Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2013

This is NOT the age of the train

Across the European Union- indeed world-wide- there are huge projects to develop high-speed rail systems. The pioneering days of the Japanese Shinkansen and the later French TGV network are now being followed by investments across the EU, and -especially- in China.

Yet there is a problem.

Railways may be more energy efficient once built, but they are hugely capital intensive- all of the components- track bed, signalling and rolling stock, must be built together and the project must be complete before it can operate.The power of rail is in the network, and without such a network, it does not work to anything like peak performance. Whereas road improvements can be made piecemeal and fit in with existing road infrastructure, high-speed rail lines are generally built from scratch. So the cost of such projects as HS2 in the UK or Rail Baltica (to link Tallinn with Warsaw) run into tens of billions of Euros. Even the Chinese are beginning to balk at the huge costs involved, while Californian …

The Tragedy of Pskov

Pskov is one of the very oldest cities in Russia. It is 1110 years since the putative foundation of the city in 903 and it still possesses its ancient citadel - the Krom- and much of the city walls- dating from the time of the Pskov Republic, which like Great Novgorod, tells of an alternate, non-Czarist Russian tradition.

Unlike many Russian cities, Pskov lies close to the border of Russia- only 20 kilometres from the Estonian border. It has a history of trade and contacts all over Europe. Sometimes Pskov has been at the very centre of Russian events: Czar Nicholas II abdicated close by, and the most beloved Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin lived and worked- and is buried- in the region.

Yet there is little or no tourism in Pskov.

There is little or no anything. The bureaucracy of late Putinism and the corruption of the local civic leadership has strangled any potential this extraordinary city might have. No one goes to Pskov, few indeed have even heard of it.

Recently the local government…

Paxman, heal thyself!

I see in the UK that the arch-inquisitor of Politicians, Jeremy Paxman, has said that he too is rather disillusioned with British Politics

Paxman treats politicians as self serving creeps who are only in it for themselves. His view seems to be that if they are not actually criminals, they are fools.

Paxman is paid a £1,000,000, plus generous expenses, a year- a back bench MP earns £66,396 a year and has to account for every penny of their expenses, from which they are also expected to employ several staff.

The fact is it is not politics or politicians we should be disillusioned about- the vast majority of MPs are hard working, decent human beings who are in politics because they believe it makes a positive difference to other peoples lives.

Russell Brand, whose absurd call for a revolution has hit the headlines this week, is a drug taking womaniser with dubious morals and even more dubious opinions, but hey, he is a celebrity- a film star no less. In the vacuous world of BBC celebrity, …