Argument in a Circle

My calendar (calendar? what am I talking about? I mean, of course, my phone and my computer) is telling me that today is 8 September.

Seems about right: I seem to remember yesterday was the 7th. Without this reassurance, though, I might have thought that it was 1 April.

This is because, as a kind of tail end to the summer ‘silly season’, some of our more reactionary newspapers are giving publicity to an ‘idea’ from architects nbbj, who are suggesting that the Circle Line of London Underground could be replaced by a series of parallel moving belts — ‘travelators’ — which would move at successively faster speeds. Continue reading

Cool welcome on Thameslink

THE new trains for Thameslink, unveiled in late January, are already running late, which we hope is not an indication of future performance on the route.

The procurement of Class 700 was lengthened, we are told, by its complexity – more than a dozen funding bodies are involved. But it was also perhaps unfortunate that the negotiations were at a critical stage when a financial crisis swept around the world, affecting Europe in particular. Continue reading

It’s time for the big HS2 budget show!

HELLO, and welcome to another in our popular series of figure-juggling, in which we put those pesky integers and fractions to the test!

Our guest today is Mr Richard Houghton of HS2 Action Alliance. What do you do at the Alliance, Mr Houghton?

You’re a director? That’s great. Well, I see you’ve brought along some new figures. That’s great too.

So, let’s see what Mr Houghton can do with these figures. Continue reading

Astonishing ignorance

REPORTS about HS2 are coming along with increasingly tight headways just at the moment.

If nothing else, they give anyone bored with the imminent festivities something different to read on Boxing Day, and today we have another one.

This is from the Commons Transport Committee, which is broadly confirming its support for the scheme, subject to one or two qualifications.

The suggestions from the Committee include the possibility of starting work in the north and building towards the south, which is apparently going to be considered. Continue reading

Fare enough?

CAN YOU hear a whirring sound? Go on, listen a bit harder.

That’s it. Anyone can hear it if they try, because it’s the Government’s spinning wheel, rotating busily to make today’s announcement about a cap on rail fares sound as luscious and family-friendly as possible. Anyone would think there’s an election in 2015.   Continue reading

HS2 and the Booker Prize

THERE HAVE been many works of fiction about railways. One of Sherlock Holmes’ cases involved a body found on the Underground near Aldgate, A J Cronin was able to use the Tay Bridge disaster to dispose of a character, while the adventures of E Nesbit’s Railway Children have become a much-loved legend. In more recent times railways have formed the basis of dramas or comedies on both radio and television.

The novelist Frederick Forsyth has now followed this tradition by sketching out a little effort of his own about HS2 for the Daily Express, and rollicking fun it is too. Continue reading

West Coast’s crucial countdown

THE continuing crisis over the collapse of the West Coast franchise competition is now sweeping through the Department for Transport like an administrative version of Hurricane Sandy.

Ministers have grovelled and civil servants have been suspended, but with just one month left of the present West Coast contract there is still no confirmation that Virgin Trains will be running services on West Coast after 8 December. Continue reading