Planes and trains

thelondonpaper, one of the freesheets in, er, London reports on page six of its edition of the 23rd of April both that there will be seaplanes taking of from the Thames in the region of the city and that people are likely to have their quality of life damaged by more planes in stacks over London. There is no suggestion that the seaplanes, which presumably will fly, as they will be for domestic flights, under VFR, will contribute to these stacks.

However, these planes are hoping to compete on the basis that
"a London-to-Oxfordshire flight would cost about £120".
In Spain, it costs €65.80 - about £44 - to travel on the express AVE train from Madrid to Seville, a distance of 293 miles, at about 180mph. It is madness to run polluting aircraft on medium distance, let alone short, overland routes. There is always opposition to major infrastructure development, but I don't believe it would be impossible to sell the idea of a large-scale regeneration of the UK railway network, particularly commuter rail around London and the other cities, if there was a timetable for the works that everyone knew about in advance. Nationalisation, at the end of the current franchises, would help make it an easier package to accept as people would not feel that private companies were profitting from a public good. It would also help to shift freight off the roads, popular in many smaller towns and villages that don't have by-passes or are used as short cuts.

Travel between Madrid and Barcelona, which used to be almost exclusively by air, is now 80% on the AVE. If an AVE is more than five minutes late, you receive a full refund on your ticket. Not that this happens often - in about 16 of every 10,000 journeys.



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