As anyone looking to properly understand London’s transport needs and network knows, context, background and best-practice are important. As readers might imagine, behind the scenes here at LR Towers we thus spend a lot of time sharing links and reading around the subjects we cover here.

We also occasionally share links containing good information about transport topics that we know we just don’t have time to cover. We also all, as authors, occasionally write elsewhere on this or tangentially related subjects.

This week’s reading list is below. If you’ve got something you feel we should read or include in a future list, don’t forget to email us at [email protected].

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There are 33 comments on this article
  1. rational plan says:

    In this months issue in Modern Rail an interesting proposal for a double deck long distance commuter train, designed for limited stop services for up to an hour from London.

    A 10 car train would have space for 1300 seated passengers and 1000 standing. They seem to think that the uplift in revenue wold pay for the infrastructure work required.

    Considering the continued growth in passenger numbers and the lack of money for new lines. Anyone who can make a double deck train that can fit on a UK gauge may be onto a money spinner. Just don’t think of the crush at the London terminals or the queue into the tube.

  2. Graham H says:

    @rational plan -but read the article carefully; it repeatedly states that the stock profile below platform level will require extensive clearance work at most (sc every ?)location. Also 1.95m headroom is not exactly comfortable these days.

  3. rational plan says:

    Well yes, but the cost is going to be low compared to building a brand new express line. There comes a point where no more paths can be squeezed out of a line. Either trains carry more people or the build a brand new line.

    It’s not something I expect to be done lightly, but I expect SWML to Southampton would be a prime candidate at some point in the late 2020’s.

  4. TL driver says:

    The Citylab article on London air quality makes for depressing reading. I was aware things were bad. But not this bad. Personally I can’t see us ever following the likes of Paris style approaches, as much as I would like to.

  5. @TL driver

    Madrid has also implemented alternate day car bans –
    (For some reason I missed including this link on the Friday Reading List posts.)

    What I find remarkable is that English speaking countries never even consider such a ban on car use – UK, US, Canada, Australia/NZ (that I know of). Perhaps in the UK it has to overcome the traditional stiff upper lip, ie although the Thames was an actual cesspool for centuries, it was only the Great Stink in summer 1858 that propelled actual change.

  6. @rational plan

    We’ve had the double decker train discussion here before (I’m sure some intrepid soul will look it up), so let’s not rehash it please.


  7. Anonymous says:


    NZ carless days
    to cut down on fuel consumption
    not very effective, lasted about a year

  8. Graham Feakins says:

    That NZ link which Anonymous gives includes this: “Households able to run two cars had a distinct advantage over others as they could choose different carless days for each vehicle”.

    That ties in exactly with what occurred in Milan from at least the early 1980’s, when pollution within the ‘bowl’ in which Milan sits was already giving concern. Little difference was noticed because the majority acquired two cars with respective odd and even number plates and simply drove their ‘other’ car into work on the days concerned. Not sure whether it was reported in the UK but I worked there at the time and it was explained to me first hand.

  9. TL driver says:

    LBM – thank you for the Madrid article.

    Interesting they seem to have a staged plan. Do we even have one (that we’ve not implemented maybe?) I fear not.

    “But what about the economy?” I suspect the people who make these decisions in the UK would say. I presume we will presumably no longer be tied to EU limits on pollution soon anyway.

  10. Malcolm says:

    I don’t quite get this “alternate day policies don’t work because they do not affect the rich (who can have two cars)”. Nobody says the same about the congestion charge, even though that also does not affect the rich (who can pay it daily and not notice the cost). Many kinds of restrictions can be bypassed by rich people – that could almost be described as the purpose of money.

  11. IslandDweller says:

    Another link relevant to the air quality issue here:
    A couple of observations:
    (1) I’m surprised Westminster is leading in this. I’ve always perceived them as one of the more “pro-car” boroughs
    (2) While I’m all for removing diesel vehicles from central London, I’m puzzled how enforcement will work. Most new cars are available in petrol or diesel versions, and usually these days without any badge on the back to show which engine is fitted. How can a warden know that any particular vehicle is fitted with a Diesel engine and thus should have paid the higher fee? I know you can check on-line if you have the reg number – are they going to give wardens mobile internet and have them look up the specification of every parked vehicle?

  12. Greg Tingey says:

    ANPR cameras are linked to the national databas – & if you have a handheld device ( Phone / tablet / laptop ) & WiFi you, too can access that information.
    ANPR also ties in to DVLA database, so make/model/ power unit is also logged.

    When the local plod do a haul of untaxed vehicles, they already know which ones are which, before they pull them in …
    ANPR camera on top of parked plod-car, coupled to trigger-list in computer – flags to plod in car, who tells mate down road, who pulls car over as it approaches, directs it into handy car-park after which fun ensues …..

  13. Purley Dweller says:

    If you have to pay by phone or app giving your registration number then the check can be done when you pay. I believe that you have to pay by phone in Westminster but couldn’t be sure as nothing on earth would make me drive to central London and park.

  14. Dave says:

    @LBM re: double deck trains: Once again this illustrates the limitations of the software used to run this website. Not good enough to be told “try and look it up somewhere” when a dedicated forum solution would allow for the discussions to be found in seconds

  15. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ID – I suspect Westminster Council will be happy with anything that pulls in more money to their coffers even though parking revenues are, I believe, hypothecated for transport spending. I also don’t think they can ignore air quality issues for their residents nor seen to be overly accommodating of motorists when they’ve placed pressure on TfL over bus emissions in Westminster. Clearly they’re not an “anti-car” borough but I can’t see them holding out against the broad sweep of Mayoral policy.

  16. quinlet says:

    Not only are parking revenues hypothecated in law for transport spending, but councils cannot set charges or, indeed, operate any part of the regulated parking regime with the objective of raising money. This has been set out clearly by the courts in a case involving Camden in 1995 and another involving Barnet more recently. Charges must be set for transport (including amenity) reasons.

  17. timbeau says:

    It seems to be somewhat illogical in charging extra for parking a diesel car, as it causes no more pollution than a petrol car, or indeed an electric one whilst it is parked. (I am reminded also of the unintended consequences of Richmond’s policy of emissions-related fees for parking permits, which resulted in two car families using the big polluting car to work so only the small one needed a permit to be parked at home during operating hours).

    Parking wardens do have internet access – that is how they can check you have paid by phone, or have temporary permission to park (all applications in our borough are now done by email and post, so you can no longer get a printed permit on the spot over the counter).

  18. Malcolm says:

    Charging a car when it is parked is no more illogical than charging for a bridge at an adjacent toll-booth. After all, the toll booth itself cost very little to build or maintain, but someone has worked out a close correlation between going through the booth and going over the bridge. Similarly, there is a close correlation between parking a car and driving it to/from the parking place!

  19. timbeau says:

    But parking charges are pro rata’d according to the length of time you are parked, which relates not to the amount of pollution you are causing but the opportunity cost 9to everyone else) of the space you are occupying. I can see a logic in adding a flat surcharge to a diesel parking charge, but not a time-related one surcharge. Once you’ve driven you car into Westminster and parked it, the longer you leave it there the better from the point of view of pollution. Certainly better to leave it there all day rather than make several journeys with shorter parking interludes in between – or indeed driving round in circles looking for somewhere to park – I wonder how much pollution is caused by people just looking for a parking space?

  20. quinlet says:

    The purposes a council can take into account when setting parking charges are, broadly:
    – safety
    – access to premises
    – traffic flow and congestion
    – amenity (or environment)
    The rationale can be based on any or any combination of these. I agree with your logic that it might be more rational to introduce a fixed surcharge for diesel vehicles rather than just increase the tariff, but I don’t know if this is as easy technically. There are probably arguments either way.

    As far as looking for a parking space is concerned, Donald Shoup has concluded that ‘searching’ traffic makes up as much as 30% of town centre traffic. This is based on a number of surveys in US cities over a 30 year period, so I am not certain I would stake my life on the figure, but it’s a reasonable starting point. That would then suggest that 30$ of the pollution is from ‘searching’ traffic. Where parking charges have been set on the 85% principle (set to achieve about 85% occupancy) then the figure will be lower as searching traffic is reduced.

  21. John B says:

    I guess the petrol/diesel distinction is to make charging easier to understand, but is a very crude measure, and penalises eco-diesels compared with petrol monsters. I’ve got a petrol car, but would be very upset if I’d bought an eco-diesel as recently as 2014 on government advice and now find the world’s against me, as TfL’s insistence on a 2015 standard is very aggressive.

    Regarding cruise pollution, if you charge one class of vehicle more, they will travel further searching for the cheaper/free spaces, generating more emissions. Diesels will park preferentially in neighbouring boroughs, leading to a cascade.

    Either this change will have no effect, so the admin is pointless, or it will have many unintended consequences.

  22. John B says:

    Alternate-day car bans are a very crude measure in the internet age. If the aim is to stop commuting, a token system where each household only had 3 city centre tokens a week would work better in an ANPR world.

    Usage restrictions should have an element of equal aggravation to stop the rich pushing them aside. Congestion and problems finding parking space help with that. Congestion charges and parking fees hypothecated to public transport provision suggest that one person’s time is more valuable than another, which I feel uncomfortable with.

  23. Malcolm says:

    John B: admirable egalitarian sentiments. But is such a scheme likely to be implemented?

  24. Graham H says:

    @JohnB – “Congestion charges and parking fees hypothecated to public transport provision suggest that one person’s time is more valuable than another, which I feel uncomfortable with.” But in the real world that’s precisely the case, otherwise, no one would take a cab, or fly. No one would use the tube instead of the slower and cheaper bus. Hypothecation is just another good example of British pragmatism.

  25. quinlet says:

    @John B
    Congestion and difficulties in finding parking places may not discriminate against the poorer motorists but they do cause other problems, such as delays to others not seeking a parking space but whose journeys may be urgent, and also to buses. These(and other) unintended consequences suggest to me that the cure is worse than the disease.

  26. Anonymous says:

    If diesel cars are more polluting, the obvious answer seems to be to raise excise and fuel duty on diesel, not half-baked measures such as increasing parking charges.

    @John B
    What nonsense. If the aim is to stop commuting, and one person’s time is as valuable as anyone else’s, then all private companies and property should be abolished and the government should give everyone jobs which are equally paid and houses which are equally spread out across the country.

  27. Greg Tingey says:

    How does one do coloured smileys in HTML?

  28. @Dave

    I have found discussion of double deck trains in the article ‘High Speed Buffers (Part 4): Terminal Policies and Priorities’, look at the August 2016 comments.

  29. quinlet says:

    Yes, raising fuel duty and VED might well be more rational, but these changes would be for central Government, which has had a heavy dose of ‘don’t upset the motorists’ since 2010. I don’t expect any change while Grayling remains Soft. Increasing parking charges and introducing the T charge are just elements of local government doing what it can in the absence of consistent policy from central Government.

  30. ngh says:

    The simple way to address the diesel issue (that has previously been looked at by HMT and HMRC before) is moving fuel duty from a volumetric basis (currently 57.95p /litre) to an energy content basis which pre VAT would see a 4.6% differential in Diesel vs Petrol in duty so given current fuel prices and remaining revenue neutral the petrol -vs- diesel price differential would increase by 5-6p to 8-11p at the pump.

    For lower mileage city mainly urban car usage the pay back period for a more expensive diesel vs petrol would then be double the average mileage during a cars lifespan before you even look at extra incremental cost of financing the slightly higher cost of new a diesel car. New diesel car sales then disappear.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “What I find remarkable is that English speaking countries never even consider such a ban on car use – UK, US, Canada, Australia/NZ (that I know of). ”

    The US had such a ban during the Oil Crisis of 1979. Also parts of New Jersey and New York had such a ban after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (again because of the disruption of oil supplies). In neither case did the ban last very long. I don’t know of any case where the aim of such a ban was to cut air pollution.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Sorry about the last post, but I just remembered that the 1979 ban was on buying gas, not on driving.

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