Britain’s love hate relationship with the railways

February 11th, 2013 Chatham House 2 comments
There is a paradox in the British attitude towards the railways. On the one hand, trains are the great Aunt Sally, a reposi-tory of complaints ranging from ageing carriages to overcrowding. Indeed, no boss would question an employee who gives train delay as an excuse for turning up late. On the other, people just keep flocking on to the lines. Despite ticket prices going up by one per cent above inflation ...

Heathrow third runway hoo-ha misses the point

September 6th, 2012 Christian Says 3 comments
I wish the new transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, well and hope he is in post for rather longer than most of his predecessors. His appointment may owe more to Justine Greening's stance on Heathrow - did Cameron not realise, as I and many others did a year ago, that this problem might arise - and realpolitik than anything to do with their respective abilities, but Heathrow is actually the least of ...

Rail 689: Can rail delivery group deliver?

February 10th, 2012 Rail Magazine 1 comment
The Rail Delivery Group was the key pan-industry organisations spun out of last year’s McNulty report. Its members are the bosses of the train operating owning groups, together with a couple of senior representatives from Network Rail including its chief executive, Sir David Higgins, along with several other key industry personnel. Sir Roy McNulty, to his credit, attends which suggests an ongoing interest in ensuring his study is taken seriously. The ...

Rail 686: Another momentous year on the tracks – and mystic Wolmar

December 22nd, 2011 Rail Magazine 2 comments
At the beginning of 2011 I wrote that it would be a momentous year. I’m not sure that it has actually quite lived up to that billing. Although there’s been no shortage of drama and excitement, the weakness of the McNulty report, hijacked by a minister who delved deep into the detail of what interested him – and railway finances certainly did – means that in essence it is ‘steady ...

Rail 672: The real story behind the McNulty report

June 10th, 2011 Rail Magazine 9 comments
The authors and contributors to the McNulty review have been coming out of the woodwork, angered by the version of the report that has been published.  Several people have contacted me and have been remarkably critical of the way that the process was hijacked by the Department for Transport which ultimately stifled debate and ensured that the report’s conclusions contradicted its findings. The production of the report was a fraught ...

Rail 671: McNulty fails the test

May 25th, 2011 Rail Magazine 7 comments
There was something fitting, poignant even, about the fact that when Sir Roy McNulty was speaking at the press conference on his report, he kept on clicking back to the previous slide by mistake. That summed up the problem with his analysis of the ills of the rail industry. Rather than looking forward to a different way of running the railways, his recipe is really more of the same, with ...

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