September 2006

26 September 2006
GNER franchise "unsustainable". Seems they bid too much. A classic example of the absurdity of franchising.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)TOCs
23 September 2006
23 killed in Maglev crash. I had been wondering what 23 people were doing on an experimental train but it turns out that visitors can pay to ride it.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (1)German Railways
Transport Blog Quote of the Day
Patrick Crozier

I’ve got to do a piece to camera

Richard Hammond after his 300mph crash.

21 September 2006
Boris Johnson doesn't like the new booster seat law. It's a safety regulation, so I can't say I'm much in favour either. Does make me wonder if various laws on child seats haven't been one of the contributing factors to the 4x4 boom.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Road Safety
Richard Hammond, Top Gear presenter and instigator of Hammondmania is in critical condition after a crash. He's responsible for about half the comments we've ever had, so let's hope he pulls through.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Top Gear
16 September 2006
"Cyclists who wear helmets are more likely to be hit..."Well, that's what the Telegraph says but it's not what the report says. The report says that drivers get closer to cyclists wearing helmets, which is not quite the same thing. What we really need is an analysis of accidents. What proportion of cyclists are wearing a helmet. What proportion of cycling fatalities were wearing a helmet. But it appears that we don't.

Having said that, I have long had doubts about the safety benefits of wearing a helmet. As with trains, it is far better to avoid the accident than attempt to survive it. A helmet is bound to a distraction. It had never occurred to me that it might have an effect on other road users.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (4)Cycling
13 September 2006
Opening up hard shoulder "a success". Call me a safety fascist but I just don't get it. For a couple of generations we have been told that the hard shoulder is hallowed ground, only to be approached in dire emergency. And now they turn around and tell us: "Oh no, it isn't."

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (1)Road Safety
Eurostar cuts Ashford services. Apparently this is bad news for John Prescott. One can but hope...

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Channel Tunnel
11 September 2006
Bells on bikes to be made compulsory. I thought they already were but it turns out that that is only for new bikes.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Cycling
09 September 2006
Book Review: Battle for the North: The Tay and Forth Bridges and the 19th-century Railway Wars by Charles McKean. Just don't pay too much attention to the reviewer's conclusions.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Rail Safety
07 September 2006
Why the congestion charge should not subsidise public transport
Patrick Crozier

“The idea was to take money raised from the Congestion Charge and spend it on improvements to public transport.”

Bob Kiley, former boss of London Underground, said something very like this on his documentary for Channel 4 last week.

I hear this line of argument rather a lot and every time it sets my teeth on edge.  It does so because while sounding so terribly reasonable it is, I think, nonsense. It’s just that I’m not quite sure why.

Identify the assumptions:

  1. That the state should own roads
  2. That the state should raise revenue from roads
  3. That the profit should be spent elsewhere
  4. That mass transport is more deserving than individual transport
  5. That mass transport should receive subsidy
  6. That roads are where that subsidy should come from

Well, I’d question state ownership of roads in much the same way that I’d question state ownership of anything, though I think the sorts of roads we find in London would probably have to be owned by some kind of super-landlord.

I suppose my real objection is the idea that mass transport should receive subsidy.  First, because I don’t like subsidy.  Second, because I find myself asking why it needs subsidy especially since one of its main competitors (car-driving) suddenly got a lot more expensive.

Because it makes losses, perhaps?
Well, why is it making losses?  Profit is good (more or less).  They show that you are doing the right thing.  Therefore, losses are bad.  They (losses) suggest you are doing the wrong thing.

Well, what about positive externalities?
Right, well perhaps I should start by explaining what positive externalities are.  Typically when someone builds a railway the line doesn’t make that much money, if any, but those who own property near the stations make a killing.  A classic example is the Jubilee Line Extension.  Capital cost £3bn.  Gain to local property owners: £13bn.

So, the argument is that we all gain and so it is worth the state’s while subsidising new railways.

But you object?
Well, first of all, this in no way justifies the subsidy of existing railways.  Secondly, there is the assumption that the market will not provide. I think it will.

How?
By buying up the land around proposed stations.

But if everyone knows where the stations are to be built why would anyone sell?
The way you’d do it is by buying options.  So, I give you a tenner if you will agree to give me the option to buy your property at a certain price. 

So, why aren’t they doing it already?
My guess is it is because people believe the state will intervene and because it is very difficult to get planning permission for a new railway.  Another reason to abolish planning.

03 September 2006
The present government has (apparently) managed to spend £1bn on "fantasy" transport - schemes that haven't seen the light of day. Become a feasibility consultant that's what I say.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)General
01 September 2006
Hard shoulders to be used for traffic. Can't wait for the first pile-up.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Road Miscellany