'If you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem.' - George Carlin.
In any country, businesses can only operate properly if an effective transportation infrastructure is in place. Any individual that has ever looked to move a manufacturing line, R & D operation or sales office to a foreign country knows what I'm talking about. If you can't transport your people or goods around a country, delays are caused, efficiency is compromised, and time and money are wasted.
Unfortunately, from my experience, the road and rail infrastructure in the UK is far from world class. Unless you are considering a world that might be orbiting another sun, that is. Getting from one destination to another in the UK is a tortuous, expensive business. It is almost always cheaper to fly to anywhere in Spain than it is to travel 50 miles on the rail network.
That's if you can get to a railway station in the first place. This morning, it took me over half an hour to make the two-mile journey to mine. All because of the fact that a year or so ago, some bright spark decided to route a bypass around the little village where I live. And paid no attention to the fact that both the road that passes by my house, and the new bypass, converge at a very small roundabout just on the outskirts of town. Creating a world-class bottleneck.
Once I was at the station, things didn't get any better. Car parking proved troublesome too. The Do It All Yourself establishment is usually only too pleased to sell me a ticket for Five Pounds Sterling, so that I can leave my car on their lot for the day. But not this morning. The regular guy that looks after the car park was on vacation and his associate who had been left in charge was absolutely certain that I couldn't leave my car where I had parked it for the past Five Years. Not until a manager had been called in some ten minutes later for a second opinion.
The train, of course, was late too. It had been delayed by a bad excuse somewhere up the line. And when it finally rolled into the station, it was crammed full with people who filled the aisles and the exits of each carriage. There was only one option but to stand for the entire journey to London, occasionally being jostled around by people squeezing past trying to find the bathroom.
So why would any company in its right mind want to invest in setting up a business here in the UK when the Government has invested so little, or so badly, in our ineffective inefficient transportation system?
Clearly, it's got nothing to do with transport. It must surely be the attraction of our extremely well-educated graduate workforce. Those'll be the folks that aren't running the road network or the railways, then.
The Engineer Online
A reader replies:
Enjoyed your latest gripe about the UK transport system and, until last week, would probably have subscribed to your thesis that you can't have a thriving economy without first class infrastructure.
Along with others, I spent three days in Japan courtesy of Yokogawa, a significant proportion of which we seemed to spend in traffic jams - two hours for the 35 miles from the airport into town on a Thursday morning and over an hour for what seemed like about 10 miles from our hotel to Yokogawa HQ on the Friday morning.
Despite this congestion, which presumably can only get worse as Japan emerges from its 10-year recession, Yokogawa are confident of achieving world domination in process automation by 2010.
No doubt the bullet train is a miracle if, like you, one can only get to the station.
Another reader replies:
Your comments on the transport system UK are echoed daily in every town 'fortunate' enough to have a station. When is something going to be done that helps Joe public to create the wealth that this "spend today forget the consequences tomorrow government" will need to meet the growing debts they are running up.
I am mortified every day by the lunacy that passes for road design which is put in place not to smooth the journeys we all wish to make, but are constructed in such a way that it ensures by that design that traffic will stop and at best move very slowly. This policy is carried forward under the banner of "Safety" if ever a word was more used, misused and abused I can't think of it.
It is about time that the initiative was wrested from the stupid, slow every journey down, brigade and given back to the side of British society that wants to get things done quickly and for the overall benefit of the realistic many rather than the ideological few.
God help us all if we have to tolerate for much longer this pathetic destruction of through routes and slowing of transport systems generally.
The migration out of this country by those with wealth in their hundreds of thousands each and every year will continue with unknown economic consequences to follow in a few years time.
They go because they are fed up with complaining and nothing being done. They know their voice counts for nothing and they are abandoning hope that anything will ever improve.
The economic consequence the loss of this key spending sector of society is having and will continue to have is being ignored by government not at their cost but at ours.
When is the penny finally going to drop that they have got it wrong?
A concerned observer.
Yet another reader replies:
I can nothing to help with your over-filled train and I totally understand your frustration with the "Great British" train service. I don't use them myself purely for that reason. If I purchase an 'expensive' ticket to sit on a train, I expect to do exactly that and there is little hope of doing that!
But, I can suggest a solution to your half an hour journey to the station and save you money at the same time. Walk! 2 miles is nothing, unless of course you are disabled and if that's the case I can't really help, but walking 2 miles will do you good and you won't have to park the car in a car park where they don't want you.
I hope I have been of assistance.