Bryanston and Dorset Square Matters January 2017

Update on Diesel- and Noise-Pollution from the Trains at Marylebone Station

On 21 November 2016, Councillor Alexander and the Marylebone Station Environment Group met the Directors of Chiltern Railways, to review progress in reducing environmental impacts from the station.
There are 432 train departures a day from Marylebone, amounting to an arrival or departure every 3.75 minutes from 6am to 12pm. This means 16 arrivals and departures per hour, or just 3 minutes between arrival and departure at peak times.
Chiltern Railways has two types of train-sets: Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs), in which every coach in the train has its own diesel-motor; and Class-68 locomotive-hauled trains with six or more passenger-coaches, which are especially polluting and noisy. Both types of trains need some idling from cold, to charge up brakes, lights, heating and powered door-systems: 15 minutes for DMUs, and 25 minutes for loco-hauled trains; but before our public meeting last March, trains were being kept idling at the platform without any apparent time-limit. Since then, Chiltern’s Train-Programmer has been working hard, analysing train-movements to reduce idling-times to the minimum. Chiltern Railways’ Chief of Operations, Mr. Richard Morris, has now set out the company’s Environmental Golden Rules. These are:
i) that the necessary idling times be observed as a maximum – though Train-Dispatchers are hoping to shave another 5 minutes off the 68s’ idling times
ii) that there should normally be no Class 68 trains on Platforms 4, 5 and 6 (those nearest to private homes) after 10 p.m. nor before 7 a.m.
iii) that between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. – as when there are extra trains laid on for a major sporting event – Train Marshalls shall avoid assembling trains of more than 6 coaches, so that trains can be kept under the station canopy, thus limiting low-frequency-noise-effects on those who live close by.
We can guess, especially in the context of the trouble on Southern Railways, how delicate it might have been for Chiltern, to bring all their drivers and dispatchers on board with the new Environmental Plan. We congratulate Chiltern’s Directors for their commitment to being a better neighbour, and thank them for their efforts so far.
Our next meeting with Chiltern Railways and the Marylebone Station Environment Group will be on 31 January 2017. There will be one meeting every quarter thereafter. Please get in touch if you would like to have more information, or if you’d like to join our monitoring group.

No-Idling Campaign for Cleaner Air in our Ward

Westminster’s campaign to raise awareness about the environmental and health dangers of vehicle-idling is to continue into 2017, with new enforcement measures from 4 February. Poor air quality is of particular concern in our Ward, given the number of elderly residents, young families, schools and businesses in the area. 

Leaving a vehicle's engine running (or idling) for more than a minute while stationary is an offence which can result in an on-the-spot fine. It creates unnecessary emissions which contribute to high levels of air-pollution in central London. Engine-idling can also create a noisy environment, particularly affecting residents and local businesses. Persuading drivers to switch off when stationary helps reduce levels of air- and noise-pollution.
Our “air marshals” have been speaking to drivers about how engine-idling harms the environment, while our regular No-idling Action-Days have seen more than 50 locals (including Councillor Alexander) trained to become “Air Quality Champions". We have gone on to speak to more than 600 drivers in air-pollution hot-spots. These efforts will continue, with more workshops organised to highlight air-quality issues.

Most drivers get the message and comply, but from 4th February 2017, Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) will be issued in the borough to repeat-offenders who ignore calls to cut their car engines when they are not moving. The Penalty Charge (under the Traffic Management Act) will be up to £80, reduced to £40 if the fine is paid within 14 days.

The Garden Bridge

 Many of you have written to us to express your concerns about the proposed Garden Bridge across the Thames, from the roof of Temple Underground Station to a landing-point on the South Bank between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridge. The Garden Bridge Trust has been a private applicant for Planning Permission, to Westminster and Lambeth Councils on either side of the river. The people who wrote to us became alarmed when WCC published a Cabinet Member’s Report which enabled the series of Planning decisions needed for the construction of the Bridge. Their concerns were first, lest WCC might find itself involved in financing the project – whether before, during or after construction; and second, that the Bridge’s landing-point would occupy what is currently a very attractive open space in a congested part of the city.

Given the degree of local concern, we were pleased at the decision by Nickie Aiken, our Leader Elect, to call the Report in for review by a special Policy and Scrutiny Committee, meeting at 7 o’clock on Thursday 19 January at Westminster City Hall. Councillor Aiken, as Leader-Elect, said: “I am supporting a request for a ‘call-in’ of the Report by the Policy and Scrutiny Chairmen, to examine the technical details contained within the report, to ensure that local people's views have been fully-considered and as far as possible addressed. The deliverability of the project as a whole, and any indications of support provided by other public bodies, are not within the City Council’s gift to examine nor to comment on.”

20-Mile-an-Hour Zones

Many Residents have written to us in recent months, asking for a 20-mph speed-limit around the schools in our Ward. Others have complained about vehicles driving at unsafe speeds on some of our through-routes, including George Street, Seymour Place, Upper Montagu Street, York Street, Crawford Street, and Bryanston and Montagu Squares. It’s true that there are far too many traffic incidents at intersections along these routes, many of them involving pedestrians. Your Councillors have suggested that a 20-mph zone across the area is more practical than a piecemeal approach around schools. Please get in touch if you would like to comment on these proposals. A decision is expected soon.