How much rail capacity do we need?

The UK passenger railway had a big business running commuters into and out of cities for their work five days a week. Even after allowing for the discount element of the season ticket, these travellers were made to pay premium prices for their travel, as there was little by way of alternative for most of them. The roads were jammed and there were too few car parks at work to make the car an alternative for many.

The railway always complained that it was very costly having to provide so much rolling stock and so many staff for a couple of peak hours in the morning and another couple of peak hours in the evening. It was that peak volume which the railways said justified the high fares. In an attempt to fill the rolling stock the rest of the time and to pay staff wages for more than four hours a day the railway adopted heavily discounted fares to persuade people to undertake leisure, shopping and entertainment trips by train to use the empty carriages.

Today we still see a pattern of dear tickets at peak times, and cheap tickets at off peak across the network. If we take some longer journeys as examples we see

Standard single ticket London to Manchester off peak £33 peak £157

Standard single ticket London to Birmingham off peak £15.50 peak £74

The peak fare is around five times the off peak.

Today the talk is of a major change of future working even assuming an end to special CV 19 lock downs. Office workers look forward to going to the office two or three times a week instead of five times, and want to be offered flexible hours so they can switch to the old off peak. Many have discovered how much better off they are working from home and saving all that money on rail travel and expensive coffees.

If some of this comes to pass it requires revolution on the railways. It means a substantial reduction in numbers of travellers and a bigger reduction in fares revenue if charging policies are unaltered. The railway managements are talking about how their leisure business has picked up but this is largely heavily discounted tickets that come nowhere near paying the high fixed costs of the amount of rail travel beign offered. They say it is very green, but creating more journeys on trains that otherwise would not have happened is not green but the opposite.Trying to run a railway around heavily discounted leisure use will leave a huge hole in railway finances. We cannot carry on for much longer with the current system of running 90% of pre pandemic services for Maybe a third of the passenger numbers. It is unaffordable for taxpayers. When will the rail experts tell us what Level of demand they think they can recapture anD what fares they can charge in this new world.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Indeed, saving all that money (and indeed time and inconvenience). Not easy to work on a train if you cannot even get a seat in rush hour!

    The fact that many trains are largely empty much of the time (plus the end link journeys to and from the stations often two way ones- wife drop off or taxi and track maintenance and staffing) is one of the main reasons why train are not very efficient in C02 terms either. This despite endless lies to the contrary from the BBC and Government.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Because UK railways are not very good and expensive, they have been in a slow downward spiral for some years – all through Anglo-American, right wing pressure group doctrine.

      Look at e.g. France and Italy for how to do it better – good, affordable, and so rightly popular.

      • Longinus
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        Nationalised UK railway services were even worse before privatisation.

      • Edward2
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I see you have a new conspiracy theory Martin.
        Suddenly it is all the fault of right wing think tanks.
        It started a few days ago.
        Was there an article in the Guardian?

      • Iain Gill
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        The only people who do regular long distance train travel in France are the retired, as they get a discount which makes it affordable. without that discount it’s cheaper to fly or drive.

      • SM
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Funny how a 2018 report by travel specialists noted that France’s rail system is falling apart, its stations are underused but cannot be closed because of local political pressures, and has an annual deficit of 3 billion Euros.

      • William Long
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        But both far more highly subsidised per passenger mile than in the UK.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        France and Italy do everything so efficiently and well. One wonders why they are so poor!

        • Andy
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          The best measure of wealth is GDP per capita – how well off a country is per person.

          The IMF, the World Bank and the UN all keep figures on this – and all three sets of figures are broadly similar.

          All of the research concludes that people in France are better off per person than people in the UK. Indeed the UK is barely above the EU average – behind all of the Scandinavian countries, the Benelux countries, Germany, Austria, Ireland and France. We are also behind EEA countries like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland and a number of the micro-states.

          Per person we are the poorest country in northern and Western Europe.

          Italy is not far behind the UK- just below the EU average.

          So they are not ‘so poor’ as you claim. Actual figures demonstrate that we are not so rich.

          • Edward2
            Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

            Puzzled where you got your data Andy.
            UK 45k
            France 44k
            Italy 41k

            Do you allow for taxation levels?
            Very high in some of the nations you quote.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted October 23, 2020 at 3:37 am | Permalink

            Indeed the people in UK are not anything like as rich as they should be. The main reasons are over taxation, bloated government, masses of pointless & moronic red tape, left wing inept government from Tories and especially Labour, load of people studying expensive and often worthless degrees, very poor public services (particularly the healthcare and education virtual monopolies), the dire BBC dripping the nation in big state propaganda, expensive energy and the green crap climate alarmist religion. Idiotic grand projects like net zero carbon and HS2.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

            Assuming you are correct in your assertion (which Edward disputes).

            Can you explain how that can be when France and Italy are more generous to their pensioners than the UK and the UK is still in the “beneficial” EU?

      • NickC
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Rubbish as usual from you, Martin. According to the ORR, rail passenger journeys have increased in every year except two in the period 1996-7 to 2019-20. Usage in Q1 2019-20 was 439 million compared with 192 million in 1996-7, an increase of 128%. Slow downward spiral? – you’re just an empty head propagandist.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Hugely subsidies and larger distances on the continent. Why should people who do not use trains pay for those who do anyway?

        Trains in the rather smaller and densly populated UK only really make much sense for a few intercity journeys and some commuting where road are congested. Otherwise people generally prefer the door to door convenience, far greater flexibility and load/passenger carrying ability of cars. Rather cheaper too and do not need other to subsidise them.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        Another who thinks we do things badly and the EU does things bettr. Before covid I travelled to Holland fairly frequently, catching the train from the airport Leiden. Every one was shabby worn out and drab, to such an extent that I’m fairly certain that I coincidentally used the same train on two seperate visits to see a cracked and scratched polycabonate door on each trip.

    • Peter
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile talks are back on with the EU. I cannot see reason for this. There is no evidence of any massive change of heart by the EU .

      I suspect a few days ago was as good as it was ever going to get. We may be on track now for a very theatrical last minute breakthrough.

      I don’t know how it will play out but it is a lot easier to anticipate disappointment rather than wait in case it happens.

      • Mark B
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        We were told by so.e here that we really have walked this time. I suppose they are the same people who really thought we walked last time.

        Some never learn.

        Every delay, every demand for compromise from the UK gives the Remainers the excuse to cede a little more ground in pursuit of this mythical deal.

        They think they are so clever that no one knows what they are up to.

        • Hope
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          The same fools here who voted for Fake Tory party. How many times has Johnson failed to meet his own deadline- do or die, deal or no deal.

          Even Malthouse could not give a straight answer today. Pathetic. The door is not ajar to the EU, it is wide open to walk in and take whatever it wants! Then will come the three word strap line lies.

          Good to read Hone Office bragging it has resettled more refugees than any other country! Again, walk right in and help yourself.

          Please, the man cannot be believed at all- Mays deal is dead, oven ready deal, vassalage, Brexit is done! No border down the Irish Sea etc etc.

          JR, I presume this unscientific, economic self destruction, not needed lock down is to stop people protesting over the next capitulation and vassalage forever?

          I think people prefer to be paid to stay at home, it is the new Tory welfare policy for everyone!

          • Mark B
            Posted October 23, 2020 at 3:52 am | Permalink


          • a-tracy
            Posted October 23, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

            Hope, Nigel and Richard Tice pulled most of the candidates from the election.

    • Peter
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      ‘When will the rail experts tell us what Level of demand they think they can recapture anD what fares they can charge in this new world.’

      That’s a big ask.

      Firstly, they take account of the government’s ‘experts’ flawed coronavirus deaths and contagion risk prediction. Then the rail people have to second guess the government’s reaction to these statements. The reactions will be political, but may also be subject to frequent and unexpected change.

      Meanwhile, it has just been announced that Wales has nationalised their rail service. There is a 95% drop in passenger numbers at the moment. I had thought Arriva were a really bad franchisee, but apparently the ones in charge for the last couple of years are even worse. When I say ‘nationalised’ I don’t know all the details, or whether it will be a properly joined up service as in the days of British Rail.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    It seems the government’s (not admitted) chickenpox/Covid party inoculation strategy at UK Universities is working well. All the six people in my daughters student flat have tested positive. Non had any symptoms beyond mild cold ones some no symptoms at all. They we only tested as they were told to as one chaps girlfriend had tested positive. Should save £millions on vaccinations I suppose.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      There is no evidence that infection confers lasting immunity.

      And these infected people can only add to the spread, which will endanger older people etc. leading to the expected many thousands of further deaths.

      The recklessness and cynicism are exactly as one would expect.

      • Sea_Warrior
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        It’s rare, but I agree with you.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Martin in Cardiff,

        SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, although waning, have so far been reported out to 5-7 months. I guess there has not been time for fuller longer studies. In comparison SARS-CoV-1 antibodies were found to last at least two years in 90% of patients, dropping to 50% in 3 years. T-cell response for SARS-CoV-2 appears to be ongoing research. In the case of SARS-CoV-1, T-cell response has been detected the full 17 years since the initial outbreak. Less positively, in terms of seasonal coronaviruses, reinfection not uncommonly occurs within a 3 year timescale, indicating a shorter period of immunity (consistent with typical minor illnesses as seemingly seen in the young fit for SARS-CoV-2 i.e. not such a strong immune response so not so long lasting).

        I guess we will have to wait until the scientists complete their research on the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 to know where it falls with respect to above. At least observationally there have only been a handful of reinfections, whilst WHO estimate 10% of world has been infected.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        I speak as an older person. We’re all off sooner or later. I don’t want young people’s lives ruined on my behalf. If I’m worried I’ll isolate myself. Which is precisely what some of the many elderly people in my area are doing. My neighbours have barely left the house for 8 months. They must be going nuts in there.

      • NigelE
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        If infection does not confer lasting immunity, will a vaccine be any better?

        And while there’s no evidence infection confers lasting immunity, there’s equally no evidence it doesn’t.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

          Exactly! What are we waiting for a vaccine for when there is no proof that it would deal with the current version of the virus. After all the flu vaccine only deals with last years version.

      • DaveK
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        The fact that the re-infection rate is zilch is a good indication though.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          Indeed and the chances are it will last reasonably and if you fought it off first time then the chances are you will again.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Well considering the virus is so newly discovered there scarcely could be any evidence could there?
        Like the supremely stupidly named “Long COVID” aka “yuppy ‘flu”, post viral syndrome etc etc.

      • NickC
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Martin, There is no evidence that infection does not confer immunity. Indeed the anti-body tests depend upon it. Moreover I have not met, or heard from, a single older person who wishes to trash the economy to protect old people.

        The are two critical facts: 1) for months the death toll from covid19 has been below that for influenza and pneumonia; 2) the average age at death from covid19 is similar to the average age of death for the general population. Both those indicate that you and the government have over-reacted. That was understandable initially, but does not make sense now.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        There is no evidence that infection confers lasting immunity.

        Yes there is mate. Clearly it does give immunity in the short/medium term and this is very likely to last on past evidence. This is obvious from the lack of many new cases in areas highly infected areas in the first wave (in this tiny second ripple) which is now almost on the way out anyway.

        Letting the young catch it will give earlier overall hurd imunity and will reduce the danger for the old and improve the economy too saving more lives – if you just think it through!

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if the new rule of six is to blame.

      Six people from six different households is far too many at a time, particularly if it’s a different six, morning, noon, and night.

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        But that is everyone’s individual choice Alan, if you are susceptible you don’t have to see anyone, you can lock yourself down and tell your family not to visit unless it is through the front window glass.

  3. Mark B
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Not everyone can sit and work from home. There are many people who have to be at work to do their job and, I think that it is only nonessential workers who will and can benefit from the changes. But will these changes last ? I am not too sure.

    If it is recognised that rail transport is going to be less, and that more people will be working from home, I think it makes more sense to put the money we are spending on HS2 into high speed broadband ? It is time for the government to review its spending. But HS2 is more a political vanity project than an important and useful investment.

    • Simeon
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Sir John makes no mention of HS2. I think we can sadly assume that not even an hysterical reaction to a pandemic resulting in the squandering of enormous sums of taxpayer’s money, the borrowing of enormous sums of money, and the loss of econmic activity that cannot be regained is enough to thwart it. Perhaps we can add to cockroaches the men in hard hats and hi vis vests working on HS2 as the only surviors of a nuclear apocalypse. Speaking of which, Hinckley C…

      • Mark B
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        All because the government can borrow cheap money.

    • Hope
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink


      This govt flips flops like no other. Major policy changes every day.

      EU Capitulation talks back on- how does business prepare! Last he allegedly walked away today they are capitulating.

      Do these clowns- Johnson, Malthouse on TV today, Hancock, Shapps etc think business can afford to spend loads of money for nothing like they have with the Chinese flu flip flops? Go to work do not go work, allow millions in and then have a tiered policy in stark contradiction!

      Low and middle paid workers take 80% welfare gets 100% and more! MPs get to become top earners- disgraceful.

  4. Iain Gill
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Plenty of good ideas in rail magazine.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Lord Bamford (JCB) usually talks sense but on the Planet Normal podcast he seem to have fallen for the Wind to Electricity to Hydrogen, to compression to storage, to distribution to “petrol” stations, to vehicle tank, to heat, to motion (or to fuel cell to battery to electric motor to motion).

    Does he realise just how much energy is wasted in this long process and what the cost of the motion will be? You are starting with very expensive electricity in the first place before all the waste of perhaps as much as 80% of it.

    Does he realise how much C02 will be emitted when manufactuing the wind turbines, batteries, storage tanks and all the rest of the gear needed for this hugely inefficient process?

    Also on this podcast it seems somone did 15 Covid tests on himself and got back results of 6 negative and 9 positive? Can this be true? Surely the test are not this bad are they. JR do you have any government figures for the true testing reliablity false positive and false negatives of these government tests. I cannot find any solid ones? They must surely know unless they are even more negligent than I think they are.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      Indeed it could easily be even less than 20% of the energy from the wind farm that ends up as motion in the JCB or that silly hydrogen train the Transport Secretary was wasting taxpayers money on (and posing with) a week of two back.

      Oh for some reality, some competent physicists and engineers to guide this moronic politicians and bureaucrats. A little more C02 plant food in the atmosphere is on balance a net positive anyway so they are fighting an idiotic war against a harmless gas – with tools that will not even work (significantly) in CO2 terms anyway.

      As Richard Feynman put it:- “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” Unlike idiotic politicians and bureaucrats – he might well have added under his breath.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        Fighting it by tipping £ billions of taxpayers money down the climate alarmist drain.

        • Mike Durrans
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          + 1

      • Everhopeful
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        The agenda is positively satanic.
        After all, getting rid of most of humanity and livestock and relying on AI would cut out a great deal of CO2!
        The future is Greta.
        God help us all.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Your last paragraph addresses a very important, in fact crucial matter, which needs to be settled before anyone can begin to be considered properly informed about the public health position here.

      The foregoing has been thought through more carefully than you do here though, I surmise.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        I assume the govenment know the real figures for false positives and false negatives for their tests – but I cannot find these reliably – are they a state secret?

        Reply I have asked about this, no precise answers

        • Caterpillar
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Comment on reply:

          I think the questions are:-

          (1) What is effect of self-swabbing on reliability (false negs)?
          (2) Are known negatives being blindly submitted to labs to ensure false positive does not drift (in either direction), particularly as capacity expands. (Quality monitoring of cross contamination)?
          (3) Does the targeting of tests lead to changes in false positives because of changing likelihoods in picking up recovered patients? (Sample non-randomness)

          As it is the coronavirus dashboard is also pretty poor as it does not give percentages by pillar in each region (or local authority) by specimen date, let alone the proportion of asymptomatics when tested.

          I am probably over suspicious but it looks like data is presented to give a false impression of transparency but it is always missing enough parts to make interpretation very muddy indeed. After all this time, it is difficult to believe that the incompleteness of presented data is by accidental choice.

        • Simeon
          Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply

          No precise answers means no good answers. The interpretation by government of the available data is, shall we say, selective. But the situation is worse than that because the available data is rubbish, in almost every possible way. It is also partial, or in other words incomplete. Even if government could be trusted to be objective and intelligent in its interpretation of the data, we’d have a situation akin to that of looking through a telescope at an elephant’s backside and perceiving a mud flat. As it is, it appears the government is peering through a kaleidoscope at a cabbage and seeing Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

        • Fred H
          Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

          I happen to know of a private Lab where testers test each other every day prior to commencing the work for outside organisations.
          Over many months there have been NO false positives or negatives for the testers, but certainly positives for the people being tested every week. One wonders why significant inaccurate testing is reported from NHS massive test centres!

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      But it is transportable and can be stored. Not forgetting it is the cheaper way to move over from gas boilers

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 5:34 am | Permalink

        Why move away from natural gas at all? Until it runs out that is – get fracking and it will not for many years.

    • Bloke in Wales
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      it seems somone did 15 Covid tests on himself and got back results of 6 negative and 9 positive?

      I’m more surprised he got 15 results back (not 3 or 27) given that Public Health England is managing the testing.

    • NickC
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic, I was told by a senior ICU pharmacist that in her hospital they were getting about 30% false negatives even for patients that had been clinically diagnosed with covid19.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–Yes the cost of the preliminaries are usually prohibitive. Anyway if we are going to fantasize maybe we should make a start on something worthwhile such as destroying sea water by electrolysis, converting the water to Hydrogen (compressed or for fuel cells) and Oxygen (keep the ventilators going). My point being that this ultimately might be a route to mitigate rising sea levels which must be a massive goal though I for one (totally uninvolved indeed ignorant) have never heard a word in that direction. One slight problem would be the huge cost of the electricity needed for the electrolysis not to mention for the distillation of the sea water in the first place to purify it so that the electrolysis would work. Maybe crazy but what else is there apart from sending rockets full of sea water to Mars? Maybe not so crazy once London New York etc underwater.

    • Iago
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for saying this, Lifelogic.

  6. Peter Wood
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Good morning,

    Here’s an idea: why not make the supply of rail services ‘demand led’ , rather than ‘supply led’ , and leave it to the market to decide service and prices!

    WOW…. It might even be a totally private enterprise service again…. WOW ..again!

    • 37/6
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Current demand = zero railway

      Even strppied down costs cannot be covered.

      The Tories killed our pubs, restaraunts, cinemas, museums, theatres, clubs, shops and now railways and banking districts.

      They have killed Britain.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        And literally…they don’t care!

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      At the risk of stating the obvious, you can’t just make railway lines and rolling stock suddenly appear when demand arises.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Oh are Revolutionary!

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter–End up like America with all railways shut down as I well remember. Indianapolis (old) railway station is one of the saddest places on earth. Very little commuting by train anywhere (small exception is Chicago but try Detroit). Cars cars cars and more cars. Yuk.

  7. Caterpillar
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    The sooner the govt recognises that covid is going to be be an endemic respiratory disease like many others, then the sooner will we be able to see the direction in which the country moves. While the current strategy continues, saying anything, whether passenger or freight, is tough.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    anD what fares they can charge in this new world.

    we don’t want this new world it is built on fear and lies

  9. Dave Andrews
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    How is the financial justification for HS2 looking now with the reduction in passenger numbers?
    Was it always the plan for it to be subsidised?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      If allowed. Please.
      A very comprehensive article re EU, HS2 and UK govt.

      • glen cullen
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        ”’So is the EC ‘driving’ HS2? Well, the conclusion must be ‘yes, increasingly so but the Government and the Labour Party are fully complicit in this”’

        Say it all

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Privatise the profits, socialise the losses.

      Surely everyone knows that by now?

      • Edward2
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        As was the socialist policy of nationalisation.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Cheaper hotels in cities (perhaps without 20% VAT surcharges and huge rates bills) can make much sense too. Perhaps work two or three days at the office staying over rather than than making four or six commuter journeys just make just two and have one or two nights in the hotels (or the new mini hotel rooms).

    • BJC
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Connected, but off topic, LL, I’ve never understood why there isn’t a secure “Parliamentary Hotel” where MPs/Lords stay on the, sometimes, rare occasions they attend Parliament. £bs of our money has been redirected for the massive personal gains that come from their second homes and the advantageous tax arrangements they attract, when many taxpayers can’t even afford one property. Why?

      • SM
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        This was a discussion I had on a couple of occasions with a London MP friend some years ago.

        The answer (and how can I put it in a seemly fashion?) was that there were too many MPs who might be concerned at the … lack of privacy regarding personal matters.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Well perhaps the MPs cannot stand each other. Some dreadful Labour Minister no 2 to Starmer even thinks some Tories are “Scum”.

        Anyway if they ran it it would cost far more than sending them to the Ritz.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        BJC Yes, they can afford to rent out hotels for immigrants so why not for MP’s?

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Who’d want to stay in a government run hotel?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Extremely good idea! Delivers more work hours, less stress, less danger, fills up the flagging hospitality sector. Maybe taking VAT off all hotel services would be an even better idea?

  11. Andy
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    When the experts tell this government something I expect ministers to do the opposite – because the contempt the Tories show to experts is quite staggering. Despite the fact that this government is genuinely useless at actually governing.

    One thing which is concerning is the incompetent blonde oaf’s war on London. Rail operators have been bailed out because passenger numbers have collapsed. The same has happened on the tubes and buses. Passengers have been told to stay at home and they are. TFLs revenue structure is – and always has been – based on fare income. Most of its money comes from passengers. Rightly so. But when there are no passengers it doesn’t have enough money to keep running services..

    The Mayor of London – who conducts himself well, despite non stop abuse from many on the right – has asked for a bailout. In return the Tory pensioners have demanded the Congestion Charging zone be extended to the North and South Circular – and that free travel for school kids be scrapped. The pensioners also voted against school dinners in the holidays for the poorest children in our country. Disgrace.

    Meanwhile actual pensioners get an inflation bust increase in their handouts – again – and the money for multi-million pound COVID related contracts to companies connected to Tory donors and Dominic Cummings’ mates keeps flowing fast. Despite the fact that these companies fail time and again. Still, as long a rich people are getting richer who cares about scummy poor kids, eh?

    • Richard1
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      Khan’s behaviour has been a disgraceful absurdity. First telling people to use the tube when the virus was spreading, then cutting the service so those who had to use it were more crammed in. Freezing fares in an unsustainable way and then moaning that TfL was running out of money because the govt wouldn’t give it even more. He is a pathetically incompetent figure as mayor of London – a political nobody compared with his illustrious Conservative predecessor. His record on housing is abysmal and on crime nothing less than a tragedy.

      Yet he serves a useful purpose – rather like the Welsh ‘government’ – a reminder to voters of what it’s like to actually have the Labour Party in power.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        +1 Another jumped up little nobody who has too much influence and power. He has done much harm to our captial city.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        He is serving the same purpose as Burnham.
        A devolved city.
        All in line with EU and NWO.
        To break up the UK.

      • Mike Durrans
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink


    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      “The Mayor of London who conducts himself well” you have to be joking. The man has been a complete disaster for London and he cannot even string a coherent sentence together. He spends much of his time mugging motorists and blocking the roads. A shame the Tories do not have a credible candidate to kick him out. Sean Bailey is pleasant enough but very boring and virtually invisible.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        You complain about him “mugging motorists”, yet it is this Conservative government who are making it a condition of a baleout to extend the congestion charging zone out to the A406 and A205 from its current central area.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        a useful idiot springs to mind.

      • formula57
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        A mayor promising to be “pleasant enough but very boring and virtually invisible” sounds just what London needs to me. A compelling phrase for a campaign slogan perhaps?

      • DavidJ
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Indeed LL and Richard.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      It is amazing how you know what pensioners voted for. Do you access to secret ballots? No? Then one can discount your hysterical rants.

      As for ‘scummy poor kids’ (what’s ‘scummy’ about being poor), you have only yourself to blame. You insist on continuous immigration of unskilled people who compete for jobs and housing with the parents of the ‘scummy poor children’ you pretend to care about. Shame on you.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      How do you explain the effectively 7 month lockdown then if it was not the tame Govt being lead by the nose by the ‘experts’?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Andy did you see this headline?
      ‘Britain the only country to meet the needs of world’s poorest during the pandemic, says World Bank‘
      Seems we are still borrowing billions to give to the world at large. Seems the EU is not? How do you explain this considering they are so much more caring considerate, compassionate and successful than we are?

    • NickC
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Andy, For covid19, the “experts” are saying different (in some cases contradictory) things. So which do we follow – the experts who suggest that even the original lockdown didn’t work, or the experts who want a second lockdown? And since when were you any type of expert either on railways, covid19, or Brexit?

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Andy, perhaps you missed the absolute tragedies in the private sector with people on a maximum furlough of £2500 per month, has this been applied to the furloughed tube, train and bus workers?

      How much subsidy each month have private businesses been given after covid lockdowns wiped out their trade?

      “and that free travel for school kids be scrapped. The pensioners also voted against school dinners in the holidays for the poorest children in our country.”

      How dare you Andy, people on Universal Credit were given many top-ups since March by the Conservative Government – it is time this was acknowledged or the Tories really should cut these things you accuse as they are not appreciated or even commented on. Perhaps a supermarket voucher to ensure healthy food is actually purchased from benefits because the extra money provided seems to be spent on anything but food for the many offspring people CHOOSE to have.

      If Khan wants people to change and reduce their use of transport then getting children cycling to get around is a good thing to the greenies like you isn’t it? I also would have thought your anti-pensioner persona would be happy about stopping free public transport for oldies?

  12. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Rail. It’s over. We’ll all be in self-drive electric cars by 2030 won’t we ? That’s government policy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      I agree and driverless taxis could be very cheap indeed per mile without the costs of the driver.

      But my cars are already self-drive or wife-drive – do you mean “driverless cars”?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Driverless cars (if well designed) could also electronically link up to form “virtual trains” on main roads for parts of the journey – reducing the road space needed and the energy used (due to the slipstreaming effect causing reduced wind resistance).

      This with the cars all braking and accelerating simultaneously so as to retain the correct vehicle spacing.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Only the “lucky” ones I imagine! No transport for the 99%.
      Oh…except cattle trucks maybe?
      To take us to COVID camps.

  13. Sharon
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    One thing I would say, despite the brainwashing phrase, “the new normal”, surely we are experiencing a far from normal situation.

    Surely once we can persuade the government to stop these unsuccessful lockdowns, now is not the time to make massive changes to the train system.

    Once people are ‘allowed’ to return to a normal lifestyle, only in time will it appear how much the trains will be used.

    I notice you use the phrase, ‘new world’. How do you know that in a few months time, a vast majority of people won’t return to normal? After the novelty wears off and realisation of isolation becomes a reality, you can’t know what workers will do with regards to the train and their usage.

    And remember, this situation has been engineered by a government terrifying the electorate. Well, the electorate is turning – and demanding a return to normality. Let’s see shall we?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink


    • Dave Andrews
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure the vast majority will return to normal. The businesses they worked for will have gone bust and they will have no job to go back to.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      I endorse your comments, Sharon.
      For now I have no intention of purchasing any rail tickets where there are ‘compliance’ stipulations.
      ‘Normal’ is not living in world of compliance to the wagged finger, the curtain twitched across the road, the barked commands of “Mask”, apps to trace one’s movements.
      I am more than ready and eager to cast a vote against this appalling government and all its petty minions. Absolutely the worst in my long lifetime.

  14. Bob Dixon
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    We do not need HS2.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      Nor do we need to lose the £100 billion cost that could be spent far more sensibly in millions of different ways. HS2 made no sense even before Covid it make even less now.

      It is either corruption by vested interests and corrupt people in government or Whitehall or their moronic stupidity & incompetence – no other explanation is possible is it?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      No but we have been told we do!
      By the EU or who?
      Or maybe the powers that-should-not-be just can’t resist major waste and destruction?
      You know, cause as much misery as possible?

    • Robert McDonald
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Absolutely, if there is a need to bring the north and south closer by speeding up links then lets start with faster and more reliable broadband every where in the country. Why shouldn’t working from home mean working remotely in different regions.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      HS2 is for the rich to use. So the govt will have it. WE are of no consequence, unless there is an election coming. Then they lie – as usual.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        But it is still 10 years away- even for Birmingham! Quite a few of us on here won’t live to see it/ travel on it. But we will witness millions of jobless, children’s education bottoming out, more homeless on the streets, and politics becoming a Whitehall farce ( ooops its been like that for the last 3 administrations).

  15. Richard1
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a good time and excuse to save £100 billon by cancelling the HS2 vanity project.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Indeed and they have the perfect excuse to do so – so why are they not doing this?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        Corruption or total stupidity and moronic group think?

    • glen cullen
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Excellent idea

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      That £100bn would build a lot of houses for the new arrivals to live in.

  16. John E
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    How on earth is anyone expected to be able to answer those questions now? This from someone who regularly complains about forecasts being wrong.
    I don’t think you have grasped the reality of the disastrous handling of the crisis at all for both lives and the economy.

    The Treasury has said there is no point even attempting a spending review. If they can’t see more than a few months ahead how is a railway person expected to do so?

    • Mark B
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      Well said.

  17. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    This is complete guesswork.
    Let’s focus on getting out of the marsh where private sector businesses are slowly drowning rather than second guessing for these publicly funded gravy train services which don’t give a damn for the customer anyway.
    This morning we learn that it’s dawned on the government that agency workers flitting from care home to care home might be seeding the virus. That was clear from the start, but the government would rather shut the town down than save old lives by stopping paying and encouraging agency workers to do that. A very simple measure. The argument that the care homes would be short of staff is just ridiculous with 3 or 4 million unemployed.

  18. Ian @Barkham
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The government needs to remove their PR vanity ‘grand scheme’ mentality and focus on logical coordinated programs.

    Before rushing off on ego trips there should be advances in getting the existing systems fully utilised. Some logic, according to the rail companies the morning Waterloo train from Woking is at 190% capacity. Meaning its in reality a stand only service. I am sure there are many other similar situations. A bit of modern engineering will up the capacity to bearable.

    A lot of people here mention the government wet dream of HS2. Does anyone believe that a train going from somewhere west of London to somewhere north of Birmingham will attract volumes of traffic. The constructors of the track have already said the train wont be able to run at full speed for much of the time. So the 10-15min that might be saved on the train is lost in more time than that commuting from the city centers.

    My recently moved to the area neighbour, was explaining to me the virtue of Crossrail into Paddington. Not realising, that a 50mins train journey is not as quick as the regular train at 35mins. The of course you have to get to Reading via Wokingham.

    What is also misrepresented the trains and their rolling stock on these projects are old school very old school. A glossy fresh paint job doesn’t bring them up to the latest standards going forward. The intercity 125 has been with us since 1975, and at the time was ahead of the game. These new toys are already being replaced as outdate elsewhere and are not building for the future.

    Yes Sir John, all infrastructure should be built on the premise of creating affordable usable coordinated communications if we are to advance as a nation. Not seemingly random whims to grab a headline as now.

  19. George Brooks.
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    No one can estimate the scale of usage or shape of rail timetables post pandemic, but one thing is certain that it will not be anything like pre pandemic use.

    This is an opportunity for the rail operators to be creative and find out from their passengers what they are likely to need and prepare possible timetables. This can illustrate where savings can be made and they can start saving cost instead of inflicting yet another huge bill on the tax payer.

    The government can set an example and cancel HS2 right now.

  20. agricola
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    While in this Covid 19 crisis we do not know, because we do not know the long term effects of working from home.

    On pricing the railway companies lived on the back of those who had to commute at fixed times. Demand could be increased by widening commuter start/stop times and pricing to fill trains. However looking at the range of fares you quote, a hop on hop off airline network could devastate the rail business. I will be flying Alicante / Birmingham for about Euros 70 in January, a distance of around 1200 miles. Money would be better spent on expanding local airports than HS2. I would add that the rail network should be used for freight to a far greater extent than it is. It would seem that there is a lack of business vision re our internal transport systems, but amply balanced with HS2 type fantasy.

  21. JimS
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    The ‘new normal’ seems to require the people to serve the services.

    We die at home to ‘save’ the NHS; we travel on trains to ‘save’ network Rail.

    This authoritarian experiment isn’t working, centralised government has never worked, the politicians and bureaucrats just aren’t smart enough.

    Let’s just go back to normal normal.

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      I agree Jim.

  22. Bryan Harris
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    …and yet the railways are quite happy to carry on with how things have worked out, ignoring the fact that their purpose in life was to get people to where they needed to be at appropriate times…. Certainly they took advantage of commuters
    Why is it so hard for the railways to organize a split shift that happens elsewhere — There must be other things they can do to help commuters who are penalized because they are commuters. How about reducing fares to see if the commuting hours can attract more users and perhaps increase the time band. A wise man once said that doubling the problem often brings real solutions.

    In any case, if we are to see a railway used and run for travellers, instead of just for profit, something needs to be done about the atrociously high fares.

  23. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Instead of spending billions on HS2 we should be opening up all the disused railways that were shut down years ago. They would now be useful in that many villages are no longer villages and have a lot of people having to commute to work. They use their cars as the railways are no long in operation. A classic example is the line from Southampton to Calmore where the very large Esso complex is situated. The area is awash with housing now and the road is very busy. If the line were reopened to public transport it would alleviate the congestion on the roads and free up parking in the city. It’s utter madness and must be happening all over the UK. Areas that were underpopulated are no more and more public transport is needed.

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      They’re just too expensive, once you’ve paid for parking at the railway station, plus the ticket plus the bus connection at the other end – it takes too long, is too costly and you are just stood around waiting for too long outside of London.

  24. RichardM
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Former tree of the year felled to make way for HS2 in Warwickshire. An act of sheer vandalism. You should be feeding starving children during half term not spaffing money up the wall on vanity projects.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Stuff is being done with no way back.

      Having not communicated or chased business or domestic rates for 7 months because the council workers were at home on their backsides, they’re now sending out threatening letters here indicating legal action in 7 days if 7 months of arrears aren’t paid next week.

    • Fred H
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      BBC website reporting.
      Cubbington Wood (an ancient classed such if over 400 years old). The HS2 project has ripped out an area of famous trees, JCB’d a couple of feet of topsoil – acres worth – and dumped it all in a ‘new’ site for an ancient wood (yes really !).
      This satisfies somebody’s idea of protecting natural habitat, and keeping ancient woods for posterity. You couldn’t make it up.

  25. Stephen Priest
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The triumph of China’s Covid spin offers a terrifying glimpse of the West’s future
    Our singular failure to come up with an alternative to draconian lockdowns will have world-transforming consequences


    If the prospect of a winter lockdown is nourishing your inner nihilist, I recommend bingeing on the latest Chinese blockbusters. Watching the films that have led Chinese studios to eclipse Hollywood sales for the first time in history is like staring into the Western abyss. Take The Wandering Earth – a sci-fi trending on Netflix about a mission to move our planet to a new galaxy after a spike in Jupiter’s gravity. It is Star Wars scrubbed of its limitless human progress and frontier spirit. In the peculiarly cyclical story – about protecting and reviving humanity on Earth rather than exploring the universe – the European linear conception of time is obsolete. (Unsurprising? Mandarin has neither a past or future tense, nor China a creation myth.)

    • Caterpillar
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Stephen Priest,

      There are several alternatives approaches. There are also other ways to use lockdowns. I don’t think there is a problem with coming up with them. There seems to be a problem of limited ability/integrity in the cabinet. There is a problem of appraisal. There seems to be zero understanding of what professionalised science and its committees are.

      That said, your end of Enlightenment style conclusion looks depressingly valid.

  26. Philip P.
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    ‘When will the rail experts tell us what level of demand they think they can recapture and what fares they can charge in this new world [?]’

    Would it not be a good idea to try asking them, Sir John? Though perhaps all they can say is: When the pandemic is declared over. And when that will be? The answer will come not from the health experts, but from you politicians, they may suggest. So please get on with it.

    Reply I have asked, as they need to prepare budgets for the next few years I have asked them top think through likely post pandemic travel patterns.

  27. Bryan Harris
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    BREXIT talks resume today…!!!

    The EU has offered nothing but nice words and yet Boris allows time for more talking.

    Can someone please tell Boris that we will easily benefit from a no-deal, which the EU do not want —He doesn’t need to fear the MSM, we know they will attack him for a no-deal, but surely he is stronger than that?

    Time Boris really put his foot down and told the EU to get lost, or his feet will be taking him out of #10 very soon.

    • steve
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Bryan Harris

      “Time Boris really put his foot down and told the EU to get lost, or his feet will be taking him out of #10 very soon.”

      You assume his feet will touch the ground.

  28. glen cullen
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    The deadline has passed so why are we back in talks with the EU today

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      This is what would happen if those who-should-not-be in power were downright, evil, liars.

    • steve
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      glen cullen

      …..cos like all remainers, Boris doesn’t have balls.

  29. Anonymous
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    We do not need HS2.


    Hs2 is so MPs can get back to their constituencies 20 mins earlier with a nice view of green belt on the way. Many MPs think those 20 or so mins is worth the billions as their job is so important.

    • Barbara
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      The 20 minutes will probably be lost changing terminals in Bimingham anyway.

  30. Robert Bywater
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    “Standard single ticket London to Manchester off peak £33 peak £157”
    One trip to Manchester costs the same as the television licence for a whole year. Personally, I don’t think that is a lot of money to pay for a TV licence, compared with many other countries with vastly inferior programmes.
    I wouldn’t object to paying that amount, if only the BBC would honour its OBLIGATION to be unbiased. But for the last “n” years they have not done so. Their news and politics reporting has been a disgrace. (Other programmes, science, arts etc. are on the whole very good).
    But this discussion is not about TV licences (sorry about that) but about railways. Personally my experiences of rail travel in Britain have been pretty good and off-peak prices are OK. (Peak prices are not ..)

  31. Cuibono
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    How much rail capacity do we need? You tell us, Sir John. It is your Party that has destroyed the previous railway operating model with its draconian Covid “pandemic” restrictions.

  32. Harry
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Railway “experts”? According to other “experts” we’re all dead or soon to be dead so what does it matter how many trains there are? As the drivers all expire from this phantom virus the trains will sit in their sheds not going anywhere. Or maybe they’re all wrong- again.
    What we actually need is a free market for everything and a whole lot less experts and politicians who are universally wrong about everything.

  33. Everhopeful
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    In “Brave New World”Huxley warns that it is dangerous to give the state too much control over new technology.
    Don’t we know it.

  34. Iago
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    facts4eu this morning, Current UK policy is not to deliver Brexit, and they mention –
    “This Withdrawal Agreement splits the United Kingdom, leaves it subject to EU law for generations to come, and involves a divorce bill so outrageous that neither the EU nor UK Government will currently admit how large it is.”
    In the year to the end of March about, perhaps, the government will not count them, 720,000 people were let into this country, most of them of non-European origin. This government’s policy is no borders, the same as the EU.
    So what should I do? My country is being destroyed. As facts4eu say, we are now a colony. In every aspect of government we are now governed by liars and traitors, who shove us in jail if we say something that strikes at the heart of their lies. If I stay, what I can pass on will be hammered by Inheritance Tax at 40%. Time to shove off.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      So you want to be an immigrant in someone else’s country, then.

      • NickC
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        No, Martin, that would be Andy, Acorn, etc.

        • Fred H
          Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          Even Martin is English, enjoying Welsh hospitality!

  35. Fred H
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    A Tory MP has quit her government job after voting for a Labour motion to offer free school meals during holidays until Easter 2021. Caroline Ansell said vouchers were not a long-term solution – but they helped families struggling with the pandemic.
    Footballer Marcus Rashford, who is leading a campaign on child hunger, urged MPs to “unite” and stop being influenced by “political affiliation”.
    On Wednesday evening, MPs rejected the Labour motion by 322 votes to 261. Tories against numbered 300 including Sir John. The nasty party is alive and well.

    • Oldwulf
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      It may be that the free school meals suggestion is a result of a failure in the benefits system … in which event the benefits system should be sorted PDQ.

      Personally, as an elderly taxpayer I am in favour of the short term fix which school meals provide.

      Mr Rashford is perfectly entitled to his point of view, particularly if he were to put his money where his mouth is. However, I do not recollect having voted for him. The fact that I do not support Manchester United is neither here nor there.

    • Lester Cynic Beedell
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Fred H
      Don’t have children if you can’t afford to feed them, simple as that!

      What do they do with their child benefit?

      • Fred H
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        A bit late to suggest contraception! I have been repeating my view of reducing Family allowances down to just 2 children (over a period of pre-announced years). What do you imagine child benefit is spent on? The tired old themes of booze, fags, sky tv is all very well but there are hundreds of thousands of school age children that go hungry regularly. We need to re-introduce measures to ensure young children get milk and some sort of breakfast on arrival at school. (oh! Maggie – big mistake).

    • Treacle
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Why is it nasty to expect people to pay for their own children? In my view it’s nasty to take money from people who are struggling and give it to feckless parents.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Free artificial insemination and boob ops on the NHS but no free school meals for poor kids who will otherwise eat rubbish.
      Something wrong here.

    • Fred H
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      ….suffer little children at the hands of their parents, while Government turns its head away?

  36. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    The commuters are saying they refuse to return to the hell and expense of hours on a commuter train.
    If, without the high commuter fares, the Railways are not viable, we must accept that and come up with an alternative.
    Reducing the cost and running costs of cars (remove the outrageous taxes) would Solve most people’s problem. There are those who can’t, or still will be unable to afford to drive. We need to develop flexible, affordable, convenient on demand transport action for those people, door to door. I’m thinking a taxi service, cheaper because of the removal of the huge cost of The Blob (the State), would do the trick. Perhaps people could be part time taxi’s? Have a tota a bit like Dr’s do? Then those who want a few hours work and a little pocket-money earned, would also be content with the world.
    In short the answer is more Freedom Rather than less, and fewer and lower taxes rather than more Tax-payer funded Government clodhopping.

  37. Andy
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Apparently the Home Secretary is banning serious criminals from the EU from entering Britain after January because of Brexit.

    Of course, as EU members we always could bar serious criminals from Britain anyway but I guess it makes a good headline for the frothing right wingers.

    Unfortunately, as we no longer have access to EU police databases – Brexit takes that away – we are now far less likely to know who the criminals are. Oops.

    Plus, of course, the EU will fully reciprocate meaning lots of Brexit voting thugs are going to disappointed when they try to take their trips to Benidorm.

    • NickC
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Andy, International police cooperation does not need the EU. We can, when we are independent, hold our government directly to account – which, for whatever reasons, doesn’t work in the EU. Brexit voters in the main are neither thick nor thugs.

      You’re becoming more hysterical by the moment. Presumably it’s because you are finally realising that we will leave on 31 Dec 2020.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        he’s run out of toys to throw out of his pram…..the neighbours will complain about him shouting ‘it’s so unfair!’.

    • Edward2
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Could we refuse entry?
      How could we do that exactly.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Your posts get more filled with venom and more ridiculous every day. Keep taking the pills.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      And the UK can look forward to welcoming back all those who went to live on the Costa Del Sol full time too, when the countries of the European Union kick them out.

      I gather that there are plenty

      • Edward2
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        Do you gather Martin?
        Any actual links to your claim?
        All will come back you say.
        Hilarious nonsense.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        You do realise we might reciprocate? About 500k French nationals living and working (?) in England?

      • NickC
        Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Martin, If the EU were so foolish as to kick out all the Brits on the Costa Del Sol, there’s an awful lot more EU serfs to kick out of the UK. Though maybe if the EU serfs believe you about how terrible Brexit Britain will be, and how wonderful the EU is, maybe they’ll go voluntarily.

  38. JohnK
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    Can you please have a word with the world king, and advise him to drop the monstrous white elephant which is HS2. It is currently costed at £106 billion, but I now read that an extra £800 million is needed, and not a mile of rail has been laid yet. By the time it is finished it will obviously cost a multiple of the £106 billion. It may reach Birmingham, but I doubt if it will progress to the north. So much money wasted for so little.

    Meanwhile, Transport for London is a disaster. Just take it off the useless mayor and have it run by a commissioner answerable to parliament. If the world king thinks it is a good idea to make the obnoxious congestion charge apply to all of London within the north and south circular roads, he is even more stupid than I thought. This idea will wipe out all Conservative support in London for a generation. Indeed, I foresee it leading to civil disobedience on a scale not seen since the poll tax riots. Remember the poll tax? That was the last time a hubristic Conservative government rammed through a hugely unpopular tax. How long were the Conservatives out of office after that little debacle?

    Reply My opposition to HS2 is well known and oft repeated, but the government remains determined to press on

    • JohnK
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Sir John,

      I think you ought to make your views known on this absurd plan to extend the London congestion charge zone.

      If it goes through, the Conservatives will get the blame, not Mayor Khan. The Conservatives will be wiped out in London, and Khan will be re-elected as Mayor. It is a literally insane policy.

      Mayor Khan is unfit to run a whelk stall. TfL must be taken from him and run by a competent commissioner. The crazy idea to extend the congestion charge zone to most of London must be dropped. Any Conservative who supports it must be a lunatic.

  39. IanT
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    If passenger numbers are going to be shrinking over the longer term, then it would make sense to come up with ways to encourage more goods traffic onto the rails and off the roads.

    I have no doubt that a diesel locomotive is much more efficient per ton moved than the multiple diesel lorries it could replace – and electrification of rail would be much less expensive that converting the UKs lorry fleet – and also help to reduce the number of foreign trucks on our roads too.

  40. Oldwulf
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Fewer peak trains … maybe they will then run on time.

    More flexible and cheaper peak tickets to reflect the new commuter.

    More creative leisure tickets to increase the number of leisure travellers, hopefully this might mean there is no need to materially increase off peak ticket prices (whatever “off peak” might become)

    Natural wastage and reduced working hours for rail staff so that staff costs more reflect a reduced overall train service. Possible voluntary redundancy packages.

    Reduced footfall at stations likely to mean lower real estate values. Creative thinking needed for the future use of land ?

  41. XYXY
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    For some time now I’ve been making the case for rail being used for inter-city freight, with road haulage only being used for the last stage of the journey. Keeping relatively slow lorries off the roads reduces congestion and would be a good use of off-peak rail infrastructure.

    All you have to do is get it past the powerful road transport lobby (probably after they increase their contributions to whatever party is in power). Sigh.

    • XYXY
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I should have added that it is also a good source of revenue for the rail companies – if there’s low passenger demand, target some business freight demand instead.

      Also, it need not be an either-or, there’s no reason why a train can’t have mixed carriages – some passenger, some freight, using any unused hauling capacity (that’s not wanted by passengers) to instead add a few freight cars.

      And in times where passenger demand is known to be low, assign whole trains to pull freight instead.

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Then you put the power of goods movements in the hands of the rail unions. We only have to see what chaos they can bring in London with passenger movement when they want more money, or someone gets dismissed they don’t agree with, or modern advancements result in redundancies like ticket office staff.

      Plus if transportation is taken off the roads all the lovely fuel subsidies, ved, and the taxess that not only pay for the roads to be maintained and kept in good condition disappear. Be careful what you wish for. I think this is what HS2 is for to allow European train services to access track to deliver their exports.

      • anon
        Posted October 25, 2020 at 2:22 am | Permalink

        This is not about trade. Its about power & control.

        How many troops could be deployed from EU to quell any democratic demonstrations.

        It fits with EU policy and directives.Fits in with Belt & Road.

        Someone has spent an awful lot of time and effort to continue to thwart the democratic leave voter.

        Perhaps, the French elite will paradoxically force a clean break. Not to help us but to thwart other European democrats who call is to “nous re-prenon le controle”

  42. steve
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    No need for railways now…….cancel HS2 and free up the money.

  43. No longer Anonymous
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    We hear “The detection of more Covid cases means more death.”

    No it doesn’t.

    That’s a bit like astronomers findind a new planet called Zarg and then a tabloid astrologer telling us the next day “Because of the position of Zarg in your star sign …”

    Wider testing reveals the virulence of the disease and that it waa not as lethal as first thought.

    The switch to reporting infection rates over death rates is to keep us oppressed.

    Abject poverty is on its way.

    • No longer Anonymous
      Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      The planet Zarg was always there.

      The astrologer was talking baloney.

  44. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    A lot of people want to work at home and travel to work only ONE day a week for a project co-ordination meeting. The heyday of bossy attention seeking fawn-at-my-feet extroverts is OVER.

    Government and politicians are going to have to face some awkward facts and deal with them:
    (1) The fall in demand for public transport is to some extent permanent because of people wanting to work from home.
    (1) Until the COVID-19 pandemic is over it is unsafe to have occupancy rates greater than 30% in public transport carriages (about 20% in aeroplanes). Anything greater will violate social spacing requirements.

    There is going to be a permanent change in the pattern and location of employment, leading to substantial temporary unemployment. Instead of desperately throwing money around maintaining jobs that are bound to disappear, we should make moving people to where the new jobs are going to be easier by scrapping – yes, scrapping – stamp duty and awarding grants for house moves.

    As for transport provision, providing additional parking in town and city centres for electric cars and improving road junction capacity will be much more important than increasing rail capacity. HS2 will become even more of a White Elephant than it was before. Just finish Phase 1 and scrap the rest.

  45. Sharon
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink


    Fact4eu have a very depressing article today. They’ve listened to both sides’ speeches and knowing the facts to date have this to say,

    “If readers are expecting the United Kingdom to become a free, independent and sovereign country at the end of this year they are going to be sorely disappointed.

    Current UK Government policy is not to deliver this.”

  46. Treacle
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    A couple of times a year I have to make an 800-mile round trip within the UK. Each time, I look up the cheapest train fare, am astonished, and go by car instead. I haven’t been on a train for many years. The prices are absolutely absurd, even at non-commuter times.

  47. Yossarion
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    working from home is about to go through the roof with many city office blocks not required, things have changed and HS2 should be abandoned, there is no point in saving 10 mins on a journey time whilst by passing many towns that at the moment have good inter city links.

    • NickC
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      We could go to the Moon for less than half the cost of HS2.

  48. glen cullen
    Posted October 23, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Off peak is cost +25% profit
    Peak is just complete rip-off

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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