MAY I respond to your correspondents Malcolm Cohen and Tom Phillips (Letters, 17 December)? Mr Cohen initially, and erroneously, suggested that the conversion of the Edinburgh Fastlink to tram operation had implications for the Cambridgeshire busway. He m
MAY I respond to your correspondents Malcolm Cohen and Tom Phillips (Letters, 17 December)?
Mr Cohen initially, and erroneously, suggested that the conversion of the Edinburgh Fastlink to tram operation had implications for the Cambridgeshire busway. He may well have a point concerning the cost-effectiveness of the financial outlay for the Edinburgh guided buses, given the planned limited life of the scheme but, under the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007, this is a matter wholly for the people of Scotland in general, and of Lothian Region in particular, to challenge. It has no bearing upon the Cambridgeshire busway, which has been designed for a full service life.
With Mr Phillips we are on familiar ground. The playground-level anti-busway barracking from the CAST.IRON crowd has become wholly predictable.
He pronounces that the project to construct a busway at lower cost than a reinstated railway "has failed the test already", and trumpets this unsupported assertion as "good news".
What "test" is he citing? If he is referring to cost overruns, is he now stating categorically that, in these economically unstable times, a (more expensive) railway reinstatement project would not have exceeded its original budget? With such a convincing and commanding grasp of the elusive gift of clairvoyance, Mr Phillips must be imminently expecting a major win on the National Lottery.
Wishful thinking is no substitute for economic reality. That he should rejoice in his "good news" gives confirmation that the CAST.IRON clique has no constructive interest whatever in public transport alternatives to the private car.
Even when the busway is up and running, people of his persuasion will still sit splendidly aloof in their cars in stationary traffic queues on the A14, rather than stoop to travelling by bus.
In reality, the fundamental emerging problem with the busway finance lies with the endeavours by the developers of the Northstowe new town to avoid their contributions under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The potential shortfall from this source is £23.7 million.
Builders and developers have splashed about joyfully in the property gravy train of the last decade, and, like the ego-obsessed and bonus-besotted bankers, whose recklessness has visited the current global recession upon us (but not themselves - I am sure we could all manage to get by on accumulated bonuses of up to £36million a year) they have accrued huge profits in those good times before the bubble finally burst.
Likewise, one presumes that the busway contractor, BAM Nuttall, entered freely into the project, and must be entirely responsible for its own costing miscalculations. That Mr Phillips should castigate the public authorities for cost increases, but offer condolences to the private contractors for the same error of judgement, speaks volumes about his political sympathies.
The CAST.IRON lobby was formed originally to put forward an entirely legitimate case for railway reinstatement. However, the Cambridgeshire bus-versus-train debate was settled long ago, and the continued carping by CAST.IRON, with no prospect now of influencing the real-life situation, indicates that this group is in desperate need of a name change. Might I suggest SOUR.GRAPES?