A modern growing railway

Greens like trains. They seem to think they are free or low on CO 2 though all the time there diesel trains and electric trains running on power from a  fossil fuelled power station that is a lie. One day when all the trains are electric, and when all the electricity is from renewables maybe this will be a sensible view of theirs. In the meantime we can harness their enthusiasm for trains with plans  to maximise use of the substantial railway assets the nation owns.

The best green and commercial use of rail capacity could be for goods movement. Taking many more lorries off the road and using rail tracks more at night would be a double win. To work well there needs to be more track spurs from mainline to retail and industrial parks. The rail businesses need to offer good pricing for waggon loads , not just whole train loads. There needs to be a network of tractor units to collect  from stations and do the last few miles  where there is  no track direct to factory or warehouse.

To win back commuter travel the industry needs to find the best way of charging. Flexible season tickets where the more you travel on the specified journey the cheaper per journey it becomes is the obvious way to go. Discounts could be bigger for Mondays and Fridays the less popular days.

The railway needs to experiment with  events,leisure, short breaks and holiday travel. This is  becoming  the most common, with huge discounts in fares to win heavily loss making business. This is a very bad model  for the taxpayer and generates more CO 2 creating discretionary travel. Prices need  to be more realistic, and entrepreneurs need to  venture with event, hospitality and travel organisers to make it an attractive package.

The current losses on rail are unacceptable. Too many little used passenger trains run, whilst some popular times  and routes lack capacity. Freight could be economic.



  1. Lynn Atkinson
    February 10, 2024

    When ‘renewables’ do not require millions of tonnes of non-recyclable metal and moving parts, we might actually spend more than 3 minutes considering the proposal, because it might have a tiny spark of merit.
    Railways will never work purely because of the power it places in the hands of potential unions. Putting all your eggs in one basket always has the side effect. Thus because of human nature and the need to keep the country running even when adverse political agitation is active, you can’t do the sensible thing, you have to do the pragmatic thing, even if it’s more expensive.
    Thus individual vehicles are always the safest bet, because they can’t all be stopped at once, unless of course you allow a few mentally ill people to jump into streams of motorway traffic from overhead bridges. But then you need to be a mentally sick society to reach that point.

    1. Peter Wood
      February 10, 2024

      Yes indeed. Fix the structural management issue before trying to fix the operational issues. Sir J. is an experienced businessman, I’m sure he could, given time, offer a 21st century business restructuring plan for the railways, or perhaps find that the assets and new investment needed could be used better elsewhere. Stop tinkering.

      1. Nigl
        February 10, 2024

        Yes. There was much fanfare about the Williams/Shapps plan for the future creating a Great Railwsy authority etc.

        That was 3/4 years ago and since then a metaphor for the wider administration, inertia, incompetence etc nothing seems to be happening resulting in Sir JR once again churning out his ideas, I suspect more in hope than expectation.

        And if you want confirmation ( I suspect not) about the uselessness of Civil Servants/Ministers etc read Brillo’s excoriating article about the MOD in this mornings papers.

        It hasn’t been fit for purpose for decades never more obvious than today when the world is more dangerous than it has been for years.

        Shapps, yes him again, is reduced to pathetic bleating/denials whilst in truth, as with migration failure opening us up to far greater internal terrorism risk, externally a great maritime nation relies on the Americans to keep sea lanes open.
        In another era these failures would have resulted in Ministers being accused of ‘treason’

    2. agricola
      February 10, 2024

      The point in your last sentence has passed. Grotesque levels of immigration, drug use, street crime, shopplifting, gang warfare, and random stabbing with a supine police force are but symptoms. Politicians and interest groups have engineered our decline over mang years. If they fail to jump they glue themselves while the police offer cups of tea.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 10, 2024

        Indeed only a mentally sick and ignorant society would ever believe in the Net Zero religion. Most people do not as yet despite all the BBC and Gov. propaganda and weather porn – but alas 90%+ of our deluded MPs do or are lying and on the make.

    3. Lifelogic
      February 10, 2024

      Even wind and solar are far from CO2 free. Trains are far from efficient they can be occasionally when you have 300 people who need to go from A train station of B station at one time and 300 from B to A on the return train. But this is almost never the case you have end journeys (often down with a double drive dropped off by wife or taxi) and the trains are largely empty for most of the day.

      JR says “Greens like trains. They seem to think they are free or low on CO 2” this is because they are innumerate and do not take into account the end journeys, often indirect routes, the CO2 at the power stations, the fact they they are often empty most of the day, the stations, ticketing, staff… not that CO2 is a problem anyway.

      Not people perceived buses and trains as far fuller than they are as passengers (by definition) catch the fuller ones. As a driver to record it all day depot to depot you might get an average of just 7 on a bus when passengers might report 30. The driver has the right figure. A full be us recorded by 70 passengers (but only once by the driver) an empty one by none. A huge sampling error that drives the green loons religion. Cars are very efficient and quick they go A to B directly can store/carry luggage and tools, can carry up to 7 and go exactly when you want them to and need not professional driver. They are far more efficient than taxis that do double journeys one empty and need a prof. driver.

      If only one or two want to go from A to B at say at midnight or 5 in the morning (when neither are near stations or bus routes) then what use is a train or a bus – they will not even be running at those time anyway.

      But most MPs do not understand maths, physics, logistics, logic, energy…no science past 16 in general.

    4. Everhopeful
      February 10, 2024

      Oh Lynn!
      “They can’t all be stopped at once”
      EVs…I bet that’s partially the idea.
      Bring us to a grinding halt at the flick of a switch.

    5. Peter
      February 10, 2024

      Trains again.

      Meanwhile, there is talk of Boris Johnson returning. Apparently to save the election for the Tories. I am not sure if this is a story planted by Team Boris or a desperate attempt to do something (Cummings, Farage are previous examples).

      Boris has some personal charm, as evidenced by Nadine who otherwise has little time for posh Tory Boys.

      However, Boris is a busted flush with the general public. He only got an 80 seat majority to undo the damage caused by Mrs. May.

      Once in office, Brexit was fudged at a quiet period in parliament and Boris concentrated on ingratiating himself with globalists who would be useful to him in future. Lockdown revelations are not burnishing his reputation either.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 10, 2024

        Brexit was appallingly (half) delivered by Boris and he all fell for the green crap (or perhaps his deluded green loon theatre studies wife and EUphile father and the fact that 90% of MPs are fooled by (or on the make from) the net zero religion so pushed him to swallow this drivel.

        Boris still boasts about the Covid vaccine rollout. It is very clear this did very substantial net harm and certainly was an (entirely predictable) mistake for the young and those who had had covid already as they never needed any protection even had it worked. But perhaps he has not looked at the stats. The lockdowns, Sunak’s inflationary QE, furlough, covid loans, the vast government waste, tax increases, the vast immigration levels HS2… were all huge mistakes too.

    6. Ian B
      February 10, 2024

      @Lynn Atkinson +1
      “Power it places in the hands of potential unions” with you here on this, there is an however. If Trains are private run franchises, therefore shareholders quite rightly presumed to make profit, why is pay a discussion between the Unions and Government. In one sense that is Government undermining private industry

      1. Ian B
        February 10, 2024

        In a similar vein why is Government negotiating with Unions on NHS Medical Staff pay, School Unions and so on. Entities that need to be their own cost centers can never survive while Government keeps picking up the baton, to dictate a one size fits all in all situation situation.
        Sir John champions ‘Private’ involvement in all institutions. Which is the correct path, however all Governments and in particular this Conservative Government seeks to interfere and undermine the very concept the Country needs. You begin to believe they the Conservative Government is looking for reflective glory, not progress.
        This Conservative Government, all Governments in the UK cannot and should not get involved in the hands on day-to-day activities of any infrastructure facility, – they have proved time and time again that they are the disrupters, the ones that cause failure.

        1. Lifelogic
          February 10, 2024

          Exactly the increases in minimum wage levels are often very damaging especially to people seeking such a job. A law saying you cannot work for less than £x even if you want to. But can work for free at a charity! Or can work for less than X per hour after commuting costs but not for more than this at the job next door.

          1. Peter Parsons
            February 10, 2024

            Why would anyone want to work for less than £x or what they are worth?

            The minimum wage imposes a discipline on business. It requires a certain level of productivity to be able to pay the wage. The UK already has a productivity problem. Doing away with the minimum wage and allowing employers to pay someone £5/hour because that is all the business is capable of producing will make that worse.

            When the minimum wage legislation was first being discussed, I remember listenining to a radio phone in. A guy from Scunthorpe phoned in and he was opposed to the minimum wage because he worked as a delivery driver for a local takeway and didn’t see why he shouldn’t be able to carry on working for the £10 per shift they were paying him with social security payments (i.e. taxes the rest of us pay) making up the rest of his income.

            Having a minimum wage means that such cheapskate employers can’t offload their responsibilities for their employees on to the rest of us.

          2. Lifelogic
            February 11, 2024

            Peter – well if the person cannot make enough for the business to pay them the minimum they just do not employ them so they get no wage and do not learn how to work. It is a law against low skilled workers.

    7. Jim+Whitehead
      February 10, 2024

      I recall, many years ago, Enoch Powell advising the Doctors that their individuality was their strength. He saw that their approach of electing their BMA representatives to take their case forward would be doomed to failure. The representative would be a chicken in the lions’ den when confronting the politicians and civil servants. There was only one head to cut off to see their case defeated.
      So also with the public, with ‘mandates’, with NZ lunacy, with jobs and neighbourhoods threatened by incomers, and so on.

    8. Lifelogic
      February 11, 2024

      They are also not “renewable” in any sense, long lasting at best and even that is questionable wind farms and solar cells do not actually last very long without endless repairs and replacements.

  2. Javelin
    February 10, 2024

    Try to make the same argument for canals to better understand why some of the arguments don’t work.

    1. Ian Wraggg
      February 10, 2024

      You’re trying to wind the clock back a hundred years.
      Road freight is door to door, going to the coast is door to hotel, excursions on holiday are convenient by car.
      Except for some commuters and enthusiasts railways aren’t very attractive.
      They will never operate without massive subsidies so better they wither on the Vine.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 10, 2024

        Indeed & one once you get there you need a car for your end journeys and other trips while on your business trip or holiday. Also as a place to store your luggage or tools.

  3. Lynn Atkinson
    February 10, 2024

    This morning’s news: Railway workers in Spain are on strike, with unions demanding the introduction of a 35-hour working week. More than three hundred trains have been cancelled as a result of the strike.

    No matter how many trains you have, if the drivers strike you have no transport. Bit like windmills, no matter how many you have, with no wind there is no power.

    1. agricola
      February 10, 2024

      How about fully automated driverless trains and tubes. We have the technology, so why not.

      1. Everhopeful
        February 10, 2024

        Driverless very expensive to run and set up. Platforms and tracks need levelling/changing etc.
        Moorgate…a myth that the train was driverless I think but a firmly embedded one.
        Out of control crime means lack of safety without staff and staff needed anyway for emergencies.
        Every little boy wanted to be a train driver. Further erosion of the male sphere which is a very bad idea.
        Oh plus of course…all the technology ALWAYS goes wrong because no one can actually do anything any more.

      2. Lifelogic
        February 10, 2024

        Some union or other will still be able to hold the system to ransom to ensue they get paid double what junior doctors do!

      3. Lynn Atkinson
        February 10, 2024

        Stones in the track will derail said trains. Those who would have been driving the trains will have time on their hands.
        A friend who has raised 3 successful men told me the secret of raising not is keeping them busy. We need to keep our youngsters busy so they have no time for mischief. Keeping your tummy full and. Roof over your head takes a whole lifetime of work as many of us know. Those who are exempt from that imperative end up lost.

        1. Lynn Atkinson
          February 10, 2024

          ‘Secret of raising boys’…

      4. Mitchel
        February 10, 2024

        Moscow is forging ahead in these areas:

        TASS,19/1/24:”Russian Railways to launch fully autonomous train in 2026-CEO”
        “This is a fully import-substituted electric train,we are now installing the necessary equipment developed for it”,CEO Oleg Belozyorov noted.”This summer we will launch a level 3A self-driving train on the Moscow Central Circle line.The next stage is a completely autonomous train which we plan to launch in 2026.The slight delay is due to the fact that we now have the Finist train(a domestic alternative to the German-manufactured Lastochka train).This is a fully import-substituted train.”Passenger numbers on Russian Railways rose 5.4% to 1.2bn in 2023.(Moscow now also has autonomous river taxis in operation;in addition they’ve built dozens of new,individually themed underground rail stations over the past two-three years)

        Railfreight.com,4/10/23:”Russian Railways starts tests for high speed freight train.”
        “Russian Railways and Russian Post are co-operating to test a high speed freight train.The first convoy left Vorsino,100km south of Moscow and headed towards the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.The train should cover the route in a day which is twice as fast as a conventional train.”

        And,with sea transport strained by the current situation in the Red Sea-Railfreight.com,25/1/24:”Rail is again an effective alternative for Eurasian transport.”

      5. Ian B
        February 10, 2024

        @agricola – to easy the Unions wont allow it. Because the Conservative Government wont allow Private Operators to run a service, even a contracted service without the Conservative Government seeing them selves as the only ones that can provide daily hands on direction. Unless it all goes wrong then it is nothing to do with them.

        That said the Docklands Light Railway moved 39Million people in and out of the Capital in 20/21 without the requirement of drivers

        Irony elsewhere this Conservative Government promotes the notion of driver-less/hands-free cars!

        1. Peter Parsons
          February 10, 2024

          I wouldn’t want to go from, say, London to Glasgow at the speed that the DLR runs at.

          Would you really feel safe in something moving at 125mph with only a computer system in charge and no human being?

    2. Timaction
      February 10, 2024

      That’s why windmills died off. Just our useless politicos out of sync with the real world logistics to provide a reliable base load.

  4. Mark B
    February 10, 2024

    Good morning.

    Question : Would fare / price capping for longer journey’s, say London to Manchester or Edinburgh be an idea ? Also, a weekend ‘Weekend Freedom Pass’ ? A pass that lets you travel throughout the UK for a set, capped price ? They would encourage train travel, particularly for longer or less used routes. It would take some cars off the road leading to less congestion and the ability for commercial vehicles to get to their destinations.

    Just a thought.

    1. Everhopeful
      February 10, 2024

      However since they decided to do away with many ticket offices and go AI/digital/ tickets from machines it is touch and go as to whether you can even get a ticket!
      There used to be loads of those “Off Peak” “ Super Saver” type deals and they were such a good idea.
      We need a darling of the establishment ( establishment so clever and wise) to promote them on tv.
      “Let the train take the strain”.

      BR actually used to do accommodation inclusive holidays…with First Class travel.
      Why did they do away with classes? Oh don’t tell me….EQUITY! Now no one travels.
      Disgusting country.

      1. graham1946
        February 10, 2024

        Then of course there always seems to be ‘engineering’ going on all over the weekends and holidays, which invariably seems to over run into the working week, so replacement buses not an attractive proposition. Better off with a luxury coach in the first place.

      2. Ian B
        February 10, 2024

        @Everhopeful +1 lets encourage travel by rail be ensuring you cant buy the right ticket and when it goes wrong the user is hit with out of proportion fines.
        The assumption made is all train users are dedicated one route users, so they only buy the same each time. So yes a machine works. That also assumes the only purpose for the rail network is a dedicated commuter service that excludes everyone else

        1. Everhopeful
          February 10, 2024

          Yes on several occasions my husband has had his ticket refused ( online and machine bought).
          If it happened to me I would freak in total panic …but he isn’t ever fazed and sails ahead on a sea of plain logic. They open the barrier for him…
          But it just should not happen!

  5. David Andrews
    February 10, 2024

    Once upon a time the railways operated in a way similar to your proposed freight system. Today they need to be compatible with modern multi model transport models. I have no idea whether they have the capacity, (space, track, rolling stock, management ability etc) to make the transition you propose. But I am confident that the rail unions would welcome the opportunity to hold critical transport nodes to ransom. For me, sticking with the flexibility offered by trucks seems the safer option.

    1. graham1946
      February 10, 2024

      I can’t see how it can possibly work for less than truck loads. The handling at least half a dozen times in transit does not make for efficient or cost effective movement. RH&D is not cheap and has to be paid for.

  6. agricola
    February 10, 2024

    The railways for freight or passengers need to be customer oriented. Those who run them and work in rail are generally not that way inclined.

    Many years ago one of my friends got an order for just short of 2000 heavy mining roof suppots, but BR as it was would not open an existant, factory adjacent, loading facility, so they went to a port by road. It was one truck two supports.

    You only have to examine Amazon to realise what the railways have missed out on.

    Crap weather, grossly expensive food and accommodation have seen off our coastal resorts, particularly when the opposite is available overseas by air or ferry and car.

    Covid, WFH, and the rail unions have dealt railways a mortal blow. When travelling any distance the last option I would consider is the railway. Then why go when the big cities are being killed by the idiots we permit to run them. Nor can the majority afford effective stab vests.

    1. Ian B
      February 10, 2024

      @agricola – “customer oriented” that’s like suggesting this Conservative Government should serve the People of the UK!

      1. agricola
        February 10, 2024

        @Ian B, fanciful I agree, but they will pay the price and explore the wilderness.

  7. Sakara Gold
    February 10, 2024

    A mostly sensible post from Sir John. I never thought that Dr Beeching’s railways axe was well thought out at all. The Labour government of the day made a deliberate decision to take fright off the railways, where it had been successfully transported for at least 125 years, to the roads.

    This policy resulted in many branch lines and secondary routes being closed, because they were deemed uneconomic. The closure of stations serving rural communities removed much feeder traffic from main line passenger services. The closure of the many freight depots that had been used by larger industries such as coal and steel led to freight transferring to road haulage. The closures were extremely unpopular with the general public at a time when few people could afford motor cars

    As working from home takes ever more commuters off the railways, we are faced with two choices – to provide ever more subsidy to a dying industry, or re-purpose the railways to transport fright once again.

    Unfortunately, Sunak’s bad decision to cancel the northern HS2 routes means that the Northern Powerhouse will not be able to use the high speed line to export goods to the EU via the Channel Tunnel

    1. Everhopeful
      February 10, 2024

      In those days the idea was to force people onto the roads…make them buy cars.
      Which naturally resulted in too many cars for anyone’s comfort.
      So what did the powers that be do…they let people pave over their front gardens.
      Soooooo GWEEN!

      In history has a single week ever gone by when a govt. has not come up with a new brainwave to disrupt innocent lives?

    2. Donna
      February 10, 2024

      You don’t need a high-speed rail line to transport freight. Freight cannot be transported at high speed.

    3. Sea_Warrior
      February 10, 2024

      I can’t see a need for high-speed goods trains.

      1. glen cullen
        February 10, 2024


    4. Lynn Atkinson
      February 10, 2024

      Oh don’t worry, Germany has closed down and all its industries are moving to alternative countries. Germany is going GREEN – so no consumerism = no sales for Britain. From Bilt:

      🇩🇪 “Bye, Germany!”

      The German economy is leaving Germany and going abroad. The greatest problems are observed in the field of energy supply as the most expensive. Therefore, enterprises are relocating to other countries. Moreover, compared to 2022, this figure has doubled, writes Bild.

      German Finance Minister Christian Lindner recently admitted that Germany is rapidly getting poorer and is no longer competitive. According to him, social benefits and promising environmental projects in the country can be provided only through “economic prosperity”.

      BTW over 150,000,000 views of the Putin Interview recorded on X atm. The truth has a ring to it, and we recognize that ring though we have not heard it for some time…

      1. Donna
        February 10, 2024

        I wonder if Senile Joe has had a conversation with President Brehznev recently. Or that man Putin who is President of Mexico?

      2. glen cullen
        February 10, 2024

        They’re just following orders

    5. Peter Parsons
      February 10, 2024

      Freight was being taken off the railways well before Beeching. Post WW1 the railways were forced to publish their prices for shipping freight, so guess what. The road transport companies were able toundercut them.

  8. Mick
    February 10, 2024

    The sooner we have driverless trains so the country isn’t being held to ransom by the unions

    1. graham1946
      February 10, 2024

      Would the public accept it? I don’t think I’d rest easy thundering through the country at 100 miles an hour being driven by Fujitsu type computer programmes. And of course even the best ones never go wrong do they? O.K. for low speed stuff like tubes and docklands light railway but for heavy fast commuter traffic?

  9. Javelin
    February 10, 2024

    I have just done the maths on EVs vs ICE cars for a Vauxhall Corsa doing 50 miles per day. It will even in the most optimistic scenario take 20 years to pay back the extra cost of the EV.

    If you include the extra insurance, tax from next year and cost to borrow the extra money an EV will cost you £19,000 extra to buy and has no break even.

    A new, petrol-fuelled version of the Vauxhall Corsa will set you back £19,000, the EV variant costs £34,000, according to MoneySavingExpert.

    £15,000 price difference

    According to ZapMap fuel calculator at current energy prices. Over a year an EV, you could save up to £683 on this daily journey, by driving the VAUXHALL Corsa-e instead of the VAUXHALL Corsa.

    Tax is £110 per year

    Total savings £793 per year

    £15,000 divided by £793 is a 20 year break even price.

    I have not included extra insurance or maintenance costs of EVs or that tax will be put on EVs from next year.m which will double the insurance and add the tax then there is no benefit.

    Plus borrowing the extra £15000 will cost you £400 per month for 4 years. So £19,200 or £4,200 in extra costs. It then costs you £1000 per year extra in running costs.

    This means the running costs are the same.

    1. Berkshire Alan
      February 10, 2024

      lIke your calculations, I have always run cars for 15 -20 years, have either purchased new but pre registered cars, or low mileage 2-3 years old, thus saving from the start the highest depreciation years.
      Lots of things come into the mix with regards to servicing costs, but I have never yet had to replace an engine, unlike an EV that will probably need new batteries after about 12 years, given battery degradation over that period will be close to 50% making the vehicle almost useless formal but the shortest of journeys, and of no resale value.
      One of our two diesel vehicles is now 17 years old, used every day and still going strong on reliability and economy (MPG) depreciation from new its new £11,500 Pre registered (35% discount) price works out at £675 per year so far, and it still has a good resale value.
      Keep it another 5 years and depreciation works out at £500 per year with still some resale value.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 10, 2024

      Then if you do the CO2 calculation you find they will save no CO2 either and the batteries decays rather rapidly guarantees are usually something like 70% capacity at 8 years. So do not expect anything better than that.

      Other problems you need somewhere to pay and charge it at home most people in cities do not have this. It can add £100,000 plus to the cost of a home. Plus the cost of the charging gear and you might need two or more charge points in a family. Also tyre wear (made with oil) is circa 30% higher too and higher pot hole damage due to higher weight.

      They are a nonsense in terms of cost, convenience, practicality, refill times, insurance costs, depreciation and even CO2 (if that quite wrongly bothers you). Cannot tow either.

    3. Ian B
      February 10, 2024

      @Javelin You haven’t factored in the extra emissions that the Corsa creates in manufacture, 55% of each BEV car is manufactured outside the UK and the EU, predominantly in China. The components are manufactured by the Worlds highest CO2 emitters the shipped bu equally high CO2 emitters to the UK, for assembly.
      The Worlds Largest polluters get a free pass on their deliveries to the UK, one can on surmise it is part of the Conservative Governments ‘offshoring’ of industry plan, that punish UK enterprise while rewarding the Worlds Polluters.
      They, the Conservative Government haven’t yet learnt how to think it was never part of their educational curriculum

    4. glen cullen
      February 10, 2024

      Excellent Javelin, a story which needs to be told ….however, it means nothing to MPs on £87,000+ salary

  10. DOM
    February 10, 2024

    You’re flogging this issue to death Mr Redwood. You need to speak to the Marxist RMT and ASLEF if you care that much about it

    John needs to understand one thing though I suspect he does understand this one thing, the political power of the Socialist unions is stronger than it has ever been. It explains the appeasing behaviour of Tory governments towards the fascist Left.

    From railways, the racist BBC and Stonewall to the Globalist inspired mass importation into western nations of competing cultures, the Tory party is the living embodiment of Marxist appeasement, for any easy life

    Oxbridge snakes are slowly ripping apart this nation

    1. Dave Andrews
      February 10, 2024

      All the time you have rail subsidies, the rail-workers that want a better deal feel their argument is with the government, not the ticket buying public or freight companies.
      If I told my customers they weren’t getting their orders because my staff had gone on strike, my business would go south very quickly. Competitors would rub their hands.

  11. Bloke
    February 10, 2024

    Before retail parks, trains delivered freight and visitors to town centre stations where people lived and shops flourished, often near factories employing locals. Before widespread car ownership, bus rides were pleasant parts of a journey with more road space and views of horses, cows and sheep. Local places had individual charm; distinctiveness without rigid uniformity. Excessive populations squeeze freedom of movement beyond reach. Often excesses force places toward identical copies of each other like the EU, destroying the excitement or need to travel.

    1. Everhopeful
      February 10, 2024

      Absolutely spot on.

    2. Berkshire Alan
      February 10, 2024

      You are going back 50 years when the population was only 50 Million, when many people worked locally and walked or cycled to work, when kids walked to the local school, where the local shops were just a short walk away and when families lived much closer together.
      Then buses had conductors who took the fare on the move, drivers had to keep to time tables for fear of the inspector, and when buses run far more frequently than at present.
      We are in a different World now, with an overcrowded population out of town centres for shopping, Schools, offices, and factories (remember them) miles away, and families spread all over the Country or even abroad.
      Life was so much more simple then, with far fewer, regulations, street signs, Cctv camera’s, white, yellow and red lines, and certainly relatively less expensive.
      Good grief we even had respect for the Police !

      1. Bloke
        February 10, 2024

        Back then the entire world’s population could have stood on the Isle of Wight with enough space to stretch both arms without touching anyone else.

        Restoring the UK’s population to 50 million or less would allow many of the nation’s former qualities to return. Some countries have vast areas of unoccupied land, yet still suffer with long traffic jams. That is largely a consequence of having too many attractions sited too close together.

  12. Everhopeful
    February 10, 2024

    Kind of back to the future?
    Sounds great to me!
    Whoever changed it anyway?
    This country from Neolithic times ( they say) …slash and burn.

    Is working from home a fait accompli then?
    Second step into a 15 minute world.
    Not quite Stone Age but certainly pre industrial.
    We want that do we?

    1. Mike Wilson
      February 10, 2024

      I have observed before that I grew up in a 15 minute city – on the outskirts of West London. Shops were on the Uxbridge Road, half a mile away. Recreation park – right behind the house. School a mile away. Church a mile away. Factory where dad worked – which for years he cycled to (and home for lunch too) – 1 mile away. The only time we travelled more than 15 minutes was to visit relatives – a few times a year – or go on holiday – a week in Clacton. I have no issue with the 15 minute city idea – what’s wrong with having work, shops, school, church, cinemas, pubs etc. all within 15 minutes.

      1. Everhopeful
        February 10, 2024

        NOTHING wrong with it ( probably the experience of everyone over 45) but that’s NOT what is in store.
        OF COURSE anyone would want to live in a small market town of the past BECAUSE it had all necessary facilities and it was human, friendly and lovely. And full of homogeneous families.
        There are fewer and fewer shops, fewer and fewer doctors and dentists.
        So how to get to any service when travel is restricted?
        They SHUT all the shops in the plandemic and bankrupted them.
        Our 15 minute cities will be prisons with no facilities at all.
        Except the mill owner’s token payment shop.. aka digital currency.

    2. MFD
      February 10, 2024

      Oh Dear! WFH fait accompli!!! I did install my anvil and coke fire for my Farm blacksmith workshop across the yard. I also have the hay in the yard but it takes more fuel to distribute
      I do work from home but certainly well out side your 15 mins from town! Some one should tell these silly people that one size does not fit all!

      1. Everhopeful
        February 10, 2024

        Sounds idyllic.
        The plan though is to herd everyone into the 15 minute zones.
        They will be high rise with composting loos.
        Drones all over the place for facial recognition.
        24 hour surveillance.
        Bugs and synthetic meat delivered by other drones.
        That’s the plan.
        That’s the path our politicians have set us on.

  13. Donna
    February 10, 2024

    Transporting more freight on the railway will make sense when/if the additional facilities are provided to make it viable. That won’t happen overnight, or even very quickly in a country which struggles to provide any new infrastructure. I’m sure people living close by a major rail line and likely to be affected by noise and/or vibration, will not welcome a proposal to move large numbers of freight trains overnight.

    I would think twice about relying on the train to go to a large Event. A few years ago my son took me to see the Rolling Stones at Twickenham Stadium (not on the underground network). 80,000+ people left the stadium at the end of the concert to find that there were NO TRAINS. None. There’d been a derailment at Clapham Junction and the whole southern section of the network had seized up. Buses were being obtained to take people to the nearest underground station and then you were on your own. Fortunately, having exited the stadium quickly my son managed to book an Uber that got us back to Surrey before word that 80,000 people would need transport had got out! If he hadn’t been there I would have been stuck, since I don’t have the Uber App, at no way to get back to Dorset.

    I won’t be relying on the train to go to an Event again.

  14. William Long
    February 10, 2024

    But what you so sensibly suggest would require a very different mindset from the people operating and running the railways, to the one that now obtains. You would need people with commercial motivation, and an understanding of business, rather than ones who just want a comfy and secure life for themselves. They would have to be motivated by providing customer satisfaction, and returns for their shareholders.
    All of that is very far from how it is at the moment, and in the event that the state once again becomes the sole shareholder, it will become still more of a pipe dream.
    Of course the railways should be used to convey more and more freight; to enable it however, would now require huge investment replacing the necessary infrastructure of sidings etc. Something much more likely to give a worthwhile return than HS2 ever was though?

  15. hefner
    February 10, 2024

    euronews.com 31/07/2023 ‘Deutschlandticket: Germany’s €49 ticket pushes passenger numbers up 25% on local train services’.
    €49 / month for all train and bus travel services looks very attractive to German commuters.
    Such ticket does not allow boarding the fast (ICE) trains but works on any commuter train over the German territory.
    Imagine a train trip Berlin-Muenchen-Stuttgart-Koeln-Hamburg-Berlin over a couple of weeks with city buses included for €49.

    To put this D-ticket in perspective it is 12 times cheaper than the monthly commuter train pass, between Reading and London Paddington (£133 weekly, £512 monthly).
    To which one would have to add the weekly/monthly bus ticket.

    1. Peter Parsons
      February 10, 2024

      The S-bahn/U-bahn/tram systems in most German cities are far superior to what we have in the UK, with the exception of London, and even then they are better in some key aspects (such as price). I travel to Germany regularly and, whichever city I am flying to, I know that there will be an S-bahn service to take me into the city centre at much more reasonable price than I’d pay in the UK. To compare, Heathrow Express is £25 one way, Munich S-bahn is EUR 13.60 one way, so less than half the cost).

  16. glen cullen
    February 10, 2024

    The government has announced 13 new peerages yesterday ….thats enough for a lords committee to investigate the railways

  17. Nigl
    February 10, 2024

    And in other news we have confirmation, as if we needed it, that the word bonus is meaningless relating to this Government.

    Train company targets are to be eased as companies struggled to meet them. Er isn’t the whole point to drive performance up? So now we know how/why civil servants across the public sector get bonuses. Not performance targets achieved/exceeded, targets lowered so not a bonus in the true sense, more a guaranteed income add on.

    No wonder service such rubbish.

  18. Keith from Leeds
    February 10, 2024

    We had the Railway you refer to before the Beeching cuts of the early 1960s. How shortsighted that looks now.
    But the idiots in charge are making the same mistake with Net Zero. The question is how much damage will be done before they are hit with reality.
    With the current attitude and approach of the Drivers Union, the railway will be reduced to a shadow of its former self, and its great potential will be permanently lost.

  19. Kenneth
    February 10, 2024

    The problem is that the Greens have coupled environmental ideas with socialist/Marxist ideas. I would go further and suggest that the “green” movement is a Trojan Horse for far-left politics.

    That is why these environmental policies – mainly adopted by recent governments with the backing of the BBC and directed by a politically active civil service – not only do not work but cause more environmental damage.

    Near-empy subsidised trains and buses pumping out fumes is just one example,

  20. J+M
    February 10, 2024

    The problem with using the railways for freight handling is that there is a huge cost from the doubling handling both financially and in time. The distances involved in the UK simply do not merit it. Journeys have to be in excess of about 500 miles before it becomes viable. The real problem with the railways is that they are very expensive pieces of infrastructure to instal, maintain and operate.

  21. Bryan Harris
    February 10, 2024

    The current losses on rail are unacceptable. Too many little used passenger trains run, whilst some popular times and routes lack capacity. Freight could be economic.

    …but this is how socialist run railways – Expect a marked worsening should labour take over #10

    Why haven’t the Tories settled this matter already?
    Ah, they now believe in socialism – at least the ruling class do.

    Time the puppets cut the strings controlling their actions.

  22. Ralph Corderoy
    February 10, 2024

    ‘To work well there needs to be more track spurs from mainline to retail and industrial parks.’

    And these track spurs may be very short in some cases as retail and industrial parks are often built on land bordering rail lines. Perhaps planning permission for new ones should require land for track spurs to be left free?

  23. Peter from Leeds
    February 10, 2024

    It is down to the IT again.

    I was working in IT in the 90s at the time of the privatisation of BR. Rather than developing their own new systems the train companies took off the shelf airline booking systems and modified them for trains. Though there are similarities there are also significant differences between trains and planes.

    The way that many companies have evolved is to try to fit their business around the IT they use. This is because of the huge cost of such systems and the major business risk of rewriting the systems (eg TSB).

    We now have the stupidity of being able to get cheaper fares for trains online than at a ticket office. And don’t get me started on e-tickets.

  24. RichardP
    February 10, 2024

    Freight by rail makes sense.
    Perhaps a good place to start would be at the Channel Tunnel where you already have the lorries on trains. Instead of loading/unloading them at Folkestone why not, with a bit of smart marshalling, collect or deliver them further into the country. This move would also help mitigate the dreaded Operation Stack which regularly closes half the M20 in Kent.

  25. The Prangwizard
    February 10, 2024

    Ticketing must be simplified.

    Main line tracks should have some old stations on them reopened. Trouble with this is it takes years, decades even to get any decision. There’s a proposal near here which has been going on for at least six years. No doubt they dare not say no, so it drifts, and they also know positives will be subject to endless legal objections from special interests.

    Typical of this country. No wonder we fall behind in everything.

  26. Derek
    February 10, 2024

    SJ, again you are talking sense and that will never do amongst the activists and greenie disciples. Alas, too many of them still reside in Parliament but come the next GE will there be a cull of them? If not, then GB will never be great again.
    Perhaps, maybe, possibly one day, the electorate will see sense, once there are enough true Conservatives to vote for. The current batch running the Government are definitely not of that class.

  27. forthurst
    February 10, 2024

    This year, Network Rail will be replaced by Great British Railways, consequently we can look forward to massive improvements in services.
    The main impediment to getting freight off the roads and onto rail is the inheritance of a 19th century network built before the advent of 2.90 metre gauge containers. Huge investments have already been made towards altering track and tunnels and still more is required with currently only limited sections where full sized containers can be transported via ports or Channel tunnel to inland marshalling yards for onward transportation. The construction of additional passing loops resolves contention between slow moving freight and faster moving passenger traffic.
    It’s doubtful whether the functionality of the rail system can be optimised whilst the
    track and train are separate operations.

  28. Robert Thomas
    February 10, 2024

    Trains are v efficient vs road at moving bulk goods , less so at moving passengers. A Cambridge study from some years ago showed that a one and a half litre car with two passengers was more energy efficient than a passenger train with a 50% loading.
    Electric trains were , arguably, “ cleaner “ than cars but now electric cars are removing that advantage.
    So, looking to the future, perhaps trains are not the answer for transporting commuters ?

    1. Lifelogic
      February 10, 2024

      No they are not efficient in general as you usually have two truck journeys at each end with all the loading unloading issues and costs so usually better to go directly A to B on the truck unless the distance by train is large.

  29. ChrisS
    February 10, 2024

    All parties have suggested they will want to open new rail routes and re-open ones closed by Dr Beeching.
    The current Network Rail system of building electrified overhead lines is prohibitably expensive – the electrification of the GWR route from London to Bristol was the perfect example.

    For existing diesel-powered lines, and new or re-opened regional lines, the only 100% green economic solution is to use Hydrogen powered trains. Rail is a perfect use for the technology : Trains can run hundreds of miles on Hydrogen that they can carry, and only need to be refilled at fixed points at the beginning and end of the day.

    The Germans have designed, produced, and brought into service a number of these lines and their new purpose-built trains are both reliable, quiet and introduced at very reasonable cost.

    We, on the other hand, are experimenting with one token effort : converting some very old multiple units and, because they are not designed for the technology from the ground up, one third of the units carry no passengers, they contain the Hydrogen tanks.

    How did we ever win the war ???

    1. hefner
      February 10, 2024

      You didn’t, your parents’ generation did with American help and that of the Commonwealth.

  30. glen cullen
    February 10, 2024

    Today – 15 migrants in a stolen French fishing boat was escorted by French maritime vessels before being handed over to UK Border Force officials

    1. Diane
      February 11, 2024

      Unbelievable. Well, not really. Reported as having set out from Gravelines. I wonder where the stolen boat is now as presumably the fisher (!) will be needing the boat to fish. Did the French authority not have to consider the interests of the, possibly French, fishing boat owner during the delivery of these visitors to the UK authorities in pursuit of the public purse. If the boat is needed, will the French come & collect it after presumably the usual ‘investigations’ concluded…. ? The overall total recorded official numbers for 11 Feb / Saturday was 124 / 3 boats.
      Last 7 days: 171 & 4 boats.

  31. Original Richard
    February 10, 2024

    There is no way a free, prosperous nation can run successfully on restrictive, inefficient, union controlled and expensive trains. This is why the communist Greens Net Zero Strategy is designed to force people to lose their freedom of travel and their cheap and efficient private transport.

  32. Mike Wilson
    February 10, 2024

    Isn’t it about time to face facts? There is a massive and, by this country’s standards, exceptionally efficient freight transportation system in place. Travel up the M40 late at night and there is artic after artic on their way to huge distribution centres in the West Midlands. Freight is picked up anywhere in the country on Day 1 and taken to a local centre. Here it is loaded onto an artic and taken during the night to the hub in the West Midlands. There it whizzes around an automated system and ends up in another artic. In the early hours of the morning it is moved to another local hub. From here it is scanned and moved into a vehicle which will do a local delivery to door on Day 2. Trying to incorporate a train into this is a fantasy. The only freight that trains can efficiently move is wagons filled with hundreds it tons of crushed stone or scalpings uses in construction.

    I did some Marketing once for a large logistics company. Their system was amazing.

  33. gregory martin
    February 10, 2024

    The railway network has a number of key assets which need ‘sweating’ to contribute to their ,and therefore ,Britains prosperity. . Consider the enormous number of potential sites for solar collection on railway premises and embankments. Consider the potential for locating micro modular nuclear generation on or adjacent to railway estate, with all materials, modules and spent fuel transported in and out by rail. Consider the potential for installing Grid cabling along permanent way, to supply both railway and urban requirements, together with accommodating battery storage banks and the installation of ev recharging points at every railway station car park.
    Rail freight is extensive already, through activities of Freightliner Group which already moves 2million sea containers and bulky freight, minerals and cement every year.

  34. Margaret
    February 11, 2024

    If you stop immigration you will get in.

  35. Lindsay+McDougall
    February 13, 2024

    Single wagon loads by rail are uneconomic. Rail freight is normally intermodal freight, i.e. there is a short journey by road at either end plus the cost of transferring a container by crane at the rail terminals. Also, the locomotive (dead load) is a high proportion of the live load.

    Now that there are fewer passengers, there will be fewer passenger trains, allowing more paths for whole freight trains. It needs a good, dynamic booking system to ensure that freight trains are fully loaded.

    Incidentally, the goal should not be reducing railway losses but eliminating them. The rail unions should be informed of this and told that the promise of no redundancies is off the table.

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