Walking down that railroad line

29th July 2014 Blog

We’ve been spending the week thinking about transport.

We haven’t been alone.

The hot weather has seen temperatures rise on the London tube again turning the trains into a fairly cheap, but certainly not very cheerful, Turkish bath. Someone has even produced a new app to tell you just how sultry it is in the depths of the capital’s underground tunnels. Quick to seize a marketing opportunity in TFL’s advice to carry a bottle of water, Danone is donating free bottles of Evian to travellers. For which we thank them. It is incredibly hot down there.

Our transport focus though has been further north.

In 2016 the Northern and Trans Pennine Express franchises are being re-let. There’s a consultation and everything. This represents an opportunity for discussion, an opening for change perhaps, in which we are involved in partnership with the RSSB.

What do Northerners want from their railways? Well, it’s a good question, and the Guardian is already asking it.

The blog post in that link calls for much new social enterprise involvement, in railway station forecourts and ticket halls, as part of bidding teams and through targets in bid proposals. That is a popular call. Much has been written about mutualisation and social enterprise spin outs and they continue to excite many. Here’s one report amongst many others that takes a fairly objective view of how they work in these kinds of contexts and which is perhaps a little less enthusiastic than the post’s author.

There’s a far more radical suggestion than social enterprise in the comments below the article.

Tim Gray calls for the railway to be covered with tarmac and turned into a covered bicycle superhighway linking Bolton and Manchester.

I’m imagining something like this.

It’s a nice radical idea for the workshop in September.

The lovely picture atop this post is, unsurprisingly, titled ‘Thomas & Friends’ and was taken by Nam-ho Park. The subject line is also the title of a Woody Guthrie song. You can listen to it here.