|Commutes are longer, and in the west we may know why
5% more people now have a commute that takes over an hour ago than was the case in 1996. So says the radio this morning. Why should that be in a country when we're improving technology and supposedly can move things quicker and more efficiently generation by generation?
The radio highlighted traffic and conjestion as a cause, and that's where the article lead - indeed, for business journeys where I have to drive I had been reviewing my 2008 strategy and I'll now be staying away in a lot more areas, and staying an extra night when I present (for example) a course in Cambridge.
Picture - Traffic jams become worse - and perhaps more so if and when a Westbury bypass feeds all the traffic that the Bath fathers don't want through here
But there are other causes too - changing demographics and the cost of housing in the stockbroker belt have pushed some commuters further out - people travelling in from Chippenham and Hungerford and Andover - a handful in 1996 but a significant flow in 2006.
Picture - Commuters wait for a train at dawn at Andover, a long commute where traffic has rocketed
There's other local issues too.
Melksham commuters to Swindon used to catch the train - 25 minutes. Some have given up their jobs (yes - THAT is what the FGW / DfT changes did to some people) and others have taken to the roads - pushing them up to over an hour end to end.
Looking at other West Wilts to Swindon commuters? Well, there too you find an extra quarter of an hour (minimum) or perhaps more - a dogleg via Bath and often a wait for a connection. So that puts them over the 1 hour mark.
Is it just a Swindon issue? No - I've heard that other commutes such as Frome to Bath and Bristol were seriously messed up last December (if you've got a fixed starting time and it used to be convenient for a train, but the train time has changed, that can really mess up your commute time!) and I understand that Keynsham to Severn Tunnel Junction and other cross-Bristol commutes are going to get seriosly bad as from this coming December.
Picture - This is supposed to be the peak of the peak hour, but the train that left at a quarter to 8 has been withdrawn and the resource stands unused. The next train - the 19:50 - is far too late! 25 minutes to Swindon by train, or 95 minutes by bus.
And finally ... I note that FGW are allowed up to 15 minutes longer now in train schedules between Oxford and Worcester. I wonder how many more commuters that will push over the magic 1 hour.
Over the past month, I've watched how The Coffeeshop has grown in populatity - in posts and viewers who are starting to take more interest in their daily time with the railway - after all, "an hour each way" is 8% of their time which is pretty darned significant! I expect that site will be even busier come the December changes!
Picture - First Great Western are returning this high speed train to the company they lease it from in a couple of months, and I understand it will sit unused in a siding in Hampshire. We are already seeing these high speed trains regularly replaced by slower, shorter trains on the Worcester line (is that why they need the extra 15 minutes?)... although we're told they're replaced by longer high speed trains
Written 2007-10-29 07:38:53
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