Friday, 2 November 2012

Trains, planes, boats and aeroplanes, the Thanet transport issues.

 Somewhere around 200 years ago, local history books differ on he exact date, the first paddle steamer arrived in Margate, this predated the railways and provided the first comfortable, economic and reliable means of transport for Londoners to the coast.

In terms of ordinary people this was the beginning of the holiday and modern travel i.e travel that was faster than a horse or subject to the whim of wind direction.

Recently with the coming of the new fast train service and the completion of the Ramsgate end of the duel carriageway to London, the local transport situation has changed.
 Essentially though, apart from some fairly short lived efforts travel beyond Thanet has been a bit sporadic, centred around Manston Airport and Ramsgate Harbour. Looking back over my association with Ramsgate that extends over about the last 45 years, I would say it has been the hovercraft and the Sally line that appeared to have the most positive economic impact on the area.

It is looking increasingly likely that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, will be starting a service from Manston, as you see from this news article they are holding a dinner in Canterbury http://www.kentnews.co.uk/news/could_klm_dinner_in_canterbury_reveal_decision_on_manston_1_1667532 I guess that Canterbury is the economic hub of this part of Kent.
 Apparently 9,066 people have filled out their online form, saying they want their air service from Manston. To me this seems like a very large number of people to fill out an online form.

On the ferry front Transeuropa Ferries who run the ferry service out of Ramsgate have put the following notification on their website:

Due to temporary changes in our fleet we apologise that we are unable to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs.  Customers with walking difficulties should be aware that there are approximately 25 stairs to the passenger facilities. Please note that on the Gardenia there are no separated areas for freight drivers and passengers. Due to the lack of a children’s play area, this ship is not really suitable for young children.
If we experience operational difficulties the schedule may be changed.
 Added to this information Larkspur their main ferry doesn’t seem to have crossed to Belgium recently, producing concerns that there may be problems with what is an increasingly aging fleet.

Obviously the real benefits to Thanet, is having passengers arrive here, passengers and freight that passes straight through only really benefits the people working within the transport industry and indirectly Thanet if they happen to live here. 
 I will try to add to this one.

32 comments:

  1. Michael, as well as providing local employment, doesn't the Port make a profit for TDC to add to its coffers?

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    1. I think so although it’s very hard to tell from the council’s accounts. I guess you get a free £5 book voucher if you can decipher exactly what the port and marina have made (or lost) during the last published financial year, with some sort explanation of how your figure relates to the figures in the councils accounts that most of us can follow.

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    2. I wont claim the book token but on page 84 of the accounts there is a section "45 Harbours" showing the Ramsgate Port, Ramsgate Royal Harbour, Broadstairs and Margate Harbours income and expenditue.
      Broadstairs appeared to make £44k, Margate lost £3k, Ramsgate harbour made £812K and the port lost £866K. Overall £13k loss.

      The Port does not look viable unless the new ferry service adds to the income.





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    3. That should be page 94 not 84 of the 2011/12 statement of accounts.

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    4. Yes I read that too and the berthing fees which seem to say keeping a yacht in the harbour costs about £3,000 per year, I ended up with the feeling I was missing something that perhaps an accountant would understand.

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  2. Talking of Manston, have you seen this Michael?

    http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Shoppers-shuttle-Manston-airport-Westwood-Cross/story-17217774-detail/story.html?842976010=222783769

    If only TDC could do something similar to help Margate and Ramsgate town centres!

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    1. No I haven’t had a chance even to view the Gazette online today, let alone get out and buy one Peter. Manston airport as a park and ride for Westwood Cross is an interesting one although I guess a major problem for a lot of locals is that thy would need to pass WC and go through the associated traffic to get to Manston to park

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  3. the transeuropa notice has been on web site for about a year now is larkspur under port arrest??or just clapped out?

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  4. according to openseamap marine traffic, Larkspur is in the port at the moment.

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  5. Michael,

    I see that you have raised 'Manston' once more. I followed Peter Checksfield's link and it led me to this from the pro-Manston group,


    "Are Night Flights really a threat at Manston?



    The opponents of Manston seem to have just one objection to it - that the Airport would like to remove the ban on all night flights, which would make it easier for airlines to run regular flights from Manston. They argue that the airport want to run a maximum of about 660 “night” flights a year, which includes some planes simply arriving late and needing to land after 11 pm. That makes 660 potentially “noisy” flights.



    The only noise nuisance is from planes flying low over Ramsgate. That applies to any planes either departing into an east wind or arriving into a west wind. The direction depends on the wind, because most flights have to fly into a headwind. Roughly a third, say 220, of the 660 flights would fly west; another third would fly east.



    But if flights depart or arrive from the west, minimal nuisance is caused, since they fly west over open country - over the agricultural area between Reculver and Minnis Bay - certainly not flying over the residential part of Herne Bay. That reduces the number of “noisy” flights to, say, 440 rather than 660.



    Just as important is that another third of flights take place when there is no appreciable wind. In those cases, planes can both land and take off to the west, where negligible nuisance is caused. So that eliminates another one third (220) of the 660 potentially “noisy” flights. In fact, then, the number of “noisy” night flights comes down to more like 220 out of the proposed 660 flights per year. So the true number of such flights would be more like just one every other day. Far different from the totally misleading “up to eight a night” being quoted by opponents. Moreover, at least half of those flights would be landings, which involve a fraction of the sound output of take-offs. Modern "high-bypass" turbofan aircraft are quiet compared with older jets, and significantly quieter than the piston-engined airliners that ran a round-the-clock operation from Manston in the 1960s. At that time, we know of no complaints, or efforts to confine operations to "day time" only, to deal with this "problem".

    This sounds reasonable to me.












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    1. Please see MIPB:

      The only thing that worries me about the Pro Manston argument is will they be allowed to increase the number of night flights at will ?

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    2. John Manston raised itself this time with the meeting in Canterbury presumably to announce the new service.

      In recent years I would say the airport operators have been the cause of their own difficulties on the night flights issue.

      Partly through a lack of credibly and engaging with local people, I would say the latest survey results are an indicator of what I mean, 9066 people filling in an online survey that wasn’t particularly well publicised. This sort of figure is more in line with a uk gov e-petition where you only need to dot the thing and not fill in a form and the whole population have an interest.

      Partly by continuously overflying Ramsgate very low and noisily when its calm and they don’t need to.

      But the key for me is that any night flights allowance has to be linked to other airport activity, on a night flights to day flights basi,s related to the proportion that other airports achieve. Otherwise we are more than likely to get the disturbance and associated detrimental effect on other parts of the local economy without compensating economic benefits generated form airport growth.

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    3. I would suggest Michael that the link you propose could become onerous on nearby residents if the airport ever got really busy. Far better to link night time movements to emergencies and genuine incoming flight delays outside the control of the operator, e.g. wide detours to avoid weather, air traffic strikes etc. Such to be carefully monitored to avoid abuse.

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    4. Tom assuming Manston had approximately the same night flying allowance proportionate to daytime flights as Heathrow and Gatwick enjoy seems fair to me, I would like to see economic prosperity for Thanet, but not at any price. Perhaps you need to revisit your calculations.

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    5. My suggestion does not involve calculations, Michael, just reasonable assurances for any airline operator that flights that depart for Manston scheduled to arrive before the watershed will not be diverted elsewhere simply because of some unforseen delay. That is hardly at any price.

      Your suggestion is the calculation based one whereby a percentage of night movements are permitted as a proportion of day time arrivals and departures. That may well mean next to nothing at Manston on present activity but could become a regular occurence if the airport got busy. Is that really what you want?

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    6. Nonetheless Tom humour me and do the calculation.

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    7. I am afraid you have lost me, Michael, despite being pretty OK at maths. What exactly am I supposed to be calculating? Are the figures necessary even in the public domain?

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    8. Tom I guessed your math was ok and as you are a Conservative and an evident anachronism with Conservatives at every level evidently feeling that it is they who should decide about nights flight and airport expansion, which they seem to be all for locally, so I thought you would be able to Google the figures and work it out.

      Take Heathrow, you can check this online, it for instance has about 1,300 flights a day generating a massive amount for the economy and I think they are allowed about 10 night flights per night. What concerns me is that we get Manston with about 5 flights a day and 10 a night, which with the dubious 106 we have at the moment, seems highly likely to actually happen.

      What we have at the moment is total uncertainty, which isn’t good for Thanet’s economy, probably isn’t good for the airport operator either, so I think allowing them something on a par with what they are asking for, which is the allowance for a major airport i.e. about 1 night flight for every 100 day flights would be reasonable.

      Of course if about 70,000,000 people come to Thanet to use the Manston, as they do to use Heathrow at the moment, I will sell so many books that like the highly paid senior council officers, I will go and live in Canterbury, so the noise at night won’t bother me because I won’t hear it.

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    9. Michael,

      I suggest that an allowance of 5 flights a day and 10 a night is far from reasonable. In these circumstances I would turn to oppose Manston, not least for the reason that we were being taken for mugs.

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    10. Michael, now you are seriously scaremongering. The proportion of nights flights at Manston is nothing like the 10 to 5 you suggest and, indeed, night flights are a rare occurrence.

      You mention me being a Conservative, although there are others who would argue with that, but that actually hits the point with the way this Manston debate has developed. Because Labour used it effectively at the last local elections in Ramsgate it has been construed therefore that Labour is anti night flights whereas Conservatives are in favour. Utter nonsense and spoils the chances of a meaningful debate about the future of the airport and its benefits or otherwise to the Thanet economy.

      It was not so long ago that Labour District Councillor Mike Harrison wrote on his blog site a piece headed 'Night Flight Hysteria' and he was quite right at the time. There was a lot of hysteria in the statements being made. Unfortunately he has since had to toe his party's line for political purposes.

      All I am asking is that sensible people sit down and discuss the case rationally without politics or minority interest groups holding sway and that they stick to facts rather than biased conjecture either way.

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    11. Tom, my stance on this one all the way along the line is that any night flight allowance should be directly related to the amount of day flights i.e. the main nuisance factor should be directly related to economic benefits for Thanet.

      At the moment what the airport is asking for could indeed result in very few day flights and a significant amount of night flights without any real economic benefits for Thanet.

      Of course if Manston does become a successful airport there will be economic benefits and I am looking for a way of offering the airport the opportunity to become successful, within the context of the airport saying that a major hindrance to this happening is that there is no proper night flying allowance.

      My understanding is that the local Conservative group would if elected offer Manston a night flying quota, my concern is they do this in a way that guarantees economic benefits to compensate for the detrimental effect on the local economy of allowing night flights. At the moment my understanding is that they would offer Manston a similar quota to airports with about 300 times the amount of economic activity.

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  6. With Manston up for sale will Infratil be paying KLM to come to the airport?
    Hopefully they will come as it will be another test to see if Manston can attract passengers from outside East Kent to use this hub connection. If it works then other airline will flock in and local unemployment will drop drastically.

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    1. My guess is that it would be more likely to be us paying via a council subsidy. The 9066 people filling in an online survey would seem justify this, with so many local people saying they would use the service I am sure the council will be duty bound to help get it off the ground.

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  7. Hmm, I wonder how the people championing Manston will feel if they are subsidising the profits of a private company to get the thing working?

    We shall see what the KLM dinner is actually announcing........

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    1. Anonymous 7:57 AM,

      You mean in a similar way that we are presently subsiding the railways with billions each year?

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    2. Government is weaning the railways off of public subsidy, hence the sharp increases in fairs over the last few years.

      I don't agree with any industry sucking the public teet, but I particularly loathe wastes of money. Black holes, such as Manston, are not worth investing in. Especially not with public money.

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    3. Anon 5:40,

      Then presumably you will have little time for Michael Heseltine's recent recommendations for encouraging economic growth?

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  8. 9000 replies, if they all take somebody with them thats about 45 passengers per day. With 2 flights per day the crew will almost outnumber the passengers.

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    1. How we can play with figures. When just over 2,000 people opposed night flights in TDC's survey this was heralded as an outstanding response justifying the council's stance on the issue. Now, suddenly, 9,000 is an insignificant number.

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  9. KLM at Manston, the sooner the better.

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  10. Last week, I flew into the UK from Boston, a busy successful international airport, right? Last flight out was at 09:45pm. The whole night-flight debate has been skewed by a single "fact" which somebody made up at the outset, i.e. that night-flights are essential. The case for this statement is unproven. What really concerns me is that people who should be challenging what they are told (i.e. councillors and the press)are doing nothing of the sort. They are sitting there with their mouths open like helpless baby birds, swallowing whatever tripe Infratil chooses to feed them.

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