In Praise Of Beeching’s Axe

From our correspondent on the M4:

Trains are an extremely safe way to travel. Safe, environmentally friendly and, in many ways, more civilised, yet our system is still geared towards the car and rewards its use, and has been at least since the 1960s when the then Conservative government commissioned huge cuts to the rail network — the infamous Beeching Axe.

The “Axe” was seen as inevitable and forward-thinking, yet half a century later the tide of expert opinion may be shifting, and with it the serious possibility of undoing some of the cuts.

See More

What The Driverless Car Will Really Kill Is The Rail Network

As this piece from the Conversation points out, the technology really at risk from the driverless car is the long distance rail network. If we can all sit in our own little private carriage, one that goes from point to point, what’s the point of having terminii for node to node travel? Urban rail, the Tube, that’ll still work to a point because congestion. But why King’s Cross to Brum New Street by rail when the West Norwood to Solihull autonomous car will do it?

See More

No, The Same Flightless Bird Species Didn’t Evolve Again – But the Niche Was Filled Again

Yes, sure, allowances for having to fit a complex scientific idea into a short newspaper article for those who are not – let us say – among the intellectual giants of our civilisation. But you here can have it straight, right?

BACK FROM THE DEAD ‘Extinct’ bird species reappeared on Indian Ocean island after 30,000-year gap, Brit researchers discover
The flightless white-throated rail seemed to go extinct then bizarrely reappeared

No, that’s not what happened.…

See More

British Train Ticket Prices Are Far Too Low – They Must Be Increased

A standard whinge in Britain today is that rail privatisation has failed – just look, the trains are so crowded! The thought that people flocking to use something proves failure being a most odd one of course. That more people use the train sets to travel longer distances more often should be seen as a triumph of privatisation, not a proof of its failure. And we should note that the last few decades of British Rail did show – population adjusted – falling ridership.…

See More

The Mail Gets Confused About Inflation Rates – Quelle Surprise

Our newspapers are written by those who failed maths GCSE and thus had to make do with pursing an arts degree instead. Given this it’s really no surprise at all to find that there’s often a certain confusion when anything numerical – or even detailed – comes up in the news. So it is with this from The Mail:

Rail fares across the UK have risen by 37 per cent in ten years, both outstripping the Consumer Price Index by 9 percent and the increase in wages over the same time period.

See More

Sad Piffle From The Guardian’s Helen Pidd On British Train Ticket Prices

Following the news that train ticket prices are to go up a little less than the rate of inflation in the new year The Guardian’s Helen Pidd decides that we should all be boycotting those very price rises. Because, you know, there’s nothing that screams equality like a senior newspaper executive insisting other, poorer, people pay for her commute now, is there? For that is what she’s doing:

Why I refuse to pay January’s unfair new train fares
Helen Pidd

So, what is the detailed analysis which leads to this call for a boycott?…

See More