Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Plan A Plus

Nick Thornsby joins me ("The 50p tax rate should stay", second paragraph) in calling for moving swiftly to complete the coalition's promise to take the first £10,000 of earnings out of tax.

Another suggestion for increasing economic activity without chucking a fiscal uey and thus frightening the gnomes of the rating agencies, comes via the October issue of "railwatch", the magazine of the Railway Development Society.

London Midland recently introduced new Bombardier class 172 trains to routes around Birmingham (there's an enthusiast's video here). Railwatch says that this "is the train that should transform the lives of people who are currently shuttled around the railway network in crowded and unsuitable trains [...] Building more class 172s would be a good way to relieve the problems of unsuitable Pacers and overcrowded Sprinters. It could also secure Bombardier's future in Britain." The magazine goes on to advocate Bombardier's being "asked to build about 100 electric power cars for the diesel Voyager and Meridian trains [...] so they use electric power when they are travelling 'under the wires'. And Southern, which already operates Bombardier Electrostars, wants 30 more units to meet an expected increase in passengers."

The magazine then lists a number of other train operating companies which could benefit from modernised or augmented fleets, all provided by Bombardier. In addition, it points to various line re-openings and/or electrifications which could be brought forward.

There must be examples, in other fields, of schemes which involve capital spending mostly within the UK and which could be brought forward by a year or so to improve our sluggish economic performance and put Plan A back on track.

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