LR Magazine Issue Five: Overgrounded


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.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.