Friday, 31 July 2009

How to respond to the rail consultation to re-open stations

The time is now for people to use their opportunity to ask for a new passenger service at Moseley, Balsall Heath, Kings Heath and Stirchley (closed 1941). 10,000 people probably live along this line, today.

As I may have mentioned a few times recently, Centro has a draft 'Rail Development Plan' and this is open to public consultation until 11th September 2009. It includes a passenger service along the existing ‘Camp Hill line’ calling at these stations and using a new curve, to be built to connect the line into Moor Street station.

Centro is asking if this scheme should be a priority for funding. The danger is that if people don't reply, it may move down the priority list, and further into the future. Currently, a service is at least 9 years away.

Public consultation is open already and ends on September 11th. Please;

· Use this opportunity to register your concern, by sending an email to David Ride at Centro (

Feel free to use the draft email below, and do add your own comments

· If you represent an organisation and can write a letter on their behalf, this will carry even more weight

· Pass this email on to others

If you want a map of the route see

To see pictures of your former stations click on map at

For Centro’s draft Rail Development Plan see

Summary (Table 1.4 & 1.5 pp13-15)


To David Ride

Centro, 16 Summer Lane

Birmingham B19 3SD

From Name;

Postal Address;

RE; Draft West Midlands Rail Development Plan - Public Consultation

I am writing to you to support the re-opening of the stations on the 'Camp Hill' rail line across South Birmingham.

A frequent local passenger service is urgently needed to relieve traffic congestion and parking problems, by offering an alternative to cars and buses in South Birmingham

A curve at Bordesley to take trains into Moor Street should be built to add rail capacity, preferably before the rebuilding of New Street station begins.

Therefore, the South Birmingham ‘Camp Hill’ rail line and its stations should be a high priority for funding in the West Midlands Rail Development Plan, and the dates in the draft plan 2014 for funding, 2018 for re-opening should be brought forward, by any means possible.

I would appreciate a reply, and would like to be kept informed of the progress of the above project.

Yours faithfully

Thursday, 30 July 2009

E-petitions R Us

The council now has a site with e-petitions where we can ask them to do things that are within their power. I had a bit of trouble getting them to accept the wording of mine about train stations, but generally I think this has to be a good way of promoting campaigns in the digital age.
Anyway, we have three big transport campaigns at the moment and each one now has its own e-petition. Please sign them if you want Birmingham city council to do something about giving us a better transport system.

Firstly for our 20's plenty campaign to make the roads safer for everyone and encourage greener forms of transport, such as cycling and walking go here:
Secondly, for our Better Buses for Birmingham campaign, this is the link:

Thirdly, for the campaign to get railway stations re-opened in Birmingham:

I hope that we can get a lot of support behind these campaigns, but at the moment the old fashioned ways have got us far more signatures for each one than the electronic forms. Let's promote them wherever possible and show that we can mobilise support through the net.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Government plans for transport offer Climate Change appetiser

July 23rd brought news of two schemes that may indicate progress on the ground toward installing transport that results in less greenhouse gas emissions. The first is electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester railway (via Newton in le Willows); the second is an extension of the Midland Metro tram through the streets of Birmingham from Snow Hill to Moor Street. The railway scheme hopefully means that skills will be built-up for projects around Birmingham where electrification will also be required.

In both tram and train cases, the use of the vehicles requires generation of electricity, sometimes in distant power stations. The way in which this power is generated needs to be considered as does the longevity of the vehicles manufactured to ensure it is as low carbon as possible.

For Midland Metro, the existing vehicles look set for the scrapyard (although hopefully they can be sent somewhere else where it’s flat) as new trams (that can cope with slopes) will form part of the new service. Positive aspects of the plan are that the street running will make it more obvious that Birmingham has a tram, and the changes at Snow Hill will give an extra platform to the train service. An unresolved flaw to the plan remains, however, in the shape of proposed Corporation Street bus expulsion; whatever powers them, Birmingham still needs buses.

John Hall

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Supermarket "sniffing" around at the dogs home?

Again there is mention in the press about a supermarket buying the land off the RSPCA in Barnes Hill

The last time I contacted Deidre Alden, the local councillor, she was denied hearing anything.
However in 2007, Asda went around the areas of Barnes Hill and Selly Oak gaining opinions in a development, and I posted ASDA: Consulting the public or a forgone conclusion?

This is worrying development as this would be on the land of the Dogs home and a green area leading to a park so more of the green space of Brum being eaten away. Going back to what I wrote in 2007:

"It seems that the Barnes Hill site is sparking more controversy. After some investigating, the site includes the RSPCA which is owned by the City Council which Deirdre Alden mentions in her blog but doesn’t mention that the site takes up a green area adjacent or part of the Woodgate, a designated country park which is owned by the City Council. So yet another piece of green land is threatened by a supermarket. Already the developments at the Yardley and Hodge Hill are taking green spaces in the city and now it looks like more green land is threatened in the South edge of the city."

It looks like we need to get our coffin out again to bury supermarkets before it starts digging up our green space and the pets cemetery at the dogs home.

Rail stations meeting news

Last Wednesday a public meeting was held about the progress (or lack of it) in the campaign to re-open stations in Balsall Heath, Moseley and Kings Heath. The meeting was jointly hosted by Moseley and Kings Heath forums and included speakers councillor Martin Mullaney and John Newson from Birmingham Friends of the Earth.

Councillor Mullaney spoke first and answered questions from the audience for over an hour. The main points from what he said (disregarding the irrelevant parts about High Speed Rail and the new station at New Street) were:

A feasibility study was done for the stations in 2007. The full report is on his website
This showed there would be passenger demand to justify £40m to build a curve into Moor Street and the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell..

There may be a case to include a station at Balsall Heath to bring in visitors and allow residents to access jobs, e.g. at Longbridge.

City planners will protect the entrances to Moseley station. A lift for disabled access can be included in station design.

The Business case is for a Moor Street to Kings Norton service only, but train operators may be interested in running trains form cross country trains from Cardiff via Bromsgrove, and/or a through service via Snow Hill and Handsworth to Walsall.

Electrification of the line may be possible by lowering the track under the Moseley tunnel.

An updated business case is now being prepared, to include a 2nd curve bringing in the line from Fort Dunlop & Sutton to Walsall. More passengers helps the business case. This is for inclusion in the West Midlands Rail Development plan 2014-2019 rail programme – hoping to open in 2018.

This is part of relieving capacity at New Street station, which is full, using the renovated Moor Street station that has under-used capacity.

After this other points were made by transport experts in the room, such as Tony Woodward of rail future, who said the rebuilding of New Street station has funding agreed. It will cause disruption and loss of capacity during the construction phase, so they should bring forward the building of the new curves to allow more trains to be diverted to Moor Street as soon as possible, rather than doing this years down the line.

Kevin Chapman from Campaign for Better Transport added that the Camp Hill line should complement the local bus service as part of an integrated public transport network. It needs to be part of a wider strategy both for the West Midlands rail network and for the Alcester Road corridor. In order for a viable local service to be provided (i.e. more than three trains an hour) freight trains will need to be diverted to the Walsall - Stourbridge line.

Tony Woodward responded that freight trains weigh 2,000 tonnes, so moving them to the Stourbridge line, and bringing in more passenger trains could reduce the noise and vibration for trackside properties.

Residents need to have a simple demand. Just ask for your local passenger stations and services as a high priority - do not complicate or mix with other issues.

Kevin Chapman also emphasised that other areas (including Manchester and the South East) are pushing for improvements to their local rail network, but the DfT budget has been frozen due to the state of the public finances and all parties are committed to the High Speed 2 line. It is likely that some projects will be cut and if we do not make the case for the Camp Hill line it is likely that DfT may choose it as one to cut.

John Newson spoke last and spoke passionately about the need for rail stations in these areas. He said that these are railway suburbs, built so that thousands of people could walk to the stations. Also, journey time will be much faster than by bus or car, especially in peak periods. He also said that we have to provide low carbon alternatives to the private car.

Centro is asking which schemes should be prioritised in its West Midlands Rail Development Plan.

If people in the area don’t reply, the scheme could be pushed into the future. Non response could be understood as lack of support for it, and plans could be decided that exclude our local stations. Public consultation is open already and ends 11th September. Therefore, everyone who cares about this should respond here

Organic BBQ on Saturday

Once again Birmingham Friends of the Earth will support the Anchor Inn’s annual Organic Beer Festival (23-27 July), which is now in its tenth year, by running an organic barbeque at the pub on Saturday 25th July.

The Anchor, on Rea Street, Digbeth, made history ten years ago when it held the first organic beer festival in the UK and now the annual event is firmly established on the Midlands beer festival calendar.

The Birmingham Friends of the Earth’s annual barbecue has also become a tradition at the pub.

Organic meat and vegetarian burgers and sausages will be on offer in the pub’s beer garden at credit-crunch-busting prices supplied by Paul’s Soy Foods in Melton Mowbray and Rossiter’s Family Butchers in Selly Oak.

The issue of organic meat is more relevant than ever this year for Birmingham Friends of the Earth, who are putting pressure on local MPs to create planet-friendly farming through their “Fix the Food Chain” campaign. The campaign exposes the hidden chain stretching from intensive meat and dairy production in the UK to the forests of South America.

Organic beer?

If you look at the average pint of beer served up in the UK, it’s not so perfect. The hops used in the fermentation of beer are estimated to be sprayed up to 14 times each year with around 15 different pesticide products. In addition to this, countless additives are added to create the ‘perfect pint’, ensuring that it has a nice colour and flavour, a decent head and a profitable shelf life.

A big problem with this is that according to European legislation these additives, along with the other ingredients, do not need to be declared on the label unless the drink contains less 1.2% alcohol. Basically your pint has been chemically altered and you don’t know what you’re drinking. (1)

In contrast, organic beer is made in small batches from only organically grown barley, malt, wheat, hops, yeast and spring water. There are neither additives nor genetically-modified ingredients; everything grows as nature intended, giving a purer, more wholesome taste.

So please come and support us on the 25th July for an organic barbeque and the beer festival will run from 23rd-27th July


Friday, 10 July 2009

Public meeting about Rail stations for Kings Heath and Moseley

Kings Heath Forum & Moseley Forum Public Meeting

One issue that Birmingham FoE has campaigned on a lot over the last few years is local rail and particularly the Camp Hill line, which would allow stations to be re-opened in King Heath, Moseley and Balsall Heath, thereby relieving a lot of congestion travelling into the city centre from that side of the city. Unfortunately, although there is public and political will for this to happen, progress on it is very slow. Come along to this meeting and find out what the current situation is.

Future Rail Stations for Moseley and Kings Heath

Wednesday, 15th July, 2009

7:30 p.m. at Queensbridge School in Fox Hollies School Hall

Councillor Martin Mullaney will lead a public discussion on the re-opening of the Camp Hill Rail Line

Light refreshments will be provided and all are welcome.

Phone Jimmy on 07778 636 910 or Joss on 07941 516 744 for details and directions

or check

Why I joined Birmingham Friends of the Earth

With environmental concerns slowly ascending the recent political agenda, as the G8 summit attempts to make progress on pre-Copenhagen agreements, momentum behind local and national groups campaigning to raise awareness of the necessities of collective socio-environmental change is increasing.

Since the beginning of my University sojourn (2006), the ailing state of the environment has gripped the public consciousness and prompted huge efforts in trying to negate our destructive influence on the planet. I, however, had remained fairly detached from participation – until I visited Köln, Germany, last year.

Hosting approximately 1,000,000 (996,000 - 2008) inhabitants, comparable with Birmingham’s estimated 1,000,000 (1,010,200 - 2005) the steps that Köln has taken to reduce its CO2 footprint are numerous and well-planned. The formerly traffic-locked downtown area has been converted into an ‘environmental zone’ forbidding vehicle use (with exceptions) and a state-of-the-art solar test centre has recently opened.[1]

Ultimately this visit inspired me to consider for the first time the impact my life has upon the environment. Furthermore it demonstrated what can be achieved, and I resolved to participate, by joining Birmingham Friends of the Earth, in ensuring Birmingham Council remain always mindful “that much more needs to be done to make Birmingham the green and sustainable City of the future that we know it can be.”[2]

[1] [2] – Quotation found in penultimate paragraph. (as of 08/07/2008)

By Chris Greasley