Access to Hastings Study
I gave Leo Eyles of Steer Davis Gleave a copy of my comments on the consultants commissioning report in December 1999 with a copy of my submission to the roads review and integrated transport consultation. With those comments I also mentioned issues and solutions relevant to the study.
Note that these comments and the comments I passed to Leo on the commissioning report have the endorsement of Tunbridge Wells FoE. I have revised my proposed list of Sites to Visit around Tunbridge Wells. Please also see my comments below on the consultants problem identification report. It is apparent that you, the consultants, Steering group, & GOSE, are putting a considerable effort into creating a rigorous study. We are confident that the study outcome will be robust and merit support, and we therefore urge strongly that the package of recommendations made, be taken forward as a whole. Therefore if the final report has recommendations that can be brought forward separately it must spell out the benefits and dis-benefits of doing this in each case and the cumulative effect of that selection. It must be made clear that picking and choosing recommendations to implement could spoil the actual outcome and causes things to occur that are contrary to those intended. It would be beneficial for the study to recommend a programme of implementation so as to best meet the objectives.
Member of Tunbridge Wells Friends of the Earth.
FILE: ahs1prob.doc, 11-03-00
Some issues not covered in the Draft Problem Identified report are:
1) Safety and severance of two sections of A26 south of Tunbridge Wells are at Strawberry Hill, in the vicinity of Bunny Lane and further south at Eridge in the vicinity of the rail station. These sections of road are inappropriately very fast making pedestrian road crossing and access to bus stops on the A26 very difficult. The section at Eridge is three lane, built 5-8 years. The section north of the Eridge Station access road is raised above the level of the original section of road and has a bus stop and a lay-by in a hollow on the east side. Both sections appear to be prone to car crashes. Measures should be recommended by the study to calm traffic and reduce speeds on these sections, and provide safer pedestrian crossings.
2) The local paper The Courier has a strong anti-public transport bias in recent years calling the Connex proposal to restore a 100MPH train service Brighton to Tonbridge via Tunbridge Wells “absurd pie in the sky” in an editorial of 21 January 2000. On 3 October 1997 a crash on the A21 Castle Hill section with no injuries received front page coverage, whereas another accident less than a week later on the Pembury by-pass dual carriageway with two injured people, taken to hospital, only received coverage on page three. Prior to the Courier’s apparent policy change articles published mostly opposed the new section of six lane trunk road at Castle Hill but some supported. The newspaper expressed no view of its own then. One such sceptical article was “Bypass row” of 16 November 1992, reporting the Borough Councils objection to the then published scheme, now the approved scheme. I am told the Courier has sent a memo to their reporters to remind them that the newspaper receives considerable proportion of their revenue from car advertisers therefore articles should not discourage those same advertisers.
3) There is no access to High Brooms Station from Pembury/Sherwood by bus re. 4.119. Is usage of High Brooms station included in Tunbridge Wells figures Figure 4.4. Poor waiting conditions at High Brooms and on-road parking and insufficient station parking are issues. The station bus stop on the High Brooms side of the tracks could be moved a short distance toward Tunbridge Wells and a bus lay-by created.
4) There may be merit in further developing SPA Valley Rail Heritage line which is between Tunbridge Wells West almost to Eridge as commuter link to Tunbridge Wells, using modern equipment. Interconnecting ticketing to the main line could be provided. I understand a system exists in Dorset where a heritage rail is leased to Railtrack, it is also used for park and ride, and heritage steam trains can run on the line. I have also heard of the Purbeck Rail Partnership in Dorset to reconnect the Swanage Branch to the national rail network, but I don’t know if this is the same scheme. There appears to be no apparent technical problem with running steam or non-electric heritage trains on the main rail network other than timetabling.
See letter of reply to Mr. Archie Norman MP, appendix B. Sites Visit of Tunbridge Wells – revised list
1) Traffic entering Tunbridge Wells at Longfield Road, Pembury Bypass, and Pembury Road (08:15 – 08:40, and 16:30) – Sara Newman?/Andrew Lohmann.
2) Hall Hole Road. Cornfield Road & Pembury (AM) – Alan Gorkroger/Don Oke?
3) Severance of communities Pembury and Sherwood at Longfield Road roundabout especially – Val Catt.
4) Crash site of March 1998 at A21 Tonbridge by-pass north end of Castle Hill – Maurice Knights.
5) Tunbridge Wells viewed from the pond with Great Crested Newts near the summit of the hill where the approved six lane trunk road would be built – Maurice Knights/Andrew Lohmann.
6) Eridge Station, Tunbridge Wells West Station and Sainsbury, The Old Good Station Yard, Rail sidings just beyond High Brooms Station, and possible sitting of new rail sidings at Longfield Road – John Goodfellow.
7) Traffic entering Tunbridge Wells on the A26 in Southborough – Andrew Lohmann
8) View of Castle Hill from a point at the Powder Mill Lane roundabout, High Brooms. Optionally
9) Bus stops at A26 near Eridge, and Strawberry Hill. Comments on Access to Hastings Study problem identification report Please find two appendixes included:
(A) traffic figures for: “A21 Corridor Plan, Road & Rail Use, Government Office for the South East, WS Atkins, 14 October 1997″
(B) – Letter from Railtrack running heritage trains on the main line states the main technical obstacle to running non-electric or steam trains relates to gauging, third rail power is not an issue. The biggest challenge is fitting such trains on to the network – would not apply as this section of rail is not yet connected to the rail network. Note rail gauge was standardised in the 19th century by an act of parliament. Comments 1 Introduction – Beyond Tunbridge Wells there could be two rail corridors (a) Tonbridge/Hastings (b) Tonbridge/Lewes/Brighton if the rail line were re-opened. There is one corridor for rail between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. 1.3 Last point – covered by point 3 perhaps HABIT’s high profile involvement should be reconsidered. I am pleased that the consultants are drawing attention to any extra lobbying. The report should also draw attention to possible under representation from other interests.
4.3 Agree with all but last sentence. As a frequent visitor to Hastings I observe that traffic arrives fast down The Bourne to the sea front where there are many pedestrians, and horse-drawn carriages for tourists so the road would be greatly enhanced by reduced vehicle priority. There is a lack of lowered pavements for wheelchairs in this area. Pedestrian priority schemes have been implemented in other places successfully, they should be investigated further in this.
4.60 The point old v new buses is not appropriate. The condition of the vehicles should be the test. You may note that many London buses are 35-45 years old and appear to run as well as they always have done. Stagecoach run very well maintained buses some more than 20 years old, they are clean and run without rattles. Another company runs buses that clatter, bang and break down, some of these are relatively new no step buses.
4.62 Arriva run no-step single deck buses haphazardly on routes in Tunbridge Wells. At times such buses are run on the 284 route which goes down over the brow of Highfield Road. I am sure, and I have checked with a Stagecoach bus driver that ground clearance is the same for these no-step or low-step buses, perhaps Arriva and The Brighton & Hove Bus Company who have no-step or low-step buses should be asked if they would run them in Hastings. Note that Roger French the MD of The Brighton & Hove Bus Company told me that there company were to purchase double deck no-step buses last summer.
4.99 Agree strongly. People may view the private car as a necessary costly investment but then seem to travel free until they have to buy something to make the vehicle go. The cost of making the car go is made less noticeable as it may be paid for by credit card. Public transport costs money at the point of maximum impact just before you ride. Accepting credit cards and universal bus credit or debit card may be the solution. Car mileage travelled per gallon of petrol has reduced over the past 100 years despite considerable improvements in engine efficiency due largely to modern high octane fuel but it is used to make cars overly powerful and fast. Evidently the growing amount of transportation, and the fact that private cars are considerably more powerful and faster than necessary suggest that fuel cost is much to low.
4.117 and 4.152 Arriva have stated publicly on a number of occasions that the bus lanes on the A26 save 10-15 minutes and are vital to them. There is a problem with the Speldhurst Road junction bus priority system. These bus lanes have calmed the traffic considerably, acts of reckless overtaking have been curtailed without reducing journey time. The annoyance drivers choose to feel when buses pass them or when there reckless behaviour has been curtailed is expressed by criticism of the bus/cycle lanes. A point of criticism that cars park in the lanes is not relevant. Parking has lessened or remained unchanged, but there are now more sections which are clear of traffic. Table 4.2 – Train frequency Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells 7-8am – agree that technically there are two trains running in this period but a third and forth train leave Tonbridge at 6:56am and 8:08am. This is from timetable 8, 26 September 1999 to 27 May 2000, but the summer timetable will have at least one additional train per hour.
4.130 Line 10 first word – does it mean Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells. 298 bus was in fact 293 and it was discontinued last summer.
4.131 I did not know about this – did it appear in a rail timetable once? Some publicity is needed.
4.132 Not up and running yet. See my comment above 4.29.
4.135 KCC bus timetable telephone information is useless. It is inaccurate and cannot explain where bus stops are. They have no maps to check this it seems.
4.138 Bus information should be available in rail stations. No explanation of which bus stop to wait at to get your chosen destination. For example to get to the Royal Victoria Hall Southborough you need to get on any bus travelling on the A26 to or via Tonbridge. You would not know that the buses to Willow Lea, Hildenborough, Maidstone No 7, Rochester 151, and Penshurst all go that way, whereas High Brooms (Southborough) buses 281 and 284 don’t. The issue does not seem to have been seen from a visitors view point.
4.152 see comment above on
4.117 Add after 4.159 – ditto the point made in 4.20 for Tunbridge Wells where buses pass stops when returning to their depot. These buses should stop at all stops, and be headed depot or bus garage. Add a new section Bus/rail Integration Tunbridge Wells Section; Table 4.2 re 4.29 Tunbridge Wells buses between High Brooms and Tunbridge Wells rail stations takes 10-15 minutes and cost about £1.90 return, but only takes 4 minutes by rail costing about £1.50 return. Many buses can be cancelled at 5pm-7pm, in one case I have been told of 5 or 6 cancelled over a period of one and a half hours, if people new that, when waiting at the bus stop, they could select an alternative such as the train. Note trains run 10-15 minutes intervals to Tunbridge Wells at this time.
PARK & RIDE:
4.166 see comment below on 6.5 points 3 & 4.
4.168 Note inspectors report into the Local Plan in 1994 stated that Park and Ride should not be implemented unless the whole scheme can be implemented. This can not be achieved at present because the land allocated is in neighbouring county and their inspector did not consider them to be suitable. – P&R is seen as unfair because buses run past stops with people waiting. Buses are frequently withdrawn from commercial routes to run the Park and Ride contract. Vehicles are polluting, consume a high amount of fuel and suffer high engine wear when first started. You have done the damage when you choose to start a vehicle engine you may as well drive the whole journey. It is environmentally dishonest to suggest as popular myth has it that P&R is good in any way environmentally. The P&R at Canterbury attracted more traffic on roads to Canterbury with car traffic into the town displaced by buses. (E.F Parkinson, University of Canterbury see my submission to roads review and integrated transport consultation).
4.170 Three per hour, A fast and a slow train to Hastings plus a train (Gatwick Flyer) from Three Bridges terminating at Tunbridge Wells. At least one new additional train per hour is expected in the summer timetable. Many people from nearby villages such as Speldhurst use High Brooms Station. People park on residential roads and in the Yew Tree Road Car Park.
4.174 Upgrade the south tunnel from Tunbridge Wells to two track working perhaps the tunnels brick lining could be replacing with a steel lining. It is said that 18″ more width (that is two times two brick widths) is all that is required.
4.178 If one ignores the possibility of more availability of the core rail line running through the centre of Tunbridge Wells, it might be difficult to reduce traffic on the roads. How is “feasibility” assessed. Technically possible no doubt. How is cost assessed in this matter? Should this judgement be made at this problem identification stage?
HIGHWAY NETWORK: A21:
4.196 Does not seem to be a safety problem, except at isolated points for example at the junction of A268 and B2087. See comment below on 6.28
4.197 Don’t fast sections of road have more serious crashes? There has been a number recently on the Tonbridge by-pass and Pembury by-passes. Are these really “improvements”?
4.198 Roundabout at Longfield Road does not give fair opportunities for the small number of vehicles travelling past Tunbridge Wells resulting in Pembury High Street being used as an unsatisfactory by-pass to the by-pass. The slow moving traffic on the A21 in the vicinity of Tunbridge Wells is due to traffic tailing back out of the town via A264, and Longfield Road through Sherwood or High Brooms, snarling up junctions.
4.199 A21 a rat-run! The meaning of this paragraph could be clearer. Agree problem is that this traffic is through residential areas, splitting communities.
4.213 Any proposal to increase the number of lanes on the A26 through Southborough would be inappropriate as this would exacerbate severance. Any proposals to up-rate the category of roads on Southborough Common such as Constitution Hill as preferred routes would be inappropriate as the common is an important recreational amenity.
4.269 But very little traffic travel on the A21 travel any significant distance. See “A21 Corridor Plan, Road & Rail Use, Government Office for the South East, WS Atkins, 14 October 1997″, (appendix A). For example the majority of traffic on the A21 between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, is travelling no further than between the two towns.
5.26 Waste could be carried by rail freight from Longfield Road, North Farm Industrial Estate to Bedford. There is also a post office depot, DSL who distribute for M&S, and metal scrap yard at North Farm Industrial Estate. These could use rail freight from Longfield Road. Restoring or creating a Rail line link to Newhaven could bring convenient access to a sea port.
5.28 Small rail freight single wagon load may be possible, See EWSR quote below (6.5 point 4).
6.4 – Agree very strongly.
6.5 point 3 – sites for P&R exist in Tunbridge Wells but would be impractical although rail based system may be practical. Note that much of the rail line Eridge to Tunbridge Wells exists making Park and Rail option from the A26 possible. Note although this line is run as a heritage line in reply Tunbridge Wells MP Mr A Norman, has forwarded a letter of reply from Railtrack states the main technical obstacle to running non-electric or steam trains relates to gauging, third rail power is not an issue. The biggest challenge is fitting such trains on to the network – would not apply as this section of rail is not yet connected to the rail network. Note rail gauge was standardised in the 19th century by an act of parliament.
Point 4 – note at Tunbridge Wells Torrington car park exists, there is car parking at Frant and Wadhurst, Park and Ride Car parking is identified at Mabledon Farm near the rail line, High Brooms has limited parking and could site a multi-story or gas works car park for commuters from Speldhurst and other nearby villages. Evidently there is inadequate parking at High Brooms provision but, possibly other facilities could be developed.
Point 5 – ditto High Brooms Station on Sundays. Last point – there is a small rail freight siding at the Shell Oil depot in North Farm Lane, High Brooms. The siding owned by Shell was used to transport heating fuel oil, and was revamped 17 years ago. Rail freight carrier EWSR’s chief executive Ed Burkhardt says in Rail 7-20 October 1998 “Enterprise will at some time serve every branch line in the country – every customer that wants to send a wagon load will be able to.” At Old Goods Station Tunbridge Wells facilities for freight could be re-instated and a shuttle bus provided to serve the Town Centre.
6.12 Add – air quality is particularly poor at Longfield Road (I work there, at times my coughing and sneezing in the summer leads to nose bleeds). Traffic queues to enter Tunbridge Wells via Sherwood & High Brooms adversely affecting air quality and safety in those areas. It is increasingly difficult for pedestrians to cross Liptraps Lane and Birken Road which are residential and by a school.
6.13 – St Leonards is my father’s home, what upset him the most was the high incidence of serious or fatal accidents. What makes this area delightful is the beautiful view and sound of the sea. Restaurants such as Bengal Curry House and Pasta Pasta are examples of the excellence and exceptionally low prices in the area. This sums up the area, what is done is high quality, lean with no excess fat. Many properties have been or are being renovated, and beginning to express how very desirable they once where and could be again. My father is John Lohmann, 21 Greeba Court, St Leonards-On-Sea, East Sussex, out of necessity he presently resides at a Nursing Home in Uckfield.
6.27 – What the report says is partly true. Never the less it is said delays of up to an hour occur for cars leaving Victoria Place car park in Tunbridge Wells this is scarcely efficient use of time and fuel. This point has been reported in The Courier Newspaper in the past. Note you can walk to the rail station and travel to Hastings in an hour. 6.28 – But it only accounts for less than 5000 ADDT this being the lowest figure which is at Battle (See Appendix A). It appears that majority of traffic on the A21 is travelling east-west or west-east using the A21 as a link stretch. Delays for the low amount of traffic travelling solely on the A21 may also be due to traffic joining and leaving that road for short distances with interruptions to traffic flow through accessing right hand turning from side roads. In anycase for longer distance travel there should be the freight train.
6.29 point 2 – Because the last train leaves 10:11pm daily or 9:13pm Sundays it is difficulty to visit The Conquest Hospital, and returning from Evening Shows is impossible. You will note that where the last trains run at about 23:00 between Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge Friday and Saturday the train is frequently full. Perhaps a similar later trains from coast would attract high patronage. Last point but one – ditto Tunbridge Wells. Add two points which is:- Public transport between Pembury Hospital and Tunbridge Wells or Southborough – Severance for pedestrians and cyclists at Longfield Road roundabout on the A21(traffic lights may solve this and other problems).
Appendix A traffic figures for: “A21 Corridor Plan, Road & Rail Use, Government Office for the South East, WS Atkins, 14 October 1997″
NEAREST AADT STRETCH OF ROAD OR RAIL LAND MARK 1996/2016
Accidents A21 between Sevenoaks and Leigh Sevenoaks 41,000/55,000 0.8 A21 between Leigh and Tonbridge Tonbridge 35,000/47,000 1.1
A21 between Tonbridge and Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells 25,000/33,000 -
Longfield Road A21 between Longfield Road and Pembury Tunbridge Wells 25,521*
A21 between Pembury (Kippings Cross) 6,500/8,900 2.7
and Lamberhurst A21 between Lamberhurst and Flimwell Scottney Castle 14,000/19,000 2.1
A21 between Hurst Green and Robertsbridge 7,800/11,000 -
Vinhall Street A21 between Vinhall Street and A2100/A28 Battle rail station 5,000/10,000 -
* From a table on the drawing showing various destinations and the total of all.