Crewe has the biggest health, traffic and access to work problems in Cheshire. Moving the station further away from the town centre will make these worse for local people. We should be improving access to the current station site, creating high quality walking and cycle infrastructure, 20mph zones, and integrated bus links to improve lifestyle health, air quality and local traffic congestion.
Crewe residents have the lowest life expectancy in Cheshire East. We suffer from increasing lifestyle related illnesses and obesity, Crewe’s awful traffic congestion costs businesses time and money. Most residents work locally, and access to work is a significant problem. We have areas where air quality is close to breaking EU limits, mostly due to vehicle emissions. These would be made worse as people choose to switch to cars to travel the longer distance through town to the new station.
Crewe faces real challenges in its regeneration so that it does not become a town of dreary, urban sprawl, with little ambition. A modernised, central station within easy walking/cycling distance and on well defined public transport routes should be part of this rejuvenation process.
Moving the station entrance even a few hundred metres away from the town will make it more difficult to walk or cycle to. The entrance would be nearer to the £27m Weston link road and will have parking for business users from a wide area around Cheshire to access the London on the HS2 route.
There is talk of a monorail link with the town, but it has been made clear that there is no funding whatsoever for such a project, and HS2 will not fund linking systems. Manchester bridge, reported as disintegrating in 2005, is now covered in temporary bollards to reduce the risk of collapse caused by lorries mounting the pavement. There is not the money to repair this, so the likely-hood of funding for a monorail is extremely slight!
Neither would there be adequate public transport to this site; bus patterns are based on serving the town centre not a remote station. Nantwich services in particular would struggle to serve the station and the town centre, and the rail link would be lost along with the Cardiff/Crewe/Manchester service which could not access the new station site.
There will be great pressure to develop land further to the south of the proposed site leading to a further loss in identity for the town. The greatest ignominy would be if it were called 'South Cheshire Parkway'.
Joining a green, off road walking and cycling corridor from the new station through the town to the existing greenway to the hospital and Bentley, alongside regular bus or trams, could make Crewe a quieter, healthier, safer friendlier place to live by making active travel a practical option.
Given that a monorail would never be funded, we should creatively address traffic, health, lifestyle and image problems by making Crewe an active, attractive place to invest by the affordable solution of a town wide 20mph limit for residential streets. This is proven to increase walking and cycling and will not slow overall traffic flows, which are down to 10mph on key routes, including those to the station.
This is more effective than single roads or zones as the simple, common message is easier to maintain, and spine roads which remain at 30mph through the area will be seen as the exception.
Cllr Ian Davey, Transport Committee Chair for Brighton and Hove said
“Residential 20 mph limits is the single most cost effective measure that a Local Authority can take to reduce road casualties, make streets more attractive for walking and cycling and improve the quality of life of residents. They offer excellent value for money particularly when compared with the high cost of new infrastructure.”
12m people live in local authorities which are adopting this policy. ‘Total towns’ include many similar to Crewe, such as Bath, Warrington, Southwark, Chichester, Wigan, Bury, Bolton and Rochdale. 71% of respondents to a DFT survey favoured 20mph limits, which are now easier to legally implement. Scrutiny (a.k.a Task & Finish/Best Value Review) in Greenwich, Brighton, Gloucester, Richmond-U-Thames, Haringey, Manchester, Darlington, Hartlepool and Warrington all rate 20 mph limits as a best value policy.