Recently in Transport Category
Good old Louise Ellman. Even when Labour were in power, she was a thorn in the side of the Government when it came to train policy. With a coalition government in place, she's now continuing the good fight for rail passengers.
Yesterday, in her role as chair of the transport select committee, Ellman called for health and safety legislation to be reviewed in light of increased overcrowding on trains.
The Rail Safety and Standards Board replied that such a move wasn't need as it was certain safety wasn't being compromised. But when you take into account the Board is run by the rail operating companies, it's no surprise that they'd say that, is it?
Over the past fortnight, Network Rail's pie-in-the-sky dream has been back on the news agenda: high-speed rail.
Lots of whizzy pictures have been floated around of what these super-fast trains could look like as they nip up to Birmingham from London in less than an hour, and to Scotland in less than three hours.
It's all very nice to talk about - saving the planet, empowering the regions and so on - but there's as much chance of it happening within the next decade as there is of David Cameron and Gordon Brown working together to ensure that Prime Minister's Questiontime actually becomes a valuable part of the democratic process.
And nor should it happen. Because, as it stands, the various rail authorities aren't very good at managing the existing rail network.
BACK IN my days as a trainee reporter, I used to supplement my income by working at a large, well-known chain store. An American outfit by birth, each of its huge stores was run on a shoestring budget, but because it had the monopoly in its market, it didn't need to worry too much about customer service.
That is, apart from the when the MD announced he was visiting. His inspections took place about twice a year, and each time the general store manager would get a call warning him of the visit. This would be the cue for round-the-clock shifts for all staff as store rooms were tidied, products were set to plan and staff from neighbouring stores would be parachuted in ahead of the visit.
The purpose of the visit was to ensure the store was being run to his satisfaction, and the MD in question, who more than just a little like Mr Burns from The Simpsons would stride in, a clutch of Smithers-type characters behind him and proceed to walk about the store and the store rooms in search of faults.
He rarely found one (I once saw him crunch the sole of his shoe on a piece of grit in the loading bay before he turned and asked a manager how it got there) and left, generally, quite happy. About 15 minutes later, the legions from neighbouring branches would be on their way too.
At the time, the pending visit was always good news for part-time workers like me - plenty of extra hours, but I did always wonder if the MD really thought he was getting a real picture of his stores by giving a week or two notice of his pending arrival.
The same can be said of ministerial visits. Although the public may only get to hear of a visit when the crush barriers go up outside school/hospital/town hall/upwardly mobile business, the head's up to those directly involved will have happened months before.
IF voters were split up by personal interest, rather than by geography, it's a safe bet those who fell into the commuting constituency would never vote to re-elect the incumbent government.
And that statement couldn't be more true for than for those commuters who have to suffer the battle up and down the West Coast Mainline week in, week out.
The arrival of privatisation of the rail network came with a string of promises about faster train journey times and plush new trains. To be fair to the Government, it has delivered on both of those promises, but massively late and even more massively over budget.
The Government, however, never mentioned that its consultants had failed to take into account that plush new trains travelling at greater speeds would lead to more passengers wishing to go places on these trains.