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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Gatwick"

Iain Dale: My knickers are for the many not the few

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Sajid Javid’s personal statement on his resignation in the Commons on Wednesday was a masterpiece of the genre.

It had just enough ‘meat’ in it to interest the media and just enough light barbs for it to be seen as having a bit of a go at both the Prime Minister and Dominic Cummings. But it was done in a light-hearted rather than a bruising way, which meant that he didn’t burn any boats.

My suspicion is that Boris Johnson feels rather guilty about how the whole thing was handled, and feels he ‘owes one’ to the former Chancellor. I suspect that Javid will be back in the Cabinet at some point, although any other job would certainly be a comedown from that of Chancellor.

Having said that, Penny Mordaunt wasn’t too proud to accept the non-cabinet job of Paymaster General. Surely it can’t be too long before she returns to the front rank.

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The news that the courts are yet again thwarting a political decision will have all sorts of ramifications. It was of course about the future of the expansion of Heathrow Airport – which Boris Johnson has always wanted to thwart.

The Appeal Court said that the Government had ignored its own laws on climate change. Hmmm. The government isn’t going to take the matter to the Supreme Court – although Heathrow themselves might. This is an incredibly difficult issue – given that yesterday’s decision will have sent out the message that Global Britain has been strangled at birth.

No-one in their right mind would want to start from here. Heathrow is in entirely the wrong place. If you were building a new hub airport, you certainly wouldn’t build it there. Given the Prime Minister’s penchant for big, visionary transport infrastructure projects, I’d love to see him revive his Thames Estuary Airport project.

I doubt this will happen, though. The trouble is that Gatwick or Birmingham will now try to step into the breach. But the problem is that all the major international airlines want to be at Heathrow.

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Some of you may remember I used to own and run a political bookshop in Westminster called Politico’s. We didn’t sell just books but had a nice line in political merchandise, too.

A couple of weeks ago I found some boxes of mugs which we used to sell in a barn I hadn’t been in for about ten years. I’d already decided to start an online shop so people could order signed copies of my new book, so I thought, why not add these mugs to the store too?

In only two weeks, I’ve sold more than a hundred of them, with the slogans “Margaret Thatcher – now more than ever” and “New Labour & proud of it” and “Tory Tea”.

It’s made me think that the political merchandising market isn’t being fully catered for at the moment, so I’m mulling over whether to devote some more time to developing it a bit more, and commissioning all sorts of different items of political merchandise.

At Politico’s we also did a nice line in political underwear – knickers with political slogans across the front: “For the many, not the few; “A hand up, not a hand out”, and my personal favourite, “Things can only get wetter”.

I did draw the line, though, when someone suggested we should commission some politically themed condoms. Anyway, if you’d like to have a browse it’s here.

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Let’s have a word about the Duke of Sussex, formerly known as Prince. He now wants to be known as plain Harry.  Why not go the whole hog, and ask to be called Hazzer?

He flew (obvs) back to the UK this week to speak at a conference in Edinburgh on tourism. He did at least have the good grace to use the train to get to the Scottish capital. I think most of us are sick and tired of him and his wife making the case for the climate emergency having flown to the venue by private jet.

But if we’re tired of that kind of hypocrisy, just wait until November when the COP 26 conference is being held in Glasgow. I hope someone does a count of the private jets landing at Glasgow and Prestwick Airports. Pass the sick-bag…

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I’ve just heard the UK’s entry for Eurovision this year. It’s certainly a step up from the usual dirge that we enter. The video is somewhat niche and centres on an old man going for an ice bath in a Scandi forest.

But that’s nothing on the opening line of the song’s chorus: “”If you we’re a deep-sea diver, I’d give you my last breath”. Well, it’s a thought.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

John Penrose: Why railways should be more like airlines – and how passengers would gain if they were

John Penrose is MP for Weston-super-Mare and a former Cabinet Office Minister.

There’s just the faintest whiff of new thinking in our railways. A breath of cool air on a passenger’s cheek that might, just possibly, herald a wind of change. And it’s coming, improbably, from the next-door sector of airlines.

The Rail Delivery Group, a big-shot industry trade association, has just suggested a more transparent, simpler to use, modern system of tickets and fares that wouldn’t look out of place in the departure lounge at Gatwick or Heathrow. And a former airline boss, Keith Williams, has been tasked by Government to review how to modernise the entire rail industry as well.

He could be an inspired choice by Transport Ministers, because change is desperately needed. The last few years have brought misery for Southern Rail passengers on a service crippled by strikes, timetable meltdowns on Northwestern and Thameslink and, as the cherry on the cake, the East Coast Mainline franchise collapse. The number of extra passenger journeys that have been crammed onto a Victorian-era network over the last 20 years is genuinely impressive, but now the system is creaking badly. If it were an airline, you’d take your business elsewhere.

But the problem is that we can’t take our business elsewhere. Unlike air travel, there’s only one train company on most routes. It’s weird, really. If Heathrow or Gatwick only let us fly to Paris or Rome on one airline, even though it was often delayed or cancelled, or overbooked, or too expensive, we’d be outraged. We’d demand a choice, so we weren’t at the mercy of a single airline’s planes.

So why not trains too? Why shouldn’t we have a choice of companies providing different types of service between Cardiff and London, or Penzance, or Glasgow? If we think it’s normal and right to choose between different airlines when we fly, why not rail firms when we take a train too?

And, it turns out, what’s normal for airlines is better for passengers too. Giving passengers a choice of different airlines puts us in charge, because we can switch to a different one that’s cheaper, or more reliable, or less strike-prone, whenever we want. And the same thing happens in the very few places where there’s a choice of train companies too. On those routes, if passengers don’t like a particular train company’s service, then they don’t have to wait ten years for the next franchise to be signed; there’ll be a different firm’s train along in a few minutes instead. It forces train companies to raise their game immediately, and perform better every day, because they can’t take us for granted when things go wrong.

The effects are startling. Routes with a choice of train company have services which are far less brittle, because no single company can dictate the entire timetable. Fares tend to rise more slowly. There are fewer delays and less overcrowding. Franchises stop collapsing, because train companies don’t need them to run services anymore. Rail firms experiment more creatively with new routes which passengers aren’t getting at the moment. And if one firm is crippled by strikes, you and I can still get to work on another firm’s trains.

It isn’t just rail firms that would be revolutionised by thinking like airlines. Network Rail could start thinking like Gatwick or Heathrow too. Airports earn money from lots of different airlines which use their runways, and Network Rail could do the same for train companies that use its tracks, treating rail stations like local airports, and auctioning track usage like runway takeoff slots.

The auctions would transform Network Rail’s approach. For the first time ever, they’d know the real value of each track slot. And they’d have a huge incentive to create more capacity, building or managing more of the most valuable track-space by targeting cash for improvements where customers value it most.

Auctions would be simpler and less bureaucratic too. Current franchise documents are a dripping roast for lawyers fees, with hundreds of pages of highly complex technical and legal specifications down, sometimes, to the design of seat upholstery. All of which could be replaced by a few pages of standards for safety, rolling stock performance, passenger comfort and, errr, not much more.

So rail has a chance to learn more lessons from air travel than just ticketing and fares. And, as a former airline boss, Keith Williams could be the most effective teacher.  Let’s see how strongly those winds of change will blow.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com