The corporate takeover of the railway path

There’s some sterling research on the role of First Group and the BRT scheme over on Bristol Indymedia by Cyclopath.

They point out the guided bus used in the sketch for the proposed BRT route on Bristol and Bath Railway Path is of a type developed by First Bus and is exclusive to them. So it looks like it’ll make little difference at this point if Bristol’s lame duck transport boss, Mark Bradshaw, throws them off the planning team as he claims he will.

Cyclopath also highlights the relationship between the Labour Party and their secret donor Moir Lockhead, chairman of First Group. Although it’s doubtful this news this will come as any surprise to long-suffering Bristolians perplexed at the state of their bus service.

There’s little to be optimistic about when it comes to the other firms involved in this multi-million pound wrecking project either.

Some of you may recognise the name Atkins, the huge multi-national civil engineering group the West of England Partnership have employed to develop their BRT. They were part of the doomed Metronet group that took on the public/private partnership deal forced on Transport for London by Gordon Brown to run the tube.

A deal they bailed out of last autumn – when the government refused to give them any more handouts – landing the tax payer with a £300m bill for their incompetence.

A recent House of Commons Transport Select Committee report into the expensive disaster even said talked directly of Metronet/Atkins’ “pathetic under-delivery” on the project and concluded:

“The government should bear the Metronet debacle in mind if and when its parent companies next come to bid for publicly-funded work.”

Not a piece of advice being heeded by the West of England Partnership, any local councillors or their well remunerated transport officers then.

Meanwhile the other civil engineering firm with their feet under the West of England Partnership’s table are Halcrow, the firm behind the massively over budget Channel Tunnel Rail Link. A project described by parliament as “dogged by wildly optimistic assumptions” while the benefits were “marginal”.

That’s quite a team our leaders have assembled for us …

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16 Responses to The corporate takeover of the railway path

  1. bristoltravelplan says:

    interesting – bet First Bus didn’t like to be told in an open letter that their services were no longer required. Not sure why you’re calling bradshaw a ‘lame duck’ — it’s clear that the Lib Dems and their currently very quiet transport guru, dennis brown, were in charge when all this was being hatched. Surely, you should be asking him (or his spokesman, gary hopkins) what they did to argue against the railway path route at the west of england transport meeting in dec 06 that decided all this. Perhaps you just don’t like bradshaw because he’s labour! ah well, that’s politics I suppose. … just you haven’t been too critical of the LDs in any of this.

  2. dave angel says:

    bristoltravelplan – The problem is that it is not a labour/lib dem/tory/green pass the buck issue. The real problem is that they never seem to have had any buck to pass in the first place.

    Bristol is now run by a combination of consultants and quangos, rather than a democratically elected executive. What is needed is the elected councillors to admit this and create a situation where democracy can be returned to the city of Bristol.

  3. Chris Hutt says:

    I’ve just found this interesting paper by the Light Rail Transit Association on Guided Bus – Does it really have a purpose in life? (Apart from fermenting rebellion in rotten boroughs!)

    The link is

    For tasters here’s an extract quoting Carmen Haus-Klau, a well respected German transport planning academic –

    “Professor Carmen Haus-Klau described current guided bus operation as “terrible, terrible, terrible systems”. Kerb Guided Busways are unattractive to look at, the benefits can largely be achieved with conventional bus lanes, and no one else is building them except Britain. “

  4. Chris Hutt says:

    Another extract from LRTA – discussion document 43 (I get the feeling they don’t much like guided buses) –

    “Only a month ago, the principal bus operator in Leeds introduced a state-of-the-art” bus presumably hoping it would replace Supertram. Known as “ftr” (stands for future), it so far has not been well received by the press and the public.”

    ftr? first trashes railwaypath?

  5. Bristol Dirt Bag says:

    Bristoltravelplan… you are Mark “Inspector Blakey” Bradshaw, and I claim my £5.00!

  6. bristoltravelplan says:

    sorry to disappoint you dirt bag, but are you dennis brown? some of the crap you write suggests you are

  7. Dave Angel says:

    I am pretty certain that one of the bridges in the artists impression is on the section that the Avon Valley Railway currently uses in Bitton/Oldland.

    Does this mean that the eventual plan is to take the busses all the way along to Bitton and rip the railway up and replace with the guided bus lanes?

  8. Seeker says:

    Bristoltravelplan, you appear to have missed this post:
    which shows that before the Officers meeting on 30/3/7 there were several options being considered for feasibility…

  9. Chris Hutt says:

    I think we have a supporter of the bus route plan in our midst! Their arguments are so succinct.

  10. Bristol Dirt Bag says:

    Bristoltravelplan, if you don’t wish to be mistaken for Mark Bradshaw, don’t wear his old clothes.

  11. bristoltravelplan says:

    hi again, not being a politico like you people, i’m just after some balance. appears that the lib dems have been (unusually) late in jumping on this particular bandwagon so i’m sceptical about their denial of involvement – the december 2006 meeting sounds a critical point and should be looked into….this appears to have decided on the ashton vale to emersons grn route as the main option for funding knowing full well that the disused railway line was the line of least resistence!

  12. JulieAnn says:

    Line of least resistance? Doesn’t look like it from where I stand

  13. Bristol Dirt Bag says:


    So everyone here is a “politico” now are they?

    You might like to take a look over your previous postings – as I have. For someone who doesn’t regard themselves as a politico you seem to take a remarkable interest in, and know a lot about Dennis Brown. I’ve noticed too, that you seem (unlike the other posters) to have one interest only… to attack the Lib Dems and Dennis Brown… makes me wonder just who is the politico here.

    I also can’t help but notice that you use the council’s terminology of “disused railway line”. Funny that… most people call it the cycle track, cycle path, or, railway path. Not surprising really as it was the first dedicated cycleway in Britain… I see too that the Bristol A-Z labels the cycle path “cycle walkway”.

    As JulieAnn points out, given local feeling on the issue, for some odd reason best known to themselves (probably something to do with terminal stupidity) the mighty council have probably succeeded in choosing the line of greatest resistance… well, it’s their funeral.

    As you seem to have a thing about the Liberals, Social Democrats, Liberal Democrats, or whatever it is that they call themselves these days, I also wish it to be known that I am not, and never have been a member of any political party, ginger group, or any other bunch with megalomaniac aspirations over other people. My interests are those of a resident of Easton for the last 12 years, and of St. Pauls for many years before that… how about you?

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