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Concrete them over. Pt. II

I have mentioned it before that the best thing to do with the railways is to Concrete them over.

Looking back I noticed this comment -


What makes you think that road transport can carry more people per hour, is less polluting and safer than rail? None of these things is remotely true. And have you any idea how many coaches would be needed to replace trains (for example, to carry a quarter of a million people into London every day), and what they would do to our already congested roads?
Bit late for an April Fool suggestion.
Posted by: Goswell Frand at April 5, 2004
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Well dear old Gossie the answer is here - ( I hope you still drop by to read this) Transport Watch UK - Road/rail comparisons across the uk

Very much against public and political sentiment roads managed to avoid congestion would offer 3 to 4 times the capacity to move freight and people at one quarter the cost of rail while using 30% to 40% less energy and reducing casualty costs suffered by rail passengers by a factor of 2.

The problem with the proposition is that (a) it is so very much against expectation (b) the numbers are so overwhelming as to inspire disbelief rather than belief (c) few people have ever seen a motor road managed to avoid congestion - the UK road network is (with the exception of motorways and some modern single carriageways) a collection of access roads never designed for motor traffic (d) rail is so romantic.

The primary proposition is expanded below. Nearly all the statements were tested at the Public Inquiry into the West Coast Main Line Modernisation Programme. There, Railtrack's immensely expensive Inquiry Team could do nothing in the face of the research presented. Any person who doubts that may have copies of the relevant closing statements in PDF Format. Additionally, the whole is supported by a series of facts sheets also available in PDF format, list appended.

Comments

I disagree. I travel by train three days a week and find it, contrary to my ever-present cynicism, actually to be quite good. Most of the time it's very comfortable, cheap, reliable and problem-free. The biggest problem is that they are all run by state-backed monopolies, and there is no way to avoid using one supplier.

I'd rather pay to sit back and read a book (or whatever) in a comfortable train carriage than contend with the M25. The government have manhandled the railway network in an appalling manner by half-privatising it. They ought to go the whole hog and get the State out of the railway business.

Tom
Lucky old you - nice comfy chair on your way into work - I missed the bit why the hell I should be subsidising you... :)

I will tell you why you are wrong. More cars means more road required. The Americans have designed cities to allow maximum movement for cars with minimum impediment.

It does not work there. From Miami to San Diego the road system in the US is a complete balls-up.

We need to invest more into the railway, have more frequent trains.. and coordinate bus and train routes. We also need to reduce the amount of roads rather than increase them, and make council tax consider house size + car ownership for the household.

Tim: I agree. I'd like to see the railway network completely taken out of public hands and run by private companies. I don't want subsidies from the state for my train journey. I want the advantages that a privately-run company can offer the train network, but as a customer there is little I can do but wait for change to happen.

The railway network isn't going to disappear, and I don't think that concreting over them is the answer. Turning them in to a competitive business rather than a nanny-hand-held 'public private partnership' would solve the problems. Currently, railway companies do not have to take any risk, since the risk is covered by the government.

"The problem with the proposition is that (a) it is so very much against expectation". Well, it ain't against mine. It seems implausible that steel-on-steel traction, on a dedicated track, of enormously heavy vehicles, is the most economic way to move people or goods, except in a few, pretty special, cases. Would anyone like to cost the notion that we should freeze our rivers and canals so that people can skate to work? How delicious in summer.

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