The SNP and to some extent Scottish Labour are always bleating how it was Margaret Thatcher who deliberately destroyed their manufacturing industry as mostly located in the Fourth-Clyde belt. However, if you delve into unwritten history deeper its clear that the real culprit was the then EEC 8 Hour driving day as adopted by Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan probably to appease the T&G Transport & General Workers Union. The T&G didn’t care about the cut in driving hours as most respectable companies complied with their paid 50 hours minimum working week whether HGV drivers worked it or not.
What Killed Scottish Manufacturing Industry and the Traditional BR Goods Train ?
As a teenager during the mid 1970s I got friendly with the drivers and owner of a small local haulage contractor. During the school holidays I would ride ” shotgun ” all over the north of the UK as far as central Scotland. I got a job there as an apprentice HGV fitter, then after passing the motor vehicle technicians exams at tech went HGV driving myself.
Back in the 1970s the company I worked for did all the main transport for Serfco at Darwen. Their main job was recycling cast iron borings from the heavy engineering industry, customers included British Leyland Coventry engine plant, Vickers at Barrow and a few places up in central Scotland. That’s how I got right into the heart of Ravenscraig steel works, the cast iron borings were heated and pressed into ” piglets ” about the size of an egg.
The old UK driving hours regulations allowed 10 hours driving per day, spread over 12 and a half hours total time. It was therefore practical to get to the Forth-Clyde belt and back in the day from Manchester. Most of the Lancashire-Scotch traffic came home empty unless you had a quick easy back load handy, or would pick something up down country in the case of tippers.
Even though there were no tachographs at the time, the introduction of the EU 8 hour driving hours destroyed UK road transport efficiency. The new EU log books were easy to fiddle as you need not state your destination, however, in 1981 the tachographs were introduced. Industry in central Scotland was decimated when the tachographs eventually came in, mostly due to Dumfries & Galloway police paranoidly enforcing the 40 Mph HGV speed limit on the A74. Srathclyde had a spell at it also but could see the damage to the economy, it didn’t help rail freight either. Manchester-Glasgow road freight became impractical on a daily basis, costs increased not least because you had to pay the driver expenses for a night out.
Now there were lots of empty wagons in central Scotland who couldn’t get home for a load the next day so spent the rest of your day loading one to take back. Products like spuds and whiskey, basically anything not in a particular rush and you could use traditional railway stock. The yard of the haulage garage where I worked backed onto the Blackburn-Hellifield line so you couldn’t miss what was going on. The trains just got shorter and shorter, Scotch wagons were also taking stuff back in the other direction. The final nail in the coffin was the APT and the need to take the catch points out of the WCML so all partially brake fitted trains were withdrawn.
The result was even more wagon’s on the road and everyone had to buy new more powerful equipment, then they did it again in 1985, new 38 tonne weight limit when they should have gone straight to 44 tonne and allow a ” full ” 40 foot ISO container to be handled by road at either end of a rail journey.
Cheap transport is vital to the sustainability of the economy of any nation, yet politicians would appear to have been blind to this basic economic fact. Ken Clarke’s Road Fuel Tax Escalator decimated manufacturing industry everywhere except perhaps the south east. At least fuel duty was not increased in the recent ” emergency budget ” but further rises in the Labour pipeline were not withdrawn. Will the politicians ever learn ?
Collateral damage included the closure of the former GWR railway works at Swindon which maintained the BR slow freight train locomotive fleet !
At least John Major got the EU driving day up to 9 hours ( 4.5 continuous as opposed to 4 ) and 10 twice a week plus built the M74 all the way down to the M6 at Carlisle althoug that was somewhat offset by a safety-fascist campaign to fit speed-limiters to all HGVs. Said campaign was fronted by the then really popular late night TV James Whale Radio Show with film footage shot inside a Vauxhall car observing the speedo at indicated 50 through 50 limit motorway road works.
Of course their Leg-Iron car ( as with standard small speedo reading 10% fast ) then got passed by a HGV doing true 50 fitted with an accurate Tachograph ( annually tested to be within +/- 1% ). Whale then went on to portray that all HGV drivers were dangerous lunatics as did Bob Greaves of Granada Reports this time in a transit with a big speedo and likely to be more accurate like those originally fitted to the Mini but still not a tachograph. John Major was then forced to introduce 60 MPH speed limiters on all new trucks then the EU under Labour Niel Kinnock piled in and limited everything to 56MPH which still stands and explains the frequent congestion on our UK motorways today.
At least it will now be practical to use the A roads as upgraded again by the Tories more efficiently as David Cameron’s Transport Minister Claire Perry has got the A road speed limit for HGVs up to 50 Mph now. In fact HGVs will be able to go flat out on the EU limiter using the 10% plus 2 Mph plod rule particularly at night where before if you caught up an HGV in your car he had to slow to 40 in case you were Plod as you can’t tell in the mirrors. David Cameron also has the right idea on the EU viz stay in but repatriate powers over home legislation whereas Labour and the SNP would appear to be quite happy to continue with the current virtual EU Corporate-Nazi IV Reich as a drag on our economy !
Road Fuel Efficiency ! ( My brossen99 from 2009 )
” Slow down! A recent study commissioned by What Car? Magazine showed that the average car consumes 38 per cent more fuel at 70 Mph than it does over the same distance at 50mph. At 60mph it uses 34 per cent more than at 40mph. The average driver travelling at 90mph on a motorway will spend £1.20 more on fuel every eight minutes than a driver travelling at 70mph. The 90mph driver will have travelled farther in that time but will still be spending 40 per cent more per mile than the 70mph driver.”
As an extremely well qualified automotive engineer I can assure you that the above paragraph is complete motor industry propaganda aimed at costing the motorist more in the long run.
Some of you may have seen various articles on alleged ” eco driving ” and not being a trained automotive engineer like myself probably taken it all in like a toilet. Perhaps the greatest sin is the advice given is to change up at 2500 Rpm ( 2000 in a diesel ) which is completely misleading. An internal combustion engine is at its most efficient at the Rpm where maximum torque occurs. This can be gleaned from the owners handbook and the economy trick is to select a gear which comes close to the said Rpm at your desired target speed. An engine will ” sup juice like a fish ” at any RPM significantly below maximum torque whilst at moderate ( 1000 ) Rpm above maximum torque Rpm fuel consumption does not increase significantly.
The theory that creeping around at 40 saves fuel is complete nonsense in my long practical experience, its all about work done times efficiency ( only 30% ) times time taken. 70% of the fuel is used just keeping the engine at operating temperature and lost through the exhaust.
Miles per Gallon is not a true measure of fuel consumption. The true measure is grams per kilowatt hour, as used by transport engine manufacturers. The total amount of time under power is the factor which determines Mpg. Almost all internal combustion engines are most efficient at or near full load. This is because the heat lost through cooling and the exhaust is almost constant under any load condition.
The fuel consumption of a vehicle is a bit like trying to fetch water in a bucket with a significant hole in it. The longer it takes you to get from A to B the more fuel you will use, or in the case of the water in the bucket the faster you get there you will have more left at the destination. Sir Frank Whittle knew this when he perceived the jet engine. In practice it works out that the most efficient average speed for a modern motor vehicle is close to 60 Mph, after that air resistance starts to come into play.
However, dependent on vehicle design air resistance can fall as the vehicle goes faster and builds up its own near perfect streamlining so true 70 on the motorway is not an efficiency problem in such a case. ( most car speedo’s read 10% fast ). If you need to calibrate your speedo follow a lorry on the motorway at a accurately limited fuel inefficient 56 Mph. Fuel consumption for 38 tonne tankers running from Lancashire to Glasgow and back on nights increased from 9 Mpg to 7 Mpg on the introduction of speed limiters during the 1990s. Of course other factors than air resistance come into play like the now inability to store momentum running at hills, but apart from the Lune gorge at Lancaster little opportunity for this exists on the road north loaded.
A 1980s OU programme I watched several times outlined that all you need to do for aerodynamic stability is to round the corners off on a square van. My practical experience tends to bear this out, my Seddon Atki 400 with 265L RR Eagle and 13 foot 7 inch tautliner was a good education. It seemed to take you ages to accelerate upwards from 50, then at about 57 it was just like falling through an invisible wall and you were soon doing close to 70. Just like the OU programme said, a vehicle will build up its own streamlining as speed increases.
My 2006 1000cc Kia is no better in fuel consumption or performance than my ” tweaked ” 1989 1000cc Metro, admittedly running on leaded petrol. Perhaps the greatest unnecessary modern polluter is air conditioning, out in Aussie in 1987-88 it was said that you needed a 1600 Toyota Corolla with air conditioning to get the same performance as a 1300 without it.
Don’t have AC on my Kia, no point in this country and all that complete bullshit they put out about driving with the window down causing a significant increase in fuel consumption doesn’t stand scrutiny. The whole vehicle aerodynamics quasi-religion is complete claptrap, in the late 1970s we were told to ignore it as negligible in any motion calculation.
Furthermore, if you chug around at 40 Mph in top gear carbon deposits are likely to build up in your engine leading to reduced fuel efficiency over time. Similarly, if you have a turbo its life is likely to be significantly reduced driving at low Rpm over a period, start black smoking and fail the MoT. Driving on full throttle in too high a gear risks blowing the head gasket not to mention unnecessary stress on the crankshaft bearings and connecting rods.
As an integral part of ” the motor industry ” it is highly probable that What Car ( reliant on corporate advertising ) will attempt to increase business for other motor industry cartel members.
Sorry Its being silly and wont let me space the paragraphs !