Saturday, 8 October 2011

Underground Chaos

The persistent closing of large parts of the London Underground (Tube) system at weekends must stop.  The chaos, confusion and overcrowding it causes on routes that are open has to be experienced to see how bad it is.

I feel sorry for the tourists who will go home saying,  "Don't visit London, the Tube never works at weekends."  I feel sorry for the staff who have to answer repeated questions on alternative routes.  I feel sorry about the loss of income for shops and businesses.

Whatever happened to the "customer led railway" we hear so much about?  We seem to have reverted to the old "operator led railway".

There must be a better way of managing the railway's renewal programme.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

War on the Motorist?

Christian Wolmar, the extreme left wing writer on rail issues has declared himself as a centurion of the war on the motorist.  I imagine he thinks he will stir a frenzy amongst the socialist chattering classes and show how modern and eco friendly he is.  Big mistake.  92% of UK voters travel by road while less than 8% travel by rail.  It ain't helpful to annoy such a huge majority, even if a lot of them are Daily Mail readers.

I am a 50-year veteran of the railway industry and yet I drive every day.  I use rail when it's more efficient than the car, indeed I prefer the train but I usually use the car because I am one of the 40 million people who don't live in London or other very large cities and who therefore don't have an effective rail service for the daily journeys I make.  Come on Christian, get real. Don't make enemies of people we might get to travel by train if the service was available.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Rail Factoids - 8: Light Rail Construction Costs

In a useful and interesting article this week, RAIL Magazine contained a table listing the costs of building various tramway and light rail lines in Britain.  Here are the figures, adjusted for 2010/11 prices:

Project Date Cost/mile
            Tyne & Wear            1980  £19.8m
            Docklands            1987  £20.0m
            DLR to Becton            1994  £77.4m
            Manchester            1992  £11.7m
            Manchester            2000  £41.6m
            Sheffield            1994  £19.9m
            Midland Metro            1999  £14.6m
            T&W to Sunderland            2002  £10.4m
            Nottingham            2004  £23.6m
            Average            £25.4m

There are some interesting details in this list. The two most expensive projects were the DLR extension to Beckton at £77.4 million a mile and the Manchester Phase 2 project of 2000 at £41.6m a mile. These were both only 5 miles long, the shortest of all the projects. Costs tend to rise swiftly for short routes.

In comparison, the Edinburgh project is expected to cost £100million a mile. RAIL Magazine describes some of the background to the fiasco.