Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Eight bits of good news

Not everything is gloom and panic. Here are eight pieces of good news on the transport front.

1. The US government is suddenly spending money on 15 projects to boost intercity rail passenger capacity. Amtrak carried more passengers in July than in any month since it was set up in 1971.

2.  Road travel in the USA fell by 9.6 billion vehicle-miles in July.

3. The European Parliament has rejected enormous pressure by the motor industry to water down new EU regulations on fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions for motorcars.

4. New UK car registrations fell by 21% in September. The BBC report implies that this is assumed to be a "Bad Thing". They are essentially regurgitating a press release by that gang of shameless crooks, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Obviously, for the rest of us it is a Good Thing.

5. Aviation worldwide will lose more than £5bn over 2008 and 2009, with scores of airlines expected to go bankrupt, according to the IATA. This is excellent news. (But do not travel on airlines you've never heard of, and do not buy shares in any airline.) The unsustainable nonsense of "cheap flights" must surely now be almost at an end.

6. October's Modern Railways reports (text not on line) that building work has started on Edinburgh's new tram system. The first line will link the airport to Leith via Haymarket station and Princes Street. No thanks to the SNP minority government in Scotland, who tried to junk the scheme when they came into office.

7.  As a by-product of the Thameslink programme, Catford Loop trains from Sevenoaks that currently terminate at Blackfriars will, from next March, be extended through to Kentish Town, Monday-Friday. This appears to mean a 50% increase in frequency, from four trains an hour to six, between Elephant and St Pancras. Unlike Crossrail, the Thameslink scheme is now, at last, visibly going ahead and will cost far less while bringing improvements of a similar order, once it is all finished in 2015.

8. The new Rail Minister is Lord Adonis, who is a railway enthusiast. Christian Wolmar has the background.

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