Friday, 25 January 2019

Transport matters. And perceived poshness!

In the midst of all the will-we, won’t-we stories about Brexit I found a report that Kent is going to get £29m to make its roads Brexit-ready. This is part of a plan to prepare the place for a no-deal Brexit, a plan known as Operation Brock. (Where do they get these wonderfully poetic names for these plans?) Most would go on carriageway strengthening and a bit would go on improving the disused Manston airport. It’s a lot of money.

I wonder if we could somehow link roads around here into a post-No-Deal-Brexit plan. Some of them are in a parlous state and don’t just need carriageway strengthening so that big lorries can drive on them but so that ordinary, everyday cars and trucks can drive on them. After all, the main road running past our house is the A62, which I am told serves as “run off” road when the M62 is closed for one reason or another.

 Okay, I accept that I am talking nonsense but most of what I am hearing at the moment sounds like arrant nonsense too.

On the plus side, I hear that Greater Manchester is going to receive hundreds of millions of pounds to develop the UK’s first tram-train network. At least that is what the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has supposedly promised. The tram network, Metrolink, is already the largest in the country. Who knew that? And now the transport secretary wants to buy a fleet of trams that can also run on the railways. Apparently tram-trains are common in Germany, France and Holland and can run on existing rail lines as well as on the street. They are a lot cheaper than building new railway lines. 

Now, this whole topic strikes me as odd because I thought that some of them already used the old railway tracks. They must just use the old routes.

Part of the plan is to extend the service out to Wigan, Stockport and Bolton. That is in quite the wrong direction for me. I would like them to extend the service out towards Saddleworth, where we live! It would be so much more convenient!

According to our Italian teacher in a conversation about terminology for describing conurbations of different kinds - metropolis, city, town, village, hamlet - for Italians a place can only be called a metropolis if it has an underground system. So Manchester can be called a city, because it has a cathedral, but not a metropolis, despite being quite large and cosmopolitan.

Funnily enough, I overheard a conversation between two Transport for Greater Manchester employees on a tram recently, in which one of them was getting very excited about the possibility of TfGM beginning to dig tunnels under the city centre and develop a proper metro. Goodness me! I bet it still would not come out to our bit of Greater Manchester though.

In a sort of online conversation with my Spanish sister (sending messages back and forth via Messenger when really we should just have actually spoken, but that’s a different matter) late this afternoon, she told me that an old student friend of hers, originally from Oldham, possible still resident around here, had told her that where we live is considered posh. It’s all relative, of course. Bits of our area are decidedly posh, with extremely expensive houses, occupied by folk who drive 4x4s that might be worth more than our house. Our bit is less posh but, depending on whereabouts in Oldham her friend comes from, we might all seem posh. Posh enough anyway for our daughter to speculate on how she might afford a house around here and thus be able to send her tiniest daughter to a “good” primary school in a couple of years’ time.

So it goes!

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