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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Feb-18 > Special report: Transport

Special report: Transport

Fares are rising, and Britain is gridlocked, putting travel on the political agenda as

never before.Here the Transport Secretary and his Labour shadow battle it out, before Prospect’s Jay Elwes explains why he thinks they are violently agreeing—and why they are both wrong

Time to unclog Britain

Chris Grayling is Secretary of State for Transport
© VLADIMIR VIHREV, STOCKER TOP/REX SHUTTERSTOCK

The case for investing in infrastructure is just as strong today as it was in the days of Brunel, Stephenson or Telford. It doesn’t matter whether you’re manufacturing cloth or smartphones, designing software or running a firm of solicitors: you still need access to suppliers, a skilled workforce, and a ready marketplace. Effective transport is what allows workers choose from a wider range of employers, and take a better job in the next town. If we are to build the new homes we need, they too must be served by transport.

In November we announced that we would explore opportunities to restore infrastructure lost under the Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 70s. Why? Because, if anything, the case for new infrastructure is greater now than it has been for perhaps a century. Thanks to economic growth, there are more vehicles on our roads, and more passengers on our railways, than ever before. That’s a result of our record levels of employment, and of more firms bringing more products to market. It’s good news for us all, but it’s creating unprecedented demand on our transport networks. Rail passenger numbers have more than doubled since privatisation, yet without the investment we are making, we would be left dependent on a Victorian network designed for a population a quarter the size of our own. Massive investment in our roads—the largestin a generation, incorporating widening schemes, new bypasses, bridges and tunnels— is equally important.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s February 2018 issue: John Naughton, James Ball, Yuan Ren, Hannah Jane Parkinson and Houman Barekat outline the ways in which our lives are controlled by big tech giants. Naughton argues that Facebook and Google have created a new “surveillance capitalism” in which they battle to grow user engagement of their products and monetise our lives for their own gain as they do so. The cover package also explores how “bots,” fake social media accounts, influenced the US presidential vote and the Brexit referendum as well as the effects of removing net neutrality in the US. Elsewhere in the issue: Samira Shackle asks what happens to ordinary civilians affected by Islamic State as they attempt to move back to their homes and rebuild their lives; Shahidha Bari asks whether we can continue to appreciate the work of actors, filmmakers and writers who have been disgraced; and Christine Ockrent profiles Michel Barnier.
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