2012-01-31

Train Full To Overflowing

When the train is full to overflowing, I send off a letter to the Department for Transport. Here's one of their replies:
27 January 2012 Dear Mr Locke, Thank you for your email of 10 December 2011 to General Enquiries at the DfT about your journeys from Trowbridge to Bath Spa on First Great Western trains. First; I apologies for the length of time it has taken to reply to you. I am also _sorry to hear about your unpleasant travel experience. In your letter you highlighted your concerns about overcrowding on FGW trains when you travel in them from Trowbridge to Bath Spa. I recognise that this does not address your specific complaint, however, you may never the less be interested to hear that the Government has looked afresh at earlier plans to increase rail capacity by acquiring new trains. The Government has a programme under which additional rolling stock to address over crowding is funded. This programme has led to new rolling stock being ordered, and allowed other rolling stock to be made available to train operators elsewhere. The Department has recently concluded HLOS deals with FGW which will provide additional rolling stock to strengthen the busiest local regional services including the Bristol area. Correspondence from the public does form an important part of our understanding of how rail franchises are performing and I am therefore grateful that you have taken the time to bring your concerns to our attention. Yours sincerely,

2012-01-08

Field Of Lights

Before meeting the others at the Boater, Bill and I went so have a look at the field of lights.

Quite alien.

2012-01-02

Why Doesn't The Taxpayers' Alliance Attack ALL Energy Subsidies?

I had a look at the Taxpayers' Alliance report Ending The Green Rip-Off. It seems to advocate removing subsidies for renewable energy. I agree, but at the same time the subsidies for all types of energy should be removed too. The report says:
it seems very reasonable to expect that scrapping the Emissions Trading Scheme and allowing other sources such as nuclear energy to fulfil the Renewables Obligation could cut electricity bills by 10 per cent or more
But says nothing about the subsidy that is given to nuclear power by making the taxpayer responsible for paying the cost of any nuclear incident above £140m. The recent Fukushima incident will cost Japanese taxpayers at least $13bn. Does the Taxpayers' Alliance think the tax payer should continue to subsidise nuclear power in this way?

Another energy subsidy that's ignored in the report is the taxpayer's subsidy of electricity generated from coal. A recent paper shows that:
Accounting for the many external costs over the life-cycle for coal derived electricity conservatively doubles to triples the price of coal per kWh of electricity generated.
These external costs are ultimately borne by the taxpayer. One of the external costs is the damage to human health caused by mercury emissions from coal fired power stations. Quoting from the same paper:
Direct costs of mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants causing mental retardation and lost productivity in the form of IQ detriments were estimated by Trasande et al.22,23 to be $361.2 million and $1.625 billion, respectively, or 0.02¢/kWh and 0.1¢/kWh, respectively. Low-end estimates for these values are $43.7 million and $125 million, or 0.003¢/kWh and 0.007¢/kWh; high-end estimates
for these values are $3.3 billion and $8.1 billion, or 0.19¢/kWh and 0.48¢/kWh.
Again, the taxpayer has to bear these costs. Why doesn't the Taxpayers' Alliance speak out against this subsidy of coal?

I'll send this post to the Taxpayers Alliance, and I'll let you know their reply.