It was a true weekend of dispair for our transport infrastructure. What is so cunning about it all is that we manage to disappoint everyone:
- car drivers deal with potholes and roads designed for a long gone era
- train users deal with a train service which could do with a Mussolini type approach
- cyclists have never had an infrastructure and fear for their lives
- pedestrians get pushed aside wherever possible first for cars and increasingly by cyclists.
This weekend showed up a couple of the many weaknesses in the system for cars for me. If you are interested in the attacks on the greener forms of transport I refer you to my friend Eric Britton and his online publication World Streets.
My observations are much more simple. We are heading for complete gridlock on our roads and this is bad for business and the future of our country. I am not even going to mention the increasing cost of petrol and diesel.
First there was a fire under the M1 which melted the bridge above it. They put out the fire and now the government is going to spend our money on ‘an audit of scrapyards under arches of motorways and railway lines‘. Absolutely brilliant!
Perhaps they can put them out of business or move them to greenbelt land. After all, these are not banks so putting them out of business is not a real problem.
The fire was the first one ever under arches causing this kind of damage and it turns out it was caused by arson. So if the arsonist cannot burn the motorway using a scrapyard, perhaps they can burn in some other way. Is the brilliant audit going to tell us about that?
What exactly does Philip Hammond (he is the Secretary of State for Transport) hope to achieve except headlines?
My second observation comes from my trip up to Great Yarmouth. 170 miles, little traffic, but it still took almost 4 hours. When I drive through France, Belgium and the Netherlands once a month I drive 220 miles and usually get there in under 3 hours.
The trip to Yarmouth involved about 70 miles of single carriageways, lots of roundabouts, slowing down, speading up, lots of CO2 blasted into the atmosphere. The trip from Calais involves getting on motorways in 3 countries and largely sitting back with cruise control and CD player on.
Great Yarmouth is an important gateway to maintaining our North Sea oil supplies. Maybe not that important with BP focussing on Russia and the arctic, but one would think it deserved at least a dual carriageway to make it accessible. Lets not start about motorways.
Trains compete with roads to provide the worst connection possible at eye watering prices.
The M1 was built too late and has always been too small for the needs of the country. Yes I know all about densly populated countries – the density of population is a lot less here than the areas I drive through from Calais. Yet on that route there is not a single roundabout and motorways virtually door to door.
No Mister Secretary of State. Stop this expensive, ludicrous, rear end covering audit and start looking at your infrastructure as a whole. It is pathetic and until you do something about it, business cannot move. Your boss wants to get Britain moving. Gridlock should not feature.