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Page first written 5 October 2002
Last updated 5 October 2002
"Until the next election"
Digital Camera Report from Birmingham No. 5
In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sacked the popular Foreign Minister Ms Makiko Tanaka, which was followed by the loss of his own popularity and a political confusion. A similar thing is happening here in the UK; the special adviser of the Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, Ms Jo Moore, resigned the government. She could not stand the strong pressure by the general public and the public servants alike after the revelation that she sent the infamous email just hours after September 11 terrorist attack, in which she stated that the day was a good day to "bury bad news".
The revelation of this "bury bad news" e-mail came just after Mr Byers's decision to put Railtrack into administration, which clearly suggests that the revelation has some connection with it. Politically speaking, however, the discussions in the government about Railtrack was nothing especially interesting for me. Meanwhile, so deepened was the UK rail chaos that a number of strike action was being taken, severely affecting the commuters in London. Even the Prime Minister Tony Blair was criticised, when he was proud of his diplomatic contribution after the September 11 terrorism, that he was trying to run away from the domestic problems.
Interestingly, the number of rail passengers increased by 30% after the privatisation. Among the reasons is the large discounts given for the off-peak passengers. The peak fare quickly increased after privatisation; however, if you travel off-line, in many cases you can find an extremely cheap ticket, especially when you look up the internet. This made the fare structure so complicated that people cannot cope with it without the help of computers. However, this must be a short-term solution; if the chaos were to be left unsolved, this tendency of passenger increase would never be sustainable.
Recently, the SRA (Strategic Rail Authority) announced the 10-year rail plan, which was criticised by many railway magazines as "containing few new ideas". There are many short-term solutions to the problems; this is clearly because the Labour government is looking for the next election. They frequently state "improvements until the next election". I doubt if that they are ever able to achieve those goals -- the public service problem is the accumulation of under-investment over several decades.
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TAKAGI, Ryo email@example.com (c) R. Takagi 2002. All rights reserved.