EpicChef wrote: ↑
Sat Jul 24, 2021 06:21
6637 wrote: ↑
Sat Jul 24, 2021 02:03
Highly disappointing to see how slowly things progress nowadays- a target of only 1 million
homes by 2050
scrapped, motorway scrapped... people in the postwar era would be so disappointed to see how little gets done now.
True. Very true.
Here is a reality check regarding the post war era.
Under the terms of the British Transport Act 1947 the British Transport Commission was formed to oversee railways, canals and road freight transport in Great Britain. Its general duty under the Transport Act 1947 was to provide an efficient, adequate, economical and properly integrated system of public inland transport and port facilities within Great Britain for passengers and goods, excluding transport by air.
Essentially everything that moved was nationalised including all the bus companies, road haulage companies, the trams, railways and canals were nationalised including the small companies with one or two ex army trucks that had been set up by demobbed ex army drivers. Road construction that had been paused in 1939 was for the most part NOT continued. A classic example was the first Dartford Tunnel the pilot bore for which had been bored in 1939. Works did not resume until 1959 meaning the tunnel did not open until 1963.
Consider also the M20. Work on the Maidstone and Ashford bypass had started pre-war but the first section then designated A20(M) didn't open until 1960. The reality is that to all intents and purposes most road construction halted in 1939 and did not resume until the mid 1950's. Indeed by 1951 after more than 20 years most of the companies who had built the 1930's roads had folded and the machinery required simply did not exist. Much of the heavy machinery used to build the early motorways had been imported by the USAF to build cold war air bases such as Alconbury. In 1948 a plan for a major road network was finally produced but it was the mid to late 1950's until near motorway standard roads started to open and they were were mostly bypasses of the worst bottlenecks such Preston, Stamford and Grantham.
In the UK in the 1930's the Ministry of Transport had begun to plan a national trunk road network. It was the mid 1950's before any farther serious planning resumed, this map shows the reality when it comes to comes to high quality roads in 1960.
Driving up the A1 still took you through almost every settlement north of Barnett including Hatfield, Stevenage, Baldock, Stamford, Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster, Wetherby, Darlington and Durham. The reality is that serious post war road development didnt get properly started before 1959. In 1969 I drove from the North East through France Belgium and Germany to Lake Constance and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The UK roads were not great, the A19 from Teesside still took you down S2 roads through Thirsk, Topcliffe etc to the A1. From there via the A1(M), M18 and M1 was OK but then you had to fight your way through London before getting to the M2 /A2 and getting to Dover was a royal pain as you also had to get through Canterbury and Dover.
The German Autobahn system was a revelation, we sped through from the Belgian border to Friedrichshafen in no time at all before taking a side trip to Bavaria and heading back through the Netherlands to the Hook of Holland and the overnight ferry to Hull.
The post 1960 road building boom came to a crashing halt in the 1970's economic crisis. As late as 1984 my journey back from Kent to the North East was scarcely better than it had been in 1968. From Ashford to Maidstone was the old S2 A20. With no M25 getting to the start of the A1/M1 required a good knowledge of back dodges around London and of course the A1 was still enough of a mess that realistically you aimed for the M1. The entire 320 mile journey would typically take at least 8 hours. The quickest route on Friday afternoon before the M11 and M25 opened fully was typically A20/M20 to the Blackwall Tunnel, through the City of London to the Angel before picking up the A41 to the M1. On summer weekends the queue for the Dartford crossing could start on the M20 at Swanley.
In short even with modern traffic levels I can drive almost anywhere in the UK far more quickly and safely than was possible in the 1970's when RTC's were still killing over 6000 people per annum.
Getting back to the topic the whole Oxford to Cambridge expressway scheme was a massive own goal. It would have been far better to continue the low visibility improvements that had vastly improved the road journey between 1990 and 2010, specifically the A421/A428 from Cambridge to the M1 at Brogborough and the A43 from Juniper Hill to the M40. All that was needed to get a decent route was to solve the problem of the trek through the hellish number of roundabouts of Milton Keynes.