The quietest month for ages. What a relief. Transport policy has taken a
breather, though I still wrote a couple of pieces for national papers and
did a few broadcasts during March.The exception, of course, is London where
transport is a hot political issue in the mayoral elections, though neither
candidate is offering anything really exciting or new. Same old, same old.
Shame, as it is the one election that should have transport as its focus,
but there seems to have been more attention on tax returns. Yawn.
I visited the Olympics transport control centre at Transport for London's
Southwark offices, and was impressed with the amount of preparation that
has gone into dealing with the crowds. Their smooth flow is dependent on
lots of us Londoners disappearing from the capital, or at least not making
our usual journeys. I have long suspected that there has been a lot of
crying ‘wolf’ but looking at the detailed predictions of overcrowded
stations and pinchpoints, I suspect there will be a few hairy moments. And
I bet they will be caused either by security scares or overzealous security
checks – remember the chaotic handling of the Millennium launch.
In one of those bizarre coincidences, I went three times to Europe last
month, twice in a week on different matters to Brussels after not having
been across the Channel – or under it – for several months. Friends asked
me why I did not stay over in Brussels but frankly it is almost as easy –
and rather more pleasant as the trains are nicer – than going to say
Manchester and the Eurostar service is very reliable. There is, though,
irritatingly, no lunchtime train back from Brussels, something that has
delayed me before – so hint to Eurostar! The Brussels trains in the week
running up to the Easter hols were, actually, quite well loaded, but
nowhere near full.
On the books front, my new one , The Great Railway Revolution, the epic
tale of the American railroad, will be launched at Daunt’s Holland Park
bookshop on May 14th . If you want an invite, email via the website (or my
email which, to avoid attracting spam from this message, is my name with a
dot in the middle @gmail.com) and I will pass you name onto the publishers.
I will be also giving a launch lecture at Railfest in York on June 8th on
the book – I will post details on my website as soon as I get them, but it
will be an evening event, preceded by a book signing earlier in the day.
There’s all the usual additions and a few more. There’s now 987 posts on
the site, not including comments, so the 1,000 mark will be reached within
a couple of months. In Surveyor<http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/03/cameron-on-road-to-nowhere/>,
I looked at the proposals for using the private sector to try to pay for
roads investment, but the decision to exclude road pricing effectively
rules out any real chance of making that happen.
My first *Rail* column covered the Command Paper<http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/03/rail-692-command-paper-as-bl...>,
which went very little of the way to solving the basic issues confronting
the industry, a subject I also wrote about on the day in the Indy<http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2009/01/its-a-tough-ask-for-the-rail...>. My other
*Rail* column covered risk<http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/03/rail-691-politicians-fail-to...>,
a subject politicians never seem to understand.
I wrote, again, about driverless trains in the Standard<http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/03/boris-driverless-trains-are-...>and in The
Times<http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2012/03/airport-muddle-highlights-tr...>about the shortcomings of transport policy – or really, the total lack of
Thanks to my new webmasters, Primary Image, events are now being updated
on the site, and being shown both on the home page and in the public
speaking section. Next month, for example, I am chairing an academic
conference in Italy on urban accessibility.