With print copies now being prepped for dispatch to subscribers at LR Towers, London Reconnections Magazine Issue 5: Overgrounded is now available to purchase in our online store.

Transport is politics, politics is transport

You don’t get transport without politics. This isn’t just because the source of all public funding, eventually, is the Treasury. It’s also because without political backing no project or policy can get off the ground.

In recent months, nothing has highlighted just how fragile the relationship between transport policy and politics can be than the sudden end to plans for further rail devolution in London. As we explore in our cover piece, a combination of bad political timing, constituency issues and an intense rivalry left over from Sadiq Khan’s time in the House of Commons all seem to have contributed to this dramatic shift.

Once devolution became the topic of our cover piece it seemed natural to explore other ways that politics and transport interact – both in the past, present and future. For the past, we asked former Deputy Mayor Isabel Dedring to give us an insight into how the transport brief is managed inside City Hall. For the present, we spoke to TfL’s Shashi Verma about implementing ‘Bus Hoppers’ – one of the current Mayor’s key manifesto promises. For the future, we spoke to Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Crossrail 2.

All three provide fascinating – and differing – perspectives on how the politics of transport can be managed. They highlight that at a strategic level it’s not just about knowing what needs to be done, but working out how to persuade people to do it as well.

Finally, this issue we welcome both a writer who may already be familiar to readers and introduce a new one. The former is author and physicist Laurie Winkless, who has been kind enough to let us publish an extract from her latest (excellent) book, Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis. The latter is Heather Steele, a PhD Student at the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education.

It has long been our desire to unlock new perspectives from within the transport industry. With that in mind, we approached Young Rail Professionals and asked whether they would help us access the knowledge locked in their ranks. To our delight, they agreed. Steele’s piece on some of the challenges facing female, foreign rail professionals is the first result of that cooperation. We hope for many more.

You can find the latest issue in our online store.

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There are 11 comments on this article
  1. CG says:

    Looks excellent, and timely given International Women’s Day today.

  2. John Bull says:

    Indeed! Just realised that.

  3. Ed says:

    “the source of all public funding, eventually, is the Treasury”

    Not with real devolution. And the sooner London gets the Treasury’s claws out of its business the better.

    Nothing in today’s budget about transport in London. Can wait till next year I suppose. Only another 100-150k more people in London in that time. No rush

  4. NLW says:

    Issue 5 has downloaded as a zip file, rather than the pdf format of previous issues. Is that deliberate, and if so how can I access it via an iPad?

    I also ask that the issues be given consistent incremental file names rather than the haphazard ones used so far – this would make filing and finding the files much easier!

  5. John Bull says:

    We standardised on zips (with consistent file names now) to deal with the fact that it’s possible to buy variants with different multi-issue combos in subs.

    Fair point that this isn’t necessary with single issue purchases though. I’ve re-uploaded the files for those as pdfs and you should have received a new download link.

  6. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – not strictly true that there is nothing about transport in the budget. The distinctly uninspiring “devolution” statement for London has something around a land value capture mechanism and also “congestion”. These may not be thrilling bits of infrastructure investment but I suspect the former mechanism will be crucial in respect of CR2. I am not saying that means CR2 will happen but more that investigation and possible development of the land value capture mechanism will be an absolutely crucial determinant of CR2’s future and timescale. We know from past statements that Mr Grayling is rather keen on assessing land value capture as a funding mechanism. I actually think CR2 won’t now proceed for a whole pile of political reasons but that’s a separate debate.

    The memorandum also makes clear that the GLA gains control / responsibility of TfL’s investment funding this year. This is based on devolution of business rates. I have to say this was a new one on me although I was aware of concerns that within TfL that the GLA may opt to not devote the entire business rate fund towards TfL’s capital investment. This now means that government is not providing any dedicated funding streams for London’s transport system (revenue grant gone and now investment grant replaced). I am ignoring the short term dedicated govt funding for Crossrail.

    Also the next Budget is in the Autumn this year. There will be no more Spring budgets.

  7. quinlet says:

    It will be interesting to see if the fund announced in the budget for urban congestion relief will just be seen as a fund for highways (in a very old fashioned approach) or will be used in a more holistic (and progressive) way.

  8. Graham H says:

    @Ed -Not at all the case. So far as the Treasury is concerned, all expenditure even by devolved bodies, counts as public expenditure. In fact, the Treasury will even argue that expenditure in the UK by public bodies in located in other EU countries will count as public expenditure here at a macro level. You will have noticed from this evening’s reporting of today’s budget statement that the Chancellor has “allocated” funds to be spent by the devolved administrations.

    @quinlet – oh for the days of Transport Supplementary Grant flexibility.

  9. Kat says:

    I’m not into transport enough to buy this but I wanted to say how much I like the look of your magazine. I also work for an independent magazine and appreciate great graphic design!

    Incidentally, if you’re in need of a pedantic copy editor (who wouldn’t let inconsistent file naming pass, for example…) do let me know.

  10. Greg Tingey says:

    VOGUE magazine (!) On women in Engineering & Crossrail.
    See also first two posts in this thread.

  11. romic says:

    I’m a paid subscriber. but can’t remember how to download the issue – or is it just e-mailed to me?

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