Welcome to the first in an occasional series, Great Conservative Fvckwits of the Past
Sir Woke XR Re… 05 Jun 23 09:05
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A series celebrating some of the absolute cretins who from time to time have found a political home in the Conservative Party.

We’ll start, quite randomly, with Thatcherite wonk Alfred Sherman and his proposal to tear up railways and replace them all with roads.

“ At the height of his influence, in September 1980, Sherman wrote a paper advocating widespread replacement of rail tracks with roads and set out the details in a lengthy memo to Thatcher. He called rail ‘an anachronism’, which was ‘run simply to keep Sidney Weighel [sic – he meant Weighell, the leader of the NUR] … happy’, and suggested that ‘if we convert rail to road, we can have the best road system in the world, and the best system of public transport (first-class bus-coaches with WCs, springing etc) as well as utility ones with much lower petrol costs’.2 Sherman also saw conversion as a way of pushing through privatization, since the new roads would be tolled and financially self-sufficient.”

One of British Rail’s king-suffering chairmen of the Thatcher years, with their randomised and experimental ideology everywhere, observed of this scheme:

For the proposal to work and to provide a viable service with a reliable schedule, many buses would need to depart simultaneously, and run very close to one another at high speed. Pretty soon, the conclusion would be reached that for this to work safely, the best thing would be to join the buses up together. At that point, it would seem wasteful to employ a driver for each one, when you could simply have one driver in the front bus. It would be quite a long chain of buses, and probably the most efficient way of powering it would be through a single powerful electric motor, rather than many small engines, one in each bus. Sounds fine, although one problem is that such a large chain of vehicles would be unwieldy if left to move freely on the roadway, so doubtless it would be wise to put in some kind of track to guide the buses.

In one small way he has a point - trains are fashionable and we are spending a fortune re opening branch lines which are very very expensive and inflexible when dedicated bus ways would be much cheaper but just as quick and far more flexible alternatives.

Thatcher of course famously believed if you caught a bus you were a failure in life so evidently they did not see eye to eye on buses....

this applies even more to trams - trams were largely abolished when buses came along because they don't offer any advantage to properly prioritised buses but lots of disadvantages.  But again they are fashionable.

busways are shite

everywhere they have been tried (eg the one to the south of cambridge) they have proven to be shite

trams, you’re probably right except where there are existing transport corridors for them to run along as was the case in Croydon, where they mostly used abandoned railway lines. Where such corridors exist, the best exploitation of them is almost always rail. “Flexibility” is not relevant. Rail is proven highly efficient once installed. The crime was uninstalling a lot of it. We need a lot more branch lines to reopen.

What train chairman didn't point out is buses can cope with slopes greater than 1 in 37, rain, snow, leaves, and one at the front breaking down much better than trains can and do.  The railway is a Regency era technology, it's astounding that we have not got anything better; gambler's fallacy that so much has gone into it we'd better keep putting more into it.

scep tick managing 2 outdo the idiocy of even the most gammony of tozzas, bravo

bet he’s sitting there, re-reading that post cock in hand, thinking “i’m a right proper critical thinker, that’s me critical thinking right there, thinking outside the box, clever me”

I thought the cambridge busways had been a great success, they keep expanding them- there is no inherent reason for them to be shite - if they are shite that is because they have been poorly designed.  But it is trams I find the most nonsensical, they are uncomfortable jarring and can only run on fixed routes- and yet mystifyingly people prefer to the far more comfortable and flexible buses so it is a source of civic pride to keep building them, drawing maps of them that look a bit like the tube and claiming to have a metro system - I have Nottingham and Manchester in mind in particular -not experienced the sheffield one.

I don't know of a busway to the south of Cambridge but the one to the north is - so far as I can tell - operating satisfactorily.

Honorable mention for Sir Gerald David Nunes Nabarro - even when try to preserve a (heritage) railway he wanted to line his own pockets!

Wiki (as I can't be bothered to find another source) 

He was also interested in the revival of the Severn Valley Railway[4] (which was partly in his former Kidderminster constituency), the basis of two of his books, Severn Valley Steam and Steam Nostalgia.[3] In early 1972 he persuaded the SVR, of which he became chairman, to allow him to raise the money to buy the line from Hampton Loade to Foley Park by means of a share issue in a newly created public limited company. The share issue took place but after SVR volunteers discovered he planned to sell the Bridgnorth railway station site for hotel and housing development and bring business friends from outside onto the board, it led to a threatened strike by the railway's volunteer staff and his proposals were thrown out at a heated AGM.[6] Nabarro resigned from the board of directors in May 1973.



Reference Mellor 

Imagine how the Viscount Cobham felt when his wife announced that she was leaving him for Mellor! - I can't how bad that must have felt.   

There is very clearly a guided busway south of Cambridge - the one that goes down an old railway line from Cambridge to Trumpington and beyond. It’s shite.

Coopers & Lybrand did a study on the idea and demonstrated that the margins for error that buses would have when passing one another at high speed in tunnels was ludicrous. But what really ruled it out was the drainage that needed to be built. Roads need drains in a rainy country, railways generally don’t.

Dumb stupid fvcking Thatcherite nonsense like monetarism and privatisation and all the rest.

Railways of course pre-dated the Regency period.

Wooden rails had been used since the 17th century for the use of horse-drawn wagons to carry coal etc.

With advances in technology I think it is well worth revisiting trunk roads dedicated to self-driving buses (and possibly other commercial vehicles)