Defying Criticism, Government Finalizes Plans for U.K. High-Speed Rail


» A new route from London to Birmingham to be opened by 2026, with further extensions planned into 2030s. Project continues to face healthy skepticism.

Whatever the recession’s effects on government budgets, infrastructure development in Europe continues to advance at a steady pace. The United Kingdom government affirmed last week that it would move forward with the construction of a £18.8 billion ($29 billion) high-speed link between London and Birmingham, due for opening in 2026. This in spite of draconian cuts across all sorts of public services, both in Britain and across the continent.

The U.K.’s high-speed effort — it will effectively produce the nation’s first domestic truly high-speed line — follows almost two decades of travel to and from Paris and Brussels via Eurostar trains that operate under the English Chanel. Though those services have only recently met opening-year ridership expectations, Eurostar holds the large majority of the air-rail

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An Alternative to Congestion Pricing: Roadway Traffic Restraint

Bus in Paris

» Comparing the approaches taken by Paris and London suggests that to ease traffic U.S. cities can attempt other, more politically palatable solutions than pricing.

When it comes to transportation economists, there’s pretty much one answer to every problem: Equate pricing of all modes with their greater societal impacts. In general, this means that we (in the U.S.) ought to be charging drivers more to make up for the negative effects they have on the environment and the roadway infrastructure, and that we ought to be increasing subsidies to encourage people to take transit.

This approach could be implemented in a variety of ways depending on location, but one model that has been particularly appealing to planners interested in reducing the perceived negative economic and social effects of traffic has been that of London, which in 2003 implemented a congestion charge on drivers entering its central business district. Revenues from the

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Can Bike Sharing Work in Cities With Monofunctional Job Centers?

London Cycle Hire Station Status Map

» London’s experience may provide a useful example for American cities looking to introduce large bike sharing systems.

Bike sharing is growing rapidly as the transportation mode du jour; not only have the standardized bikes and their docking stations invaded most major cities across Europe, but they’re now headed towards introduction in a number of American cities as well. Before investing full-scale in the purchase of thousands of new bikes and the installation of hundreds of docks, U.S. planners should be looking closely at previous experience to determine best practices in system design.

Last month, I laid out my concerns that Washington, D.C.’s new Capital Bikeshare doesn’t plot its stations close enough together for the system to be effective, at least based on the manner in which Montréal and Paris have implemented their networks. The lack of station density could prevent easy use by day-to-day users because of difficulties related

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London Underground's Privatization Experiment Dead as Remaining PPP is Bought Out

London Underground Sign

» Mayor Boris Johnson instructs Transport for London to purchase controlling shares of Tube Lines, the PPP process’ remaining private infrastructure manager.

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone sued the government twice in the early 2000s to prevent the full-scale contracting out of maintenance and work on the London Underground, which then-Chancellor of the Exchequer and soon-to-be-former Prime Minister Gordon Brown imposed on to the city beginning in 2003. The U.K. government, which provides financial sponsorship for most of the reconstruction of this city’s huge transit network, forced a series of public-private partnership (PPP) agreements through, giving big contracts to private enterprises Tube Lines and Metronet in exchange for the city getting big bucks from the national government to rebuild its decaying subway.

To Livingstone, a Labour politician, the multi-billion-pound PPP deals were undermined by a “fatal flaw” that kept public sector ownership of the system but gave private

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Are London Heathrow's ULTra Pods the Future of Transit?

» Successful implementation at huge U.K. airport could mean more interest in PRT elsewhere.

Proponents of personal rapid transit systems have frequently promoted themselves as opponents of traditional public transportation. Unlike expensive metro or light rail systems, they claimed, their PRT lines would be cheaper to construct, more convenient for passengers, and more attractive for users. Now that a new line is readying for opening in the United Kingdom, the technology may attain new prominence.

Over the years, most attempts at implementing PRT have failed due to a lack of interest from investors — and as a result of deceptive, dishonest campaigns by “pod people” who simply promise too much.

Even with the rebirth of modern rail systems over the past few decades in the United States, PRT continues to be brought up as an environmentally friendly solution for urban transport, allowing passengers

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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