...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 2406: Let's Get this Green Revolution Moving


I have been on HOLIDAY but I am BAAAAACK!

And now, here are some stories I may have missed…

Don't you think that it is a bit STRANGE that oftentimes travelling by railway can be MORE expensive that travelling by car? Or, even more bizarrely, that it can be more expensive than travelling by AEROPLANE?

This CANNOT be very good for the planet!

Just this week, the House of Commons Joint Committee on Climate Change said that the government's targets for cutting carbon emissions should be tougher.
But here we are, actually giving people an incentive to use the WORST forms of polluting travel.

I think that the problem is caused because there are only so many trains that you can run. Already they are carrying more people than ever and, without importing those people from Tokyo with their foam rubber battering rams, there is no way to cram any more bodies on board.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have a PLAN.

We want to raise billions of pounds to spend on fixing the BOTTLENECKS in the system so that you can run more trains; to build improved, fast-rail links to major cities, sort of like railway bypasses, so that passengers can get about more quickly and more goods can go on goods trains without getting in the way; and to support much needed relief projects like the London Crossrail. We also want to help cut fares so that people think it is better to use railways than their cars.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Environment, Mr Hewn, launched the plan to fix our railways saying:

"The Future Transport Fund will provide ring-fenced funding for the improvements that future generations need if we are to cut our carbon emissions."

While Ms Susan Kramer-vs-Kramer, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Industry added:

"Rail is the key to cleaning up Britain's transport, not an added extra as ministers seem to think."

Funding from new charge on road freight and on internal air travel. This is GOOD! First because, as we know, air travel causes more pollution, and it should therefore cost MORE and not LESS. And second because freight lorries do more damage to our roads than cars do – in fact they do ALMOST ALL the damage to the road surface, causing all the roadworks for resurfacing, whereas you could run cars practically forever before wearing out a motorway.

I do have one little QUALM. Did we not say that we were going to try to be FISCALLY NEUTRAL from now on? I may be wrong, but this does look like raising just the teensiest bit more tax in order to do some more spending.

I think this must be why we have said that these taxes will be a TEMPORARY measure. Let us hope that they are MORE temporary than that other temporary tax – introduced to cover the expense of going to war against NAPOLEON! – the Income Tax!

When the Conservatories flogged off the old British Rail, they made what even THEY now admit was a horrible botch up of it all. Because they made it all so COMPLICATED it is not just a simple matter of the government paying money to support the train companies. I think that someone is going to have to look at the way that some companies can, say, OWN the railway carriages and make HUGE profits leasing them to the people who are ACTUALLY running the railways and making it more difficult for those people to make a fair profit of their own.

Sorting this sort of thing out would help US in our aim of getting private business to help the railways.

Making our trains work would be a massive undertaking and a big risk… but it would be of immense benefit to many, many people and to all of our futures if we succeed.

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