Road and rail – what does the future have in store?

THE Confederation of British Industry has proposed that road charging should be introduced on England’s motorways and trunk roads, now operated by the Highways Agency.

As the Strategic Road Network — amounting to some 6,500 miles (10,460km) — and the rail network in England are very similar in size, as is the geography they serve, the CBI’s call for road charging could put the two networks on a broadly similar — and competitive — basis for the first time for longer distance journeys. Continue reading

The curse of Nightmare Manor

INTO the Railnews inbox comes a helpful message entitled ‘Virgin Trains Press Release: Book early for Christmas train travel’.

The body of this release concedes that there ‘remains some uncertainty’ about who will be running West Coast trains by then, and we are pleased to announce that this phrase has won the Railnews Blog Award for Greatest Understatement of the Month. Continue reading

Why is franchising falling over?

IF YOU could find a time machine and set its dial for spring 1997, you would arrive at a time when the first round of rail franchising had just been completed.

The Conservatives were determined to complete railway privatisation before the General Election (because they had a gloomy presentiment that Labour would win, as indeed it did), but it was a close-run thing. The last franchise (ScotRail) began on 31 March 1997, even as the election was already under way. When the vote was held on 1 May, Tony Blair’s Labour Party romped home. Continue reading