Go Green, Go By Car
"At present a family of four going by car is about as environmentally friendly as you can get" (Roger Ford, Modern Railways magazine).
That conclusion stems from research led by Professor Roger Kemp at Lancaster University, whose study of pollution from trains has shed more light on a fundamental error of government transport thinking. This involves applying pressure through high motoring taxes; extortionate fuel duty; movement and parking restrictions; traffic obstructions ("calming"); 'gating' of cars at traffic lights plus road closures, road narrowing, and bus lanes leading to increased congestion; and blanket enforcement of minor road traffic infringements, to achieve 'modal shift' - forcing drivers out of their cars, by making driving as unpleasant as possible.
Such coercion of commuters and long distance travellers to switch from cars (and aircraft) to trains brings no benefits for the environment, the research concluded. As travelling by rail remains an unpleasant experience for many due to ageing stock operating within unreliable and costly services, there's no benefit to the commuter either.
Such findings on train pollution can hide the facts that, at their most efficient, trains are dangerously crowded, while outside peak hours carriages are largely empty, leading to even lower efficiency. The Lancaster report follows similar findings from Automotive Advisers & Associates of Hilden, Germany, showing that public transport consumes 60% more energy per person transported than private transport, such as cars and motorcycles, and takes up 200% more public space.
Mr Prescott's beloved buses offer no salvation, as Hitomi Suzuki, a chemist at Kyoto University, has highlighted the grave danger from diesel bus emissions due to the presence of 3-nitrobenzanthrone, the most carcinogenic chemical known to science.
If this is enough to make you consider working from home, beware - air in the average UK dwelling is ten times more polluted than outdoor urban air, and in some cases more than 50 times greater, according to Dr Jeff Llewellyn of the Buildings Research Establishment. "Much higher levels of indoor pollution are of little interest to the government and remain largely unpublicised, in spite of the risks increasing further due to the amount of time we spend indoors," says ABD Spokesman Bernard Abrams, "and that's presumably because there's no easy tax-take."
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said:
"These findings taken together send a clear message to any family that's seriously concerned about the environment: go green, go by car."