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 21, 2002

The Index

General Transport

Can You Build A Railway (Or Road) Without Compulsory Purchase?
Compulsory Purchase - an update
Abolish the Ministry of Transport
The dynamics of the relationship between the state and free enterprise - the bigger the state the worse it gets.
That Transport Plan - MPs savage the Government's Transport "Plan"
Abolish the Department of Transport
Public and private transport (generally speaking) do not compete
A Libertarian Transport Manifesto - not finished yet
Now here's a challenge... - one person wonders what all the fuss is about
Dublin metro - actually more about infrastructure and land values.
Book Review: Don Riley Taken for a Ride


A brief history of UK railways
A Short Note On The Structure Of The UK Railway
Nationalisation is NOT the Answer - letter to the Evening Standard.
It's not all Doom and Gloom
Train Driver Shortage
Fare Hike Threatened
High Fares are Good for you - ultimately
The Crisis at Connex
Apologies Connex
How much Money is Railtrack Getting from the Government?
Rail Delays
Just How Bad is a Monopoly?
Book Review: Christian Wolmar Broken Rails
Oh, to be proved wrong
But Passenger Numbers Have Gone Up!
The Sale of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link
The Media: Accentuate the Negative, Disregard the Positive
Graffiti and Vandalism
The Central Railway
Some More On Vertical Integration
Some Meanderings on the Royal Train
Anglia Railways in Financial Trouble
Fight! - personal experience of violence on public transport
What the Victorians did for us - a profile of Edward Watkin
Bullshit Alert - a review of the sort of nonsense people come out with when there's a train crash
Dutch Railways and the Nature of Private Enterprise - a letter to Christian Wolmar
Wolmar Replies
The IoD gets it right - and wrong
Rail smash has buried bad news - Railtrack needs a lot more money. The Government has been operating a double standard.
Rail Crash Update - and why it is unwise to jump to conclusions
More thoughts on vertical integration
Bad railways? Blame it on the 1950s - the Modernisation Plan
UK railways reclassified as "weapons of mass destruction" - harsh and totally unfair humour.
More (potential) double standards - how the State treats the state and private sectors differently.
Is it the EU's fault? - that our railways are in a mess? Er, no. Not this time.
It's all the EU's fault (again) - the debate continues
The Taff Vale Judgement
Long distance trains don't make sense

Railways Abroad

More Guardian Lunacy (on Amtrak)
The Japanese System
Japanese Railway Conference
On Being Stunned By The Central Japan Railway Company Data Book 2001
The Royal Train - a follow up - how the Japanese royals get around.
The Plane to Spain is faster than the Train - catch the last train to Mudville
High-Speed Rail in Spain
The Octupus Card - Hong Kong's newish non-ticket ticket system.

Railway Safety

On Corporate Manslaughter
Corporate Manslaughter - An Addendum
A Question of Safety
Safety Costs Soar
Safety is Dangerous
More safety nonsense - or how the Government would like to destroy hundreds of perfectly good trains but can't.


Pile-up on the ranting super-highway - private roads also have rules.
Brian Micklethwait on Road Pricing in the UK
Our nuthead safety fascists...anti-car stupidity is not confined to the UK.
More on the rules of the private road - James Haney on how bad things are in Texas
Utilities fight hole-in-road charges
Road tolls seen as tax on business - why tolls are good for you.
On helmets for cyclists
The car share to nowhere - why they won't work and what the alternative is

Congestion Charging in London

My Views
Andrew Oswald in the Times
Ken's Cunning Car Plan
Tim Evans on Road Pricing in the UK


British Airways Goes Budget
Flights to London to double
Airport Landing Rights
Air Traffic Control - delays across the UK
Should we fear the EasyJet/Go Merger?


Prior Planning and Preparation Produces Piss-Poor Performance
L'affaire Byers - or why I am not going to spend my time fretting about it
L'affaire Sixsmith - or why spin no longer works

Long distance trains don't make sense

Excellent article in the Telegraph about long distance train travel. Not to put too fine a point on it: it doesn't make any sense - planes do the job faster and more cheaply. We would all be a lot better off if we let the French squander their money on high speed trains and built ourselves some more runways.

Having said that I would put a rider on this. Although a Manchester to Paris train service could not compete with the equivalent air service that does not necessarily mean that it makes no sense. A hundred years ago there were two competing rail services to the main service running from Euston to Manchester. Although slower these services were profitable because they stopped in different places and thus served different markets. The train may have gone from Manchester to London but the passengers went from Manchester to Nottingham or Leicester to London. There could just about be a case for a high speed line from Manchester to Paris so long as it stopped in London. That is because although Manchester-Paris is uncompetitive Manchester-London and London-Paris most definitely are.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Back to the Anthem (with apologies to Brian)

Robert Dammers writes:
In most traditional hymn books the National Anthem is given with two verses, the second verse having a wartime version (the one you quote) and a peacetime version, which was the third verse in your source:

Thy choicest gifts in store
On him be pleased to pour
Long may he reign!
May he defend our laws
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the King.

This is the one we used at my church during the jubilee thanksgiving service. I've always had a penchant for the "knavish tricks" one, however, and think it is a good one for playing Brazil (or Argentina, for that matter). What is scandalous is that still no-one has told the team about the need to learn the second verse!
I suppose these days the World Cup is about as near as we get to a World War - and for that we should be very grateful indeed.

Unsatisfied Customer

Over on Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait takes me to task for writing more about the World Cup than transport. I must admit I wasn't aware I was writing about transport at all right now but I am sure Brian is right. He fears that if this goes on for much longer then some big bad journalist will end up well and truly peeved and then there will be real trouble. I should be so lucky.

Of course, Brian makes an entirely reasonable point. Long, self-indulgent articles about football matches played 32 years ago which have no conceivable connection to the UK transport scene have no place on a specialist blog such as this one. Quite right. Mea Culpa. I cracked. It's misrepresentation and I shouldn't have done it.

Actually, this brings to a head a problem that has been simmering away for some time: I want to write about all sorts of things, not just transport. I could write in to Samizdata but that requires firing off an e-mail and then Perry complains that it is in the wrong format and there's the wait and sometimes it doesn't get through. And, I sort of feel odd writing in to Samizdata. It has excellent roster of writers right now. I feel like an interloper.

It looks like the answer is to set up a blog of my own where I can post to my heart's content on any damn thing I like. Only one question: what should I call it?

Having said all that, in his article Brian did ask what the problems are like when it comes to moving around large numbers of people. I can't speak for Korea, but for Japan I would say about zero. Take the Brazil-England game tomorrow. That is being played at Shizouka. The stadium there will have a capacity of about 51,000 people. Most spectators will be locals. The maximum number of England fans will be 20,000. (That really is a massive over-estimate). Let's assume that they all want to travel from Tokyo. JR Central operates 132 bullet trains from Tokyo to Shizuoka every day. It may not be the only railway operating a direct service. The smallest Shinkansen seats 1,323 people. That's 15 trains' worth. And as in the peak a Shinkansen leaves Tokyo every 5 minutes, JR Central could move the entire body of England supporters out of Tokyo in 1hr 10mins.

You did ask.

Tom Burroughes uncovers the solution to all our traffic woes

Brazil 1 England 0

The 1970 version that is, was broadcast in full by our very own BBC last night. Yes that's right the full 90 minutes of a game played 32 years ago, of which the result is well known was aired by the BBC just past the peak. I don't know how many of my compatriots joined me to watch it but it was marvellous. Now, I do not normally like complimenting a statist organisation that relies on theft for the lion's share of its income, but on this occasion the Beeb done good.

It was fascinating on so many levels. It was fascinating to see what you knew: the save by Banks, that tackle by Moore, Jairzinho's goal, Astle's miss, Pele and Moore swapping shirts at the end. And it was fascinating to see what you didn't know.

For instance, I had never realised what a good commentator David Coleman was. Mind you he got off to a shaky start. "And England are in complete control of this game" just before Carlos Alberto passed to Jairzinho, Jairzinho rounded Cooper, Jairzinho crossed to Pele, Pele made that header and Banks made that save. But beyond that he was superb. He quite correctly pointed out that Jairzinho and Paulo Cesar were making mincemeat of Cooper and Wright down the flanks. And he also worked out that England's best chance lay in putting high balls into the area.

Talking of Jairzinho - what a player. Quick, skillful, strong. Not difficult to see how he managed to score in every game (a record still unmatched). To these untrained eyes he easily put Pele into the shade, though Pele did have his moments.

And talking of that save. I can remember my father telling me about it. It was probably in response to some question like "What was the greatest save ever?" When you are that age you believe everything your parents tell you. As you get older you get more cynical. But it has interesting to note that as I have got older the more that save gets mentioned and the more orthodox it becomes that it was indeed the greatest save ever.

There were all sorts of other little details to tell us how the world has changed: the fuzzy picture; the lack of camera angles (not all changes are for the better); there wasn't even a camera behind the goal; the amateurish advertising hoardings; the management teams sat on the bench unprotected from the elements; the sound cracking up; the lack of a score or a clock in the top left of the picture; no names on the backs of the shirts; no sports company logos on the shirts; commentators sticking to the facts rather than attempting to synthesize drama; referees in black; defenders being able to pass back to the goalie (some changes are for the better)

That was one of the reasons I watched the whole 90 minutes. People talk a lot about the game and I missed it first time round. It was an opportunity to find out what people are talking about in a way that can't be done with mere highlights. To see the context.

It was astonishing how slow the game was. Coleman described it as resembling a game of chess. Now, I know it was hot in Guadalajara that day but even so. Players are lot a fitter these days.

People talk about how bad Brazilian goalkeepers are but Felix was in a class of his own. If he'd flapped any more he would have taken off.

There were a whole load of incidents people don't talk about. Francis Lee had a couple of wonderful opportunities. And then he committed a shocking foul on the goalkeeper. And there's Coleman and his sidekick Revie saying "Well, it was a 50/50 ball he had to go for it." Banks losing his temper with his defenders.

If there was one disappointment it was at half time. I was fascinated to know what they would do? Would they have a modern day panel of pundits? Would they have the pundits from the same day (unlikely seeing as I think only ITV had pundits at the time)? Would they show the news from that day in 1970? I was fascinated to know how the BBC did used to fill the time in those days. But alas I was not to find out: the half ended and they cut straight to the second half. Oh well, I suppose even with as wonderful a rerun as this you can't have it all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

The National Anthem - the second verse

Few can have failed to notice a rather odd tradition that has grown up in England over the past 3 weeks. Before the start of every England World Cup game the national anthem is played. We start off singing "God Save the Queen" and end up singing the final climactic "God Save the Queen". And then we cheer. That is all well and good and proper. But there's a twist. Before the cheers have so much as died away the anthem starts up again. It's the second verse. And nobody knows the words - why should they, it's never played? Queue utter confusion and bemusement. So lest you be caught short before the Brazil game here are the words to the second verse (ripped off from here) in all their glory:
O Lord and God arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix
God Save the Queen
Marvellous. So God, if you could just see your way to scattering the Brazilian defence, making Ronaldo fall and frustrating Rivaldo's knavish tricks, even I might start to believe in the existence of David Beckham.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Sunday, June 16, 2002