More broadband for the railways and the rest of us

The railway network contains some great routes that run straight into the centres of our busiest towns and cities. There is spare land adjacent to the track that would take fibre optic cables as well as other utility systems.

The railway needs better wi fi for passengers. All too often on a train the wi fi cuts out in a cutting or tunnel, if you have been able to log into what are still often unfriendly and complex systems. A comprehensive fibre network with communication points with trains would greatly improve reception and access.

More importantly such fibre would also empower a new generation of digital signals which we need to increase train capacities as I have discussed before. With more real time information about where every train is on the system and the speed at which it is travelling it will be possibly to safely deploy more trains on the same tracks to deal with capacity shortages that are common and chronic at peak times. This is a much cheaper answer to the capacity issues than building new track.

These fibre networks can also have sufficient capability to assist the spread of ultrafast broadband to homes and businesses across the country. There can be cabinets alongside the track at intervals to enable adjacent housing and industrial estates to link their local fibre connections to a larger trunk network alongside the railway.

We need to make more intelligent use of these fabulous routes into our main centres. Carrying modern fibre would help a lot as we build the infrastructure for a truly modern economy.I Am pressing Ministers to get on with this scheme. I am also urging them to find other additional routes for fibre cable beyond these track side ones that do not involved putting the fibre under roads. It is high time we got our infrastructure into more accessible places and stopped digging up roads every time we needed to mend or improve.

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69 Comments

  1. Nig l
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Absolutely. The uks fibre coverage is the third worst in Europe with Belgium and Greece behind. BTs past monopoly and current intransigence is to blame and although Ofcom seem to be trying, BT is still not playing ball. On past record I have little confidence of a speedy solution so I think you should broaden your attack.

  2. am
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    All true. Productivity needs boosting somehow or other. BT reducing charges by £7 per month shows how much we are still in rip off Britain which includes costs of installation of fibre and such like things. We should get the Chinese or someone cheaper to do it.

  3. Sakara Gold
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    We could learn from the Germans in this regard. After the last war, they rebuilt their cities with services under the pavements, not the roads. So their gas pipes, water etc don’t get damaged by heavy traffic, unlike ours. There are many other benefits to this revolutionary idea, like easier access, upgrades, increases in capacity etc.

    Actually, putting broadband services adjacent to the railway is actually an excellent idea. How come it took us so long to catch on to this revolutionary idea?

    • Know-Dice
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Yes good idea.

      Of course if you have The Marshall Plan paying for it and no Lend Lease to pay back helps a lot…

    • Jagman84
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      I believe that some of the UK’s canal towpaths carry some fibre optic cables. I noticed signs and the disturbed earth when I was fishing a few years ago. Some of the disused railway track beds would be ideal candidates, ccas it would be easier than working next to a busy line and would serve more rural areas. Rural areas are a weakness in the current network.

    • 37/6
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      GSM-R (the new railway radio system) uses fibre optic alongside the track, so indeed, why not ?

    • David Price
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      It didn’t take so long – Mercury (later C&W) had comms alongside rail track in the 1980’s and Energis paralleled comms with the grid network.

      I would agree that when possible services need to be move from the road to the pavement (Virgin Cable already appears to be)

  4. Mick
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Off topic
    Plans for MPs to debate the so-called Great Repeal Bill – a key legal step to formalise Brexit – were delayed after nearly 400 wrecking amendments were added to it.
    But a Brexit department spokesman today announced it will finally be brought back to the Commons on November 14 for debate.
    Meanwhile, Remain-backing Tories said they are ‘deadly serious’ about rebelling against Theresa May unless they are given a meaningful vote on the final deal.

    Do these MPs take us for idiots or what , all there after is trying to stop us leaving the eu but all they are doing is securing there fate to be kicked out of there seat in Parliament at the next GE

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      You can read the amendments here:

      https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0005/amend/euwithdrawal_rm_cwh_1026.pdf

      And at the end there is the outline programme:

      “2. Proceedings in Committee of the whole House shall be completed in eight
      days.

      3. The proceedings shall be taken on each of those days as shown in the first column of the following Table and in the order so shown.

      4. The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a
      conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.”

      And so forth.

      Eight hours a day for each of eight days = sixty-four hours of “debate” in total, of which seconds and minutes adding up to maybe an hour in total will be sensible, valuable and productive content while all the rest will consist of specious and often purely partisan arguments and repetitious self-indulgent waffle.

      Especially from any of the SNP MPs, even more than from some of the Labour MPs. If I’ve been sufficiently interested to record any Commons proceedings I just fast forward whenever one of the SNP members stands up to speak, they are an absolute pain in the backside. But maybe that is their strategy, to always be such pains in the backside that eventually all the other MPs come together and vote for Scotland to be expelled from the UK just to get rid of the SNP MPs.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Not only 400 amendments but suggestion of a cross party delegation going to Brussels from Parliament and indicating that it doesn’t matter what the EU negotiates with David Davis. If the EU signals to this group of MPs it is happy to talk some more they will vote down any deal negotiated with David Davis.

        You couldn’t make up a more destructive negotiating position for this country. Even those determined to stay in must see that would lose any opt outs in place.

        The only solution I can think of is putting the deal to a general election rather than to Parliament. Soubry Morgan and St armer will either get back in as a majority and can take us back in or we will be rid of them once and for all

        • Anonymous
          Posted October 28, 2017 at 12:47 am | Permalink

          To be honest I’m happy for this subversion.

          It is a very close second to Brexit itself. A revelation that so many politicians and establishment figures are anti-democrats and think they know best.

          A second referendum ? I actually think we’d win by a bigger margin from the anger I hear around me. But let’s not go there. It would be a cheat.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 28, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          Indeed, the Remoaners are contemptible, destructive and unpatriotic as well as anti-democratic. People used their best judgment on how to vote in the referendum and I don’t blame the millions of ordinary voters who conscientiously came to the opposite decision to myself, but those who will not accept the result out of their over-riding loyalty to the EU are disgusting specimens who are unfit to live in a democracy.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I wonder what would happen if the deal was put to a vote in HoC and defeated ? It wouldn’t mean we stay in the EU, it would just mean we were out with no deal and so defaulting to WTO. Anyway we’ll probably get to test this because I don’t imagine the EU parliament will approve any deal.

  5. Caterpillar
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Though in my train commute with bikes blocking doorways, standing room, feet taking and dirtying the seats opposite, the very large overflowing into, or taking up two seats, sound polluting ear buds throughout … Yes better Wi-Fi access will make all the difference.

    Reply And more capacity! Try reading the post before commenting

    • Caterpillar
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply. I always read the posts in full. I read the post again, I think the behavioural points stand. Bike door blocking does slow trains, feet on seats do limit capacity etc. Behaviour and improved stock will aid full use of capacity inside the carriages and the grade of the journey. Apart from repositioning trains i suspect they won’t just run more because more fit in the slots.

  6. Mark B
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    And who is going to pay for this and run it ?

    Oh silly me, we are going to pay for it and then hand it over to private enterprise to charge us a fortune to use that which we have already paid for. Ad if we need yet another White Elephants to add to our debts.

    We need this extra capacity to cater for all those people we allow into our country. Stop the human ponzi scheme and we just might not need such a waste of money.

    If there is a commercial case for this then the City should raise the necessary capital and private enterprise should take the risk and benefit from its rewards.

    Off topic

    I see the PM has awarded the Remainer Wolf in Leave sheepskin jacket with a nice little job. Jobs for the boys.

  7. Colin Hide
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Amen to all of that!

  8. APL
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    JR: “There is spare land adjacent to the track that would take fibre optic cables as well as other utility systems.”

    Isn’t that the same idea you had in 1981?

    And wasn’t Mercury Communications founded on the idea?

    I mean, a good idea is a good idea, but the Rail fibre optic network already exists.

    Reply Needs updating and expanding, and the government is pursuing this now

    • eeyore
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      APL – be that as it may, it’s still a clever wheeze. Lots of people have clever wheezes but government never gets to hear about them.

      Here’s mine: a government-run cyber suggestions box, a wikiwheeze (sorry), where the infinitely resourceful public can contribute their good ideas to the benefit of us all. Even if just one in a thousand was a runner it would still be worth it.

    • APL
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      JR: “Needs updating and expanding, and the government is pursuing this now”

      All well and good Mr Redwood, but your reply compels me to ask; Have you lost faith in the free market?

      What it seems you are suggesting is that the government knows better how to deliver high quality (products ed)to your child’s bedroom, rather than, for example, the private sector.

      Nationalisation! It that where Tory Conservative policy is destined?

      Reply Not so. Network Rail is in public ownership so it is the governments job to invest in better signalling. Given other uses for the broadband implies private sector participation or investment in this facility, so we need a good deal

      • APL
        Posted October 27, 2017 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        JR: “Given other uses for the broadband implies private sector participation or investment in this facility, so we need a good deal”

        So, I conclude it’s your opinion, Mercury Communications didn’t do a good enough job while it was in the Private sector?

        A private sector company wasn’t able to make the correct* strategic decisions? ( Based on customer demand and commercial decisions. )

        *In the opinion of a Tory free marketeer*.

        ** The same government that spent £billions upon £billions on an integrated health service IT system – that was later scrapped. But couldn’t provide basic IT security on its system, one consequence of which was a massive intrusion of malware into UK National Health Service IT systems***.

        *** We’re now told the National Health Service hasn’t had enough spent on its IT systems.

        The whole idea stretches credulity too far!

  9. Richard1
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Keep up the good work. The inadequacy of broadband in the UK – in rural areas but even in many built up areas and city centres – is a huge competitive disadvantage. One thing that needs urgent attention is the introduction of nationwide competition in broadband infrastructure supply. At the moment BT / Openreach is an effective monopoly and operates at its own convenience. I have written to my MP about this and will encourage her to support your initiative.

  10. Duncan
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    The country is facing enemies and threats on two fronts. The Marxists-Labour-unions are massing across the UK while the EU is determined to kneecap both our sovereignty and our economy. Wifi on trains is hardly a national priority but it may indicate the nature of the world in which we live. Everything is immediate, it must be immediate, it cannot be anything other than immediate

    There are so many other topics of interest

    The EU
    The destruction of the Conservative Party by Conservative Party insiders.
    The rise of left wing fascism or as some call it, Marxism, which of course sounds better and is, it seems, still fashionable in some circles
    The abuse of identity politics (race, gender and sexuality) to force societal change across all areas of life including areas such as football, rugby, tv advertising, tv soaps, tv dramas, rape laws, marriage law
    The rise of feminism etc ed

    Why is the Tory Party so determined to deny its soul and capitulate to the liberal left? Does the party not realise that most British people are socially conservative and view many of these changes as nothing more than the political class bending to the will of a vocal and noisy activist minority?

    Come on Mr Redwood, I admire you and your honesty. You’re one of the decent politicians in that nest of vipers they call Parliament but there’s a war coming and it ain’t gonna be pleasant

    Reply Ensuring good ultrafast broadband around the country is vitak to our economic future, whikst in reasing train capacity is much needed. I have written a lot about EU matters but will not do it everyday as there are many other important issues.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Surely the simplest solution is to try and get higher speeds over the airwaves if that is at all possible.

  12. Newmania
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Britain is a broadband disaster as it is in most ways,with an average speed ranking it 31st in the world trailing most of Europe. John Redwood tells us that most small businesses do not mind him cutting us off form our suppliers and partners but then he has never really been in business
    In fact, as I know, the shape of small business is not the high street shop selling Viyella at £250 a pair of socks he will be familiar with. The typical small business sources manufactured goods form China adds design and marketing in the UK and sell throughout the word using EU standards to be safe ( for example in the US)

    Many of these entrepreneurs are from “ethnic minorities” which ,as people forget include the Chinese, Greeks Indians , as well as French Germans and all the rest of the people you wish to rid us of .

    None of the people involved will have voted for Brexit and so they, like me feel the country has told them they do not count. I expect to see many leave for this reason alone over time but the more important development will be the isolation of the UK form the main market
    For the new global small business makes it an old ladies armpit country with no future

    Brexit people are always saying how great this country is and I agree , but it is not thanks to the collation of retired and unemployed who live on our backs

    Reply I have been in business, full time for 15 years before entering Parliament

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      “Brexit people are always saying how great this country is and I agree , but it is not thanks to the collation of retired and unemployed who live on our backs”

      And on it goes.

      I am younger than you and I work longer hours for the country than you. (Unless you’ve just done 11 nine hour shifts on the bounce.)

  13. Dave Andrews
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    How I wish that more politicians were suggesting initiatives to create wealth.
    Mostly, they seem intent on finding more ways to destroy it and fritter money down the drain.

  14. Peter
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    There are engineering works every weekend affecting my service in SW London. Changing franchise to South Western Railways has not yet made the service any better. They would blame a different body anyway as they do not control the track themselves. Like a good many I would prefer a unified national rail service.

    As to your internet proposals, there would probably be arguments about who pays the cost and also compensation.

    The roads near me are also frequently dug up to service gas, water and utilities.

    • NickC
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Peter. The engineering works are almost certainly by Network Rail, which is a nationalised monopoly.

  15. Original Richard
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    “With more real time information about where every train is on the system and the speed at which it is travelling it will be possibly to safely deploy more trains on the same tracks to deal with capacity shortages that are common and chronic at peak times. This is a much cheaper answer to the capacity issues than building new track.”

    “Yes”, and the biggest gain of all will come when we have driverless trains.

    • 37/6
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Driverless trains.

      As soon as possible please.

      With an exquisitely timed redundancy package and an end to setting my alarm at 2.30am or whatever stupid-o-clock hour they want me in at my advancing age.

  16. agricola
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    You are right to point out the obvious. Perhaps you should invite the CEOs of BT and network Rail to lunch just to get them discussing it.

    In a similar vein we have heard nothing but negatives coming from all and sundry on the subject of vehicle pollution. They leave logic at the door in vilifying the motorist while having little to say about buses and HGVs. I have always maintained that the real answer is technological advance, much as you do for communication. A British company called CGON claim to be able to reduce engine emissions by 80% and fuel consumption by 20%. Meanwhile Mazda, who I believe are part owned by Ford, have announced Skyactiv-x petrol engines which offer 20-30% greater fuel economy and 30% more torque thereby equating it with the diesel engine. Such engines are more efficient and less polluting. The aim is to reduce 2010 level pollution from it’s engines to half by 2030 and better beyond.

    I advocate we promote technological advance rather than the ill judged outpourings of politicians that have been directly responsible for the recent downturn in the production of vehicles.

  17. Nigel
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Travelling from London to Birmingham, would you prefer full fare and arrive 20 minutes earlier, or pay half fare, have high speed access so tha you could work on the way and arrive at the normal time?
    I know which I would go for.

  18. Nigel
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    High speed Wi-fi access I meant. Finger problem

  19. Chris S
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The laying of more fibre will be a help for business but for the 25 million homes in the UK the need is for fibre to the front door.

    I live in an urban environment but I have to pay for a fibre connection just to get speeds that I’m told I should be able to get from a copper connection, otherwise the speed is just too low – even for something as simple as the BBC iPlayer.

    Then there is the absolutely scandalous quality of our mobile phone network. When I drive to Exeter from Ringwood I can’t get a signal for approximately 30% of the route. I’m having to redial several times because of signal loss. Eventually all cars will need a mobile internet connection and that is going to be a real problem.

    The obvious answer to both these issues would be the extensive use of wireless technology. Third world developing countries don’t even bother with landlines these days, they go straight to wireless. We should be doing the same. There is no reason why wireless Internet should not deliver the speeds we need, at least in the domestic and mobile environment.

  20. Iain Gill
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    We are not short of backhaul capacity between exchanges, we are only short of capacity from exchanges to end user premises. Which is why we should only be laying optical fibre for new or replacement build and not copper.
    Also rail track as route for Telco cable has been done before.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      So a simple more urgent need is to ban use of new copper, and mandate all new cable laid is fibre optic.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    You could do your work on the way to lunch.

  22. stred
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    BT is running fibre broadband above ground and linking locally using overhead copper. They should be regulated, as a monopoly, and perhaps the American owned cable provider should be made to open their ducts to other companies, as they have a monopoly of these.

    Yesterday, there was a story which seems to have been ignored by BBC News and other media, perhaps because it is embarrassing for media which has been enthusiastically supporting the building of windfarms. The Prime Minister had decided that energy companies were putting up prices too much and appointed the foremost authority in the country, Prof Dieter Helm and his team at Oxford to report on the reasons for this. Greg Clarke, the ex Libdum energy minister, re-appointed Lord Deben (Gummer) to advise on renewables, as he had before when, as ex-chairman of Forewind, he helped to agree to build a huge windfarm in the middle of the North Sea. (A common strike price for other )offshore windfarms is about 3x the cost generating by gas. Similarly, high strike prices have been agreed to burn American trees and expand this type of renewable. Experts such as the late Prof MacKay have calculated that this does not actually save much CO2 and the EU zero rating is false. Greg Clarke says that renewables will be bringing the cost of electricity down, which is fortunate, as his department wants to ban gas as soon as they can and this is a third the cost of electricity.

    But, unfortunately for Mrs May, poor woman, the prompt report has said exactly the opposite. The contracts for wind were let at far too high a price and before the Dutch put the same North Sea windmills out to tender and got prices around £50/MWh instead of £150/MWh. Some analysts think this is unrealistic, but the sudden drop has to be explained. Prof Helm thinks the accounts and profits should be kept separate and reported by the energy companies. Presumably someone in the ministry should be competent to look at the figures.He did not mention the cost of £4bns worth of smart meters, which do not work or save energy. The report concludes that the price rise is mainly due to government policy and not sudden profiteering. The amount of renewable subsidies on bills is going up quickly and will soon be around £13bn. Greg Clarke says he will be looking at it carefully. What a pity he didn’t look at all the energy blogs saying exactly the same thing.
    (corrected)

  23. Prigger
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    “More broadband for the railways ..” or just sit up, stop slouching, stop dropping sweet papers on the floor, take their feet off seats and generally behave themselves and, speak quietly.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      I sometimes think we’d be better taking out the seats and chucking sawdust on the floor.

      I don’t mean to be rude but some fellow passengers are like animals.

  24. Bert Young
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Unless my memory fails me railway routes have been used for communication purposes in the past ; fibre optic cables would be a minor addition and should be encouraged . Some loss of signal occurs between homes and the most adjacent boxes from where the main fibre optic connection exists . I’ve recently experienced this problem of downloading speed and the Openreach Engineer confirmed that the distance of the copper telephone cable between my home and the box was the problem . The only solution is to use only fibre optic cable throughout .

  25. Epikouros
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Excellent ideas so one must ask why they have not already been done. Perhaps you have come across an innovative means to enter the market place and make a profit and start a business to implement them. Unless of course the answer is that it cannot be done profitably without government subsidies as past infrastructure centrally planning has been grossly in error and planning has been driven by politicians and bureaucrats instead of consumer demand.

  26. If it works don't fi
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I have super fast broadband/TV. The titles and details of programmes, the menus, disappeared two days ago…second time in three months, with all kinds of instructions of what I…..must do about it…all superfastly conveyed to me.
    Bring back our old TV and normal systems! Cheaper, better, faster, though it took much longer for the company to communicate their error and less lousy programmes and identical Fake News but on less networks. Good as it gets!

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Off-topic: “Second Brexit bill: Britain on the hook for extra £30bn ‘if things go sour’, EU’s bank warns” is the headline in the Telegraph, missing the point that we would be on the hook for this, and more besides, if we stayed in the EU and so it is not a “Brexit bill”.

  28. Bob
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    What was the point of privatising the water utilities?
    I don’t get a choice of providers and dealing with South Staffordshire Water is as bad as dealing with any government department. They’re hopeless, but I can’t take my business elsewhere, there is no competition and I have no choice.

    So what was the point?

  29. Lifelogic
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Indeed all good sense, cancel the absurd economically illiterate HS2 and spend the money on lots of small similar improvements where it would do at least 10 times the good.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is seeking Government funding for ‘security barriers on bridges and in public places to better protect pedestrians’.

      This man is surely (wrong ed), how on earth can you protect every potential target in London – even with all the money in the world. Every bus, tube, pub, road, venue, restaurant, hospital, school, hotel, airport, nursery, railway station, office block, cinema …….

      The other day he was on about wanting yet more red tape and building regulations in the aftermath of Grenville. Grenville was a total failure of the many of parts of the dysfunctional state sector – as usual. The building control regulations and “experts”, the greencrap religion “experts”, the local authority, the residents management group, the fire service (who failed to put out the initial fire fully and even told people to go back (or stay in their flats) long, long after it was clear this was mad.

      We certainly do not need even more of the state sector Mr Kahn. What we need is fewer people drive by (terrorist impulses) and far better intelligence.

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    A great article here today:

    http://facts4eu.org/news_oct2_2017.shtml#br

    “THE BIGGEST BRAINWASHING PROJECT EVER?”

    “We have assembled a snapshot of the forces massed by the government-backed Remain campaign in the United Kingdom. This is only an indicative list and we’re sure that readers could add to it in every way. But it will do as an indication to our international readers of just what we had to fight.”

    And the sore losers immediately started working for a repeat referendum, despite having said last time that it would be once in a generation vote; for example:

    https://digital.library.lse.ac.uk/objects/lse:dif205cig

    “IT’S A ONCE IN A GENERATION VOTE”

    “Unlike a General Election, where you can choose to elect a new Government every 5 years, this vote is a once in a generation opportunity to choose a Britain that is stronger, safer and better off.”

    etc ed

  31. Posted October 27, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I think ‘driverless’ cars are going to make all these arguments pointless.

    Within a few years our transport system will be transformed – within 20 years railways, long distance lorries, bus lanes, parking congested streets will all be gone.

    Any money spent on railways today (HS2) will be money down the drain.

  32. Duyfken
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    We might consider not just the presently-used rail system but also all of the myriad branch lines closed by Beeching. Much sold off but the sites of the permanent way are largely still there and ideal as threads for cabling and the like.

  33. John E
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I have 4G on my phone. If we had remotely the level of geographic coverage that other less developed countries take for granted, few of us as individuals would need anything else. 5G is on the way.
    I never use public wifi networks for security reasons, and I suggest you shouldn’t either.

  34. Doug Powell
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic

    I see that The EU is saying it will be 2054 before the UK has received all monies owing to us from our share (16%) in the EIB!

    Should our negotiators, as seems likely, (heaven hope not, though) cave in to demands for a divorce payment, then it would be perfectly reasonable for payments to match the timescale of the monies due to the UK!

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      The British participation in the EIB (16% of subscribed capital of EUR 260 bn) is largely unfunded. All shareholders “guarantee” the liabilities of the EIB (appr EUR 600 bn) so the UK gvt exposure would be at least 16% 0f subscribed capital ( appr 40 bn-/- paid in capital of 3 bn) and maybe more. But it does ot end there: there are EIB loans to the UK public sector (some partially undisbursed) and UK banks like RBS are probably guaranteeing EIB loans to their clients. If all goes well (no borrower defaults), the UK will get its paid up capital back – once the loan portfolio supported by the capital subscribed by EIB shareholders, including the EIB, has been repaid- in maybe 20-30 years. Pacta sunt servanda, a major principle in Common Law. It is a pity that this got into the overall Brexit discourse since this cannot be terminated unless the UK puts up a very large lump sum as collateral.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Apologies : the in fourth line from the bottom ” including the EIB” should of course read “including the UK”

  35. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Your ideas are music to my ears. We live in a rural area and fairly close to a railway line. Our broadband is rubbish. Two people cannot access it at the same time. I even have to turn my phone off and the printer is always being disabled due to complete loss of connection several times a day. Many people in our small village are self employed and struggle

  36. graham1946
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Yes, good idea. What would also be nice is for country dwellers to get a mobile phone signal and broadband that goes at more than 5mbps. I have to travel 4 miles to the nearest town to get on a mobile phone network. Similar with telly – we have to use a satellite dish. This is the situation in my village (not in the Orkneys or in a valley or up a mountain somewhere but in the home counties just 50 miles from the Capital).

    I heard our illustrious Digital Minister (or whatever grand title he goes by) saying on radio that his ambition is to give everyone (almost anyway) 20 mbps. What a laugh – In the Far East 100 mbps has been the norm for years and they are now planning 1000 mbps. First world country? Becoming more Third World every day.

  37. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    The draft Catalan declaration of independence appears to be addressed not just to the inhabitants of Catalonia but to all the peoples of the world. That kind of global appeal for support seems a good idea, one which the American revolutionaries adopted with their Declaration of Independence and which the UK government should have copied. As it is we have some ignorant bloke called Bloomberg calling Brexit a stupid idea …

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      Yes.

      How would Bloomberg like Canada telling his country how to spend its money and who should be allowed to live there ?

  38. Pat Murphy
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Viva le republique de Catalan

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      I find that’s not even correct Spanish, let alone Catalan … but why?

      Spain has a constitution, a codified constitution. That wasn’t imposed by some Franco-style authoritarian government in Madrid, and nor was it approved just by a possibly compliant Spanish parliament; the final step was its direct approval by voters across Spain in a referendum, and on a slightly higher than average turnout an above average 95% of those who voted in Catalonia supported it:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_constitutional_referendum,_1978

      Quite correctly the UK government has already said that it does not and will not recognise the independence of Catalonia:

      https://www.964eagle.co.uk/news/world-news/2415224/uk-does-not-and-will-not-recognise-catalan-independence-declaration-pm-says/

      “It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts.”

      Note that the decision that the vote was illegal was made by judges on the Spanish courts, not by the Spanish government as some journalists like to say.

      “We continue to want to see the rule of law upheld, the Spanish constitution respected, and Spanish unity preserved.”

      Meanwhile the SNP are getting above themselves by offering comment on a matter which is outside the legal competence of the devolved Scottish authorities.

  39. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    This is a timely reminder that we need to think about what sort of service HS2 will provide, assuming it gets built. Will it provide an up-market service at a premium price? If so, what will the features be? Perhaps it will be more important for HS2 to provide an office environment than that it travels like a bat out of Hell.

  40. bigneil
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic – seen on BBC that the EIB is going to keep the UK billions for decades. Is this T Mays “backhander” deal to Merkel and pals ? Is she going to claim that it is legal ? and we can’t do anything ?- -WE ARE BEING SOLD OUT.

  41. Pragmatist
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I am glad Boris, speaking in Portugal has upheld the rule of Law and, also that Tusk with quite a Russian population in one part of Poland, doing the same. It is to be hoped certain persons in the Catalonian region of Spain are brought before courts and “face the music”. Spaniards , young people, generally, should not in 2017 lose their lives on the basis of the “independence” that 11 million people in one region under EU control can achieve. It just aint worth it.

    • Pragmatist
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I suggest EU and UK representatives give Catalonian leaders a talking to. It is to do with the “Art of the Possible” and stopping Kranky-ism. Our brave young people should be guided with adult wisdom. Honour their Purity!!!!!!

  42. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Broadband is extremely slow in my area and so frustrating. It has gone a lot worse over the years which ever provider I use. I cannot rely on it any more for important work and would never consider internet banking due to problems in connection.

  43. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I simply cannot understand why David Davis is refusing to fight back against the constant stream of propaganda intended to undermine public support for the official policy which is the very raison d’etre of his department.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/27/remain-voters-increasingly-against-brexit-re-leavers-u-turn/

    “‘Bregret’ on the rise as Remainers favour abandoning Brexit, poll shows”

    Can’t you have a word with him, JR?

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 28, 2017 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      Frustrating beyond belief.

      It’s though it’s a token of Brexit. Not the real thing at all.

  44. John
    Posted October 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Wifi on trains! We can’t get a reliable affordable train service to use it on.

    Is it safe to use your Wifi device on a train, No because its likely to pinched.

    Using the the device with your face squashed in someone’s back side very difficult.

    Sorry but we can’t afford 1st class and standard class has lost me back to the car

    You can’t use them in cars but at least you get a seat! Much like yourself working odd hours in odd places, but paid less, public transport is not viable.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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