Monday, June 23, 2008

Making Tracks

a railway train The FT reports that “Britain is set next week to take a significant step towards its biggest railway-building project for more than a century, when Network Rail will announce it is launching a strategic review to look at the possibility of building five new main lines.”

According to the Telegraph, “Network Rail chiefs say the case for expanding the railways has been bolstered by the need to cut dependency on oil and environmental demands to reduce domestic air travel.”

“Good grief!” Says Jim Killock. “Exactly how many transport experts would not have said that over the last 20 years (perhaps substituting road traffic for planes as the major climate criminal)?”

Well, listening is not exactly our governments strong point is it!

Over at Ruscombe Green we read that “The Government’s air passenger forecast assumes that oil prices today are only US$60 a barrel and will fall to $53 by 2012 and remain at that level indefinitely. At present, oil costs $136 a barrel, with some analysts forecasting prices as high as $200 in the near future."

At the sharp end we hear that "passenger numbers at Stanstead have fallen by 4.4% in the period from Jan to May 2008 compared with the same period last year" and "that they have lost all 3 of their transatlantic routes and now have no long haul services left." But they still want a second runway!

What with rising food prices and energy bills, travel could well return to being an infrequent luxury.

Events are beginning to bite. The market strikes back.


  1. Hey, anyone remember that these trains run on electricity, that has to come from either nuclear, gas, coal or oil fired power stations?

    And whence cometh the finances (astronomic) for all the new tracks and trains? For verily, the State coffers are empty, and mortgaged up to several billion hilts.

  2. This sounds like Dr Beeching in reverse,but what a good idea, move freight by rail,what next?
    using the canals again?


  3. Using both canals and trains is a partial answer (especially if BR can get its rates right), but goods still have to be moved from the wholesaler/manufacturer/airports/docks to the freight yards, then at the other end, from the freight yards to the retail outlet or whatever, for which one needs lorries, vans and roads.

  4. Another case of B21 pointing out that I am sooooo olde! he he he.
    For you youngsters - the canals became clogged-up due to misuse and it was only in the late 70's and 80's that they were 'rescued' by action groups and then by the Waterways Agencies who employed one overseer and took-on a bunch of volunteers with romantic overkill to help clear out the canals. These volunteers do marvelous work - but there is no doubt they are exploited. On the other hand - so much would be lost if the volunteers were not so willing, passionate, determined.
    So what happened when the canals became cleared of the decay and rubbish?
    Yup you have understood - the commercial canal-holiday crowd took over and imposed a large number of fees and other restrictions on the back of this unpaid labour.
    The same is true of the railways - but here, in addition, groups of Fred Dibnah like people have taken over of purchased sections throughout this sceptured isle .
    the money-freaks have worked their way into providing over-priced contracts for main-stream rail networks and thus reduced freight from the railway system.
    Occasionally, a grand "idea" pops up and money is thrown at the national railways - which by my reakoning, use such funding incredibly badly - (taken side by side by the aforementioned Railway enthusiasts operations) - and we see such schemes deteriorating when fast-buck franchises and quango's get involved.
    Redbridge is attempting a version of reversion back to in-house street cleaning and parks operations and heading away from the incredibly costly contract vice-like-grip.
    The railways had a staff which had 'their-bit' of rail, station or trains and thus took pride in maintaining that - but more than this, these guys knew instantly when something needed fixing or adjusting or replacing. It was like waking up when the clockwork clock stops ticking! You know something has changed.
    Enough of my rambling - by the way has anyone been to the meadow or wetland lately?
    Get the picture!
    Today - Thursday 26th June 2008 I shall be entertained by the visiting USA Ambassadors of Music -Today it is bands and a choir from schools all over the State of Illinois.
    Last year I put the proposition to invite these bands to Redbridge for a one-two hour concert - and they offer their magic music for free - but that too, has fallen by the wayside.
    Texas is on Friday, Wisconsin on Sunday and more next week.
    But, once again, I am and like to remain - olde and out-fashioned.
    Nuclear subject is music!
    Power station is music!
    A 'Gas' is music!
    and the only 'fossil fuel' is moi!
    Hey guys! dopeyf has the right idea - maybe people just like grumbling about the cost of commercial transport, the exploitation of the governmental taxes which are virtually taxes on taxes - consider the number of private freight (road) companies that do NOT link with rail except to go to the continent - and then it's often ferry transport, is enormous.
    Then consider the uses of rail, river and canal.
    You're right - it's me again! Old Father Thyme! that precious annoyance to all - Apparently?