A bold shift, but how to fund it? Five takeaways from the EU’s rail digitalisation report

Report from the European Parliament states that embracing digitalisation could create a more competitive rail sector, there is a significant funding requirement.

ERTMS may be the solution, offering better services and protection. But cyber security is a new challenge that has arisen, not considered years ago when much of the ERTMS business case work was undertaken.

Digitalisation modifies the rail business model, but without funding support, users and wider supply chain will not benefit.


Impressive fact on British Steel – In the past 22 months, China has manufactured more steel than Britain has since the height of the Industrial Revolution in 1870…

Sky News has produced an interesting background article on British steel production…explaining why putting more money into the company may not represent good value for money.


British Steel on verge of administration…

Looks like British Steel may finally have to give up…wonder how much of this has been caused by political uncertainty, whatever one thinks of Brexit, it is unlikely to have helped…


Brexit is really about UK’s troubled relationship with Ireland, and provides a case study of how the well prepared David defeats Goliath

Excellent article by Chris Cook.

The Irish problem was raised in the 2016 Referendum, but was dismissed as being irrelevant. However, the last three years has proven that this ‘side issue’ proved to be the main risk to delivering Brexit.

The lessons are those learned in many other situations, one cannot simply dismiss what might be described as an inconvenient fact. The problem will come back and bite later.

What we see now is that the Irish problem is not only derailing Brexit, it has left the UK without effective government for 3 years, and it’s destroying the Tory party.

The lesson is clear – the small player (Ireland) that is well prepared and able to leverage support for a solid network (other 26 EU countries) is able to ‘beat’ the big player (UK).


labour to renationalise the energy sector…

One could get the impression that privatisation agenda is turning in the UK. However, opposite the probation services that the Government is brining in-house, the energy sector is an entirely different beast.

Labour has developed an agenda, but the the only fact that really matters is missing.

How much will this cost tax payers, and when will tax payers see a benefit?

One could – from reading this – get the impression this is driven by ideology and not economics – and ideology will not stack up to scrutiny…and one could suspect that money could be spent better elsewhere, like to generate economic growth, including investing in new energy sources.


House of Lords expresses serious reservations about High Speed 2 cost-benefit analysis

A House of Lords report – Rethinking High Speed 2 – has expressed serious reservations about value for money assessment underpinning High Speed 2.

It claims that the Department for Transport’s appraisal guidance for large infrastructure projects is not fit for purpose.

The report states that work should have started in the north, to strengthen connectivity benefits.

Economic appraisal guidance is criticised for not taking into account the transformative benefits of the investment on the economy.

Instead journey time has been over emphasised, leading to focus on speed and associated high costs. The report wants to change this focus. Lower speed would reduce tunnelling costs and costs associated with route alignment. Furthermore, costs could be reduced with the London terminus outside of London, instead of Euston as planned.

Overall, the report raises more questions about the High Speed 2 project. Costs are not under control, and authorisation to proceed being deferred. It may finally be time to reassess the whole programme. Is it really needed?


Another privatisation failure, UK Government to re-nationalise probation services…

After much speculation, it is now clear that U.K. Government has decided that probation services need to move in-house again. The privatisation model didn’t work.

British Steel’s owners charging firm £20m a year in fees and interest…

…which clearly raises the question why Government – and there tax payers – should be bailing our private sector owners…but going by past experiences, one can expect that Tories will again intervene in the market, providing support for private sector, ignoring an obvious example of market failure. But what can a Government do when this is exactly what they promised with Brexit – offering more support to inefficient, failing businesses.


Airport ownership consolidation with VINCI acquiring 50.01% shareholding in London Gatwick Airport

GIP has divested of it’s majority holding as VINCI, the French airport group, acquires 50.01% of shares. GIP (Global Infrastructure Partners) retain 49.99% of shares. For VINCI this represents a consolidation of its market positioning, and provides scale benefits in a market with growing demand for air travel.