April 2011

24 April 2011
China’s high speed train wreck
Brian Micklethwait

Here.  Reading the whole thing is much recommended.

Money quote:

This month, I rode the bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin in half an hour - then returned by bus, which took two hours. Next to me on the decrepit, but packed, vehicle was a 17-year-old girl migrating to Beijing to search for work. She had never heard of the high-speed train, but when informed it cost $9, as opposed to $5.40 for the bus, expressed no regret at missing it. The bus driver assured me the girl was typical of his working-class clientele; to them, even a little money is more valuable than a lot of time. Small wonder that the Beijing-Tianjin line, built at a cost of $46 million per mile, is losing more than $100 million per year.

A mobile version of all those overpriced apartments and shopping malls, in other words.

The state of the world is now such that, if you want to be optimistic about your own country, don’t whatever you do look at your own country.  Look at all the others.

Happy Easter.

17 April 2011
If Formula One teams had to sell their cars
Patrick Crozier

I’m watching F1 and as usual wondering how you could make it better.

One of the things that bugs me is that it is not clear what question the sport is trying to answer.  In most sports it is clear.  In the 100 metres it’s the fastest sprinter.  In football the best football team.  But in F1 it’s never clear whether it’s the car or the driver.

What if, I wonder, manufacturers were obliged to sell their vehicles for a fixed sum (say, £1m) at the end of each race?  That way any team/driver who thought they were fastest would not be denied the opportunity to prove it simply because they didn’t have the right car.

The other good thing about this is that it would encourage manufacturers to keep costs down.  If you build a car for £10m and have to sell it for £1m you’re going to go out of business pretty quickly.  And if costs are kept down that will reward the best engineers.

I suppose there might be a problem with manufacturers not telling the new owners everything in order to preserve cosy relationships with favoured teams.

Is F1 a legitimate topic for Transport Blog?  I think we can just about get away with it.

09 April 2011
Don’t miss Michael’s rant about airport security
Brian Micklethwait

And about how, as a consequence of airport security, he missed his flight to Italy yesterday.

02 April 2011
Commuter services could benefit from high speed rail - HS2's promoters seems to be getting desperate. It's really very simple. If it were worth building then some enterprising entrepreneur would be building it in the expectation of huge profits. They're not because there are no profits to be had.  …link
Patrick Crozier • PermalinkFeedback (0)HS2