Transport, jobs and politics, are we on the right track?

Cameron is in another fine mess of his own making

BREL built locoBREL built loco
The news about the problems at locomotive builder Bombardier leading to the closure of the Derby works brought forth a range or reactions; the ritual gnashing of teeth being the one the MSM liked best. However, the first wave of reporting left out as much of this story as it reported. A typical MSM headline talking about Bombardier as 'the UK's last train maker' was not an incorrect statement but it would be wrong to try to pass off Bombardier as the last British train maker, for it is an enormous Canadian company. So the 1,400 jobs at the Derby HQ, while vital to Derbyshire, are perhaps no more than natural employee flows over the whole of the company on a global basis.

The general tone of comments so far was "how did this happen" and "why can't British companies build British trains". The casual listener might think we have slipped back to the days of
'British jobs for British workers'
. But then why not indeed? However, if you had wanted to support the British railway rolling stock industry then the thing NOT to do was privatise British Rail. For the fact was the rolling stock industry collapsed soon afterwards. And it did so for a collection of technical reasons, misunderstood then as now.

The problem for David Cameron is one of association. For the privatisation programme, although a long time ago, was pushed forward by a Tory government. Furthermore although the railways needed a complete rethink on the way they were run it was seen by many, including some Conservatives, that the plan would not work. This has proved the case.

After privatisation the name BREL, British Rail Engineering Limited, was chosen for Derby and the other locations engaged in this work. From the start practical reasons, understood by the critics of privatisation but not by John Major's government, meant that BREL was doomed. And before moving on we should remind ourselves that Cameron takes advice from Major to this day. Eventually the commercial weaknesses which had been predicted led to a series of sell offs and downsizing culminating in the Derby works, the last reaming factory, being owned by Bombardier.

The PM's Press Office might have hoped that time would heal the tempers raised but this is not to be. It's clear this disaster could have been avoided . For as the EUReferendum post makes clear the PM's office simply did not understand the Bombardier case.It's now clear that this will cause a lot of trouble for Cameron.

And there's another dimension to this. The growing financial crisis has also threatened to make life awkward for George Osborne and furthermore the ongoing rivalry between Cameron and Boris Johnson shows up and the gossip goes like this: "Boris would make a good Chancellor". This is a classic nudge, for it implies that Boris would make a good PM.
Prototype Routemaster yet to be paintedPrototype Routemaster yet to be painted
Poor old Cameron and his helpers can't seem to sort anything out; the fuss over Bombardier is typical. By contrast Boris is on schedule to have his replacement for the London Routemaster bus up and ready for the Olympics. The battle of the public transport projects! The bus will also be built in the UK and is so far free from the taint of subsidy.The new bus will be built in Northern Ireland too, see HERE .

About 2,800 of the original Routemasters were built. It remains to be seen how many of the latest type will be needed. Also can they be exported? Suffice to say the original Routemaster generated a great deal of employment. The new bus will be ready for the Olympic games so will provide Boris with umpteen photo opportunities. The new red buses taking the ordinary people while Cameron swishes down the 'Zil lane' in a limo!

On public transport involving vast sums of money Cameron has made another big mistake. He has latched himself to the HS2 project. This is an EU vanity project that will cost the taxpayer vast sums of money for no reward; it will certainly cause him political losses in the rural Midlands. It is the rail equivalent of the Zil lane. Furthermore Cameron has even been so stupid as to suggest the Chinese could both fund and build it. So British jobs for British workers?