Let them go by tube


          The Prime Minister is right to say that Ministers going to the Olympics in an official capacity should go by public transport.  As these games are spending so much money and energy lecturing all the rest of us not to use our cars in any circumstances, it would be hypocrisy if Ministers decided they could swan along in the unpopular Zil/BMW  lanes with the Olympic officials who insisted on them as part of the deal.

          As BMW are official sponsors and supplying the cars it would also look bad if UK Ministers had to exclusively use BMWs, who only make engines here, and not be able to showcase the many good complete vehicles that are manufactured in the UK.

          If I had a ticket to go to the Olympic Park I would probably choose to go by tube as the most likely quickest way of getting there. That would, of course, depend on the tube working well that day, which is always a risk. It is the venues out of the centre that could have offered a car park option as well as a public transport option, to help those of us who do not live near a station, and cannot easily reach   a line that runs to the venue.

           Another advantage of Ministers going by tube is they could then find out what the service is like that the rest of us use on a regular basis. This week I needed to use the tube as I had a couple of journeys to make to meetings in Central London that were too far to walk in a sensible time. When trying to carry out the first one, on the Central Line, I was told that all lines save the Jubilee had a good service. When I got onto the westbound central line platform the service was badly disrupted by signal failure at Lancaster Gate. I took the eastbound and got back to Westminster via Bank, only to find from Monument that the District line westbound was also going slow owing to  signal failure at Gloucester Road.

           The next day I needed to get to St Katherine’s by the Tower. The District Line was scarcely functioning owing to another signal failure.  The Mayor and Ministers should make acquaintance with this day to day reality of what could be a good way of getting around in a crowded city where the politicians and officials  have spent the last ten years removing much of the road space from car drivers. Mass transit can work in a densely crowded city like London, but it needs to have good robust simple systems that either work or can be remedied quickly.


  1. Alan Duckworth
    July 22, 2012

    Somehow can’t see DC using the tube

    1. Credible
      July 22, 2012


      The political class mostly come from wealthy backgrounds and don’t use nasty things like tubes or busses. So they aren’t really very bothered if they don’t work very well.
      Same goes for state schools.

    2. Barry
      July 22, 2012

      He will only do so if media attention reveals his lack of the “common touch” and/or he makes a big show of it to demonstrate his “common touch”; not that DC will do anything to resolve anything. A fallen star who in the eyes of some had charisma but now in the eyes of most has little ability.

  2. barnacle bill
    July 22, 2012

    We’ll be seeing “Ministers Only” carriages on the tube next!

    1. Single Acts
      July 22, 2012

      Better that than having several jumpy armed police ‘protecting’ ministers. That may not end well.

  3. Mike Stallard
    July 22, 2012

    Ever been to Bangkok? Or Hamburg? Or Singapore? Or Brisbane?

  4. lifelogic
    July 22, 2012

    Indeed having lived in London for twenty odd years, until about 4 years ago, I have seen little improvement over that period in the tubes or buses and the road have been intentionally blocked. Needless to say the best kept line was the Jubilee Line that went through Westminster. Diverted there at vast expense when they were also wasting vast sums on the absurd Millennium Dome.

    The fact that Ministers are so out of touch with reality is indeed a huge problem. They seem to get all their information from the state sector, the unions, the EU and businessmen who are often just looking for an unfair advantage or profitable contract. No one really in the system gives a dam about whether the investment works or serves any purpose.

    It is ministers and MP responsibility to act in the interest of the public they are the only protection the public has, they fail completely at every turn.

    Rather like all the other parts of government.

    Any news yet on why Cameron is so against a Greater Switzerland model. Is it an aversion the cuckoo clocks perhaps? Perhaps rather than just saying it is in our interests (to be subsumed into a mad undemocratic socialist EU rather than be like Switzerland and Norway) he could tell us why, on earth, he thinks this? I can see no advantages whatsoever and the government never even dares to suggests any.

    1. lifelogic
      July 22, 2012

      I had missed, last week, the mad claim by David Cameron that “we’ve got the deficit down by a quarter”. Which deficit is he talking about exactly?

      Has he gone mad or does he think he can just continue to lie and the deficitwill, like magic, just go away?

      Perhaps he should try the Swiss, outside the EU, surplus method for a change.

    2. Greg
      July 22, 2012

      Whilst I would agree that the Jubilee line is pretty good that is becuase it is new. Likewise the DLR (that goes nowhere near parliament) is also very effective. By contrast the Circle and District lines are pretty appalling, both of which go to Westminster.

      The Jubilee line extension goes through Westminster as that is the natural route out to Canary Wharf

    3. forthurst
      July 22, 2012

      “Any news yet on why Cameron is so against a Greater Switzerland model.”

      Switzerland is extremely unpopular with globalists who wish to abolish the nation state and abolish us; they were seething with rage when the Swiss banned minarets. (Of course, for their own special country, entirely different rules apply).

    4. lifelogic
      July 22, 2012

      The problem is the the BBC with government has convinced everyone that if we walk, take a bus or bike we are somehow being virtuous and the world will then not come to a fiery end in 200 years time.

      No sensible person or scientist thinks this is true but it suit the agenda of the state for ever more power, tax and further enslavement of the populous.

      I see David Starkie, in the culture section of the times, has it exactly right today in his attack on the useless Cameron (and alas Hague now):- “Almost all of our leading politicians, on both sides, are Oxford PPE graduates, as such they are schooled in the social sciences with their pseudo-scientific generalisations about human behaviour. They would be better guided by history which deals with people as they are not as we would like them to be.”

      He could perhaps have added guided by history, real science and real economics. Then we could also have avoided the quack green religion and the quack economics being pushed on us all by the “BBC thinkers” and indeed several Nobel prize winners.

    5. BobE
      July 22, 2012

      ” he could tell us why, on earth, he thinks this? I can see no advantages whatsoever and the government never even dares to suggests any”

      The reason is that after they loose office they can get nice jobs and pensions working for the EU. (Both the Kinnocks got jobs like that).
      Blair was trying to get to be president of the EU, which was why he sold us down river. I think Cameron and Clegg just want to be commisioners. Time will tell.

  5. oldtimer
    July 22, 2012

    Re BMW: BMW own and make the Mini (in Oxford) which uses the engines made in Hams Hall, Birmingham. They build and assemble the Rolls Royce in an assembly plant near Goodwood; no doubt the engine and transmission come from Germany. Perhaps the PM thinks the Mini is beneath the status that should be accorded to ministers and that, rightly, the Rolls Royce really would feed the toff image. On a sporting note, it was good to see that the Bradley Wiggins team car, that followed him in yesterday`s Tour de France time trial, was a Jaguar.

    After Labour`s Dome fiasco, he is right to be concerned about the image presented. Besides it serves to confirm who really is in charge of the country at this time – the Olympic Committee no less.

    1. lifelogic
      July 22, 2012

      Heseltine’s Dome was it not initially!

      1. oldtimer
        July 22, 2012

        True. But New Labour was responsible for the appalling Millenium “celebrations” in which ministers travelled in splendid isolation but everyone else was left standing on station platforms.

  6. alan jutson
    July 22, 2012

    Ministers travelling by tube ?.

    That would be a security risk, its only for the masses don’t you know.

    Do not forget the Clipper service on the Thames to Greenwhich from the South Embankment, you get to see the sights as well !

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    July 22, 2012

    Just how many Ministers are going to the Olympics “in an official capacity” and how often? I can think of only two or three who need to be there “in an official capacity” and then only on a couple of occasions; after all, it is supposed to be a sporting event isn’t it? However, I bet they all go several times.

  8. Simon George
    July 22, 2012

    ” The Mayor and Ministers should make acquaintance with this day to day reality of what could be a good way of getting around in a crowded city”. Good idea. That is what Boris bikes are for.

  9. Andrew Smith
    July 22, 2012

    Fair enough idea.

    They will be late!

  10. Pete the Bike
    July 22, 2012

    The underground is run as a state monopoly. That means it will NEVER be efficient or cost effective. It is quite literally a big hole in the ground for investment. If ministers do travel by tube and experience the joys of delays and overcrowding the best we will get is some sound bite announcements followed by some smoke and mirrors injection of cash which will have exactly zero effect.
    Let them use the Zil lanes and then the rest of us won’t have to look at their gormless faces.

  11. Excalibur
    July 22, 2012

    Why are there so many signal failures ??

    1. Bob
      July 22, 2012


      “Why are there so many signal failures ??”

      Is it cos someone keeps stealing the copper cables?

      1. lifelogic
        July 22, 2012

        Because the pound is being engineered to become so worthless now copper cable is a better bet for the criminals.

  12. Martin
    July 22, 2012

    I always found when the Central line went wrong that having a plan B was always a good idea. This usually involved the humble bus, walking and sometimes (ex)BR. An A-Z is a great idea too. In my list of alternatives the Circle line was the last alternative.

  13. Michael Read
    July 22, 2012

    Another Olympophobic. Join the gang. I deeply resent that this running and skipping jamboree has come to London.

    It’s a swansong for NuLabour – all show with deceit at its core

    1. forthurst
      July 22, 2012

      … an apt revenge for Heseltine’s Millenium Dome, though.

    2. Electro-Kevin
      July 22, 2012

      Perhaps the flame ought to have been replaced with a chalice.

  14. Bazman
    July 22, 2012

    As I have pointed out before the planning restrictions on helicopters in London is absurd and pointless and because of this the capital is now being subjected to traffic jams.
    The governments should abolish these rules and make more use of private helicopters. You do not have to travel with the Hoi polloi as you do with limousines. Can land or hover on any building. Large twin rotor ones can be fitted out with accommodation and with running costs as little a £700 an hour can easily be buried in the public accounts. Prince Andrew swears by them and helps the taxpayer by using one at every opportunity. The military has quite a few and could for a few quid be brought up to ministerial standards. The tube? I’d rather walk.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      July 22, 2012

      A great comment but for ‘the’ hoi polloi.

      1. Bazman
        July 22, 2012

        Marvellous. I shall have my man correct it forthwith.

        1. RDM
          July 23, 2012

          You are too tight to pay for a Man, but no one said anything about Women?

          RDM, the long term unemployed.

  15. Daedalus
    July 22, 2012

    I had some business in London near St Pauls so got the underground from Liverpool St. I finally got on the 4th train, due to not being able to get on any of the first 3 due to them being so crowded, how people manage this on a daily basis is beyond me.


    1. outsider
      July 22, 2012

      If there is a next time, you could walk this easily in 15 minutes.
      As to how people manage, it is simple. They arrive to start work fed up, enervated, downtrodden and ready for a rest. Which, you may think, explains a lot.

  16. Max Dunbar
    July 22, 2012

    If any UK ministers have motorcycle licences then I would not object to BMW motorbikes being made available to them for use in the Zil lanes. Some ministers could also benefit from using bicycles in these lanes to burn off the large amounts of fat accumulated from too many official dinners. Lead by example?

  17. Bob
    July 22, 2012

    “…it would be hypocrisy…”


    1. lifelogic
      July 22, 2012

      “…it would be hypocrisy…”

      So in keeping with the usual approach then.

  18. David C
    July 22, 2012

    ‘Signal problems’ seem to be incredibly common on the Tube.

    Why is this?

    Haven’t we got any high quality engineers who can make and operate robust signalling systems with adequate back up systems in the rare event of failure. It’s not exactly rocket science or brain surgery!

  19. David Langley
    July 22, 2012

    Why dont we have a permanent Olympic park based on somewhere warm and pleasant? The transport infrastructure and all the remaining structures maintained and updated as required by the olympic committee. Financed by the world, and situated on an island bought and paid for by subscription from all competing countries.
    Non profit making and non sponsored by companies seeking profit. If this is a an absolutely crap idea, then simply the Olympics is about money and corporate profit and a freebie for politicians and the great and good. The island could be called Olympia and I have some suggestions if anyone wants to know.
    Forget legacy and all the other drivel, visit the old sites and it will become clear. Back to the whiskey cabinet.

    1. alan jutson
      July 22, 2012


      Greece have some empty buildings.

      From reports they are starting to go into disrepair.

      I am with, you one site for all at least they should then get value from the buildings, and ticket prices should not be so high as there would be no development cost to cover.

      Allowing big Corporations to muscle in on this World Event with so much control, is destroying its original concept.

      I have almost forgotten that excellence in competitive sport, was its original intention.

  20. BurnleyClaret
    July 22, 2012

    “Mass transit can work in a densely crowded city like London, but it needs to have good robust simple systems that either work or can be remedied quickly.”

    That’s a glib statement from a normally excellent blog. Although the Tube has recieved lots of investment much of the infrastructure is antiquated – although I’m sure it was the latest technology when it was installed. But upgrading a working transport system is as someone once said “like performing open heart surgery on someone running a marathon. You either suffer months of weekend closures (very unpopular) or a shorter period of intense disruption including disrupting commuting. Health and Safety rules are also vastly inflating costs reducing productivity compared to just a couple of decades ago, rightly or wrongly.

  21. Jimj
    July 22, 2012

    Ok he avoids an own by ensuring that the apparatchiki are not seen in the in the Zil lanes. However If Dave wants to be seen as credible prime ministerial he could use his boundless talents in sorting out this curious anomaly …..




    1. Bob
      July 24, 2012


      Let me explain:

      The reason that foreign criminals can stay in the UK is because they have human rights.

      When you join HM’s armed forces you forfeit your human rights.

  22. simon
    July 22, 2012

    3rd world country, 3rd world services, 1st world aspirations and fantasies, everything is possible if the will is there and people stop complaining and start working.

  23. Clive Bates
    July 22, 2012

    No need to talk down engine manufacturing as if it is somehow an inferior part of the car industry, compared to British car-making. Even complete cars are rarely manufactured in full in the UK – supply chains span Europe or the globe and we should not distinguish between a £ of GVA created by engine building and a £GVA in final assembly.

  24. Sue Doughty
    July 22, 2012

    I am told that signal failure means someone nicked the cabling again!

    1. alan jutson
      July 23, 2012


      Mr Cable been nicked ?.

      Whatever next, they will probably find him with the Labour Party.

      1. lifelogic
        July 23, 2012

        With Cameron?

  25. […] John Redwood thinks that ministers and other important types going to London 2012 should go by tube. Yep, they should. […]

  26. John Eustace
    July 26, 2012

    In fairness to BMW they don’t just make engines here – they own MINI and have made a great success of it in Oxford.

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    July 27, 2012

    I last worked regularly in London in 2004. Most of the tube problems then were due to signal failures; plus ca change.

    Seeing we are on the subject, what has been the practical effect of the failure of the three PPP (Public Private Partrnership) contracts on operational performance? The financial effect was that Transport for London had to pick up the tab..

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