News Politics

Rail network set to expand by 2019

Overcrowded TrainOvercrowding on trains is not exactly a new concept – our railway network has been split up into private companies all sharing rolling stock and track in some monolithic monstrosity of a national railway infrastructure.

As a result of this break up of the railway infrastructure, corporations are more interested in keeping their costs down than providing an adequate railway service. Far too often are trains running late.

Looking across the EU, we can see that privatized railway infrastructure has been implemented in a way which allows the government to inventiveness a good running service – fines for late trains, termination of operation contract in the event of a company not fulfilling their obligations to the successful operation of the railway.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond has announced that £6Bn is to be spent on the Thameslink route which covers the south coast of England with towns north of London. From about Bedford to Brighton via London to be more precise. I am certain that the London routes indeed to generate a significant amount of traffic for the railway network. However, this is not the only railway route in Britain. Numerous times on my local train service into Manchester its been very overcrowded , running late or even not running at all.

What the UK really needs is a substantial investment in the entire national infrastructure. A program that would see services run regularly and even 24 hours, high speed links between cities such as Glasgow , Edinburgh and London.  This sort of investment would be considerable but the economic gains from UK transport infrastructure would far outweigh any costs associated with repairing the railway network.

They say parts of the North West England routes will be electrified starting next year and should be completed by 2016. This too will be beneficial but only goes so far. The cost of this upgrade however is going to be borne by the general public in the form of large fare increases on trains. This really is not a justified approach – high costs of public transport will push people onto low cost high pollution emmiting vehicles instead.

If I had my way, during peak hours, 4 services an hour on most routes, 2 at all other times around the clock and free fares for travel within council areas would exist. It will incentivize people to take the train instead of the car and keep our CO2 emissions low.


News Politics

Housing Benefit to get capped at £20,800 a year

House built from £20 notesThe UK Welfare system is seriously flawed. People who should be on benefits are the minimum wage earners, not MPs on multi million a year estates. Yet the caps to be introduced into the housing benefit system seems to be aimed at them. People on benefits for housing are expected to be able to live in affordable accommodation until their personal income justifies an expensive home.

Have a look at right move, see what you can get for the housing benefit deal. For me, its a 5 bedroom home just outside the country club. Alternatively, I could get another 3 reasonably priced houses that do just fine.

When I first saw that the cap was to be introduced, I thought that Boris Johnston was acting sensibly when he was saying its a bad move but I had not seen the cap was a weekly allowance.  There is no justification for housing benefits being paid to people that feel they can afford a £20K a year property. Given that minimum wage doesn’t even come close to that.

The acusations flying from London of Social cleansing are uncalled for. This is cleansing of those which can not afford to pay their bills from expensive property. It is a sensible strategy I stay on the outskirts of the city because I prefer the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood and the relatively easy access to the countryside, but also because I know I can not afford to pay for a city center flat – nor should I expect the government to pay it for me.

If they want to deal with welfare problems however there is two things that I think would make a huge difference to the general public life: increase national minimum wage so that money is flowing in the economy. They will undoubtedly use the argument that they [companies] are unable to afford it. Well, here’s my counter argument, my previous employer made £33.3 Million in Profit in the last year. But they “could not” afford to bring in more staff or fix the heating system. This sounds like a crappy employer more than anything – Maplin Electronics if your interested. We done the maths on it, the “cant afford” would equate to £30Million in profit and every member of staff receiving over £1K worth of bonus!

Moreover, a cap not on the benefit but on the house it might be price fixing for the residential market but it would be a great help to the general public who could know that no matter where they were, their housing cost is fixed, say £75 per room. Combining these two would mean that people do not require housing benefits in order to survive daily life.

The Gaurdian
BBC News

News Politics

Londoners might pay to be breathalyzed

Drunk Car Crash Cartoon When I first read about this I thought it was a bad and highly undemocratic approach to dealing with drunks. Then I got reading into it more, and perhaps the system does have merits.

In London they say drink is a major driving force in crime. The proposed system could work like it does in the USA provided that certain precautions are taken. The goal should be rehabilitation not criminalization  of drinkers. Remember, alcohol is not on its own unlawful – provided the age limits are accepted of course.

Police say that there are regular offenders, and they are regularly drunk this is the market that should be caught. If someone has conducted a crime that appears to be a result of being drunk, and its not the first time they have done it, put them on the program. If however this is a minor offence, urinating on a public alleyway for example and it is the first time they have ever been convicted of something, then a straightforward warning would likely be a more sensible approach.

With offenders paying for the test themselves, it will bring a revenue stream into the police force which will likely help to ease funding problems of the police department.

Someone who has been found guilty and placed on a sobriety program would be expected to pay a small fee for the mandatory tests, the consequences of not paying and not getting the test would be a trial. Over the lifetime of the system it is likely that drink offenses are likely to fall – serious offenders would end up on the program and know the consequences of being drunk.

They should however not be replacing completely traditional ways of dealing with alcoholic problems – social rehabilitation can work in many situations so must be continued. To my surprise, the system when implemented in South Dakota saw a drop in prison sentences. If the same can be replicated and target the trouble makers here this should help ease problems of overcrowding in prisons and underfunding in the police and prison sectors.

The Telegraph


Londoners hit Tube Panic Button

Tube chaosIts the largest city in the UK, it has several airports, many trainstations, car rental schemes, buses and belive it or not even taxi systems. Yet, whenever the strikes hit London’s Underground, London grinds to a halt and the panic sets in. What is it about Londoners that prevent them from using the boats, cars and busses or walking to an alternative route to be able to get home?

Whatever it is , the chaos is here and will somehow cost £50Million, surely, with people being forced to use the alternative transport methods it will cause money to come in not leave the London transport network?

It seems that multiple strikes are occurring near enough simultaneously, RMT is striking over threats to cut costs suggesting that fire scares, swordsmen yielding swords and guns could not be stopped should there be less underground staff. I don’t know about you, but If I was working as a ticket salesman , I would rather that armed police handle armed terrorists, just an idea really.

If you do happen to be in London and need some help working out what a bus is, the Telegraph has kindly published a dummies guide to public transport.

The Telegraph