Posted by: John | August 26, 2009

Transport is stopping the devolution debate

I was interested to hear about plans for a new high-speed line from London to Edinburgh. Apparently there’ll be a journey time of  only 2hrs or so. Although this `continental style` railway system is very welcome is it stopping Labour and indeed ourselves from facing difficult truths?

We have a direct link of 2hr 20 mins journey time from Manchester to London. This is all very good. I can get on a train in Stockport at say 10 and be in London by 12:10. Trains run every twenty minutes.

My first problem is that there shouldn’t be as great a need for trains to London. Visiting London, friends and relatives yes – it seems though that many companies and organisations are telling people `work from Manchester and commute to London for meetings`. NO! I want more companies HEADQUARTERED in Manchester and people coming up here for meetings. One man I know who moved and worked here  due to relocation of work and the desire to have a different life is constantly being asked to go to London for meetings.

The other problem is fare prices. The current structure is basically a `tax on spontaneity`. There seems little point to me in having this super service to Manchester if it’s going to cost £66 return for a walk-on fare. I want to be able to get up one day and ring up someone and say `Fancy meeting up for a coffee and a chat and take in that exhibition`.  i don’t really want to have to always work my life around the arcane ticketing system. This is exacerbated by the fact that business people are constantly being asked to go to London for meetings. They’re not paying and thus the prices for ordinary people are probably higher than they should be.

Until this party and the Government realises that `something has to give` whether that means moving Parliament and the Civil Servants lock, stock and barrel out of London AND mend our broken democracy ie London losing some of its power and prestige then I can’t see things really changing.

I don’t want Greater Manchester to BE like London – I want there to be the democratic and transport infrastructures (that means a new fare system) that we sketched out in the `make it happen` document so that the NW region or Greater Manchester can fight on a level playing field without having to ask for handouts all the time.

Yes assistance is needed – surely though we can’t carry on with this decrepitly patronising form of Democratic Centralism where people outside London and the SE are always the `losers` in terms of job choices and aspirations?

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