Advertisement

"Without investment, transport systems could crash and burn"

Mike Rutherford has had a hellish week's journey, and he knows exactly where to point the blame

Mike Opinion Travel

Worst and most expensive travel week I’ve endured anywhere on earth? The one I’ve just been beaten up by in brutal Britain, where the hot and humid roads, rail tracks and airports again proved more Third World than ‘sophisticated developed nation’, which we’re supposed to be – but definitely ain’t.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Many, perhaps most, on-the-move Brits (never mind countless millions of temporary or permanent visitors to the UK) were woefully failed at this time. New Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, where were you? Why weren’t you working overtime? It’s becoming blindingly obvious to me, and probably him, that unless we invest more effort, expertise, money, political goodwill and rationing into our transport infrastructure, the ‘system’ could crash and burn.

"Louise Ellman is the best ally drivers have in Parliament"

Anyone who tried to drive to the port of Dover, for example, on the weekend of 22-23 July got a taste of autogeddon. I was stuck in those queues of biblical proportions, caused not by beleaguered ferry operators but by everything from increased border control checks and a lorry load of hay burning for hours, to left-hand-drive trucks side-swiping cars with terrifying regularity. And before you ask, no, the police don’t know how often LHD lorries collide with RHD cars, because no credible records are kept. When I saw an impromptu badminton tournament taking place on a closed-to-all-traffic M2 motorway, I despaired.

Traffic jam

When, in the same humid week, my £100-plus second-class rail ticket from London to Cheltenham bought a seat in an oven-like carriage that excluded open windows or working air-con, but was inclusive of chronic delays, I wondered how the industry can get away with such ill treatment of customers. Not that Heathrow a few days later was much better. Even though I had a long-haul business-class ticket, this and other mega-airports treat all customers like human baggage. And my plane left late.

Foreign trucks charged £96m in HGV Levy

The answer, in part at least, to some of the above? Ban HGVs from UK roads at weekends. Dump more freight, not more bruised and battered citizens, on trains. Refund rail ticket prices in full when operators fail to supply the air-con or windows to which summer passengers are surely entitled. Clip the wings of unfit-for-purpose Heathrow and build a new network of smaller, simpler, local airports instead. And a few hundred miles of extra, safer roads for cars and vans wouldn’t go amiss, either. 

What do you think is the solution to Britain's transport terrors? Let us know in the comments below...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020
'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'
News

'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'

Just because premium brands can offer cheap finance deals, it doesn't mean that they can fob buyers off with poor customer service, says Deputy editor…
15 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW iX3 SUV plugs in with 285 miles of electric power
BMW iX3

New 2021 BMW iX3 SUV plugs in with 285 miles of electric power

Electric version of popular X3 SUV lands next year with 150kW charging and long-distance efficiency promised
14 Jul 2020
New Peugeot 3008 could morph into a coupe-SUV in 2022
Peugeot 3008

New Peugeot 3008 could morph into a coupe-SUV in 2022

Peugeot’s next-generation 3008 looks set to receive a radical redesign in two years’ time, evolving into a style-focussed coupe-SUV
13 Jul 2020
Range Rover and Range Rover Sport get new straight-six diesel in 2021 update
Land Rover Range Rover

Range Rover and Range Rover Sport get new straight-six diesel in 2021 update

The Range Rover can now be specced with a new six-cylinder 48-volt mild-hybrid diesel engine and a choice of fresh special edition models
14 Jul 2020