||Transport & Motoring|
"RATIONALISE" THE RAILWAYS
Re-nationalise in part, the privatised Rail sector
Nationalisation ...it's Rationalisation
not Nationalisation ...it's Rationalisation
When the Railways were first nationalised in 1946, they were run by about nine separate private companies. But they didn't really COMPETE against each other. Each company ran the lines in one sector of the country - the West, the Northwest and so on.The present system as brought in by the Thatcher administration is absurd - train operators 'competing' on the same line. So you get the '7.15 Virgin West Coast service to Glasgow' or 'the 7.48 London North Eastern service to London Euston' - instead of just the 7.15 to Glasgow, the 7.48 to Euston, and so on. And the company which looks after the tracks is a separate company which 'sells' it's services to the train operators. Who thought this up?
We'd set up a single British Rail again, partly owned by the public. We'd make the ticket price for any particular journey the same, regardless of what train we use. Fast trains would run between the main hubs - slow trains would serve smaller places, stopping at all stations. We'd use some of the funds saved by cancelling HS2 (see below) to improve the whole rail network, most crucially with longer trains and longer platforms. We'd limit the number of first-class coaches to 1 in 5. We'd make all new coaches be on the same level as the platforms - so no stepping up and down. (That's they way they are on the London Underground, and used to be on all our trains). We'd simplify the incredibly confusing fare structure and fares would be more affordable than now.
The rationalised setup would allow private investment, shareholders and so on. But it would be run as a public service - part of our infrastructure like roads. Rail unions would be expected to respect the 'Public Service' ethos before considering strikes, work to rules, etc.
Your Rail Rationalisation FAQs
Q. What does it mean in practice, a maximum of 1 in 5 first class coaches?
A. A train of 10 coaches could have 1 or 2 first class - not three. A train of 9 coaches, could only have one first class. A train of 5 coaches could have at most one first class. A train of only 4 coaches - no first class.
SCRAP HS2 AND ALL VANITY PROJECTS
For one hundredth of the cost of HS2, we could make the existing railway work
much better, for instance by lengthening all station platforms to allow all
trains to be ten coaches long. HS2 is a disaster - quite apart
from the amount of new land (now very scarce in our overcrowded island) taken
up, the line is a "niche" railway. YES It will make the London to
Birminham journey far quicker - but hello! Rail journeys between London
and Birmingham are a tiny fraction of all rail journeys made. HS2 will
do nothing to improve the vast majority of rail journeys - in fact the opposite,
as it will drain away resources from all the other lines. ** STOP PRESS** As
the recent snowy winter showed, it's the EXISTING rail network which needs investment:
heating on all the points so they don't freeze up.
HS2 is a disaster - quite apart from the amount of new land (now very scarce in our overcrowded island) taken up, the line is a "niche" railway. YES It will make the London to Birminham journey far quicker - but hello! Rail journeys between London and Birmingham are a tiny fraction of all rail journeys made. HS2 will do nothing to improve the vast majority of rail journeys - in fact the opposite, as it will drain away resources from all the other lines. ** STOP PRESS** As the recent snowy winter showed, it's the EXISTING rail network which needs investment: heating on all the points so they don't freeze up.
Scrap HS2 NOW - no compensation for any preparation work already done
Scrap the 'Oxford to Cambridge Expressway' - a similar vanity project
Use a tiny fraction of the money saved, to improve existing transport infrastructure
URBAN BUSES TIMETABLE-FREE
A MAINSTREAM government would give tax-break incentives to urban bus companies, to make their services timetable-free and also free bus drivers from doing anything else except driving.
"Timetable free" mean that from the start to the end of the service, buses leave the depot at regular intervals and just go round the route as quickly as they can. They do NOT adhere to a timetable - so no going slow, or waiting at bus stops, because they have got 'ahead' of the timetable. There's nothing more annoying if you're a bus passenger, than to be in a bus and you're just stopped at some random place, the driver sits there playing games on his or her mobile phone, while they wait till they 'catch up' with the timetable. The starting interval would be a maximum of 15 minutes - no timetable, no set departure times. The bus moves off as soon as passengers finish getting on or off; or if it gets full. This notional interval - say 5 minutes, 10 minutes or whatever - would be displayed on the bus-stop.
We also think bus drivers should ONLY drive and nothing else - this means a return to having a second crew member on board, who deals with all the money and tickets. Passengers just get on as quick as possible - then pay while the bus is moving along. Or else, you have to buy all tickets in advance (like many cities in continental Europe); this needs policing with roving inspectors to prevent cheating.
This system gives a much faster stop-to-stop journey for passengers. And it's better for the drivers - driving a bus needs full-time concentration without having to collect the fares as well.
Your urban buses FAQs
Q. How will I be able to catch a specific bus to work if there's no timetable?
A. You can't - there's no specific buses at set times any more. You just walk to the stop and wait for the next bus. The most you'll have to wait is 15 minutes. Simples.
Q. What about bus-stop displays which show 'time to the next bus' ?
A. This GPS technology can still be used, it shows how many minutes before a particular bus number is expected to arrive. But this would be an estimate and NOT a guarantee that the bus would depart at a specific time.
FAIRER DRIVING TESTS
There's a lottery element to driving tests owing to where the test takes place. Some places have much less traffic than others; it might be difficult to find a safe place to do reverse-parking, three-point turns and so on. We should make the practical test into two parts. One part is like now, the tester makes you drive in normal real-world traffic. But the set-piece manouvres should be tested in a dedicated testing track. Many countries - Japan is one - already have these. They're a mock-up of a small estate, with dummy parked cars , a hill climb, roundabouts, traffic lights and so on. All cities and towns would get one or more tracks. Your examiner would book your slot in advance.
So all your reverse parking, hill start, and three-point turns would be on the test track, giving similar conditions for all testees which is fairer. There's no longer a need to worry about hitting other cars or pedestrians - there aren't any. The downside of this is we would make the test tougher, the reverse parking between cars, hill start and three-point would each be tested TWICE.
USE TV TO IMPROVE DRIVING SKILLS
Television is the perfect medium for explaining good driving techniques, yet it's never been tried here. Why not?
A MAINSTREAM government would sponsor short driving-improvement commercials at peak viewing times, each targeting a specific driving situation (eg lane discipline, slip roads entry and exit, parallel parking, and so on). The TV screen would be split into two: Left half showing the vehicles and the road from above, the right side, showing the driver's view (similar to many computer games which involve racing cars). One manouvre which is a prime candidate for improving using TV, is 'how to pass a cyclist in a narrow road when there's a car coming the other way'. Every day I see people doing this wrong.
We'd use TV to improve driving in another novel way: Showing some of the worst drivers in action. This would be a weekly or monthly program called "Dickhead Drivers". This would be made by hiding cameras in places where accidents happen a lot (such as bends on fast roads, blind bends and blind summits, etc) . When a motorist is seen to be driving badly, this section would be shown on TV but unlike existing similar programs, Dickhead Drivers would NOT hide identifying features like registration plates, etc.
Watching this show, would be the same for the viewer as if they were actually present - even if this means they are able to identify not only the cars, but also the people at the wheel. The police would be shown these extracts beforehand so we could get a guarantee of them taking no action. (This is necessary because otherwise, showing these excerpts could prejudice the trial). Then the scenes would be broadcast - drivers in-shot - whether the ones driving badly, or just other passing motorists - would NOT be informed beforehand and would not have any right to prevent their vehicles and driving, being shown on telly. Why not? Because in a public place, no-one has the right not to be watched or filmed. And these bad drivers would no longer be able to claim that their 'Human Rights' were being infringed, by identifying them on TV - that's because we'll soon be free subservience to the Brussels Human Rights laws. (This demonstrates exactly how appalling the EU's Human Rights declaration is - it forces us to keep bad behaviour, and dangerous actions, in public places, hidden and secret, instead of out in the open).
These drivers' bad driving would be on show for their wives, husbands, family and friends to see. All driving habits would soon improve.
KEEP MOTORWAYS MOVING AFTER ACCIDENTS
At present after a motorway accident, the police's only responsibility after dealing with fatalities and rescuing the injured, is investigating the cause of the accident. They don't have any duty to get motorways moving again. Unlike other roads, motorways can only be exited at fixed junctions so you end up in many cases, with hundreds of vehicles stuck for hours - even days - unable to leave the motorway. Innocent motorists miss flights and holidays they've saved up for all year, school trips get abandoned, expecting mothers give birth in their car, damage to the economy by delayed deliveries, - etc etc.
We would enforce police with a legal DUTY to all motorway users . To get traffic moving as soon as possible; or if total closure is needed, to let vehicles get off the motorway as soon as possible. Police would have to:
PROTECT LOW BRIDGES
Every day, somewhere in this country, one of more high vehicles collides with a low bridge. Typical scenario - bus driver takes a different route; fails to see the height notice. (Or maybe it's a foreign driver and they get feet mixed up with metres). The top of the bus is sliced off, possibly injuring passengers. If the bridge happens to have a railway line on top, this means the line gets closed while engineers check the bridge. Every time it happens, we can be certain of one thing: It's going to keep on happening!
That's because the answer is something too simple for our Town Hall road-planners. They only understand complicated solutions. There's a defence against this, something we've been using for 150 years on the railways: it's called a loading-gauge. It's a long steel bar on two chains, hanging down just before you get to the bridge On both sides). If the top of your bus or van is too high - there's a loud "clang!" as it hits the bar. That'll wake you up! OK, it might do some damage to your vehicle - but that's better than demolishing an innocent bridge, or killing children upstairs on a school bus. We need to install these at all low bridges, and do it now. Many low-arch bridges are beneath crucial main railway lines. This simple piece of infrastucture is easy and cheap to put up: just a day's work involved .
We can also deal more harshly with drivers who DO hit bridges, a driving ban of say three years should be mandatory for hitting a bridge. And this would always apply even if driving is the offender's job. We could even have signs on all the low bridges, why not? "Hit me - and lose your licence".
We use too many 'advisory' signs on the roads where they should be compulsory. If an HGV comes to the existing sign which says 'Unsuitable for HGVs' - it just confuses the driver. What does he (or she) do? Do they go through? OR turn back ? How 'unsuitable' is unsuitable? Far better to have a definite restriction, with an ARTIC-FREE sign. When a road is artic-free, or within an 'artic-free zone', if you drive an HGV or an articulated lorry you'd be committing a driving offence and get points on your licence.
REMOVE TRAFFIC LIGHTS AT ROUNDABOUTS
Roundabouts were one of the brilliant inventions of the driving age. By giving right of way to those already on the roundabout, traffic ON the roundabout never stops, if keeps on going round. But now town-planners and management consultants (many of whom don't themselves drive) have ruined roundabouts by putting traffic lights around them, so the circular flow keeps stopping and starting.
Council town planner bureaucrats love traffic lights, because it gives them control over our driving, instead of us motorists making our own decisions at junctions. They're not only nearly always unnecessary - they're very bad for the environment. That's not just for the electricity traffic lights need; it's because by making the traffic continually stop and start, this causes vehicles to emit FAR MORE pollutants and CO2. I've been round roundabouts with five sets of lights on the way round - and every one of them was on red. So instead of a smooth nonstop circuit, I've had to stop and start five times.
MAINSTREAM would make local councils remove most traffic lights at roundabouts.
Are speed-bumps another factor in urban emissions pollution? Hailed as life-saving measures, the problem is most of them are badly designed so if you drive at the legal limit - say 20 or 30 - your vehicle gets damaged. So drivers to avoid damage, have to slow almost to a stop, which means going down through the gears and then back up - and then the same, a few yards further on. This routine emits loads of extra pollutants and CO2. Local councils need to change the speed-bump design, to correspond better with the speed limit in force. Or alternatively - reduce the speed limit! Other European countries have much lower speed limits for example near schools, like 5 or 10 mph.
BANNED DRIVERS LISTED ONLINE
MAINSTREAM is dedicated to open justice, visible to all; not hidden and secret as now. This applies to serious driving offences as well. So we would LIST banned drivers on a new government website www.banneddrivers.gov.uk. This would show for every banned driver: Their photo, full name (but NOT address); date of birth and age, nationality if not British; reason for the ban and where it was imposed, and the date the ban ends. As soon as someone's ban ends, they would be immediately deleted from this website. (This would include only drivers banned by UK courts, not those banned in other countries).
Your Banned Drivers FAQs
Q. What is there to gain by making banned drivers' identities public?
A. It discourages people from driving while disqualified - their neighbours and friends might recognise them. So less accidents with uninsured drivers. Parents will know not to let banned drivers give their children a lift to their five-a-side match. KNOWING WHO'S BANNED IS A WIN-WIN.
Q. Surely publishing banned drivers' names would be against the European "Convention of Human Rights", and our government wouldn't be allowed to do it?
A. It would be if we were staying in the EU - but we're not! We're out of it - able to make our own laws once more! Convictions in a court of law are PUBLIC information, not private.
'NO MARGIN' SPEED LIMITS WON'T MAKE ROADS SAFER
The latest government proposals on road safety, are to end the '10% leeway' on motorists breaking speed limits. If this mental idea goes through then even being ONE mph over the speed limit, will get you a £100 fine. Just like the so-called 'smart motorways' on the M1 and M6, this is just another scam to take more money off motorists - and it would make the roads LESS safe, not safer. That's because if there's no room for even the slightest error, drivers will have to keep their eyes on the speedometer the whole time they are driving - instead of where their eyes should be which is looking out, at the other traffic. How can our lawmakers be so stupid as not to realise this? That's because all our political class use taxis to get around. They might use a car once a month, they get the shopping delivered to their house instead of driving to Tesco. How can they have any knowledge of real-life motorway driving?
The so-called 'smart motorways' are the same, the speed limit keeps flipping up and down: Up to 60, a few seconds later down to 50, then down to 40, back up to 60. In real-life driving conditions on our crowded motorways (the most crowded in Europe), drivers need to concentrate on lots of other stuff, besides constantly looking at the speedo. But of course these 'smart' roads are netting record penalty-income for the government, as drivers trying to cope with the confusing speed limits, inadvertently go too fast.
And the totally idiotic idea of using the hard shoulder as an extra lane, is just a disaster waiting to happen. It's only a matter of time before someone's vehicle comes to a sudden stop - there's no refuge area any more - and a heavy lorry, or a coach full of children, crashes into them.
ENDING THE 'SCHOOL RUN'
Outside primary schools at 9 am and 3 pm, there's always loads of cars clogging up the street, a danger to children, a nuisance to residents and of course a disaster for the environment. There's no justification for parents driving their children to primary school, as in urban areas these are always in walking distance. (Obviously in rural areas this does not apply). Councils try to stop the 'school run' by no-parking zones outside schools, in many cases enforced by a warden, but people just park further away or ignore the restrictions.
There's an easy way to stop the school run, that's when primary schools allocate their places when children start school. Now this is done just on catchment areas - you have to live within a certain distance from the school. Why not enforce a 'walk to school' clause?. Schools would give first preference to children whose parents agree in writing, that their child or children will be WALKED to school every day, and not driven.