Tag Archives: railways

Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: And now for something else… Childcare, Lobbying and HS2

Last week, Syria dominated. This week Nick Clegg uses his Leader’s letter to promote a just-announced initiative – 15 hours’ free nursery care to children from the poorest families – and defend another two currently under attack: the Transparency and Lobbying bill and HS2. On lobbying, he dismisses as ‘nonsense’ the idea the Government was ever wanting to gag charities and says the Coalition will accept amendments that make this crystal clear. While on HS2 he argues it is vital to increase capacity, and adds it’s just one of many improvements planned to the railways.

libdem letter from nick clegg

A few weeks ago I asked you to let me know what you wanted me to cover in this letter and one message came back more clearly than any other: anything and everything! The winning choice, by far, was “something else” – with suggestions from bees to tax avoidance.

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Full steam ahead for high speed rail, say 55% of Lib Dem members

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members back HS2 by 55% to 31%

There are plans to build a new high speed rail link (called HS2) between London and Birmingham, and then on to Manchester and Leeds. This is currently expected to cost around £42 billion. Do you support or oppose these plans?

    55% – Support

    31% – Oppose

    13% – Don’t know

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , and | 53 Comments

This week in Europe – 28-31 January(ish)

Attempt to introduce the British model to European railways fails

Virgin trainGermany has succeeded in changing the content of a European Commission proposal on the liberalisation of railways before the proposal was even published. The intention, to introduce greater competition in rail passenger services by separating infrastructure owners from passenger service operators failed after stiff resistance from Deutsche Bahn and SNCF.

Ironically, SNCF is run as a separate entity already but it is intended to merge the two companies once more. Instead, vertically integrated rail companies will have to erect firewalls between their …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

I apologise for my lack of enthusiasm for HS2. It’s been unavoidably delayed owing to the lack of evidence

HS2‘All aboard!’ exhorts the email I received last night from Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker, hailing his announcement of the Coalition’s plans for Phase Two of Britain’s High Speed Rail Network (aka HS2). I’m afraid, though, I’m going to have to apologise to Norman for the delay in arrival of my goodwill owing to what I suspect is the wrong type of investment on the lines.

HS2, we are told, will cut journey times, help the environment, heal the North-South divide and boost growth. Each of these arguments is less …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 45 Comments

Opinion: Renationalising the railways is not the solution – devolution is

David Thorpe recently wrote a Liberal Democrat Voice piece advocating the (piecemeal) renationalisation of the railways and the latest LDV survey found more than 40% of members want the railways fully nationalised. I wish to provide some historical context and offer an alternative solution.

Nationalisation in1948 was the culmination of a process started by the First World War. During the war, the railways were taken over by the government, run-down and eventually consolidated

Posted in Op-eds | 20 Comments

4-in-10 Lib Dem members want to see the railways fully nationalised

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Just 1-in-20 Lib Dems opt for full privatisation

LDV asked: In general, would you like to see more or less government involvement in running the country’s railways?

    41% – I would like to see the railways fully nationalised

    34% – I would like to see more government regulation than there is currently, but

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Opinion: Now is the time to re-nationalise the railways

Virgin trainAs the 2015 General Election approaches, the principle challenge for Liberal Democrat policy makers will be to come up with distinctive policies which don’t trade in our party’s radicalism while allowing us to trade on our experience as a serious party of government.

One policy which we can be confident won’t be pursued by either of the other two parties is that of re-nationalising the railways.

Readers familiar with my previous posts on this site would be surprised to see me advocating nationalisation as a policy.

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Opinion: How contracting fiascos, such as West Coast, threaten localisation dreams

The fiasco over the West Coast Mainline contract has exposed a long-running sore at the heart of government: the problem of public/private contracting.

Rail and Information Technology are merely prime examples of the troubled and costly contractual relationships that often exist between the public and private sector.

The Liberal Democrats have a policy review of public services under way – but will it tackle the real issues? For if contracting at

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

News snippets from the Conservative conference: tax, Europe, migration and more

Conservative Party logoTrouble ahead on tax as Osborne opposes a mansion tax:

We are not going to have a mansion tax, or a new tax that is a percentage value of people’s properties.

Before you rush to spot the loophole in that – what about adding extra higher bands to Council Tax? – he opposed that too. Given Osborne made much of his reputation as was by opposing changes to inheritance tax, perhaps it is on capital gains tax that there will be room fro an agreement with the …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Britain deserves an affordable railway

Our rail fares are among the most expensive in Europe, and they keep going up. Between 1997 and 2010 rail fares went up by an astonishing 66% – well above inflation.

If next year’s planned rail fare rises go ahead, some passengers will hand over up to 15% of their wages for the pleasure of travelling to work.

Since the Labour party introduced above inflation fare rises in 2003, these increases have become a yearly occurrence. Indeed, Labour Party policy is still to have above-inflation rail fare increases every year.

We say that rail fares are already too high. We would cap rail …

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Opinion: Are we being taken for a First(Group)-class ride?

As someone who has used the west coast mainline regularly for the past fifteen years (and would have done so more if the cheaper fares were more readily available), I can testify to a significant improvement in reliability and levels of service in recent years. Much of this was of course down to the £9bn and more of public investment in upgrading the line, and much was down to Virgin themselves – I carry no torch for Sir Richard but there’s little denying that Virgin trains, expensive though they undoubtedly can be, ran what became a reliable, punctual, comfortable service.

But …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Major railway modernisation announced

From the BBC:

A £9.4bn package of investment in the railways in England and Wales, including £4.2bn of new schemes, has been unveiled by the government.

The plans include electrification of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Sheffield.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 17 Comments

PMQs: Opposition leader asks: “Can I agree with the Prime Minister”?

2012’s first Prime Minister’s Questions started with a bit of a score draw about rail fares. It got rather heated as Ed Miliband said the government had allowed fares to go up by 11%. He said:

The last Labour government saw that the train companies were taking advantage of consumers…we took away that power from them

David Cameron retorted that:

The power (to increase fares well above inflation) was given to them to do that by the last Labour government.

Channel 4 News FactCheck, as usual,has an excellent analysis of this spat, concluding that they couldn’t give either men a “Fact” or “Fiction” …

Posted in PMQs | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Liberal Democrat members support proposed changes to planning rules, just

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

Our latest survey of party members finds a small majority backing the government’s controversial plans for the planning system in England. By a margin of 48% – 39% Liberal Democrat members in the survey supported the scheme to cut central control over planning but also introduce a presumption in favour of development if plans are sustainable and in line with local policies.

However, …

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: campaigning for a better rail service

Here at Eaglescliffe we have a great airport on our doorsteps – still known as Teesside Airport to most of us despite the best efforts of the owners to change it to Durham Tees Valley. From my house I can take a 10 minute walk in the other direction to a railway station with a reasonably frequent service going past the airport on its way to Darlington.

The airport has a railway station too – ideal you might think. Think again. Trains stop there once in each direction on Saturdays and now on Sundays too. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: an easy £25 billion to cut

I’m sorry I couldn’t join you at Liverpool, but my absence hopefully left more of the wine lake provided by our generous sponsors for the rest of you. As ‘cuts’ were in the air and in your conversations. I’d like to suggest an easy one.

HS2. Or High Speed (Rail) 2 to give its full title. The proposed new high speed rail link from London past Birmingham to the great cities of the North, such as Leeds. I’m told it may go near somewhere called Manchester as well on its way to Scotland.

Now I am no engineer. If the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 68 Comments

Opinion: railing against the direction of policy

The media are constantly looking for signs of policy splits within the Coalition. Across policy fields – the economy, welfare, housing, defence – the search is on for contradictions and conflicts, whether real, manufactured or imagined. While many of the stories have been given an airing here, one that passed relatively unnoticed was last week’s discussion of rail fares.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond hinted that the current fiscal situation is so severe that it may be necessary to re-examine the formula restricting regulated rail fares to increases of no more than RPI+1%. The suggestion was that this might increase

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

Opinion: nationalising the railways is the only sensible option

With the current scramble by the new coalition to find savings and reduce the size of government, it is perhaps a strange time to be proposing that, in one area at least, the state should expand its remit, but the case for renationalising the railways has never been stronger.

I am certainly not a fan generally of nationalisation of anything, and still think that the coalition should flog the Tote, Channel 4, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link etc, but think that the British Railways must return to public ownership, not for reasons of ideology or sentiment, but simply because there is …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 35 Comments

Opinion: What future for Bombardier?

We’ve begun to see how the cutbacks in the Transport Department’s budget are going to affect Britain’s railways. There were always going to be some projects that would need to be delayed, but we should be careful that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond doesn’t just look at the impact on his own budget but also the impact on the industry and communities that build and maintain Britain’s railway network. He should also look forward beyond the end of this Parliament.

At the moment, after years of cuts and rationalisation by the previous Conservative and Labour regimes, Britain is now down to one …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The coalition agreement: transport & universities and further education

Welcome to the twentieth and last (phew!) in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

Traditionally the transport sections of party manifestos contain commitments to various expensive, long-term public expenditure projects. In the current financial climate it is no surprise that the coalition agreement’s transport section is rather heavy on matters of regulation and bureaucracy and rather light on directly spending money to improve transport.

So we have a promise to “make Network Rail more accountable to its customers”, a commitment to “fair pricing for rail travel”, a …

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Duncan Hames MP’s maiden speech

Back when Cix was the main way of talking to other Lib Dems online, a tradition emerged of posting Lib Dem MPs’ maiden speeches so that people could read them and respond – a tradition LDV would like to continue. Earlier today, we read Simon Wright’s speech, and tomorrow we will bring you David Ward.

Duncan’s speech is also available to view here at the Parliament website until 1 June 2011.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech so early in this Parliament. I congratulate the hon. Members for Harlow (Robert Halfon) …

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Simon Wright MP’s maiden speech

Back when Cix was the main way of talking to other Lib Dems online, a tradition emerged of posting Lib Dem MPs’ maiden speeches so that people could read them and respond – a tradition LDV would like to continue. Scheduled this weekend are Simon Wright, below, Duncan Hames and David Ward.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech. I am pleased to follow the maiden speeches of the hon. Members for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) and for Stroud (Neil Carmichael) and of many other Members who have spoken today with great pride …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Daily View 2×2: 11 March 2010

Good morning, and welcome to Daily View.

Today is notable as the day before LDV’s fascinating fringe event on how to make authoritarian MPs pay at the ballot box – do join us tomorrow in Birmingham to find out how.

302 years ago today, Queen Anne was the last British monarch to withhold Royal Assent from a bill of Parliament.

In 1864, Sheffield saw a Great Flood when a dam under construction burst. The ensuing inundation wrecked a number of bridges, destroyed 800 houses and killed 270 people.

People born on March 11th include Laurence Llewellyn Bowen, Harold Wilson and Douglas Adams; and deaths include Alexander Fleming, John Wyndham and Slobodan Milošević.

2 Big Stories

Parties battle over high speed rail

Will Labour’s Y or the Conservative Reverse-S win the day? Find out in The Times

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Cable: “Liberal Democrats committed to Crossrail”

Not exactly breaking news, but a reaffirming today of the Lib Dems’ backing for Crossrail, with a financial caveat:

Vince Cable has told the Evening Standard that the Liberal Democrats are backing Crossrail, the east-west railway now under construction in London:

The Liberal Democrats are fully committed to the Crossrail project and we certainly have no plans to scrap it.

However, as with all projects involving public sector money it is critical that Crossrail stays within its agreed budget.

Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee told Lib Dem Voice:

The Liberal Democrats have always been fully committed to

Posted in London and News | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 1 July 2009

2 Big Stories


British economy in worst state in over half a century

Perhaps it’s the sweltering weather, perhaps recession fatigue has set in, but there is little reaction to yesterday’s startling news that the British economy contracted by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2009 – the worst decline in more than 50 years. It isn’t the main story for even one of the newspapers, though it led all last night’s TV news programmes. Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable underscored the seriousness of the data:

The biggest three month fall in GDP in more than half a century is a clear

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Opinion: Opposition is only half the fight – we must spell out our plan for Heathrow

What follows is very much not dissent in the ranks or any kind of support for a third runway at Heathrow – if for no other reason than I don’t want to give John McDonnell any excuse to start wielding the Mace again. I fully support and agree with the Lib Dem campaign being ably led by Susan Kramer and Norman Baker against blighting south-west London and surrounding areas with yet more noise, pollution and congestion.

But the Government has now announced its decision on a new runway and Terminal 6 and, while I hope we will be able to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments
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