Railways are back on the government’s books

December 30th, 2013 Christian Says 2 comments
      The news, slipped out just before Xmas, that Network Rail’s debt will simply be lumped in with the government’s in September 2014, is an occasion for a bit of gloating as well as of concern. This received surprisingly little attention even though my sources say that the Department for Transport was taken aback and is extremely discomfited by the decision. The arrangement by which the debt - now £30bn, soon to ...

Cycling tragedies require a rapid response

November 17th, 2013 Christian Says 11 comments
The spate of five cyclists being killed within the past fortnight on London's streets demands an urgent respone. As I have argued in the Observer in the piece posted on this site, the Cycling Vision set out by Andrew Gilligan,Boris Johnson's cycling tsar, is full of good ideas, but it is all too slow and cumbersome. In the Observer article, I mention that change must be brought about quickly and efficiently. ...

East Coast set to remain in the public sector (sort of)

October 2nd, 2013 Christian Says 5 comments
There are some stories in the modern railway that you could not make up because they would be too far-fetched. The story of  the PPP on the London Underground was one, but now we have another great one. Eurostar is bidding  jointly for the East Coast franchise with Keolis, which normaly partners Go-Ahead. Now of course this is the franchise that is being rushed through for privatisation because currently it is ...

Cycling announcement is dishonest spin

August 12th, 2013 Christian Says 6 comments
To suggest that today's announcement of £148m over two years is the biggest cycling investment programme ever is both dishonest and laughable.  When I was on the board of Cycling England, we had a grant of £60m of new money which was matched by spending from local authorities. This £148m includes money from local councils and therefore is not even as much as we were getting. Even if all the money ...

HS2 spending plan puts project at risk

June 27th, 2013 Christian Says 24 comments
It's hardly surprising that the Spending Review announcement was seen as a good day to bury the bad news that the projected cost of HS2 has now soared to £42.6bn which amounts to £50bn if rolling stock is included. This is pretty catastrophic for the project - it effectively means that if the business case is recalibrated, it will barely come up with a benefit cost ratio of 1 -1 ...

NAO report raises all the right issues

May 16th, 2013 Christian Says 9 comments
On the scale of damning, the NAO report into HS2 is around 9 out of 10. Remember this is an organisation that pulls its punches, showing draft reports to ministers and generally avoids rocking the boat too hard, though it has improved since the disgraceful reign of Sir John Bourn who was keener on eating fat dinners with subjects of the report rather than investigating them. The report published today, ...
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