UK Transport

As its title suggests UK Transport covers all aspects of transport in the UK. It is written from a libertarian perspective, in other words, that the less the State involves itself in the running, regulation or funding of roads, railways or anything else - the better.
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Friday, June 07, 2002

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

In the news

Train evacuated in fire alert
Darling has at least set off on the right track - Libby Purves in the Times
Blair urged to clarify who runs transport
Rail fare discounts - whingeing
Traffic congestion - I hope I get round to posting about this. This is truly awful.

Monday, June 03, 2002

The Taff Vale Judgement

Over on Samizdata Paul Marks has a few things to say about railways in a libertarian world. He also talks about the way the railways were being slowly destroyed by the State long before 1919. Excellent background info.

Now here's a challenge...

"Confused of SE1" writes
I live in central London, I am rational, I drive a scooter. I pay no road tax out of principle (£15 I know, but how much are they going to fine me?). Obviously its the trendy groovy retro-Vespa scooter. Naff/cool silver combo. I spend £5 to £10 quid a week on fuel. I like driving drunk.

I can park, traffic jams are irrelevant. I scoot to the city, back to Lincoln Inn fields, lunch in Kensington, blah, blah.. everywhere is 10 mins away.

But if I have to go to the far reaches of North London, say Harrow, to see my dentist, I get the Met Line. 20 mins, pretty frequent, seemingly reliable.

Is the Tube really in that bad a state?
What if he's right? Doesn't sound right. People seem to spend half their lives complaining about traffic jams, pot-holes, late, crowded and dirty trains and here's someone saying "no problem". What if all this time I spending railing against rail policy is in fact pushing at an open door - a non-problem, an invention of the incestuous media class?

There are two points to this. The first is about scooters. I suppose if your journey isn't too long, you don't mind getting wet, accept the risks and the periodic inconvenience of theft then it's fine. You don't have a problem. It's just that for most of us one of the downsides is likely to prove to be a clincher.

The second is about the Tube. I used to use the Metropolitan Line a lot and I have to say it was OK. I doubt if that much has changed. So what is the evidence of a crisis? Usually, I am satisfied that if the media tells me a problem there probably is a problem. But that is not always true. There is some anecdotal evidence out there. Friends of mine who use the Jubilee Line Extension are constantly complaining and travelling on the Tube at rush hour in Central London is a pain. But is it any better anywhere else? A quick glance at my list of News Stories does not reveal anything particularly significant. Sure, there are plenty of commentators whingeing about the Public Private Partnership but that is about the future not the present.

Hmm. I've got some work to do.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

L'affaire Sixsmith

I have written before that I have little time for the shenanigans in the Department of Transport but the report of a dirty tricks campaign against Martin Sixsmith makes you think.

It makes you think how much has changed. Shortly after the 1997 General Election I had a chat with a journalist who had been at ITN (the private sector news broadcaster) on election night. When the news came through that Michael Portillo had lost his seat the place erupted. In cheers.

My guess is that throughout the early to mid 1990s Labour had it easy. The Conservatives were so hated that journalists were prepared to turn a blind eye to Labour news management techniques. This in turn led to a belief amongst Labour officials that their techniques were working and even that politics was only about making the story look good - as opposed to making it be good.

They were wrong. There was an unwritten contract. You get the country right and we'll ignore your techniques. But Labour didn't get the country right and journalists no longer feel bound to give them the benefit of the doubt.

But New Labour don't seem to have woken up to this. So when Martin Sixsmith (a Labour supporter for Heaven's sake) falls out of line the whole spin machine starts to go into action against him. But journalists are now more inclined to take his side. The result is a spectacular own goal - a mud boomerang. They fling the mud and it comes back and hits them in the face.

In the news

Darling rules out toll motorways - because there is no room. Now, I seem to remember (way back in my parliamentary researcher days) Chris Chope, then a Transport minister answering a written question about this. If I recall correctly roads cover about 1% of Britain's land mass. Room is not the problem.
Darling ditches Birt's motorway plan
'I'm ready for slings and arrows' - interview with Alistair Darling
Darling’s past as a car hater - yes, but what does he think now?
Travelling hopefully: can Darling's solutions work?
Focus: And for his next trick... - Times analyses Darling's prospects of success.
Rail fares under fire as discount is withdrawn - see High fares are good for you
The blossoming of Theresa May - ugh.
Airlines battle for control of German skies - Lufthansa first-class passengers get a complimentary chocky bar. So, that's why they're losing money.
Prestwick could get Ryanair base - it'll be interesting to see what Freedom and Whisky have to say about this.