October 2006

31 October 2006
Loose windscreen wiper stops train -
Early bus from here
which is sort of prescient because I was going to write a piece on driver comfort and the windscreen wiper - the point being that until the invention of the windscreen wiper drivers had to sit/stand outside. I suppose that applies equally as well to trains as it does to cars or buses. It must have been a hell of a job.  …link
Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (2)Incidents
30 October 2006
Richard Hammond’s exploit is not a licence to be reckless
Mark Holland

Despite their protestations to the contrary, I have a sneaking suspicion that certain nannying types are somewhat disappointed that Richard Hammond not only survived his 288mph jet-car crash but ultimately escaped with nothing more than a bout of depression. No brain injury, no lost limbs, no scars, no nothing really. Amazing.

Take this opinion piece in today’s Times.

Firstly, the author’s use of the phrase “penis extension” says more about her than it does about Hammond, his Top Gear colleagues or indeed anyone who’s ever had the temerity to enjoy accelerating or a well taken corner.

Secondly, apparently the fact that Hammond came away from his ordeal moderately unscathed is going to act as a green light to “impressionable” “boy racers” who are going to be mowing down innocent children outside primary school gates the length of the land any day now. (Apart from anything else, aren’t the majority of school children ferried the short walk to school in 4x4s with more armour than our servicemen in Afghanistan and Iraq get to dodge roadside bombs in.)

Watch out, there’s straw man lying in the road:

“Do you realise how annoyed I am that I’ve got no marks on me?” he [Hammond] jokes. “Absolutely nothing at all, nothing for the pub. There are people who fall off their trikes at the age of 4 who have better injuries than me.” Ho, ho.

I wonder how Elizabeth Davidson felt when she read that remark. Mrs Davidson’s daughter Margaret, a 26-year-old doctor, was killed instantly when Nolan Haworth, 19, slammed into her car at 70mph after driving like a joyrider and overtaking on the brow of a hill.

Wheras I wonder what one earth the connection is between Haworth’s actions and Richard Hammond. Yes, peer pressure and the influence of others can be powerful forces but ultimately the choice to act on them is the individual’s to make. “Only following orders” doesn’t cut it as an excuse. Haworth and only Haworth is responsible for his actions. As are we all for ours. I will choose free will.

But, of course, you become the po-faced party pooper if you suggest that, actually, Hammond should be hanging his head in shame for driving a car at nearly 300mph in the first place.

You are a po-faced party pooper.

Hammond wasn’t driving a jet car along the local by-pass for heaven’s sake. It was on a closed track on private land with safety checks having been done and with medical personnel on stand by. The crash was caused by a mechanical failure. One of the tyres burst. These things happen. An identical mishap felled a Concorde. Did that not have all possible safety proceedures carried out or do Air France like to kill its passengers, employees and unlucky people on the ground? Should Ayrton Senna, Donald Campbell, Andrei Kivilev and countless others be hanging their heads in shame for not staying in bed that day?

Imagine how much he has supercharged the fantasies of hundreds of teenage twockers by bragging that he walked away from the crash with little more than a chipped tooth and is now looking forward to regaling his mates with the story over a few pints. This is the ballsy stuff of Hotspur comic legend — but it is also irresponsible.

And that Douglas Bader was a terrible influence too.

What’s wrong with a bit of inspiring derring do? Not everybody is as content to cower neath the duvet as this article’s writer. Some need to push themselves to go faster, higher and further and good luck to them. To link their exploits to some reckless idiot who chose to put his foot down in the wrong place is a) unfair and b) disregards free will.

Finally, I have no idea what on earth a “twocker” is supposed to be.

Yesterday I spotted a van covered in grass, and photoed it. (It even has its own blog.)

It is indeed a strange and eye-catching sight. I wonder if anyone will now make the case that such vehicles are a danger, by drawing the attention of drivers away from their driving. It might only take one more accident where this is the excuse offered.

Brian Micklethwait • PermalinkFeedback (0)RoadRoad MiscellanyRoad Safety
27 October 2006
A deluge of diamond geezer tube trivia and profundity (tube = London Underground railway), all stations from here to here, and maybe the journey will continue a while yet.

Brian Micklethwait • PermalinkFeedback (0)London Underground
Panama says yes to widening its canal.

Brian Micklethwait • PermalinkFeedback (2)Miscellaneous
Shit Sherlock
Brian Micklethwait

Someone’s been crapping on trains.

Says Amit Varma, to whom thanks for the link:

I hope this doesn’t give any ideas to terrorists anywhere. Else, we’ll have terrorists crapping in public places everywhere, and when the intelligence agencies of the US and UK start investigating, they’ll drive through Mumbai’s roads early in the morning and discover exactly where the training camps are.

Seriously, this must be a nightmare for the fuzz.

Detective Constable Donna Fox said: “The man has struck at least 30 trains since August, causing approximately £60,000 in damage and cleaning costs and resulting in many carriages been taken out of service, causing disruption and cancellations to the train services and serious inconvenience to the travelling public.  . . .”


If you see this man, says DC Fox, “do not approach him”.

Free newspapers caused New York subway flooding
Brian Micklethwait

Via Kristine Lowe (again) this:

Free newspapers distributed to subway commuters are a major cause of subway track flooding, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority investigative task force has found.

Leftover stacks of papers such as AM New York and Metro that blew onto the tracks and clogged drains were partially responsible for the crippling subway flood of September 8, 2004, which affected 15 subway lines, according to the task force’s findings.

Will the London Underground be next?

Higher parking charges for gas guzzlers. To help stop global warming they say. Where does one start? I suppose by saying that there are some perfectly easy ways of dealing with global warming and this isn't one of them.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Parking
Not so long ago it was the Italians who held the title of Worst Drivers in Europe. But it seems the Russians are beating them at their own game. Isn't it amazing what a little freedom can do?

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Road Safety
25 October 2006
Madverts in Japanese stations
Brian Micklethwait
Giant tea bottle

PingMag has a superb piece up called Top 10 ad-tricks in Tokyo’s train stations, of which my personal favourite is the giant tea bottles.  There are about thirty pictures – many superb.

Hat tip: Kristine Lowe, who I can personally vouch, wears great hats.  She got to this from Wired News.

Sorry, I edited this in “open” rather than in closed.  So very recent visitors will have been suffering extreme weirdness, involving two big bottles, then one big bottle, then the same bottle only smaller, and all the while with a caption just saying “Caption”.  Live and learn.  Plus, I discovered that in order to accommodate even the small version of the big bottle, I had to have more text.  Which was this drivel.  I wonder if I could get the picture to line up with the heading, rather than the top of the mere text.  That would have sufficed.

Patrick, why is there as space at the very beginning, just before “PingMag”?

Growing pains.  Lucky this blog isn’t a railway line.

Gloomy transport ruminations from Julian's great uncle.

Sir Geoffrey Ingram Taylor may, says Julian, have been the first man ever to have jumped out of an airplane in a parachute.

Brian Micklethwait • PermalinkFeedback (0)AirAir Miscellaneous
24 October 2006
Airport eavesdropping
Brian Micklethwait
Dave Barry has a rather alarming Atlanta Airport Update today:
So I'm waiting to get on the plane, and the pilots arrive at the gate, and as they walk past, one of them says to the other - this is a direct quote - "Hey, it flew in, it'll fly out."
That's it. That's his entire posting. As I say, rather alarming.

I was a bit surprised that the RyanAir plane that took me home from Brest to Luton a few weeks back had just been taking a load of people from Luton to Brest. If the Luton to Brest bit was delayed, so was Brest back to Luton. No maintenance, and hardly any cleaning. I suppose they do enough maintenance for about five trips, at night.

That A380 image
When I was a kid, passenger airplanes were called "liners". Now an entire major airplane making enterprise comes straight out with it: they're buses. Here's an Airbus snap I took recently in Brittany, through the grubby window of a travel agency. And I've another Brittany transport picture here, along with a London duck, which is also for transport.

22 October 2006
Whenever I hear reports, such as this one from Jackie D, of how completely stupid airport security arrangements I feel a great long post coming along all about how this is the war on terrorism intruding on transport but then again that it is a completely defeatist attitude and how you can't win a war if you don't go on the offensive. And then I think "Where am I going to put it?" because it really shouldn't be here and realise that it just ain't going to get written. Well, not for a while anyway.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (1)Terrorism
Part of Sierra Leone's freight transport system.

According to Brian Micklethwait, who, incidentally, is threatening to re-enlist.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Miscellaneous
20 October 2006
Government proposes motorway tolls... again. Not quite sure what I think about this. In theory I am in favour just as I was with the Congestion Charge. But one should never underestimate the ability of politicians to subvert the language of freedom for their own ends.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)UK pricing scheme
15 October 2006
The other day the BBC's Money Programme was complaining that the big trans-Atlantic airlines were running a price-fixing cartel. At no point did they manage to suggest that one of the reasons that the airlines were acting like a cartel might have been because (as Michael Jennings has explained) they are a cartel and a government-created cartel at that. I suppose most of the arguments that apply to monopolies (warning: placeholder) also apply in this case.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Air Miscellaneous
12 October 2006
Train crash in France kills five. A passenger train hit a goods train.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)French Railways
07 October 2006
Tories to introduce toll lanes. Well, it's a start.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Toll roads
06 October 2006
Ryanair bids for Aer Lingus. Good luck to them in getting past the evil (warning: placeholder) competition regulators.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Low cost airlines
04 October 2006
Mobile phone law ignored. Drivers are using them in record numbers. But what, if anything, does this prove?

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)Road Safety
02 October 2006
South West Trains takes out seats to reduce overcrowding. That would be the overcrowding caused by fare control and the same overcrowding which could be eliminated by the abolition of fare control.

Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)TOCs