Ten tips for Boris


On his bike – click pic for Evening Standard article
(Sept 2007) – on Boris winning the nomination for
Tory mayoral candidate

Citizens’ journalism site OhmyNews International carries an excellent 10 point prescription for incoming London Mayor, Boris Johnson, in order to get London fighting fit again. The article, Ten Steps to a Greater London, by Asad Yawar discusses a number of urgent problems from air pollution to racism. Here we re-publish his first three recommendations: a blueprint for solving the capital’s transport problems.

1. Rail links between London and the rest of the United Kingdom

If you wish to get from London to Paris or Brussels, then rapid and efficient Eurostar trains can whisk you from a glittering new terminal at St. Pancras to the respective capitals of France and Belgium in around two hours. If, however, your desire is to travel from London to, say, Birmingham, then you will have to allow at least three hours in which to complete the journey. Going by train from London to the North-West of England is something that should be contemplated only by the most patient of Buddhist monks.

This is because High Speed 1 – the UK’s rail link to continental Europe – is the country’s only high-speed rail connection to anywhere. Most major capitals in Western Europe – Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rome – are connected to at least some cities in their respective nations via high-speed trains. Not so London.

The consequences are clear: massive losses in terms of time and money, uneven economic development and many regions, especially in the North of England, which are dying a slow death, while London’s effective economic space is shrinking. The mayor of London must make it a priority to lobby for the construction of high-speed rail links to locations such as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh if London is to come anywhere near maximising its economic and social potential.

2. The Tube

As most denizens of the city know all too well, there are countless problems with London’s aging underground network, known with ironic affection as the Tube. But two in particular stand out. The first is that, in parts, it is now so decrepit that users would be well advised to pack rations before embarking on a journey: in 2006, the average commuter on the Metropolitan Line wasted three days, 10 hours and 25 minutes – not including missed connections – purely in delays. Additionally, at weekends, much of the network is shut down to carry out engineering work, the logic of which is only occasionally apparent.

The second is that the Tube is not nearly as comprehensive as even many people within London would suspect. In fact, six out of London’s 32 boroughs are not even graced with its presence (though this will change to some degree with the eventual elongation of the East London Line).

Therefore, it is clear that the mayor must secure two things: firstly, the capital needed to rehabilitate the world’s oldest underground railway network; and secondly, that required to extend the Tube to areas of London which are not currently served by it.

3. The suburban rail network

While problems with the Tube tend to dominate transportation-related headlines within London, the delays experienced by most users of London’s suburban railway network are the stuff of fable, with signal failure, broken rails, fallen leaves, rain, missing drivers and even bright sunlight all contriving to trap London’s long-suffering long-distance commuters into ever-tighter carriages for ever-longer periods of time.

The mayor can follow a two-pronged strategy: he can attempt to get as much of the suburban railway network under his control as possible (in similar fashion to how his predecessor successfully took the North London Line under his wing), and he can pressurize central government on behalf of his constituents to initiate a long-term program of building a brand-new suburban railway infrastructure. Both elements are as politically tricky to accomplish as they are essential.

(click for original article)

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3 Responses to “Ten tips for Boris”

  1. Phil Says:

    I think you are missing the point with tip number one. Londeners do NOT WANT better rail links with the rest of the country. They see no point in investment outside the capital. And by Londoners, I mean all members of the House of Commons since none of them have ever shown serious interest in gaining investment outside thier new home since being elected.

    I hope I’m wrong as HS2 would be great, but I know I won’t be.

  2. dyspozytor Says:

    At least one member of the BWTW editorial team reckons himself a Londoner, and he certainly wants a UK-wide high speed railway NETWORK, not just a high speed tube to Paris.

  3. Phil Says:

    That’s because you, like me, are a freak who likes travelling by train and thinks it is a very sensible way to move people and freight. You probably wonder why a small country like the UK needs internal flights and think these could be replaced quickly and efficiently by an effective rail system which would give the extra benefit of reduced damage to the environment.
    “Sensible” people know that more and bigger airports are the way to go. With huge car parks and no rail connections. Let’s face it, people WANT to fly between London and Cornwall don’t they ?

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