Archive for May, 2010

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Coalition government publishes policy ‘deal’

Thursday, May 20 2010

Chiltern Railways DMU at Marylebone Station. Photo YourRail.

(Click image to find out more about mobile phone ticketing on YourRail website.)

On 23 March 2007. Chiltern Railways were awarded a 20 year long franchise to operate the Marylebone – Birmingham Snow Hill line in 2002. Since then many new investments in infrastructure and passenger facilities have been carried out. In 2007, a mobile phone ticketing service was introduced. In 2008, Chiltern Railways was taken over in turn by Deutsche Bahn AG.

The Tory – Lib Dem coalition government has published today a 34-page document, setting out the the agreements reached between the coalition partners on key policy areas.

The document which was put together in nine days builds on the four-page deal produced during negotiations in the days after the UK election resulted in a hung Parliament.

The document includes specific commitments regarding transport policy including:

  • granting longer rail franchises in order to give operators the incentive to invest in the improvements passengers want – like better services, better stations, longer trains and better rolling stock;
  • reforming the way decisions are made on which transport projects to prioritise, so that the benefits of low carbon proposals (including light rail schemes) are fully recognised;
  • making Network Rail more accountable to its customers;
  • establishing a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy;
  • supporting Crossrail and further electrification of the rail network;
  • turning the rail regulator into a powerful passenger champion;
  • committing to fair pricing for rail travel.

Full text: The Coalition: our programme for government – Transport

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Spot the difference

Thursday, May 13 2010

With a wink to ‘Railway Eye’

Hugh Abbott, the former Secretary of State for Social Affairs, and Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport.

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First UK coalition government for 70 years

Wednesday, May 12 2010

Gordon Brown announcing his resignation,
Tuesday 11 May, 19:20.
Frame from BBC video.

(Click image to view the video on the BBC’s Election 2010 website.)

I’ve informed the Queen’s private secretary that it’s my intention to tender my resignation to the Queen. In the event that the queen accepts I shall advise her to ask the leader of the opposition to form a government…

David Cameron’s first speech as Prime Minister,
Tuesday 11 May, 20:44.
Frame from BBC video.

(Click image to view the video on the BBC’s Election 2010 website.)

Her Majesty the Queen’s has asked me to form a new government and I have accepted…

Nick Clegg speaking after receiving the go-ahead from senior Liberals to enter into a coalition government with the Conservatives.
Frame from BBC video.

(Click image to view the video on the BBC’s Election 2010 website.)

Tonight the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party and the Federal Executive of the Liberal Democrat Party have overwhelmingly accepted my recommendation that we should enter into a coalition government with the Conservative Party…

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A lament for a once great Britain – II

Tuesday, May 11 2010

Yorkshire Chemicals factory in Leeds being demolished in March 2008.
Photo Phill Davison.

(Click on image to go to Phill Davison’s The Rise and Fall of Yorkshire Chemicals – 100 Years of Plundered History photo album.)

What is so dreadfully depressing about the current political stalemate in the UK is how little difference it will make actually which political party Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats will finally cuddle up to. Britain will continue to import products from countries were children work in factories and workers are denied elementary human rights. Britain will continue to send it armed forces to far away countries to teach democracy. Britain will continue to invest in Trident. Britain’s deficit will grow and be funded by more borrowing from the hyper-bankers who bankroll its media and mainstream political parties. Sterling will fall. Pension savings will wither. Taxes will increase. Government spending on real things like schools, railways and hospitals will decline. People will get angrier. The police will get tougher…

‘M’ shed. Yorkshire Chemicals went into liquidation in January 2006.
Photo Phill Davison
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Ian Parker-Joseph (re-published on Old Holborn) writes that Britain is dying:

When I first came here to Blaenavon there was a butcher, a baker, a shop that sold all manner of things including the candlesticks, a number of florists, newsagents, hairdressers, greengrocers selling fresh fruit & veg, a plethora of book shops, cafés ranging from a greasy Joes to a bohemian meeting place. There was a manned Police Station, a Fire Station, 3 petrol stations, 20 public houses, 2 Post Offices, a swimming and sports complex and a population of around 6,500 who had painfully recovered economically from the closure of the mining industry a decade earlier.

In its day it was much larger, with a peak in population in 1921 of 12,500 supporting the string of mines that were present on both sides of the valley, the finest steel works in Britain and an Iron works that today stands in ruins and is supported by Heritage funds as a museum. The largest of the mines, Big Pit, still remains, although unproductive as it is now open to the public as a living museum.

Today however, after 12 years of Labour interference and mis-management in the Economy and the daily lives of everyone who lives here, the town is dying. The Butcher sold up, the baker has gone, the shop that sells everything now sells very little, the book shops are all gone, so are the cafés. The Police station is closed after an experiment to only have it open 2 hours a day, the Fire Station is part time, only 1 petrol station remains, 11 of the 20 pubs are gone, 1 of the post offices has been up for sale for over a year, the Swimming pool originally built with miners funds has been torn down, sold to developers (who intend to build a new police station?) and an increasingly confused population wondering where their next job and income is going to come from.

Eloquently as Ian Parker-Joseph writes, he is wrong in exclusively blaming the Labour Party. Both Labour and the Tories have fed the ‘free market’ dragon that consumed Britain’s manufacturing industry. Margaret Thatcher maintained sterling artificially high (and killed British manufacturing jobs) in order to support ‘The City of London’. Labour only continued what the Tories had started, and squandered North Sea oil revenues to create paper pushing jobs in government rather than supporting real jobs for people who actually made things.

The Yorkshire Dyeworks & Chemical Company was founded in 1900 with a merger of eleven smaller companies and enjoyed a century of unrivalled success. In later years they were unable to compete with the Asian market. Yorkshire Chemicals fell on hard times and went into liquidation in January 2006. Here in the offices we found company records that had been meticulously kept over the years, patents and historical photographs destined for the land fill site.

Photo and caption Phill Davison.

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Some alternative TV viewing

Thursday, May 6 2010

For readers looking for an alternative to ‘Election Night TV’ here are a couple of YouTube videos which I thought would make good alternative viewing. (Click on the image and then again on the ‘Watch on YouTube’ link to watch.)

Before and After Beeching. Video NSMerryweather4771.

Edited version of Kevin Brownlow’s classic Nine Dalmuir West

Those readers reflecting that that the savage Beeching cuts and the premature disposal of Britain’s tramways were the fruits of Britain’s ‘first past the post’ voting system might also enjoy a couple of ancient John Cleese party political broadcasts.

SDP / Liberal Alliance:

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All change at Westminster

Thursday, May 6 2010

High tide at Westminster.

There are many admirable blogs written about UK railways. (See the blogroll for some my favourites.) But englishrail blog is unique in that it is the only such publication written from the middle of Poland. Living a long distance from the country one was born in gives a different perspective to that of friends living at home. So you may be interested in the answer that I have been giving all day to the question, If you were living in the UK who would you vote for?

By way of introduction let me explain that I have little time for party politics. While still at school I conceived of the idea that politics is like football. (On the playing field I preferred watching trains on the Brentford loop to tracking the ball!) The majority of football supporters have a tribal affection for a particular club and will spend hours in their local pub discussing the finer points of last night’s game. But matters that I would regard as important – whether their club is on the verge of bankruptcy, or is about to mortgaged by some shady characters – generates little interest from the fans.

My own dream team would be a political party that would be an Irish stew of the best policies of many of the current contenders for seats at Westminster. I would start with the transport policies of The Green Party and blend in some of the ideas for more responsive government from radical Tory reformers. I would add a dose of distributive justice from old Labour, carefully blended with the instinct for local accountability of the Liberal Democrats. Finally I would add a soupçon of Euroscepticism from UKIP.

All very well you may say, but who would you actually vote for? Well it would depend on where I lived. As far as the local government elections are concerned I would vote on the basis of what I knew about the achievements of the individual candidates regardless of their political affiliation.

Regarding the elections to the Westminster parliament, I believe that its time to deliver a big blow to the traditional two party system which gave us the MP’s expenses scandal and delivers policies which are dictated by those who fund their election campaigns. Thus I would vote Liberal Democrat in most constituencies with the hope that they would be able to break the mould of British politics once and for all and move the UK to a system of proportional representation.

However, there are a number of exceptions. In Brighton Pavilion, I would vote for the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, MEP. Caroline has campaigned over a long period to abolish the unfair tax advantages enjoyed by airlines and has a real chance of becoming Britain’s first Green Party MP. In Clacton I would vote for the Conservative candidate Douglas Carswell. Douglas is co-author with Daniel Hannan of The Plan, a manifesto for returning power to ordinary people. He also spearheaded the campaign to remove Michael Martin from his position as the Speaker of the House of Commons after the latter’s disastrous handling of the Damian Green and MP’s expenses affairs.

I have not mentioned any Labour candidates. Well I would be voting for Lord Adonis, the best Transport Secretary Britain has had for a long time, but being a Lord he does not need to be elected!

Last, but by no means least, in Scotland and in Wales I would choose to vote for the SNP and Plaid Cymru candidates in those constituencies where they have chance of being elected. Both nationalist parties have shown a greater respect for the opinions of the voters than the mainstream parties and both have policies which seek to provide decent and affordable public transport.

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