The elephant in the (waiting) room

The McNulty report – Realising the potential of GB rail – is a queer beast. The report, published last week, is the final report of a long term investigation, established by the last government, into the efficiency of the British rail industry. And the report identifies a sensible and quite extensive set of barriers to efficiency in the rail industry. But it then proposes a slightly odd set of solutions to address those barriers. Or, rather, it fails to address the most obvious question of them all – are the problems generated by the fragmented and semi-privatised ownership structure of the industry?

Actually, that’s not even true. The report identifies industry fragmentation as key part of the problem. But it doesn’t explore the most obvious solution to that problem – large scale reintegration. Whether that is a result of Sir Roy McNulty’s disposition or the DfT setting a brief that precluded asking the question publicly is less clear. It does, however, mean the review is a missed opportunity. Read more of this post

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Industrial echoes

There is something poignant about encountering fragments of Britain’s industrial past. They evoke a way of life that no longer resonates. They hint at the era of Britain as the first industrial nation; an industrial power. They speak of a time when the country’s economic success was less dependent on the post-industrial cocktail of shopping, banking, and selling over-priced coffee to each other.

Today my partner and I walked north from Swansea Marina – previously the South Dock, before being redeveloped as apartments – to the Enterprise Park – an area which was once at the heart of the Lower Swansea Valley metal industries, before becoming a retail park. Much of the walk is on route 43 of the national cycleway. That means much of it follows an old railway route. Read more of this post