Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Occupied Times Article - Guardians of the Future

My article in the upcoming issue of 'The Occupied Times'. Please click the image to enlarge!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

'Plan B' - A good economy for a Good Society

Norman Lamb (Lib-Dem MP) vs Rupert Read (East of England Green Party Co-ordinator):


Privatisation of the NHS, education cuts, fat cats, the economy, energy and the environment…

Can we go on like this ?

Friday 2nd March 12.15 - 13.30, The Theatre - ALL WELCOME

Monday, 27 February 2012

GM debate: UKIP vs Green: Me on BBC Radio Norfolk

To hear me on the BBC Radio Norfolk discussing GM food, go 21 minutes in:
I did this from a moving train! It wasn't the easiest call ever; but I think it turned out alright! Let me know what you think...

Can faith be green?

discussion with invited speaker

Rupert Read

Tuesday 28th February 2012
UEA Chaplaincy
7pm refreshments
7.30-9.00 pm talk and discussion

Welcome to all who are interested in how our lives affect our environment, and the future of planet earth

More information from m.mugford AT or the Chaplaincy

Why GM is still wrong choice

Assad does not govern: so he is not entitled to an embassy...

Multi-signed letter on Syria, in the OBSERVER, calling on the British government to shutdown Assad's embassy:
[Scroll down to the 2nd letter]

Video on incinerator and democracy

This good and worth watching.

An environmental management consultant has investigated the County Council's reasons for dismissing the West Norfolk incinerator referendum. By clicking on the following web link you can hear his conclusions:

Click on to view the short presentation.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

New article on #Syria by me

My 1st ever article in NEW INTERNATIONALIST :-)

[Do comment THERE, rather than here.]

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

RR speaking on Euro crisis

Next week at UEA: a roundtable on the Euro crisis. It will be chaired by Dr. Marina Prentoulis (PSI), and will further include Shaun Hargreaves-Heap (ECO), Rupert Read (PHI) [=me] and Chris Hanretty (PSI). Wine and refreshments will be available. In: Arts 3.26.

Monday, 20 February 2012

#Syria: Solidarity, not 'leftist' dogmatism

Check out my blast against tacit opponents of the Arab Spring and tacit apologists for Assad, in OPEN DEMOCRACY:

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Senior London policeman backs Bahrain tyrants

This article is a disgrace: . A senior British policeman is offering an apologia for the torturing police of tyrannical Bahrain, a police-state without democracy or any proper/fair rule of law. He explicitly calls the protesters, in a tyrannised and terrified tortured society, 'vandals'.
His remarks shed a fascinating light on how close we are to having a police-state in Britain. Yates argues that the Bahraini police could learn BETTER how to crack down from Britain's (London's) police; he suggests that British police in a similar situation to the Bahraini police would behave in an even more extreme manner (i.e. would be more confrontational, aggressive).
We should take heed of this...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Memo to 'the Left': stop fighting the last war.

What he said about Libya could be applied to Syria too:  I didn't fully agree with him on Libya, because there wasn't enough time for the measures he was proposing to work before Gaddafi would take Benghazi; but I think he is right on Syria, where there is in any case no short- or medium-term prospect for miltary intervention and (strange though it sounds to say it) less extreme urgency (the situation is more 'ongoing'; there isn't a full-blown 'civil war' yet as there already was in the case of the Libyan revolution). We should try all we can through diplomatic, economic etc. channels to give solidarity to the Syrian people who have risen up with unbelievable bravery against their oppressive 'leaders'.
As for the 'Stop the War' coalition: They are showing their true colours, as basically Trots, little more than an SWP-front. Knee-jerk opponents of whatever the US and UK government want. Shame on them. Shame on them for in practice opposing the Libyan and Syrian revolutions, and offering succour to dictators. They are busy fighting the last war, as Freedland says. But (Libya was not and) Syria is not Iraq. That was pure aggression and neo-colonialism. Whereas Syria is an authentic revolution being snuffed by active evil from the 'government' there. All human people will feel and attempt to practice solidarity with the Syrian Opposition.
'Stop the War' were a wonderful force for good in 2003. They are now busily marching into the dustbin of history...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Caroline's question to Hague on Syria, early today:

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): "Tunisia, the first Arab country to be liberated from a despot in the Arab spring, is expelling its Syrian ambassador and de-recognising the murderous and criminal Assad regime. The Syrian National Council has called on other countries to follow suit, so will the British Government be considering that?"
Mr Hague: "As I mentioned, I do not rule that out. If we were to do that, I would like us to act in concert with other nations. Therefore, what other nations do is a factor, and we will keep in close consultation with our European and Arab partners on this."

Caroline Lucas: Eject Syrian ambassador

Good news here from my Party Leader:!/CarolineLucas

She asked the question. Unfortunately Hague was non-commital in reply. But he said he would like to work with other countries to achieve this. In other words: maybe several Arab / EU countries at once might shut down Syrian embassies?  :-)

And this is quite the right thing to do. After all, Assad doesn't actually govern Syria any more. He merely terrorises parts of it.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Parliamentary launch of my GreenHouse report on 'guardians for future generations': Transcript of my address there.

Transcript of Rupert Read's talk on 'Guardians for Future Generations', at Parliament, at the report launch, 10 Jan. 2012



Rupert Read:  Let me start by offering thanks to everyone who has made today possible, including, of course, my colleagues in Green House and in the Alliance of Future Generations. 


So, now I'm going to provide a fairly brief introduction to the report that I've written.  We'll then have a chance to discuss it.  I really want to just situate the report in relation to the reasons for it, primarily, and give you an idea of my thinking processes that led to it, and then I think you'll exactly see why I came up with the proposals that I did. 


So: what is the problem that this proposal is designed to address?  Well, the first and simplest way of putting it is that we have to find some way of addressing the chronic short-termism of our political culture and of our economics.  When we're thinking about things like the electoral cycle, let alone the news cycle, the economic cycle, quarterly reports: these are all things that incline people to incredibly short time horizons. So the idea in my report that we are launching today is an idea proposed to completely counterbalance those pressures for short-termism. 


But there is another basis on which one can think about the basis for this report, for this proposal, that's equally important: and that's in the concept of democracy—and that's actually where I start out.  One of the main things that I'm really wanting to do is to try to get people to reflect a little more on what we mean by democracy.  What is 'democracy'?  And for me the place to start with that question is etymology, with the origins of the word, and 'democracy' means, or is supposed to mean, 'the rule of the people' or 'the people governing'. 


So: the question we ought to ask ourselves is, "do the people govern in Britain today?"  And to ask that question, I think, is pretty quickly to answer it— of course they don't.  And that immediately suggests a whole raft of changes that probably many of us in this room are already signed up to, that are necessary.  For example, a reformed electoral system, a thoroughly reformed Upper House; slightly more radically: economic democracy, localisation, participatory democracy; these are all the kind of changes that would be needed to really make a country like Britain worthy of the name 'democratic', worthy of that word.  But there's a problem that remains, even after all of those reforms have perhaps been made in some wonderful future that we could just possibly imagine ten years or so from now.  And that would be that there would be some very substantial constituencies left out of it: because, I want to say, we ought to think about what it means to have a people governing.  In other words, who are the people who govern?  Now if the people are only the people who are alive today, if we're thinking of the people or of our society of consisting only of people who are alive today, then I think we're then, again, thinking in chronically short-termist ways.  We actually ought to think of 'the people' as something which is stretched over this huge, long temporal period, beginning in the past and going on indefinitely into the future.  And it's the future people that matter the most because, of course, there isn't a lot that we can do to harm people from the past.  They've had their time and, while we should respect their memory, we can't make their lives terrible or kill them before they're born or anything like that.  But we can do that to future people—we can do those things to future people—and the great danger, the terrible truth is that we are already doing those things to some future people right now.  So what I want to suggest is that we ought to find some way of including future people, future generations as yet unborn and born, in our democratic system.  And that's the basis, as I see it, of this very radical proposal that I'm making.


How would we do that?  So: you've got to think about how you would have some kind of equivalent of allowing future people to be able to vote.  Clearly, future people actually voting is no more possible than dogs voting.  It's in fact even less possible, because you could give a dog a choice of food sources and count them as 'voting' by which they chose or some such [[Laughter]]…well, you get the idea.  So: we have to give (future) people some kind of proxy equivalent of a vote.  And by the way, think about this this way, I would urge you: as long as we don't do completely the wrong thing by future people and prevent them from existing at all, there will over time be a very great many more of them than there are of us.  In other words, they would out-vote us every time.  So this equivalent of a proxy vote, I suggest, ought to be put in the form of a proxy veto.  If they (future people) got together they would be able to out-vote us every time.  So: a proxy veto to ensure the basic needs of future people.  That's how I've got to this concept.


How are you going to instantiate that?  Well, you need to have some group of people, which are able to represent the needs, the basic interests, of future people and exercise that proxy veto.  How are you going to select those people?  Well, of course, you could elect them but that would get into competition with our existing democratic institutions.  And there's no particular reason to think that an election is a good idea with regard to these representatives, because election is a way in which we, the present people, reflect our interests, desires, values etc., and it's not a way in which future people are naturally, as it were, getting represented or having their views, basic needs, etc., expressed.  We need to have some group of people who are designated as a group of people who suitable for exercising this proxy veto.  And so my suggestion is that the only sane way to pick those people, rather than by election, is by random selection—by the same principle that animates the jury system.  That is, of course, an intimate part of our democracy as we have it at the present time in so far as we do have it. 


So, that's the proposal: a super jury to reflect the basic needs and interests of future people; to be able to exercise a proxy veto on their behalf over legislation; to provide a test to ensure that whatever we do, whatever major steps we take in an institution such as this at Westminster in which we are tonight, is future-proofed.  And these people should be selected, as I say, like a jury, by random sortition, which by the way, of course, was exactly the mechanism—the main mechanism—for democracy to work in Athens, which is well-known as the 'birthplace of democracy'.  So there's no particular reason why democracy has to mean election; democracy can mean random selection, sortition.  It did in Athens, it could do again here and now, and it still animates our system through the jury system. 


So that's really it, that's my proposal: a super-jury to represent the fundamental interests of future people selected at random from any of us, so that nobody can say, "oh, it's just those posh people" or "it's just those people who have been appointed by the government" or "it's just those people who are rich or well-connected enough to be elected" or "it's just those pesky g/Greens" or anything like that.  All of us, any of us: whether we're young, whether we're old, whether we're educated, whether we're not, are equally qualified and equally ill-qualified to be in this position of having to try to connect with what future people really need and start to put it in to action.  These people, 'the super-jurors' would have a period of training, they would access to the very best of expertise to support them—everybody: scientists, philosophers, activists, etc., would want to try to advise and assist this super jury consisting of the 'guardians' of future generations. 


I think it could work.  I set out in the report in some detail how and why I think that.  I'm also hoping—we're also hoping—to open here a space for debate.  This is not the kind of proposal that is going to be brought in tomorrow.  Too often it seems to me, it seems to us at Green House, think tanks spend a lot of their time thinking "how can we propose something which will be looked upon by this government or, at most, the next government, as something which could plausibly be instituted right away".  And that stops them too often from thinking visionary thoughts, from really trying to change the agenda, from really trying to open up the debate.  That's very much what we're trying to do here.  If a proposal like this was brought in by this government or the next government, great.  But even if it isn't (and I doubt it will be; I think the march will be longer than that) the thing that we need to do right now, it seems to us, is urgently to open up the terrain of this kind of debate.  So: this is intended not just to be a proposal that will be brought in but also a proposal to open people's minds and to spark the debate.  Looking by the pages of the Guardian and the Telegraph it's already done that, and I hope to have more of it -- more, vigorous debate -- this evening.  Thanks for your time and your attention, and let's get the debate started…



Friday, 3 February 2012

'Guardians of the future' Talk:

Transcript of my London #Compass 'Progressive Alliance' talk,

Jan. 10 2012



  Thanks, everyone, for coming—it's a pleasure to be here. 


So, my report on 'guardians for future generations' been creating a bit of a stir.  By the way: If you want to get the report for free it's now available, for download, from the Greenhouse website, which is easy to find.  (If you Google Green House now, we come up first rather than greenhouse adverts, so that's good...)


One of the stirs has been in the Guardian.  The comments closed last night at 325, so there's clearly a lively and interesting debate there.  So: what's it all about? 


Well, I've got a proposal to end, or at least to seek to start to end, the chronic culture of short-termism that we have in our politics, in our electoral cycles, and in our business and economics—with business cycles and quarterly reports and even more short-termist things than that.  And when one is trying to think on a timescale of hundreds of years or thousands of years or hundreds of thousands of years, for example, which is the timescale for nuclear waste, then those kind of short-term cycles don't make a lot of sense.  So what are we, collectively, going to do about it? 


Well, before I say what I am proposing to do about it, here's one more way of seeing the problem, that I think really helps: the concept of democracy is one of my starting points.  What does 'democracy' mean?  So, etymologically, democracy means 'the people rule' or 'the people govern'.  Now I'm sure all those who take themselves as any kind whatsoever of progressive would agree that at the present time it's pretty inaccurate to say -- in any very meaningful, or full, sense -- that the people govern in our society.  So: we don't even have AV, let alone PR; we're still waiting for the upper house to be democratically reformed; beyond those reforms, we need also participatory democracy, many of us would say economic democracy, and a serious re-localisation.  There are vast, vast changes in our society which are needed if there is going to be a real democracy here.  But even if all those changes occured we would still be in a society which ran the risk of being chronically short-termist.  Why?  Well, the way I like to put this is that the democratic institutions that we have at the moment, even the laws that would be brought in if we made all those kinds of democratic changes that I've mentioned that we would all, I'm sure, like to see, tend to still be focused upon the interests and wishes of present people, people who are alive today.  They are the people who vote—and whose votes alone would count even in an improved and enhanced democracy. 


But a people, I want to suggest to you, is not something that exists as a time-slice; a people is something that exists over time.  It begins in the past and goes on indefinitely far into the future.


And while people in the past are hard to harm, because they've had their time, people in the future are extremely easy to harm and indeed, in the extreme, to prevent from existing at all.  Whereas if we get things right, people in the future could have the chance to have a great existence and to go on indefinitely longer into the future having that existence.   So I want to say that we need to find a way of making democracy actually include future people.  We need to find a way of representing them in our political system. 


So, what would this mean?  Can you give future people a vote?  Well, obviously, that's not very feasible.  So we need to find some form of, if you like, proxy representation for them.  They need to have something like a proxy vote, I'm suggesting.


Well, as I said, if we don't screw up so badly that we stop them from existing altogether, over time there will be far more future people than there are present people, which would mean in a democracy that they would out-vote us every time, right? They would be the vast majority.  So, in order to express their proxy 'vote', I suggest that what we need to give them is a proxy veto.  Because: If they did vote on masse together, they would, as I say, massively out-vote us, provided we don't screw things up so badly that we stop them from having the chance of living at all...  So I want to suggest that we need proxy representatives for future people empowered in and by our political system to veto things that we might want to do but that they don't want us to do.  And the people who are going to be these proxies I'm calling Guardians for Future Generations, guardians to represent the interests of these future people to us. 


So, who should these guardians be?  How should they be selected?  Well it doesn't make any sense for us to vote for them, because they are proxies for future people—they're there to express the votes that future people would cast if they could cast those votes. 


I suggest that actually all of us and none of us are equally well positioned to be these proxy representatives for future people.  We could say, Greens are the best place to represent future people, but that would be begging the question: "I'd like you to give me and my friends the power to veto all decisions made in our political system."  Hmmm… Not very convincing… It would never ever get through: it would be perceived as a cheat—it would be perceived, correctly, as utterly undemocratic.  We need, plainly, to draw these proxy representatives from across the entire population. I suggest that the only fair, reasonable and democratic way of doing this is through the same principle that animates the jury system: which is random selection. Such that anyone and everyone has an equal chance to be one of the guardians for future people. So what I'm suggesting can be put in this way: that we need a super-jury drawn from any and all of us to represent to us the interests of future people and to represent those/them by having a proxy power that enables them to veto decisions (that would affect future people adversely) that are made in our current political system. 


And that line of thinking really gives you exactly what my proposal is—I'm proposing guardians for future people, guardians for the fundamental interests -- for the basic needs -- of future generations, to be selected at random, as jurors are, to form a super-jury, which would sit above our existing political institutions and have the power to veto proposed legislation or to force a review of existing legislation that they (the guardians) adjudged -- based on their own deliberations, based on their seeking to uphold the basic interests and needs of future people, and based on the absolute best expert advice and assistance available -- would be adversely affecting of those fundamental interests and needs, of future people. 


If you like, you could think of this as a third legislative house.  You would have the Commons; and hopefully we're going to get the reformed Upper House, which is also largely democratically elected; and then, sitting above that, the house of the future, the Guardians of Future Generations, able and empowered to act decisively where necessary to stop us from doing things which would adversely affect those who come after us.  And that's it, that's my proposal in a nutshell.  You can read the full details of it and the detailed options for how to proceed, in the full report.  There's all sorts of questions: how long would they sit for, how exactly would they be trained, etc. There's a load -- there's a million -- things we can talk about if you want at the level of detail. Things to settle, a lot of which are already addressed in the report I've written.  But that's the idea in a nutshell, and I hope you find it, at the very least, an interesting and provocative one.  One of the main things that we at Greenhouse want to do with this is very much to open up the debate, and we seem already to be succeeding in starting that.  This is not a proposal that is going to be voted in by any government next week. But we think that too often think tanks base their decision-making in terms of what they're going to say, partly upon "Well, could the government next week bring this in if they were minded to," or at the very most, they think something like, "Could the next government bring this in," and that's just would they think would be a success: if their proposal—lock, stock and barrel—was put in to place by this government or the next government.  But that means that too often there is a chronic short-termism in the way that think tanks think as well.  They don't think long term, they don't have—they don't allow themselves to have --visionary, bold ideas that people may at first attack viciously, as has happened to this idea to some extent in the Guardian comments, and much more so in a wonderfully awful piece in the Telegraph that some of you may have seen, attacking my idea, from one of the charming people (sic.) over at Spiked…  Think tanks too often don't want to expose themselves to that kind of attack and do want to do something which is perceived as the kind of reform which could be brought in by this government or, at the very most, by the next government.  They think, only, within the box…


I'll be surprised—I'll be pleasantly surprised—but I'll be very surprised if the next government brings in this reform, lock, stock and barrel.  What we're aiming to do is start the debate. So I have put forward a visionary proposal that over time may come to be perceived not as so extreme but as something, eventually, akin to almost common sense.  And if we manage to do that, then maybe one day there will be future generations that are grateful to us.  Who knows, maybe this day may even be remembered a long time after virtually all of the bits of technocratic tinkering that the large majority of think tanks have as their bread and butter are long forgotten. . .


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Stop our beloved NHS from being privatised

For the first time ever, an NHS hospital is being run by a private company, starting today. The hospital in question is Hinchingbrooke, in Cambridgeshire, here in the Eastern Region of England.
It's just plain wrong to allow a private company to make profits out of people's ill-health. This is a new stage in the privatisation of the NHS; we are losing Britain's most-loved institution, right now.
I have been to Hinchingbrooke and have stood with the workers and local people who have been campaigning for years to stop this NHS hospital from falling into private hands. Successive governments - first the so-called 'Labour' Party, and now the Conservative-LibDem Coalition - have done nothing to secure the future of Hinchingbrooke. Only the Green Party has stood up firmly for keeping our beloved NHS public. We now see the consequences of the Government's failure to help Hinchingbrooke: privatisation. Many more hospitals will now be privatised across this Region and across the country, unless together we stand up, say 'No more!', and stop the rot.

Invitation to #Norwich 'Plan B' Event


Compass's 'Plan B: A good economy for a good society' event will take place on March 7th at 6.00pm, at the Unite the Union Building, 39 Thorpe Road, Norwich, NR1 1ES.

The debate will focus on setting out a vision for an alternative economic direction, building upon the Compass report 'Plan B: A good economy for a good society'. The event will include guest speakers Anna Coote, new economics foundation, Clive Lewis, Labour PPC for Norwich South, Prof Alan Finlayson, UEA, Dr Rupert Read, East of England Green Party Co-ordinator and Howard Reed, Co-editor of Plan B. The meeting will be chaired by Joe Cox (Compass).

This event is open to the public.

What is Plan B? Read the one page summary here>

Download the full publication here >

The A14 Challenge: Eastern Region Green Party response

The government's consultation [ ] on the future of the A14 has just closed. The Green Party has submitted its innovative response and today is making this public  [See below for the full response, with details of the Green Party's alternative transport strategy].  

Nobody can doubt that there are problems on the A14. The normal drive to work, slowed to a crawl on most days, the sitting in traffic jams waiting to get into Cambridge, the noise, and pollution, not to mention with all that traffic the amount of CO2 being released into the air. This is indeed a challenge that needs addressing. Which is why the Green Party has sent its proposals to Government on the A14 and what to do about it.

At present the Governments' answer is to build more roads, with an extra lane proposed around Kettering. Will this make a difference to the congestion around the area? Or will it just make things worse? It will certainly attract more traffic onto the road, and will therefore in our view only make for more congestion, more traffic jams, and more waiting to get into Cambridge. There are alternatives, and these would remove traffic, reduce congestion and remove some of the CO2 that would be created by the building of new roads. The Green Party is calling for:

·         The use of the rail system to carry more goods, thus freeing up the roads.

·         Reducing speeds of traffic to 60MPH thus saving on fuel and money, and making our roads safer with a lower speed limit. 

·         Better public transport at an affordable price.

·         Better use of the guided bus way at Cambridge.

·         Rather than driving, make shops local and in walking or cycling distance.

We cannot simply keep building more roads and using a finite resource for fuel, we have to look at ways to reduce. We could have the necessary infrastructure in place at less cost than the building of more roads. Lets make our Eastern Region a truly green and pleasant place to live, and lets start by reducing the vehicles on the road, and, as the advert once said 'Let the train take the strain.' If the government is truly intent on becoming the greenest Government, then it needs to look at the options that are for the benefit of everyone's health and welfare: Sustainable transport links, local shops and joined-up thinking on the rail network.



Eastern Region Green Party Response to 'the A14 Challenge':

An alternative transport strategy.


Prepared and issued on behalf of:  Eastern Region Green Party



Modal Shift


There are major congestion problems on A14, especially around Kettering and between Huntingdon and Cambridge and with planned housing growth and freight traffic growth this will just get worse. An extra lane is proposed around Kettering and this is in latest govt spending plans announced late 2011. A new road between Ellington and Fen Drayton and upgrades as far as Fen Ditton was previously proposed at a cost of £1.2bn but this was scrapped in the CSR in 2010. Some minor junction works and improved signing have recently been approved for that section.


Instead of creating more capacity on the road - which would simply attract even more traffic - more journeys, for both freight and passengers, should be shifted to rail in order to reduce the amount of road traffic. Adding more lanes or building new roads, whether tolled or free, is not the solution.


Mobility has traditionally been seen as the aim of transport. However we believe that accessibility, rather than mobility, should be the aim. We need transport in order to gain access to shops, work, leisure, friends, etc. By ensuring that people have access to facilities for shopping, work and leisure nearer to their homes we can improve accessibility but reduce mobility, the overall amount of transport that is required. Communities should also become more self-sufficient in order to reduce the amount and distance that goods need to be transported - local production for local needs.


A sustainable transport policy must also aim to reduce the impact on the environment of our transport systems. This includes reducing energy consumption from non-renewable sources, reducing air pollution and protecting the environment. We should also aim to make transport safer and healthier both for those using it and for the whole community.


When assessing the merits of any particular mode of transport we need to consider its social, environmental and economic impact. National transport policy over the last few decades has tended to focus primarily on the last of these criteria to the exclusion of the first two. All three need to be considered.


We need to reduce the overall amount of travel required and shift to less environmentally damaging modes of transport. In the long distance transport context this entails reducing car, lorry and airplane use and increasing travel by a more environment-friendly mode of transport, such as trains.


Land use planning and transport have significant effects on each other. They need to be considered together.


There should be more integration of residential, commercial and recreation facilities. The development of out-of-town hypermarkets should be halted immediately. Measures need to be taken to encourage small local shops on estates and to revitalise town centres. By making shopping facilities available closer to where people live and in places accessible by public transport car use can be reduced as people shift to walking, cycling and public transport. Future large scale developments should be on public transport corridors.



Issues – road


Traffic is already above the normal carrying capacity of such a road and is forecast to increase. There are major congestion problems on A14, especially around Huntingdon and Cambridge. There are frequent delays due to accidents and increased CO2 emissions due to volume of traffic and stop/start behaviour.


About 20% of the traffic is HGVs and 70% cars. However HGVs take up 2.5 times as much road space as cars. When this is factored in HGVs take up 38.5% of the road space and cars 53.8%.


Freight through Haven Ports (Felixstowe Docks and Harwich Bathside) is expected to double or treble over next decade. If the same proportion as now, about 75%, goes by road this would significantly increase the number of HGVs on A14.


Two major freight flows share the section of A14 between Spittals jn (J23) and Girton jn (J29). These are an east-west flow between HavenPorts and Midlands and a north-south flow between North and London/Channel Tunnel via A1 and M11. There should be a rail alternative for each of these flows.


Some journeys on A14 are quite short, for example commuting into Cambridge from nearby villages. Better bus services could reduce the use of A14 for many of these short trips, which tend to be on the busiest sections.  CGB might help with this.


Although the road is mostly 2 lane dual carriageway it tends to operate as 2 single lanes, one with slower HGVs and one with faster cars.


Many accidents near junctions due to traffic weaving between lanes.



Interventions – road


Reduce speed limit on section between Huntingdon and Cambridge J21-J31 to 60mph. This will mean that HGVs, limited to 56mph, and cars are travelling at similar speeds. This will make it safer and smooth the flow. There would be CO2 reductions too. Journey time at a constant 60mph is only 2 min 9 sec longer than journey time at a constant 70mph. Since traffic is often stop/start now with a smoother flow resulting from reduced speed the journey time should be about the same as now or possibly improved.


Reduce amount of road traffic by shifting both people and freight traffic onto rail. Reduces CO2 emissions too.


Workplace Parking Levy could be introduced in Cambridge. This would provide an incentive for both employees and employers to make more use of public transport.


Improve bus services between Cambridge and surrounding towns and villages. Now that the controversial Cambridge Guided Busway has been built there should be more bus services on it and more incentives to use them.


There should be more Cycleways linking surrounding towns and villages with Cambridge and the new cycleway alongside the CGB should be enhanced.



Issues – rail


Missing sections of rail network for east-west travel by freight and passengers.


East-west routes not electrified.


Bottlenecks at single track sections and flat (at grade) junctions.


Long stretches where slower freight trains cannot be overtaken by faster passenger services. This limits capacity for both types of service.


Most freight trains between Haven Ports and Midlands go via London. This is a long way round and takes paths that are needed for more passenger services on GEML, NLL and WCML.



Interventions – rail


Re-open whole of East West Rail Link (EWRL) to provide rail route for both passenger and freight services between Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford. This enables passenger services such as Norwich-Ely-Cambridge-Bedford-MK-Oxford-Reading and Ipswich-Ely-Cambridge-Bedford-MK-Oxford-Bristol. Together with services on existing lines such as Ipswich-Ely-Peterborough-Leicester-Birmingham, Stansted-Cambridge-Ely-Peterborough-Leicester-Birmingham and Norwich-Ely-Peterborough- Liverpool there would be a half-hourly service on all of the east-west lines serving Cambridge and Ely.


Interchanges with WAML, ECML, MML, WCML, GWML would provide access to towns in the Home Counties to north and west of London and to most of Midlands, North, Wales and South West. This could significantly reduce the number of cars travelling long distance journeys on the A14. It enables freight services from Haven Ports to South West and S Wales avoiding London and increases capacity for freight services to West Midlands.


The Western section of EWRL, Oxford-Bedford, has recently been given approval and is expected to be in operation by 2017. It is estimated to cost about £250m. The eastern section, Cambridge-Norwich/Ipswich already exists.


The missing Central section of EWRL, Bedford-Cambridge, should now be developed and completed as soon as possible. A number of options for routes are under consideration but the most likely route is to use the existing rail line from Cambridge as far as Letchworth or Hitchin. From there it can either use the ECML to Sandy and then a new line to Bedford, partially on an old alignment, or a new line to Luton, then the MML and a short new chord from north of Ampthill tunnel to Milbrook on the Marston Vale line. Depending on the route chosen, about 10-15 miles of new/re-instated line is required. Cost should be of the same order as for the western section.


Raise line speeds on Ipswich-Ely-Peterborough and Norwich-Ely-Cambridge routes to benefit passenger services. Electrify all of Felixstowe-Nuneaton route.


The Ipswich-Ely-Peterborough-Nuneaton route has recently had the gauge increased to W10 to allow trains to carry 9’ 6” containers on normal flat wagons.  However its capacity needs to be increased to allow more freight trains to use that route. Planned interventions will raise the capacity from 10 trains per day (tpd) to 24 tpd by 2014. However to accommodate growth in Haven Ports and more modal shift this needs to be doubled or trebled.


More and longer goods loops to enable freight trains to be overtaken by faster passenger trains on routes between Felixstowe and Midlands/North.


Redouble all remaining single track sections of line between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.


Improve capacity of junctions where freight trains have to cross the path of passenger services. Ideally this would be by creating grade-separated junctions (flyovers) but this is expensive and requires land outside the railway corridor. In short term enhance capacity by providing 3 or 4 track sections at and near the junctions, especially between staggered junctions. Ely North jn should be re-instated as a double junction.


New chords, which are needed at junctions at Ipswich and Nuneaton, are underway and capacity is being increased at Peterborough as part of station improvements there.


The line between Cambridge and Newmarket is mostly single track and has only an hourly service. This line was formerly double track and it should be re-instated as double track. A more frequent service, say half hourly, can then be operated. Intermediate stations at Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn should be re-opened.  A Cambridge-Newmarket service could be extended to Soham and Ely. This would require a 0.5km chord to be re-instated just north of Newmarket and Soham station to be re-opened.


The section of MML through Leicester station area, between Wigston jn and Syston jn, is shared by EMT HST passenger services, freight trains between Felixstowe and W Midlands/North West and a variety of other services. It was previously 4 tracks but is now a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 tracks. The whole section should be re-instated to 4 tracks with a pair of freight tracks bypassing the station platforms.


The government has recently announced that the lines between Syston Jn and Stoke on Trent will be upgraded to W10 gauge. This will provide another route for freight trains between Felixstowe and the north west, avoiding the busy areas around Leicester and Nuneaton. There is a need to improve the capacity of junctions on this route where freight trains have to cross the path of passenger services. In short term enhance capacity by providing 3 or 4 track sections at and near the junctions. This would be around Trent South Jn/SheetStores Jn and Stenson Jn/North Stafford Jn.


Another route between Felixstowe and W Midlands via Corby and Market Harborough should be considered. This would require new chords at Manton Jn and Kettering North Jn. The lines from Manton Jn to Kettering and Kettering to Wigston Jn would need upgrading to W10 gauge. The former has 3 tunnels on it, which may be prohibitively expensive to upgrade.


The former rail line between Wellingborough and Northampton could be re-instated. This would enable a Peterborough-Corby-Kettering-Wellingborough-Northampton-Rugby-Coventry-Birmingham passenger service. This would take traffic off the western section of the A14. The only major infrastructure required would be a bridge under the A45 near Wellingborough, where the former trackbed has been obstructed by the construction of the A45.


The capacity for freight trains between the Channel Tunnel and the North of England should be increased. Currently these services have to go around the south and west sides of London on very busy lines and so the number of such trains is very limited. Channel Tunnel freight trains could run on HS1 as far as Barking, where there is a connection to the Network Rail lines, and continue on WAML, ECML, MML or WCML. HS1 already has freight loops to allow freight trains to be overtaken by faster passenger trains. Freight traffic that currently uses the A1-A14-M11 roads could then be transferred to rail.


Most of the HGVs using the A14 are domestic freight, not international. Some of this could be transferred to rail but there is no Rail Freight Terminal (RFT) in the Cambridge area that can handle containers. There should be one. Possible locations would be at Ely RFT or Chesterton sidings. Any RFT should be well away from residential areas and should have good links to the trunk road network. Some of the domestic freight traffic could then be transferred from road to rail.


There should be a charge on all imported containers that leave the port of entry by road vehicle. This would be to provide a financial incentive for onward shipment by rail or water, rather than road, and to raise money for more facilities for them. The ports of entry would include major ports, ferry terminals, airports and the Channel Tunnel terminal. The charge would apply to each TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit). There would be an exemption for any container delivered to a local destination, within 25 miles of the port of entry. The funds raised would be invested in the provision of facilities and enhanced capacity for rail freight and water borne freight.


Most of the former rail line between Cambridge and Huntingdon has recently been converted to a Guided Busway. This is regrettable because it could otherwise have been used as part of another east-west rail route, which would have more closely paralleled the A14. If the CGB fails then the route could be converted back to rail. Alternatively a new rail line could be constructed alongside the A14 road from Huntingdon to Histon, then running alongside the CGB from Histon to the mainline at Chesterton.


Other former rail lines between Huntingdon and Kettering and Kettering and Northampton, together with connecting lines, could then form a new rail route between Cambridge and Northampton, giving onward access to towns such as Coventry. However this would require several sections of line on new alignments and so would be more difficult and more expensive than re-instating tracks on old alignments.



1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: February 2012 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.