August 2002

August 24, 2002

Don't part 20/7834

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | General Points (not just transport) | Road Safety

The news that the government is thinking of banning (ie will ban) the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving does not fill me with joy. I hate laws like this. It's just another low-lying property swept away by the tidal wave of rules, regulations and restrictions engulfing a once free country.

But you try telling that to a "normal" person. Normal people don't operate on the metaphysical plane. They work on a far more down to earth level. To them it seems obvious: if something is dangerous then ban it.

What are the assumptions that such people make?

Let's start in the middle with the idea that enforcement will be effective. How would you know? To the best of my knowledge there are no statistics at present on the number of dead and injured caused by the use of mobile phones. OK, so maybe there are other ways of looking at it. Tests have shown (and I tend to believe them) that people using mobile phones are less attentive. So, that would tend to suggest that if fewer people were using mobile phones there would be fewer accidents. So, you could measure success on the basis of the total number of accidents or on the basis of the number of people using mobile phones. But neither number is going to be easy to generate. Sure, you can get stats on the number of accidents but this statistic tends to bounce around and in any given year, half a dozen other factors could make a difference. Factoring out all these other factors is more or less impossible. Generating a figure for moblile phone use would be similarly difficult. After all, who is going to admit to a criminal offence?

And as we all know there are plenty of other laws which the police try to enforce but fail to.

Of course, the government is already doing things about mobile phone use. If you use a mobile phone and you crash your car (or drive without due care and attention) you are likely to be prosecuted. You will not be prosecuted for the use of the mobile phone but for the damage you cause - which seems a rather fairer arrangement. What about all those people who are capable of driving and chatting at the same time?

But such arguments don't really get to the heart of things. All I have suggested is that legislation might not be effective. What I need to suggest is that its effects will in fact be negative. And that's where the side effects come in.

I believe that laws like this cause untold damage. I mean damage that really is untold. The effects of regulations such as these are both unpredictable and unmeasurable. I believe that they undermine respect for authority and lead to a decline in personal responsibility: if you treat people like idiots that's how they'll act. I believe that there is a definite correlation in the number of petty regulations that have been introduced over the last 30 years and the general decline in our society. I just wish I could prove it.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 21, 2002

Oh no, he doesn't

Patrick Crozier | Rail Miscellany

See here.

Actually, the point I was making was one about architecture and not about convenience.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 20, 2002

More on stations

Patrick Crozier | Rail Miscellany

Following yesterday's article Tim Hall finds himself largely in agreement.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 19, 2002

What's wrong with stations?

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | Rail Miscellany

I find almost all stations disappointing. And it's not just the graffiti, the vandalism, the tatty appearance of many of them or the fact that so many have been rebuilt by modern architects - modernity's answer to the Luftwaffe. Even if none of those things applied I would still be disappointed.

Frankly, stations do not seem to be part of the modern world.

Take a "normal" shop or place you spend your money. MacDonalds, or a bar or an airport. In each case there is a system. MacDonalds's system is brilliant. You go in, you walk to the back, you pick up your food, you look for a seat and if you can't find one - no worries - there's probably one upstairs (or in some cases downstairs)

Or take the airport. OK, so arriving there by road is a pain but once you've entered the terminal building it's a piece of cake. You check in, go through passport control, go through security, do some shopping, go to the departure gate, board your plane. Easy peasy.

But with stations the system is far from clear. Where is the booking office? How do I queue? Where does my train depart from? How do I get there? What time does it leave? All these questions are answered in different ways by different stations. It is tremendously confusing and it adds to the impression of chaos.

The worst stations are non-terminii. They have one huge fundamental problem: how to get passengers from one side of the tracks to the other. The options are: a bridge, a tunnel or a level crossing. In most cases a level crossing is a non-starter - they are simply too dangerous. So that leaves bridges or tunnels. Aside from the inconvenience of having to ascend a set of stairs I have yet to encounter a bridge that wasn't flimsy or a tunnel that wasn't dingy.

And what happens when you get to your platform? You wait, that's what you do. When you wait in the departure lounge at an airport you at least get a comfy chair. When you wait at the dentist's they at least provide you with something to read. But on a station platform it's just you, your thoughts and whatever the weather's dreamt up for you.

Could stations be better? The omens are not good. Everywhere I've gone the problems seem to be the same. No one seems to have cracked it. Is there something inherent about stations that leads to them inevitably lagging behind? Is it the number of people involved? Is it the variety of train services? Is it the gap between the biggest and smallest?

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 18, 2002

Cuttings - Potters Bar Crash

Patrick Crozier | Potters Bar Crash

Track tragedy
Investigators examine damaged set of points
Railtrack faces questions over maintenance - again
40 minutes later, a car crash - the Times takes the time to remind us that generally-speaking trains are very safe
Faulty points are the prime suspect
Crash track had 'jolt' say travellers
Papers press Byers on train crash
'Faulty track' focus of crash inquiry- looks like it's the points
Graphic of the points - very useful.
Chain of command
Rail chief had safety fear over casual labour
Rail firms still failing to scrutinise contractors
Police to quiz engineer
Commuter warned of crash line problems - this has come up before - commuters complaining of jolts on the line near Potters Bar. But were the jolts caused by the points? If they were, then that suggests that there was a problem with the points going back several months. If they weren't then I would like to hear some assessment as to whether such jolts pose a threat to safety as opposed to merely a threat to passenger comfort.
Killed by rail neglect - if the allegations in this story are true then either someone is lying or someone is grossly incompetent.
Points were checked the day before rail disaster - an unusually good piece of reporting. Not only does it raise questions but it tells us what they are.
Why were the points faulty?
Rail crash 'unique incident'
Statement due on rail crash
Vandals try to derail train
Solicitor's widow tells of her loss - this is just an observation but isn't it odd that three of the victims of the Potters Bar crash were in the public eye? One was a former head of the World Service, one a well-known Hong Kong journalist and another a potential Nigerian king.
Track team spotted flaw but failed to report it
Points 'badly repaired' 9 days before crash
Market Report: Potters Bar disaster takes toll on maintenance companies
'I spotted track fault'
What price talk when silence isn't golden? - Jarvis's decision to go with the sabotage story is a brave one. Not the sort of thing that lawyers would normally countenance.
Jarvis in the spotlight
Rail sabotage blamed for fatal accident - same thing in the Times - just better. The Times really has been very good on this. The article also (to some extent) clears up something that had been bugging me. How did the set of points come to move? It always struck me that the train would be forcing the points to stay in place. This may explain why they didn't.
Crash was sabotage, says rail contractor - good graphic
Sabotage 'may have caused' rail crash - the mystery deepens. Report contains the suggestion that the points were photographed - that could help clear things up.
Potters Bar crash not sabotage, say inspectors
Crash firm defends sabotage theory - this is a high-risk strategy playing for high stakes
Potters Bar reopens after crash
Travellers return in sadness to disaster scene
Funding levels 'not to blame for Potters Bar crash'
Hi-tech bolt may have stopped crash
Rail line 'not safe', says commuter - well, actually, he's not sure.
Railtrack says faulty installation was cause of Potters Bar crash - if true this is really bad news for Jarvis
Potters Bar points were 'badly adjusted'
Big profits rise for Jarvis
Potters Bar victim demands full inquiry
Potters Bar police hunt rail workers
Jarvis defends work record as profit soars
Potters Bar crash report due
Potters Bar fears over 1,700 rail points
Potters Bar track 'appalling'
Several Potters Bar points 'were faulty'
Potters Bar crash report: At a glance
Rail workers 'checked wrong line'
Rail crash victims scorn Jarvis pledge
Railtrack offers £12m payout to Potters Bar crash victims
£12m offer to rail crash families 'is meaningless'

Permalink & Comments (0)
Network Rail gears up

Patrick Crozier | Railtrack and Network Rail

Interview with Network Rail Chairman, Ian McAllister, in the Times. A few things caught my attention:

The public interest company created by the Government to replace Railtrack is to review the current system of performance penalties which suck millions of pounds out of the network while causing punctuality to deteriorate.
Network Rail can review the system as much as it likes. The problem is that it can't do anything about it - that's Tom Winsor, the Regulator's prerogative. Of course, now that both the infrastructure and the regulation are effectively part of the state it will be interesting to see how the Chinese walls work. My guess is that that particular metaphorical office is going to look very open plan indeed with McAllister sitting at a big desk in the middle barking out orders to Winsor the office boy. Maybe, the Times is more right than it knows.

Commenting on the need for high punctuality targets, Ian Coucher, Deputy Chief Executive said:

"The Japanese may achieve that level but the cost is very, very high. There is a price to pay in terms of capacity and the amount of maintenance you have to do and I don’t know whether that makes sense..."
The cost may indeed be high in Japan but it's all paid for and not by the Japanese government. I am sure that the fact that the main Japanese railways are integrated, privately-owned and unsubsidised is a complete red herring and has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the situation in this country.

And finally there was this:

It [Network Rail] will advertise for 60 "public interest members" of Network Rail, drawn from passenger groups, unions and the public. They will join 40 "industry members". The 100 members will meet at least twice a year to scrutinise Network Rail’s performance.
Try not to laugh. Or weep.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 17, 2002

Cuttings - The Byers Affair

Patrick Crozier | Byers Affair

No wonder voters have lost faith when politicians behave like Mr Byers
Air of resignation over transport - Times readers get their teeth into Byers
Byers 'to speak out' on spin row
Byers: wrong, foolish and running out of time
Euro gaffe Byers under axe - or should that be "Byers tells truth - shock!"
Byers blamed for Labour poll plunge
Look no further than Byers for the railway saboteur
Byers is 'hung out to dry' by Blair - there is a consensus that Byers is finished. There is, however, a counter argument. It is just possible that the rail network could look a whole lot better in time for the next general election. The new Pendolinos will be in service this year with their top speed gradually increasing from 110 to 125mph. The first phase of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will open in October 2003. That will certainly lead to a "feel good" factor. The Train Protection and Warning System is beginning to roll out across the country. This will dramatically reduce Signals Passed at Danger (SPADs). The power supply problem on Southern Region looks like it is going to be sorted out so we'll be able to say goodbye to slam door stock and hello to air-conditioned luxury. In that time the Government might even get round to approving the Central Railway and a new North-South rail link. It could just happen.
No 10 backs Byers on 'Railtrack lie' - shameless
Disbelief on the line - the Times points out that the latest "lie" may have implications in the courts.
Crash survivor accuses Byers - now tell me if I am wrong but the accusation that Byers was planning to wind up Railtrack well before October strikes me as a real scandal. Yet, I have not a heard a word of this on BBC TV and it is not as if there is a great deal of other news about at the moment.
Byers faces new charge on Railtrack - actually it's an old one
Anyone have a good word for Stephen Byers? - some, but by and large those who have reason to fear him.
Resigned to fate
Forget Byers, Brown should take the blame - Anatole Kaletsky
Sixsmith tries to sell story that will 'finish' Byers
Byers 'knifed in back' says Prescott - sour grapes.
Byers had passed too many signals at danger
This resignation is Blair's Major moment - excellent analysis by Daniel Johnson. Rather overstates the role of the Telegraph and IDS.
Now can Blair make Mandy chancellor? - BoBo stirs it."Byers incarnated all the vacuity, the spin-driven vanilla-flavoured candyfloss nothingness of this Government."
The truth about Byers - Telegraph editorial
Byers deserves an award for Farce of the Year
Dirty tricks
Byers apologises for 'smear' e-mail
Byers apologises to crash survivors - yet more stories of dirty tricks. Unbelievable. Is it pathological I wonder to myself?
Survivors group demands Blair apology
The smearing of victims
Formerly canny Danny Corry
Labour is forced to apologise over new e-mail controversy
Outrage over Labour dirty tricks email
'Smear' row adviser apologises
Sixsmith in Whitehall TV show row - the dying embers
The awful truth about Mr Byers - Peter Oborne in the Spectator
Sixsmith in Whitehall TV show row - the dying embers
Now Cook is set to quit RMT
RMT boss wants to force Prescott out of his home
RMT has history on its side - Anthony Howard tries to turn back the clock

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 16, 2002

The railway's tragedy

Patrick Crozier | Fragmentation | Rail General

I was listening to Radio 4's News Quiz the other day (I think). There was an article about train overcrowding. Linda Smith (I think) made some remark like: "Why don't they just add an extra carriage?" Queue laughter.

So, why don't they add an extra carriage? I am by no means an expert but here are a few possible answers.

If you tried to add a carriage the first question is where would you get it from? In peak hours, when overcrowding occurs just about every carriage in an operator's fleet is either in use or undergoing maintenance. So you'd have to either buy one, or, as the current system dictates, lease one.

Let's look at the economics of that. First of all there is the cost. According to RAIL 405 a new carriage costs about £100,000 a year. And then you have to add in cleaning, stabling, maintenance, staffing and power costs.

But how much does it bring in? Well, if we remember that this exercise is about reducing overcrowding then not a lot. The aim is not to bring in new customers and the existing customers (because of fare control) cannot be made to pay any more. So we are looking at a loss of at least £100,000 per carriage per year.

Then there is the question of where to put the carriage. You can't put it at the end - otherwise you couldn't drive the train out of the station. Doesn't make sense? Let me explain. In the old days trains were made up of carriages and locomotives. Nowadays, certainly for commuter services, trains are made up exclusively of what are known as multiple units. Multiple units are self-powered sets of carriages (usually between 3 and 5) with driving cabs at either end. They are capable of being driven in either direction. The only way you can expand them is by adding an extra multiple unit.

So, why not add a multiple unit? Well, of course, in many cases they already do. Why not add another one? This is where things get very tricky. If you have 12-coach trains ie 3 multiple units, you need 12-coach platforms. Very few stations have these. They are expensive and under the current arrangements capital improvements to stations are outside the control of the train operators.

It is the railway's tragedy that:

  1. lot's of people use them
  2. there are lots of problems
  3. the solutions look easy
  4. they aren't
[Since first publishing this piece, Tim Hall of has e-mailed me to point out that operators can and do add extra carriages to the middle of multiple units. I presume that they do so in order to avoid fines for overcrowding. As I understand it this would not be a solution south of the Thames. Firstly, because you can only really carry out this arrangement on relatively new trains and secondly, because there would still be insufficient platform space. Having said that, I understand that SWT will be running its new trains in formations of 10 rather than the usual 8.]

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 15, 2002

Cuttings - Road

Patrick Crozier | Road General | Road Miscellany

North Circular roars into first place
The biggest hole in the road yet
'A tidal wave' of road restrictions
Blackwall Tunnel safety slammed
Traffic wardens in city 'outnumber the police' - maybe, but they are actually useful.
Well-off motorists face extra road tax by 2007 - looks like Tim Evans was right.
More councils back road tolls
Toll road network 'planned for UK' - don't get excited; it sounds better than it actually is. This is the product of ex-BBC Managing Director, John Birt's "Blue Skies" unit and is all a bit dreamy. It won't happen.
Road tolls in ten years as Byers is overruled by Blair - it seems that the Government is sold. Good.
Byers engulfed in row over M-way tolls leak - what amazes me is how members of this Government can get so worked up over such trifles. I can never work out if ministers being distracted from their jobs in this way is something we should fear or welcome.
Forget the jetpack - the future of motoring according to the RAC Foundation
Charging by satellite - or how the Government is slowing moving towards road tolls.
Super motorway plans are 'barmy', say Green groups - it's wonderful to see them fighting each other
For whom the road tolls? - £750bn for Birt's super-highways - come off it.
Driving a company car 'one of the most hazardous of occupations' - Research shows that construction workers have a one in 10,000 risk of being killed or seriously injured at work, while high-mileage company car drivers have a one in 8,000 risk and coal miners a one in 7,100 risk. Well, I never.
Gridlock: Head to Head - statists clash on the state of the roads
Byers will back motorists - the transport plan gets changed
Utilities fight hole-in-road charges
Road tolls seen as tax on business
'Our roads are Third World standard' - no they aren't.But John Dawson, AA's director of policy, said: "There's a serious underlying problem here. Can the local authorities, elected on a short-term basis at a political level, actually be trusted to understand the long-term infrastructure problems?"
Oxford's prize jam
Mobiles 'worse than drink-driving'
Minister attacks mobile phone danger link
We should accept that the end of the road is nigh for driving without prices - Andrew Oswald
A transport policy that leaves me at the wheel - Simon Jenkins
Revealed: tricks of the traffic wardens
Drivers without passengers may face M-way delays
Tolls to tackle M25 jams - report
Labour's jammed-up thinking - another Telegraph editorial
Parking law makes criminals of us all - Simon Jenkins in the Evening Standard
Power to the car poolers
Jambusters eye cellphones
Rural lane limit should be 40mph, say MPs
Drivers face new onslaught of road bumps and speed cameras
M25 'needs tolls to stop jams'
MPs call for 20mph speed limit
Speed camera rules 'will cause deaths'
Outrage as drink driver's sentence cut
Most drivers break speed limits
'Ton-up' court puts brakes on by-pass speedsters
Darling ditches Birt's motorway plan
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 to swap toll motorways for city charges
Traffic congestion - I hope I get round to posting about this. This is truly awful.
Removing signals 'would make roads safer'
Police bus patrols launched
Blame it on the driver - a very silly proposal from Brussels
Drink/Drive Plan Mooted
Hooray! Traffic wardens to strike
Dozens injured in motorway crash
Ways of reducing traffic congestion - Times letters
Driver jailed for killing cyclist
Darling's threat to spy on every car
Tougher penalties for killer drivers
Gridlock as 800 traffic lights seize
'I could have ticketed whole streets'
Anti-cars campaigns fail to turn off drivers
Police want roadside eye tests
Heavy metal - the Times gets philosophical about jams
John Humphrys: They’re too frightened to pass the laws we need - he wants to ban droning and driving.
Toll could end nine-to-five day
To the lady who berated me, I say: on your bike - Boris Johnson makes the implausible claim that he can ride a bike. Stertorously, by the way, means marked by heavy snoring - not that that adds a lot to the meaning
Drug driving figures 'shocking'
Paying for parking by text
Cities follow London on congestion charge
Letters to the Editor: Give way to Lycra louts
'Bollocks' Johnson, mobile cycle path - Boris Johnsongate - more revelations
EU to make drivers pay for cyclists' accidents
Russian answer to road congestion - priceless!
Hats off to driver's fine challenge - you don't have to pay if the warden isn't wearing a hat. That's just the sort of pettyfogging rule this country needs more of.
Car drivers warned of DVT risk
'Fine companies for road chaos' - this does seem to come up an awful lot.
Who is at fault in bicycle crashes? - Times Letters
Tailback of votes puts M25 at top of public hate list
Travelling on a road to ruin
M-way drivers ignoring fatigue
Move to ban 'mobile drivers' criticised
First our guns. Cars soon?
Danger roads 'have fewest cameras'
Passengers stranded as bus firm folds
Traffic jams are 'biggest cause of stress'
Drivers vandalise speed cams
Rethink for hated chicane
Getting there faster

Permalink & Comments (0)
No, you can't have a seat

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | Connex | Fares and Ticketing

Connex, the London commuter railway, is consulting passengers over the interior design of its carriages. Now, you might have thought this was a good thing but not if you read the London Evening Standard. Their article starts:

For years London's hardpressed rail commuters have complained of being herded into carriages like animals. Now Connex, which serves the capital's busiest routes, has admitted its new trains will be like "cattle trucks".
Ah yes, "cattle trucks". That's a good emotional term. Even better because it evokes images of millions of people being sent to gas chambers. Who wants to travel on a cattle truck? What sort of bastard would want to make them?

So, will these new and refurbished carriages actually be like cattle trucks? Will they lack windows, or seats, or lighting, or ventilation? Of course not. Will they lack suspension? Will faeces and urine swim around the floor? Of course not. The only similarity is that people will have to stand. So, if the Evening Standard was looking for a more accurate simile (which, of course, it wasn't) it would have used the term "Japanese-style" carriages.

But why should people have to stand at all? Couldn't they lay on more trains or longer trains or double-deck trains? In their press release, Connex carefully explain why they can't, or at least why they can't anytime soon. None, of this, however, got into the Evening Standard article. Did they lose the power to read half-way through?

Instead, we get a whole load of whingeing from various statist pressure groups such as the Rail Passengers Committee and Capital Transport.

Connex also explain (and to give the Standard their due here, they do report it) that many changes would require changes to the infrastructure over which Connex has no control. So, at least part of the problem lies with state-enforced fragmentation, which, incidentally, Alistair Darling is not going to do anything about.

What no one mentions is that the quickest way to solve the problem would be to allow Connex the flexibility to put up the fares. Not only would this reduce overcrowding over a fairly short period but it would also give Connex the sort of financial muscle it needs to be able to fund infrastructure improvements. See Higher fares are good for you and update.

Having said that, I am not entirely surprised that Connex decided to leave that one out of the press release. It doesn't seem to matter how reasonable they are or how much they are trying to change (see Apologies Connex) the story, as far as the press are concerned, is that Connex are rubbish and that wild horses won't make them change their minds.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 14, 2002

Have rail fares gone up...? - an update

Patrick Crozier | British Rail Privatisation | Fares and Ticketing | Fragmentation

Last week I posed the question whether fares had gone up or not, did some sums and posted the results on the uk.railway newsgroup. This caused a storm of protest.

Most were protesting at what had happened to "walk-on" fares. These are fares that you don't have to book in advance and have, in most cases, risen considerably. But that wasn't in question. I was never saying that no fares had risen. What I said was that some fares had risen, some had fallen (or rather been brought into existence) and that the average was about the same.

One poster wrote that walk-on fares were: "the one big advantage of railways over other forms of transport, cars excluded." So that would be coaches and aircraft then? I really do hate such absolute statements when they can so easily be contradicted. Sure, it may be the big advantage for some people but not all. Personally speaking, I can say that the advantage of rail is price and the fact you can read. For others it may be that they have a meal or get on with some work at the same time. For others it may be that it offers city centre to city centre travel or that you can use it to get to most places in the country. The fact that fare revenue has not collapsed would seem to indicate that rail has many advantages other than walk-on fares.

Several replies demonstrated a very shaky grasp of mathematics and the English language. One wrote: "Such an average [ie my average] ignores the fact that people do not buy tickets at this average price. Offering cheap ticket[s] will lower the average ticket price, but the majority of passengers will be paying as much or more than they were (because extra restrictions are generally placed on other tickets when very cheap ones are introduced)." I hope that anyone reading this can see the flaw in the logic (such as it is). The point is that my calculation was based on fare revenue ie what people actually paid not what they could have paid. The last part is plain ludicrous. If the average fare paid is the same but fare prices have both gone up and down that means that the majority of passengers are paying less. The same applies to the correspondent who asked me to supply the median figure.

One of the unexpected benefits of posting the article to a newsgroup was that a thread developed on the subject of competition on the London to Manchester route. There isn't any. Midland Mainline would like to offer an alternative to Virgin but can't because Railtrack who have a deal with Virgin won't let them. So much for on-rail competition. Bizarrely enough, had the industry been privatised on a regional basis such competition would have been possible.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 13, 2002

No to public enquiries

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | Potters Bar Crash | Rail Safety | Railways - Japan

Yesterday, Louise Christian, the railway accident lawyer and Socialist Alliance activist, once again called for a public enquiry into the Potters Bar crash. She is nothing if not consistent. She said:

If there had been a public inquiry into Hatfield, which happened along the same railway line, for probably much the same reasons, then arguably Potters Bar wouldn't have happened.
Well, I don't know where to start. Hatfield and Potters Bar were completely different accidents. One involved a broken rail, the other a failed set of points. Even so, there is every possibility that both can trace their root causes back to the fragmented nature of the industry.

The question is whether a public enquiry is likely to solve the problem. They haven't got a particularly good track record in this area. First of all, they take a long time. The report into the Ladbroke Grove crash took over two years to complete. Had a similar enquiry taken place into Hatfield then there is every likelihood we'd still be waiting for it. Second, public enquiries are extremely expensive (all those QCs on £500 an hour) and consume vast amounts of managers' time, diverting them from their real job of running the railway. Third, public enquiries do not have a particularly good track record of producing useful conclusions. The Cullen enquiry recommended a hugely expensive, untried and not spectacularly useful safety system known as ERTMS. In the heat of the safety frenzy that it itself had done so much to whip up, the Government committed itself to implementing these recommendations. Ever since, the government has been dreaming up ways of wiggling out of this commitment. Act in haste, repent at leisure.

There is also a particular problem with Potters Bar in that the cause is far from certain. It is difficult to see how lawyers will succeed where engineers have failed.

So, what is the alternative? How's about some freedom. People are very suspicious of private enterprise. They believe that they will put "profits before safety". But the reality is that if you don't put safety before profits you don't make the profits. Just look at what happened to Railtrack. The fact is that accidents cost a lot of money. Compensation to the dead and injured is part of it but there is also the disruption to the service, the cost of replacing the rolling stock and the cost of replacing wrecked track. It is precisely this pursuit of profits that led to the Japanese Railway being the safest in the world.

Permalink & Comments (0)
It has nothing to do with privatisation

Patrick Crozier | British Rail Privatisation | Fragmentation | Nationalisation

In an otherwise good article on our transport problems, A N Wilson rounds off by saying:

Kingsley Amis thought that the spirit of "sod the public", which afflicted all public services, was the consequence of state socialism-Chaotic capitalism has even less regard for the actual needs of individuals. Transport chaos will get better only when a green dictator takes over and forces us all to stay at home: i.e. Never.
Apart from the fact that roads and air traffic control are nationalised he falls into the old trap of blaming all our rail problems on "privatisation". The chaos on the railways has nothing to do with capitalism or privatisation and everything to do with fragmentation and franchising - both of them creatures of Whitehall. See Misuses of the English Language #1: Privatisation

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 12, 2002

Natalie Solent quotes from the

Patrick Crozier | Nationalisation | Rail Miscellany

Natalie Solent quotes from the New Statesman of 1916. They were praising the government take over of the railway during the First World War. Isn't it amazing how the cause of socialism was aided by the world wars?

Permalink & Comments (0)
Praise be to More Room

Patrick Crozier | Air Miscellany | Blogging

Praise be to More Room Throughout Coach which is (sort of) my American alter ego. Author, Gary Leff, seems to be mostly interested in getting cheap air fares but he has called for the impeachment of Norman Mineta, America's Secretary of State for Transportation. Gofurit!

Permalink & Comments (0)
Cuttings - Air

Patrick Crozier | Air General | Air Miscellany

BA in new cuts as bmi suffers
Heathrow pollution extends 17 miles
Flights to London to double
Challenge of 'fly-by-nights' that fly all over
Crew from the first passenger jet celebrate its fiftieth anniversary
Flying fear man dies in Spain
Airlines sell economy to the business class - what interests me is the vast difference in price between el Cheapo Economy and slightly less el Cheapo Economy with 7 extra inches. Who said size doesn't matter.
Budget airlines are not always the cheapest
£60m for a Jumbo Jet! - I did not know that. David Farrer is in fact making an entirely different point but I am interested to know how much aircraft cost. You see I have this theory that the safety of a particular mode of transportation is in proportion to the cost per seat. Planes (£100,000/seat) are safer than trains (£10,000/seat) are safer than push bikes (£250/seat). It all starts to break down with cars and motorbikes - and depends on how many seats a motorbike is deemed to have. It has two "seats" but how often is the second one used? Mind you, you could say much the same for the family car. The general point is that the more something costs the more people take care of it.
David Farrer reports on Scottish Airports
Third failure in two months confirms privatisation fears
Pressure on Byers over flights chaos
Flights misery as new air traffic system fails again
'My flight delay hell' - A BBC reporter gets delayed - this is serious
EasyJet set to spread its wings - now that it's bought Go
The 'world's favourite airline' hits turbulence in tough times for national carriers - bring back the "ethnic" tailfins.
Pilot Eddington ejects the dividend as British Airways goes into a spin
BA touches down with £200m loss
Screens blamed for 'air blunders'
Cramped airline seats are 'safer' - bizzarely they are easier to get out of in an emergency.
'Timeshare' private jets take off - meanwhile the private sector just gets on with it.
Fewer flights lift punctuality
BA targets budget flights market
BAA offers £65m rescue plan for Nats
Regulators leave BAA in the air
Airports Authority stuck on the runway
BAA in talks about £65m backing for air traffic control
Ryanair profits to hit record after passenger numbers soar by 45%
Gray paves way for airport and Borders rail links - new services in Scotland
Record profits for Ryanair
DVT campaigner urges airline action
Ryanair 'will be biggest in Europe'
Stansted 'to get new runway'
Summer strikes spell chaos for airline passengers
Air traffic workload 'threatening safety'
Another air traffic alarm
Air control safety complaints soar
'No Heathrow in Essex'
Serious flying incidents over Britain have doubled
Budget airlines pilots 'cut corners'
Ryanair accused of putting pressure on pilots
Complaint on safety is loony, says Ryanair
Irish aviation authority satisfied with record of airline
How Ryanair puts its passengers in their place
BA slashes fares in low-cost battle
Travellers' tales
Cheap fare tips
Cheapest tickets are a rare find
Air controller's safety row with budget airlines
Air travel hit by strike chaos
Jets miss by seconds as air traffic system fails
Europe's troubled skies
Airport staff strike threat 'receding' after union talks
The Comet still provides good service
Rum and Ribena woman jailed for jet uproar
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.
The Queen and Becks put BA figures in spin
Third Heathrow runway back on agenda
Easyjet shares streak upward with rise in traffic
Does my bum look big in this Boeing? - airline seat economics
Swiss tighten air traffic control rules
Weather delays supersonic test
Air traffic overload 'increasing'
Panic on plane's emergency descent
Air rage man 'storms cockpit'
Supersonic jet crashes in test - whoops
Airline bars 'too fat' couple
Concorde turns back after 'fault'
Five dead after helicopter crash
Marshall gets rough ride over BA losses
Air travel forecasts "out of control"
Greens warn ministers on air policy
Labour to give Heathrow green light for new runway
Airport expansion plans unveiled
Privatisation of air traffic 'flawed'
Living in Heathrow's shadow
Super-airports plan for South-East
Passenger planes in near miss
£733m debt hits air control service
Going nowhere - Air traffic control crisis
Darling knows which airport plan will take off - Simon Jenkins
The new airport nightmare - Christian Wolmar
Batwings and dragonflies - the future of aircraft
Easyjet passengers stage sit-in
Nats deal in further scrutiny
'I lost my leg to DVT'
The passengers are revolting
Alternatives to expansion of airports - from some nimbyist LibDem
Boeing tries to defy gravity - there's no harm in dreaming
Hypersonic jet launch raises hopes - alas, it's being developed by some university scientists and as we all know universities are where old ideas go to die
Heathrow pilot 'refused to land'
Flight delays 'risk air traffic reputation'
Hurrah for easyJet heroes - Melanie McDonagh
Cost cuts drive BA profit
Heathrow plan 'threatens homes'
Is flying really more risky now? - Christian Wolmar
'Real risk' to air safety warns union
Ryanair profits take off
Ryanair chief blasts 'Nimby' Brits
Chilled-out Ryanair surfing ahead - no corporate exec who can describe Newquay (or anywhere else) as the "the surf and dope capital of England" can be all bad
Consequences of proposed airport expansion in South East
Planes' vapour trails affect weather
Tour firm starts budget airline - surely they've missed the (Air)bus?
EasyJet: Our staff can't cope with demand
Bidding war could raise flight prices - the IPPR want the government to auction off slots rather than build new aiports. You can, of course, do both.
Easyjet cancels flights as rota fails
Science fiction edges towards fact - including updates on what happened to the jet pack and the future of the personal helicopter
US Airways falls prey to September 11
Legal threat over easyJet flight
United Airlines warns of bankruptcy
Experimental jet 'a success'
10,000 flights changed as services are cut
High ho, it's off to work I go
Britain moves to end 'open skies' deadlock - good background article on why there are only 4 carriers on the Heathrow-US route
Airlines nosedive as passengers put price first - interesting article by Irwin Stelzer. Seems that a minor revolution is going on in the airline business.
Failure to detect Comet's fatal flaw
Bid to halt night flights
BAA trying to build third runway
For TV this compulsive, you need a private jet - Jeremy Clarkson, 17, likes 24, dislikes queues at airports
Airlines attacked over 'poor standards'
Ryanair demands pilots work past limit
Ryanair's ascent
Ryanair safety graphic
Airline upturn on the radar

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 11, 2002

Rail - General

Patrick Crozier | Crossrail | Rail General | Rail Miscellany

Rail chaos: the voters blame Blair
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? - the prognosis
Rail rage
Germans recreate little bit of England
Crossrail back on track
US groups plot £20bn rail deal
Commuters: Don't ever expect a seat
Effect of a new North-South railway
Cash plea to boost West Country rail
200mph dream of North-South railway to end roads gridlock
Commuters 'expect lasting chaos'
Christian Wolmar: £300m is worth it to get railways heading for the right destination
Glass graffiti craze could halt trains
Rail link slammed over advert claims
Two-thirds of rail advice 'wrong'
Long and short of rail inquiries - computers can be wrong
Insurance fight for GB Railways
Royal Train more B&Q than Orient Express
The coal was painted white so as not to offend Victoria
Flair on the rails - short diary item on the late Peter Parker
'Children writing on walls is better than robbing old ladies' - yes, but it's still wrong.
The state must step in to save our railways - Anthony Hilton calls for re-nationalisation. Utter drivel of course. I only hope I get the time to do a proper takedown one of these days.
3000 miles of line 'should be closed ' - Institute of Directors calls for a Beeching Mk2. Quite right too. Unfortunately, they are quite wrong about the relative sizes of the British and French networks. The French is almost twice the size of our own.
Railway warning - insight into what it is like to run trains over Railtrack's infrastructure
Virgin's 'captive audience' gets Branson sales pitch - 'A Virgin employee at Euston station found it hard to believe. She said: "You must be joking. These are our passengers they're going to be harassing."'
Falling to pieces - the Mirror reports on Britain's crumbling rail network
Waterloo commuters' daily worry - the Evening Standard reports that the tracks used by South West Trains are the worst around London. It is certainly true that they look bad. I can't find the exact quote but I seem to remember that although SWT hands over £260m to Railtrack in access charges Railtrack spends a mere £60m on the infrastructure.
Six days of despair - interesting insight into daily disruption and its causes.
Firms want to keep slam-door trains
Scot Rail adopts no-frills approach - well, actually, they are simply offering bargain fares which is what everyone else does. In fact, bargain fare offers are one of the few real plusses from rail privatisation.
Afghan gangs taking over stowaway routes, rail firm says - tales from the frontline in Northern France
Train overcrowding is 'breaching rules'
The issue New Labour can no longer duck - Christian Wolmar (see posts passim) makes some good points along with a few bad ones.
Eurostar trains join East Coast line - I am not entirely sure I believe this. There are already some Eurostar sets on the line and have been for some time. They're hardly the sort of thing you keep in storage for a rainy day.
Commuters will still be waiting no matter who takes charge
What Darling must do to get the railways working again - written by Phillip Beck, former Chairman of Railtrack, known as the Invisible Man. Some useful insights and quite a lot of special pleading for engineering.
Threat of huge rise in rail fares
No end to train driver shortage
Trains run later since change in Railtrack status
It's worth boarding National Express - scroll down to end
'Taxpayer carried all Chunnel link risks'
Tunnel offer adds to Railtrack bail-out
Rail fare discounts - whingeing
Record £12.5m fine for SWT
Rail punctuality still poses problems
Still room for train improvements
Rail network 'still unreliable'
Trains late but fares still rise above inflation
Trains worse than before Hatfield
Gray paves way for airport and Borders rail links - new services in Scotland
EU will enforce late-train refunds
Big profits rise for Jarvis
Chain of contracting out on railways
Why a return to state ownership would not deliver a golden age of rail - Telegraph editorial
Jarvis defends work record as profit soars
Rail industry raps 10-year transport plan
Eurostar's symbol of a distant dream suggests railways are on the wrong track
Railways may need extra £10bn
Muggers jailed for rail raids 'orgy'
New bid to police trains
Rail crisis turned into BBC drama
On old sleepers - Times Editorial
Government vetoes railway pay offer
Rail firms criticised for big fare rises
Rail fares under fire as discount is withdrawn - see High fares are good for you
Jail for railway pickpocket who stole £30,000
Accounts key to winning rail supremacy battle Amey v Jarvis
Rail trip takes longer than in 1909
Eurotunnel in line to make a profit - Graphic
Tunnelling starts for Channel link
Rail costs review Byers tried to block goes ahead
Rail commuters face huge fare rise
Death sparks surge in train graffiti
Rail fares could rise
Rail fares to increase as price caps scrapped - interesting graphic. Not sure about the claim that fares account for 50% of railway spending. I am sure the real figure is nearer 75%.
BA links up for bullfight on Spanish routes
Railways see sharp rise in crime
Extra £100m handout for Virgin Trains
A compensation that tests logic
Aboard the tilting train that can't tilt... yet
Taxpayers could face rail bill of £556m
Commuters revolt over rail failures
Fewer seats, 'more comfort' - Connex
Planning blow to Thameslink scheme
Connex looking to be loved
Crippling rail delays on West Coast - Excellent article in the Telegraph on how the disaster unfolded
Special trains for Labour conference - the uplifting news that while everyone else will have to get off and take a coach, politicos will travel non-stop.
Insurance threat to rail work
Railtrack in 'consultancy spending spree' - I must have missed this first time round
Soon all this could be railway (again) - plans to re-open the Great Central Railway
Connex warning over new trains
Rail venture sets off on the track to better service
Insurance snag threatens 'new Railtrack'
Wheels within uninsured wheels - rail's insurance crisis
Skellett likely to step down at Jarvis
Rail repairs to stay with contractors
CPS given Hatfield dossier

Permalink & Comments (0)

Patrick Crozier | Rail Safety

Generally, when I read something in the press, I have little doubt what I think about it but I am afraid that this article in the Times on railway insurance leaves me stumped.

That insurance premiums for engineering consultants and maintenance contractors are rising is not in doubt. The question is why? Explanations include the "spate" of railway accidents and the stock market.

Rising insurance premiums is not necessarily a bad thing. People often say to me that private companies don't have to bother with safety because insurance will pay out. My reply to this is that insurance payouts come from insurance premiums and that in the long run they pay. If it is the case that safety has declined and that premiums have to go up then quite right too.

The stock market explanation seems to be a complete red herring unless there has been some weird and wonderful way that insurance premiums have been being subsidised in recent years.

The idea that the railway is significantly more dangerous also seems dodgy. As I understand it (and I will see what statistics I can dig out here) although there have been some high profile crashes the death rate and other accident rates are not massively different from previous times. It is possible to argue that the trouble is all ahead of us and to look at the four foot at the average SWT station you would have to agree. But then again, TPWS (a safety system) will soom be with us, contractors do seem to be getting their act together and the industry is painfully aware of the importance of safety.

So what is the explanation then? The only thing that is left, it seems to me, is the whole public enquiry/corporate manslaughter circus. As far as I remember there is still a possibility of court cases arising from the Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potters Bar crashes and the payouts could be enormous.

It is also possible that the fragmentation of the industry doesn't help. Recently, I rang up WAGN to find out how much the Potters Bar crash had cost. Ah well, they said, there are questions of insurance and responsibility. It could take some time.

There was something else that caught my attention. If it is true that insurance amounts to only about 1% of contractors' costs then surely, in the grand scheme of things, that isn't going to make much difference. So, why the fuss?

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 08, 2002

Compulsory Purchase - oh no, not again

Patrick Crozier | Compulsory Purchase | Planning

It is a dreadful thing to find oneself disagreeing with Natalie Solent - especially when she is on the side of the angels and I am on the side of filthy lucre - and, let's face it, when she's in a bad mood. But I fear I am going to have to ramble anyway:

Any form of pollution, accompanied by compensation or otherwise is a violation of property rights. Indeed, the same could be said for any (truly) criminal act. Could building an airport simply be dealt with as part of the normal criminal law?

Actually, I don't think development will move away from the South East. In a truly free market I could imagine London becoming a city of 40m or more. If a city 5 times the size of the present one sounds frightening bear in mind that London was once a fifth the size it is now. We survived. By the way I don't think that demand is about speed but about volume.

Andy Wood has written to me enclosing a link to an article from Dr Bruce Benson of Florida State University. The article, "The Mythology of Eminent Doman and Public Provision of Roads" asks the question of whether Eminent Domain (American for Compulsory Purchase) is necessary. This is certainly an issue that pre-occupies a lot of libertarians. Usually, it all boils down to the "holdout" problem (or what I call the Granny Greenteeth problem) the one person who simply will not sell. And usually libertarians will devise various schemes for getting round it e.g. buying in secret, building bridges.

My problem is that all this is theoretical. I am constantly looking for concrete examples of this happening in practice. But there aren't any. With all but a few minor exceptions every canal, every railway and for all I know every road and every airport built in the UK was built with compulsory purchase powers. Even those ardent capitalists at Central Railway have accepted that they can't avoid it.

Dr Benson does give the example of pipelines that have been built without compulsory purchase. Which is interesting. But I am forced to wonder if the only reason they succeeded is that pipelines can go from A to B via just about any route you like while roads etc have to go from A to B via C, D and E.

What I think this debate boils down to is this: I believe that railways, roads and airports are essential and if that means riding roughshod over a few libertarian principles then too bad. I did not enjoy writing that one little bit.

By the way, I do agree with 99% of what Natalie writes.

Permalink & Comments (0)
Higher fares are good for you - an update

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | British Rail Privatisation | Fares and Ticketing

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that railway companies should be allowed the freedom to set fares as they like. Readers may remember that I used the example of the man on the 0822. I also posted the post to the uk.railway newsgroup. I received some interesting and some tough replies. Lawrence H, who admits to being a railway economist wrote:

The problem with this line of arguement is the timescale required for passengers to react to the higher fares. Moving house takes time. It may become hard to attract professional staff for companies in central London. This will force companies to consider relocation outside of the city and will harm competitiveness and damage the urban economy.

What is really required is a complete reassessment of the pricing of all transport modes to reflect the costs imposed.

Even so, peak rail fares are probably too low and off-peak fares too expensive. A careful realignment could help to spread the peak and reduce over-crowding, forcing companies into more flexible working practices to make more productive use of the transport nfrastructure.

Gitfinger (I suspect it is his real name) wrote:
He won't see it because he would of probably thrown himself under the 0822 by then due to being divorced because he lost his house because couldn't pay the mortgage because he had no money because he lost his job because he couldn't get to work because he couldn't afford a season ticket.
To which Mark Townend replied:
Ah, but in the economists' eyes, merely an unfortunate tragic side effect in acheiving the worthwhile greater benefits overall; just the short term pain whilst the market 'readjusts itself'.
All these writers are making exactly the same point (if in differing degrees of niceness) namely, that there is some pain involved while things adjust to a new status quo. I make the following observations:

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 06, 2002

Have rail fares gone up since privatisation?

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | British Rail Privatisation | Fares and Ticketing

It is a common claim by statist groups like Transport 2000 (now, there's an organisation in need of a name change) that rail fares have gone up. They love to point out how a Standard Open Single fare from London to Manchester has gone up from £50 in 1995 to £97 now. But that is only one fare. What about all the others?

The only way we can work it out is by referring to global statistics, specifically annual fare revenue and annual personal travel.

In 1994/5 passenger kilometres totalled 28.7bn and fare revenue totalled £2.494bn (2001 prices), which gives us an average cost per kilometre travelled of 8.7p.

In 2000/1 passenger kilometres totalled 39.2bn and fare revenue totalled £3.354bn, which gives us an average cost per kilometre travelled of 8.6p.

In other words the average cost for travelling one kilometre (or one mile for that matter) is more or less the same as it was pre-privatisation.

It ought to be pointed out that calculating passenger kilometres is an inexact science. How many journeys does a season ticket holder actually take? How far does a Travelcard holder actuall travel. But one assumes that the inaccuracies are more or less the same in both cases and so cancel one another out.

So, how do we account for near 100% fare increases like London to Manchester? The answer is simple: though many fares have gone up many others have come down. If you are prepared to book ahead you can get all sorts of deals (I did London to Manchester for £19 return). Furthermore, London commuter fares are held to inflation minus 1%. Incidentally, this is one of the main reasons for the current state of overcrowding in London and the South East.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 05, 2002

Does congestion charging work?

Patrick Crozier | Road Pricing

I was not entirely surprised to hear Ken Livingstone say that if Congestion Charging in London failed he would scrap it. First of all, it's a Ken thing to say and secondly, what do we mean by success? There is bound to be some sort of reduction in traffic even if it is just through the inconvenience of having to go through the barriers - so there will be something that Ken can point to in order to claim success.

But it did get me thinking. Surely, we know the answer already? After all, similar schemes have been tried out in Trondheim and Singapore. What's been the outcome there? I decided to do a little search. This is what I came up with:

General observations about the Trondheim scheme are that:Most of these concern the Norwegian experience - I will look into the Singaporean case when I get the time.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 04, 2002

Congestion charging - just do it!

Patrick Crozier | Misuse of the English Language | Road Pricing | Transport General

In the report on the extension of congestion charging to towns and cities across the country one paragraph in particular made me groan:

In Bristol the council proposes to charge £1 a day - but not before 2007. A spokesman said: "We want to make sure that public transport is improved first."
First of all, there's that vague and confusing term "public transport". Does it mean a)state transport, or b)transport available for use by the public, or c)mass transport? I feel Misuse of the English Language #3 coming on. In this case, unless I am very much mistaken, they mean buses which are definitely b), sometimes c) and theoretically never, though in practice almost always a).

Secondly, is it really necessary to wait? If the state is managing the expansion of buses then there is, indeed, likely to be a wait. But if it were left to a genuinely free market ie not just privatised, then bus operators would intervene pretty quickly to satisfy the gap in the market. Surely, they can. If the NFFF airlines can fill a gap in the market in a matter of a few years I am sure bus operators can do it far faster.

Thirdly, should this term mean buses? Couldn't jitneys supply a better and cheaper alternative?

Fourthly, isn't it depressing how complicated everything is? We have rules banning jitneys. We have rules on where buses can an can't stop. We have reserved bus lanes. All this adds up to no end of bureaucracy and delay.

Permalink & Comments (0)
What's new

Patrick Crozier |

London Underground: Comparison with New York Subway - interesting piece if you like that sort of thing - which I do!
Paying for parking by text
'Real risk' to air safety warns union
Cities follow London on congestion charge
Letters to the Editor: Give way to Lycra louts - worth reading. Quite ferocious. This is what you get when the state owns the road.

Permalink & Comments (0)
August 02, 2002

How not to control pollution

Patrick Crozier | Airport Expansion | European Union

Suddenly the number of houses that will have to be demolished to make way for the third runway at Heathrow has leapt from 260 to 10,000. Read on and soon enough you discover that this is not because the airport planners got their sums wrong on the grand scale but that the plans fall foul of EU pollution laws.

It seems that if pollution reaches a certain level then all properties affected must be bought up and demolished. So, here are some thoughts:


Permalink & Comments (0)
Do you feel lucky?

Patrick Crozier | Road General

Over on, Tim Hall asks "do you believe in the total privatisation of the road network?"

Gulp. It's so rare to be asked straight out like that. Most of the time one is simply attempting to get noticed so one takes the most radical line possible. I am certainly never expecting to be taken seriously, so it's a bit of a shock when people do just that.

So, if there were a button right in front of me right now which if I pressed it would, in an instant, privatise the whole of the UK road network; would I press it? I have to say I would hesitate. What would the access rules be? Who would the roads be sold to? Would they be sold at all or just given away? Is there something I've missed which would prove catastrophic? Couldn't we do it slowly, firstly privatising the motorways, then the A-roads, then all the small ones?

Ah, but think about the upside. In an instant you could bring congestion-free motoring to the masses. No more potholes, no more roadworks, no more holes in the road (OK, they'd still be all of these things just fewer). No more stupid rules and even stupider taxation. No more "Do you think that's a safe speed, sir?"

That's funny. Why does my thumb hurt?

Permalink & Comments (0)
What's new

Patrick Crozier | Blogging

I must give a mention to regular correspondent Tim Hall and his site and his blog. It seems to be mostly about trains and heavy metal (I hope that that's an acceptable term). I wonder if he is aware of Dodgeblog. He has been kind enough to add me to his permalinks though he does add that: " particular, I am not a Libertarian!" I think Tim views my blog in much the same way that most of us regard car crashes: it's ugly but you have to look. I get the feeling that there's at least a part of him that wonders if I really exist. "He holds those opinions!"
The Tube makes Iain Murray smile
The man who likes London too much - profile of Bob Kiley
To the lady who berated me, I say: on your bike - Boris Johnson makes the implausible claim that he can ride a bike. Stertorously, by the way, means marked by heavy snoring - not that that adds a lot to the meaning
Livingstone will stand or fall by gamble - Tony Travers
Cost cuts drive BA profit
Heathrow plan 'threatens homes'
Drug driving figures 'shocking'
Is flying really more risky now? - Christian Wolmar

Permalink & Comments (0)

This is a list of date-based archives from the In Brief section:

November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004