Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wot no engineers, wot no trams?

Two little reports caught my eye in the IoS's business section. The number of electrical engineers graduating in the UK is tiny. They report that "Only around 50 electrical engineers are graduating each year from UK universities, forcing some companies to recruit engineers from countries as far afield as Serbia and Poland to make up the shortfall." No wonder so much of the debate about how to secure the future of our electricity supply is so ill informed. (Even David Cameron has been conned into buying a wind turbine for his roof believing it will help eliminate climate change (or, more likely, believing that it might help win him a few green* votes). But he's rich and, as Hilaire Belloc put it 'it is the business of the wealthy man to give employment to the artisan**'.)

Elsewhere they report that "Blackpool trams face the end of the line" because "The 100-year-old tramway needs considerable investment and campaigners claim it will have to close if the Department of Transport fails to support an £88m funding application from local councils." I love trams, I even made a special trip to Croydon (my birthplace) to ride on their shiny new system in 2000 whilst the rest of the family enjoyed the Dome. But I can't fault the DoT for its reluctance to fund tram schemes, investment in them is unlikely to be justified except in exceptional circumstances in densely populated urban areas. The Fylde Coast doesn't make the grade. Maybe they should try the heritage fund.

* green as in environmentally concerned or as in naive? You choose.
** or, in this case, snake oil salesmen.

5 Comments:

At 16:53, Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

Brussels is putting its tram lines back in, and cutting new ones.

But then, it's a densely populated urban area.

There's also a tram that runs all along the Belgian coast. It does quite well, I believe.

 
At 11:12, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Ah yes - I saw the Belgian coast tram on a trip to Oostende (during our little holiday in the charming but a little dull Bruges). Oostende was much lovelier than we had expected but I didn't get to ride on the tram. Nor do I on the ones in Brussels when there for 'business' but I did have a very fast and very scary trip in a taxi down the hard shoulder of a congested motorway.....

 
At 18:38, Anonymous Jess said...

trams! there's some really swish ones in Montpellier, and if you go next summer, they should have their second line open too! Also, there's the possibility of travelling the whole way there and back by train (including TGV) for a ridiculously cheap fare if you book far enough in advance. more environmentally correct, and less hassle than flying!
(sorry, am stuck editing extended essay and having wistful year abroud memories..)

 
At 22:07, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Someone sent me a v. nice picture postcard of a Montpellier tram. Do they run to the station where the TGVs stop? If so they're just two changes of train away from the Croydon ones....

There's a station called Montpellier in Bristol but no trams - their scheme fell by the wayside because it was too expensive....

 
At 15:28, Anonymous Jenni said...

As fun as trams are, the traffic in Bristol is hideous enough already without adding them to the mix! The one in Montpellier is lovely though.

 

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