March 2008

29 March 2008
The Terminal 5 fiasco
Patrick Crozier

By now, most readers will be perfectly well aware of the problems at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 which have led to cancelled flights and passengers being separated from their luggage.  Readers will also be perfectly familiar with the media’s calm, measured and sober reporting of the issues involved.

Glancing at the background it appears that what’s happened is that a number of small problems combined to make one big one.  The good news is that most of these are “soft” issues - to do with staffing and training and therefore reasonably easy to sort out - rather than “hard” issues - to do with the infrastructure and computer systems - which would take ages.

Terminal 5 was a massive project brought in on time and on budget.  This says some pretty good things about the people involved. 

I suspect Terminal 5 will be working pretty well pretty soon.

05 March 2008
Ticketing convenience continued
Rob Fisher

At Richmond station there are no automated machines for topping up Oyster pre-pay, so one has to queue behind people making unfathomably lengthy and complicated transactions.  Said I to the ticket clerk, “are there any plans to install Oyster machines?”

“That’s up to the London Underground People,” said he.  “They would have to pay for those machines.  We are South West Trains; it is nothing to do with us.”

Protested I, “But I am a Southwest Trains customer.  Care you not for my convenience and the marginal benefits of such that might encourage others like me to favour your interchange over other routes?  Could not some agreement be made to the satisfaction of all?”

Alas, it was nothing to do with him.  He was a mere employee of South West Trains.

02 March 2008
Australian Groceries
Rob Fisher

Grocery prices in Australia are to climb.

Australia’s transport ministers decided at a meeting in Canberra yesterday to introduce a system of “full cost recovery” on heavy vehicles to help pay for road repair and construction costs.

Registration fees for 69 per cent of heavy vehicles will rise between 1 and 10 per cent.


Australian Consumer Association spokesman Christopher Zinn said families should expect more grocery price increases as the transport industry’s prices rose.

Or to put it another way, groceries will now be subsidised a bit less than they were before.

01 March 2008
Bus wi-fi
Brian Micklethwait

You can now connect your idiot toy to the internet in a South Wales bus.  There’s a great picture there at Idiot Toys of the back of the bus which explains everything, and it includes a link to this website, where you can learn more.  Good news for me.  If I’m in South Wales.  In a bus.