This week saw the monthly meeting of the Ankh-Morpork Assembly Transport Committee. Due to the presence of The Transport Commissioner, Sir Harry King and Moist von Lipwig, Head of Sub-surface Rail, there to update the Committee on the progress of the new Underground railway, the Patrician himself, Lord Vetinari, was in attendance, although he declined to take the role of Chair.
Also in attendance were Commander Vimes, Lord Rust and the Librarian of the Unseen university.
The Ankh-Morpork Underground Railway
Following the successful completion of the line to Uberwald, work has begun on the new Underground Railway and von Lipwig provided an update on progress so far. Dwarfish teams working from the Rimwards Gate tunnel portal have now reached the Pishe Gardens station box, linking up with the Golem crews there. Tunnelling from the tunnelling portal at Hubwards Gate is also underway, although von Lipwig confirmed that work here is behind schedule.
Labour AM Tom Copley then asked von Lipwig if he was aware of the recent story in the Ankh-Morpork Times about the delays. This had suggested that they were due to the discovery of a particularly large new breed of rat infesting the tunnel and causing problems for the dwarfish tunnel crews.
“It wasn’t so much the presence of the rats that was the problem,” von Lipwig explained, “as the lack of ketchup.”
The Chair, Caroline Pidgeon, then raised the issue once again of the funding arrangements for the new line. Here, Sir Harry was unequivocal – in his opinion the Public Private Partnership between himself and the city was by far the best value for money.
“Yes, but for whom?” Commander Vimes was heard to mutter.
Val Shawcross once again indicated the committee’s frustration with the level of feedback they received on project milestones – both from Transport for Ankh-Morpork and the Patrician.
“There are still 43 questions from the last Patrician’s Question Time that are awaiting written answers.” She commented, with obvious frustration.
“Ah, but I did let you ask the questions.” Vetinari replied.
Lord Rust, there representing Ankh-Morpork’s surface land owners association, once again brought up the subject of the name of the line. He indicated that the association had now produced a shortlist of one hundred prominent rulers from Ankh-Morpork history after whom the first line could be named.
“There appears to be some kind of mistake,” Lord Vetinari commented as the list was circulated. “My name is on this list.”
“It seemed only fitting,” Lord Rust commented obsequiously, “that a ruler with such a long reign as yourself be considered, my Lord.”
The committee’s silence was broken only by the sound of Vimes’ sniggering and, eventually, by the drop of a very large penny.
“…not that you… um… rule us my lord,” Lord Rust stuttered, “You’re right. It’s a typo. My mistake.”
“Nonetheless,” Lord Rust continued, “the association do insist that the line be named after one of our previous kings. A reminder to the people,” he said, glancing pointedly at Commander Vimes, “of the long, glorious royal line that once ruled this city until… events intervened”
“Why! Would that be a pointed reference to a certain ancestor of mine!” Commander Vimes replied, loudly, “I might remind you that those kings…”
“Agreed. We made a deal, Lord Rust, and deals should be honoured.” Vetinari confirmed, waving away the obvious protests of the City’s Watch commander. “And before you combust entirely, Sir Samuel, may I suggest we ask Sir Harry what he has decided to name the last of his stations – after all it was agreed he would have the naming rights for those?”
“The last one?” Sir Harry asked, beaming, “The one that ends the line? I’m calling it Stoneface Terminus.”
The New Omnibus for Ankh-Morpork
The committee then asked as to the status of the rollout of the new, greener NOfAM. Here, von Lipwig had to admit that progress had been delayed. This wasn’t due to any flaw in the technology, he insisted, which had reduced emissions and noxious deposits from horses by 40% in the city.
“It’s simply that when you ask a golem to start pulling an omnibus it can be hard sometimes to persuade him to stop.”
TfAM are investigating possible solutions to the issue.
Inter-modal travel, changing urban demographics and the Ankh-Morpork 2050 plan
Finally, the committee asked the Librarian to report back on the University’s study of Ankh-Morpork’s growth needs and their proposed infrastructure plan for the coming half-century. This report has now been made available to the public, and LR’s Jonathan Roberts is currently in the process of putting together a full series on it which we will run shortly.
In the meantime, however, it is worth quoting the Librarian’s comments to the committee in full, as they provide a good guide to the basic tone and discussion it contains:
Next up, we will take a look at some of the supporting papers from the last Transport for Ankh-Morpork Board Meeting, which include a look at TfAM’s proposals to introduce a night service for Vampires.
In loving memory of Terry Pratchett, 1948 – 2015. Your fiction helped inspire us to write facts.
“The Truth Shall Make Ye Fred.”