7 thoughts on “Hammond’s Soviet-style rail policies”

  1. Posted 01/12/2010 at 14:48 | Permalink

    Thank goodness the government wasn’t responsible for ‘planning’ the railways from the very beginning; ditto hospitals, ditto schools. It always seems to be easier ‘taking over’ assets that others have established.

    Perhaps the IEA should open a book on which of the three transport schemes will make the biggest losses. My money’s on High Speed 2.

  2. Posted 02/12/2010 at 12:58 | Permalink

    I would also put money on HS2 producing by far the biggest losses. To try to prevent this, the government could perhaps introduce an incentive scheme for transport ministers and senior civil servants at the DfT. As often applied to contractors, their pay would be reduced if projects suffered from delays, overruns etc. Perhaps they would then think twice before approving schemes that shunt such costs onto taxpayers.

  3. Posted 02/12/2010 at 16:56 | Permalink

    For various reasons, I doubt if such an ‘incentive’ scheme would work. For a start, I believe these people lust after power rather than cash. And unless the scheme were carefully calibrated, ‘unexpected’ problems could easily produce a negative salary! Also, once you started down this road, might one end up rewarding a minister, say, who helped land the Olympic Games for London with a higher salary? Moreover, by the time a transport scheme was up and limping, the minister who approved it would almost certainly have moved on — indeed, another party might then be in office.

    All these objections suggest that perhaps I should have sought a career as a Sir Humphrey.

  4. Posted 10/12/2010 at 09:32 | Permalink

    “If the government wishes the UK to have an efficient and competitive transport sector … it should reject the central planning mentality, remove distortions, and shift the supply of infrastructure to the private sector.”
    Hear, Hear. And the biggest distortions relate to roads. Motorways and arterials should be financed totally by tolls. All other roads should be funded by a combination of tolls and distance user charges levied at the petrol pump. No road funding from local rates or other taxes. Where on-street parking is permitted, the owners of the road concerned should levy parking charges sufficient to ensure a normal occupancy rate of 65 to 85%.

  5. Posted 10/12/2010 at 23:46 | Permalink

    If competition is to be truly reflective of the relative costs of the different modes, then of course all subsidies through the provision of infrastrcture by the public sector should be provided at the market value. Has there been a study that compares inter urban travel costs on a per person basis, with regard to road and rail? Let’s leave aside the externalities at this point.

    Interesting subject.

  6. Posted 11/12/2010 at 05:50 | Permalink

    Not certain about “inter urban” travel costs, but if you are willing to consider “intraurban” travel costs this may possibly give you a lead. Try: . There are some diagrams giving relative costs of various modes, streetcar/light rail, trolleybus, BRT, commuter rail and selected cars. There is a reference to the author which you may wish to follow up.
    Trams and trolleybuses come out well in his calculations.
    I believe there are many others, but this one comes instantly to mind – received the original email today before reading your post!

  7. Posted 11/12/2010 at 06:00 | Permalink

    Further to the previous, this is the author reference: “Patrick Condon is a professor at the University of British Columbia and holds the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments.”

    And in the blog of the referenced article, ‘Kris’ has asked if “the up-front capital costs indexed to the longest lasting system?”. He points out that if they are not, the capital costs for the Prius should be multiplied by about five to make them consistent with the longevity of Skybus.

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