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Ear to the Ground 88 – Gocycle, Brompton, Ultra Motor

This humble organ would never stoop so low as to spread gossip and innuendo about respectable manufacturers. That said, strange things are happening and one feels duty bound to report them, under the much abused journalistic principle that exposure might be in the public interest. Or put another way, if the public are interested, they […]

Ear to the Ground 87 – National Express, Directly Operated Railways, Transport Research Laboratory

One does sometimes wonder what the expensive and disruptive privatisation of the British railway system was actually supposed to achieve. Greater efficiency, one assumes? The trouble with this assumption is that for nearly twenty years, we’ve had no publicly owned yardstick with which to compare the performance of the private rail franchises… until now. Since […]

Ear to the Ground 49

Good news from Bogworthy Junction! The much derided Strategic Rail Authority has finally been abolished, but not before dropping, as a parting bombshell, that services to Bogworthy will be downgraded in the new Greater Western Franchise. But at least we have seen the back of an organisation that was neither Rail-friendly nor Strategically- minded.The bad […]

Ear to the Ground 48

Catching a train in older, simpler days, one generally bought, then referred to, a ‘timetable’, before travelling to the station and waiting for something to happen.With today’s technology, the process is altogether easier! The Mole provides as an example a recent harrowing journey from Bilbrook station on the Central Trains network. Like all wise travellers, […]

Ear to the Ground 46

Try as they might to look corporate and glossy, privatized railway companies have a fundamental ineptitude that makes them easy targets for mirth. Take for example,Wessex Trains, the scourge of Bogworthy Junction. When dear grey Mr Major hit on the idea of privatizing the railways, his aim was to turn the clock back to the 1930s, a […]

Ear to the Ground 45

Las Vegas is a decidedly odd venue for a cycle show, as anyone who has attempted to ride a bicycle there will appreciate. American cycle activists, if that is not a contradictory term, have been pushing for the Interbike trade show to become a roving affair, visiting a different metropolis each year and spreading the […]

Ear to the Ground 44

Ear to the Ground 44

Show time once again, and The Mole boards the early Bogworthy Flyer for London, already standing in the platform this particular morning, as Network Railtrack – or whatever it was called at the time – had lifted the rails further west without so much as a by-your-leave. Rather confusingly, not having travelled up to Town […]

Ear to the Ground 43

Ear to the Ground 43

Press freebies are a bit thin on the ground these days, prompting the Mole to make grateful haste to Folkestone, following an invitation from Eurotunnel to ride through the Channel Tunnel and around something called the Pas de Calais, the foreign bit at the other end. In the event, the riding through part turned out […]

Ear to the Ground 41

One is most gratified to hear that the Blair Government is not afraid to legislate where the fabric of our society is threatened by dark forces. One refers, of course, to David Blunkett’s Anti-Social Behaviour Act, giving Street Wardens (whatever they might be) and private security guards the power to impose £30 fines on cyclists […]

Ear to the Ground 40

Back in the early ‘90s, when Prime Minister John Major came up with the idea of privatizing the railways, the poor fellow could never have guessed how it would all end up.The original idea, it seems, was to restore a bit of pride to the network by creating a number of large, privately-owned regional concerns, […]

Ear to the Ground 39

Ear to the Ground 39

A plain brown envelope arrived recently at Mole Towers containing a fascinating publication entitled A2B. A vaguely familiar name to readers of this organ no doubt, particularly when we consider that the title in question is bi-monthly and, broadly- speaking, concerned with transport? A2B is an internal publication from our old friends at the Department […]

Ear to the Ground 38

One hesitates to take sides in the railway national/private ownership debate, but as an ordinary commuter one becomes increasingly suspicious of industry pronouncements on targets and achievements.Take, for example, the claim that 80% of trains run within five minutes of time – itself, a shocking indictment of the private network, but nevertheless pure fiction, as […]

Ear to the Ground 37

Ear to the Ground 37

Whatever became of politics? In the dim and distant past, politicians came in two shades: Labour, representing muck & brass whippet-owners from the North, and the Tories, a political party that appealed largely to elderly spinsters, cads, spivs and other other seedier types from the South. You knew where you were in those days – […]

Ear to the Ground 36

In April the Mole braved one of Virgin’s new ‘compact’ Crosscountry trains to visit the Bike Show at Birmingham’s ‘International’ Exhibition Centre. According to the positive spin from Cycling Plus magazine, this formerly youth-orientated shindig was to be transformed into a mainstream (ie, CYCLE-style) show for 2003 and was thus worth a visit by those over 20. […]

Ear to the Ground 35

Ear to the Ground 35

On Monday, February 17th, the Mole joined the world’s media on the streets of London for the launch of Ken Livingstone’s long-awaited Congestion Charge.This turned out to be something of a disappointment because (a) Ken had wisely chosen a half- term launch date, thus eliminating the school run from the equation and (b) the Mayor […]

Ear to the Ground 34

The mention of dubious cycle paths in the last issue brought forth an entertaining crop of poor facilities.The Mole’s personal favourite hails from the Georgian pile once known simply as Brighton, but now, one understands, reborn as Brighton & Hove City. In a rambling aside, one wonders whether the town formerly known as Brighton will […]

Ear to the Ground 32

With CYCLE 2002 something of an unknown quantity, it was with a degree of trepidation that the Mole set forth for Bogworthy Junction and parted with the customary arm and a leg for a window seat on the London Flyer. Armed with a copy of Ken Livingstone’s wonderful Cycling Map of the metropolis, the journey […]

Ear to the Ground 31

It seems that New Labour now controls the biggest advertising budget in the United Kingdom – no less than £143 million last year. One wonders where it all goes. Particularly galling, given that asthma, obesity and heart disease are on the increase – together with less quantifiable but equally costly ailments such as stress – […]