problem is, some people in South Thatcham are actually expecting the bridge to be built based on what they thought they were voting for!!! Even at the station, people say how great it will be once the bridge is built, and when you ask what bridge they say that the council are going to sort out the level crossing by building a bridge!!!
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dannyboy
post Jun 28 2011, 05:13 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jun 28 2011, 06:05 PM) *
The problem is, some people in South Thatcham are actually expecting the bridge to be built based on what they thought they were voting for!!! Even at the station, people say how great it will be once the bridge is built, and when you ask what bridge they say that the council are going to sort out the level crossing by building a bridge!!!

Based on what they thought they were voting for? More fool them then. In that case it is a **** good job Labour didn't win - their mainfesto was full of unrealisable dreams.
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Richard Garvie
post Jun 28 2011, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE (dannyboy @ Jun 28 2011, 05:13 PM) *
Based on what they thought they were voting for? More fool them then. In that case it is a **** good job Labour didn't win - their mainfesto was full of unrealisable dreams.


Deflect, deflect, deflect!!!

EDIT: Where's User???
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On the edge
post Jun 28 2011, 05:33 PM
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It just seems to be the usual dismissal - without any degree of thought. A bridge does not need to be in exactly the same place as the level crossing, would be fairly expensive granted, but not unaffordable. Particularly if contributions had / were collected from the residential and industrial developments that have been put up over the years. There are many examples of where bridges cross rail and canal all over UK.

As to the barrier timings. I've never understood why the crossings on the old Southern lines through town centres are so much slicker. Today's technology means that the 'dwell time' could be made to suit the train. Timing them to suit 125mph trains is simplistic and frankly arrogance on the railway's part.

Yes, I know trains take a long time to stop - even the wretched clapped out filthy local ones we have. However, arguably the railway authority ought to have thought of that before running 125mph trains through Thatcham on a line designed to take 50mph at most! What would they have said if the Highways Agency redeveloped the road and made it a dual carriage way - and a 70mph limit? Whats sauce for the goose etc.

Will it really be that long before we can start properly developing the national infastructure for groth again? No, not if we reversed the Barnet formula.

Must admit, having business interests in the area I feel pretty angry about this failure and did think the Conservatives would at least do a proper analysis. Sadly no.



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Andy Capp
post Jun 28 2011, 06:02 PM
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I grant you the Tories have exploited people's gullibility, but as the road is of low strategic importance, a bridge is never going to happen.

If we never got a bridge in the 'decade of decadence', it ain't going to happen in the 'age of austerity'.

I suppose to be fair, it is reasonable to scrutinise the winning party's manifesto, so that you can hold them to account, but just be careful what you wish for.
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spartacus
post Jun 28 2011, 06:37 PM
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Having 815 homes now squeezed into the nearby Kennet Heath estate, which was originally given planning permission for 469, doesn't exactly help matters when it comes to 'reasons for local congestion'.

There is I'm sure, a technology solution to this if Network Rail could be persuaded to alter the detection systems which trip the switch to activate the barriers. But as they couldn't care less if drivers had to wait at the crossing for two minutes or twenty (and I've waited at this crossing on more than one occasion for over 25 until I actually managed to get over the lines - I joined the queue at the top of Burys Bank Road!!!!) then there's no reason for them to make the change. Their thoughts and underlying strategy may even revolve around so completely frustrating the average motorist that they consider rail travel as a viable alternative....

They've a long way to go before that happens mind you.


The bridge isn't going to happen in my lifetime. And to make it an even more expensive structure a new bridge (if positioned here outside The Swan pub) would also have to accommodate future plans for higher train carriages. The approach ramps for something that would span the canal, the river and provide clearance over the rail-lines and also allow access into the pub/post office depot would start a few hundred feet back. At the end of the day it's not even an A class road....
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user23
post Jun 28 2011, 06:49 PM
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QUOTE (dannyboy @ Jun 28 2011, 06:13 PM) *
Based on what they thought they were voting for? More fool them then. In that case it is a **** good job Labour didn't win - their mainfesto was full of unrealisable dreams.
Didn't Labour promise us a referendum on a Mayor for West Berkshire?

They don't need any councillors to make this happen so why hasn't it?
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