fredag 28 januari 2011

Where I should have been last night

I had intended to be back on my way to Sweden this week but it just has not worked out as various things have got in the way. Next month I hope...

måndag 17 januari 2011

Buses replace trains


Buses replace trains, originally uploaded by seadipper.

Yet again at the weekends, buses are replacing trains on the 20 mile stretch of the Brighton main line south of Three Bridges, disrupting services between Brighton, Eastbourne and along the south coast.

Being a very busy route, about 15 weekends a year work has to be done on the line to make good all the wear and tear it gets. The bus services are well organised and all is as good as could be in the circumstances.

However, there must be a significant economic loss to Brighton and other places on the coast, due to the fewer number of visitors. And one wonders if it really necessary to close the entire stretch of line so often.

The real issue, however, is this. The Brighton main line has four tracks from London to Three Bridges. Just before the Second World War, when the line had been electrified, the extra pair of tracks was extended southwards as far as Balcombe Tunnel, And there it stopped, apart from a four track section through Haywards Heath. If the four tracking was completed as far as Wivelsfield, where the Eastbourne and Brighton lines split, there would be no need for these buses and it would be easier to deal with other disruptions.

This would of course be a relatively expensive stretch of line, with the construction of a second tunnel at Balcombe a new viaduct across the Ouse Valley, but how do the costs and benefits weigh up?

fredag 14 januari 2011

The East End's Olympic hopes are being dashed

So runs an article in today's Guardian. The wonder is that anyone really believed that there would be some kind of trickle-down for the hard-up residents of the depressed part of London where the stadium would be built.

Competitive sport as we know it today was invented in the late nineteenth century, growing out of the social-Darwinist paradigm. The mindset behind it is essentially fascistic and it is no coincidence that totalitarian regimes have been outstanding in promoting it.

The British bid was part of the drive towards the grandiose, which characterises British politics, regardless of which party is in power. Partly it reflects the wider delusion that the country is still a great power

If one wants to develop the infrastructure of a run down area, the investment must be carefully tailored to the circumstances. It will not be if the primary purpose is a big sports complex. That will leave little in the way of useful legacy.

A further factor is that we don't know how to pay for infrastructure. The taxpayers' money goes in and it ends up in higher rents and property prices for some lucky landowners to make off with. And it is all a bonanza for the big civil engineering consultancies and contractors.

Read article here

söndag 2 januari 2011

Wise men arrive four days early


Epiphany mosaic, originally uploaded by Lawrence OP.

We celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany today, four days early. This is on the instructions of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. For almost the past 2000 years, it has been celebrated twelve days after Christmas Day, on 6th January, known as Twelfth Night.

This kind of nonsense does not enhance respect for the said Bishops.

Diminishing returns of British high speed rail

The typical inter-city journey in Britain is about 100 miles. Now look at this table of speeds and journey times; remember that to achieve a...