Channel Tunnel

21 November 2010
A few rather ancient transport links
Brian Micklethwait

Some while back I started accumulating links to interesting transport things, concerning events during the recent spell of Transport Blog outage, by googling “transport” and ignoring everything boring, which is a hell of a lot.  (Mostly politicians moaning about how they aren’t being allowed or should be allowed to waste public money on transport crap of various sorts.)

But then I got ill and forgot about this.  Today, just to clear my decks, I give you this file of links.  There aren’t actually that many, but for what they are worth, click and enjoy:

Inside the world’s biggest private jet.

Is Google the most significant transport enterprise of twenty first century?

Passengers break out of train.

Germany gets across the channel.  It’s taken seventy years for the big arrows at the beginning of Dad’s Army to get here, but now they are about to.

The mobile web is bigger than transport.

Video of train spotter failing to spot the train.  It’s behind you.

Buy more salt.  I.e. for the roads this winter.

And finally, what with Michael’s recent writings here on the subject, a couple of motorcycle links: Motorcycles - miracle or menace?, and The tireless motorcycle museum curator.  Tireless.  Get it?  Oh never mind.

See also this excellent Vietnam motorbike picture.

Patrick: please feel free to re-edit the categorisations below.

LATER:  I also agree with the commenter who reckons that this bit of road building video is BRILJANT!!!

16 December 2007

The other day a bunch of us Transport Bloggers met up at the new St Pancras and recorded a short podcast on the new station.



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01 December 2007
St Pancras then and now
Patrick Crozier

As was (just before closure):

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Then

As it is now (after the expenditure of £800m’s worth of extorted cash):

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Now

All I can say is that they got something for their money.  Oh, it has some ridiculous touches: that statue, the longest champagne bar in Europe1, but it is magnificent.  Probably the best station in the world.

At times like this I am reminded of Brian Micklethwait quoting P J O’Rourke admiring a US aircraft carrier: “Now, that’s the way to waste public money.”

Notes

1.  Who, exactly, goes around measuring the lengths of champagne bars?  Anyway, it’s not the bar itself that’s long - just the seating area.  The stupidest champagne bar in Europe, perhaps.

15 November 2007
“At 300 kilometres an hour all the way, it is a little monotonous.”
Patrick Crozier

A French train driver passes his verdict on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Hmm.  You know I could say:

You Bastard French.  You build some fancy-swanky rail link to your end of the tunnel turning our commuter lines (circa 1850) at the other end into an international laughing stock, forcing us to spend years in planning enquiries, and billions of our hard won treasure to make ourselves look like good Europeans, in the process succumbing to Zairean levels of corruption and graft, digging up half of London, even getting me to think this was a good idea, and after all that you dare to claim that actually, all things considered, you preferred it the way it was.  Fuck, fuck, fuck!

But, I won’t.

He’s right about high-speed trains, mind.  They are monotonous.

05 September 2007
Why does Europe lag behind?
Patrick Crozier

image
Slow coach
This is not the BBC.

As updated 19th Century technology finally arrives into an updated 19th Century trainshed we ask why is it that Britons literally fly around Europe while Europeans still choose to dawdle on trains.  Why is it that, in the shape of the budget airlines, Britain has succeeded in providing fast and frequent travel for the masses while Europeans lavish ever greater sums on a technological dead end?

It is far from a simple question and there are plenty of potential culprits.  Many put the blame on the powerful climate change lobby.  Since the time of Asterix, Europeans have worried that something very bad is about to happen.  By the clever use of well-funded propaganda, the climate change lobby have convinced European populations that the something very bad is all the fault of the airplane.  As, in an attempt to appease Gaia, ever greater sums have been squandered on Europe’s so-called “high-speed” rail network Europeans have found themselves locked-in.  To admit the mistake would be to admit that they have been very wrong and very stupid for a very long time.

Meanwhile others look to latent militarism.  Many of Europe’s original railways were built at the behest of the military in order to ferry troops to national borders as quickly as possible.  Although Europe has to a large extent exorcised the ghost of militarism many see the obsession with new railways as a way of rekindling the flame.

But we can’t ignore the possibility of deep cultural differences between ourselves and the continent.  Europeans have a far greater appetite for the likes of Sartre, Goethe and Kierkegaard whose works continue to fly off the shelves. 

Put simply, Europeans like being miserable.

Further reading

The Success of the Industrial Revolution and the Failure of Political Revolutions: How Britain Got Lucky, Findlay Dunachie, Libertarian Alliance, 1996.

Why I am not that worried about the absence of high-speed lines in the UK, Transport Blog, 10 August 2004.

Against state-funded rail schemes, InstaPatrick, 6 December 2006.

13 September 2006
Eurostar cuts Ashford services. Apparently this is bad news for John Prescott. One can but hope...

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