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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Speed is essential

Yesterday, the Assembly returned to its favourite subject, our failing transport system. There is no doubt that this is one subject on which AMs are intimately acquainted, as was evidenced by the many contributions from those who have had nightmare journeys around Wales. As busy people they would like to cut travelling times down to the bare minimum, however, even we accept that there are limits to how fast trains can travel, not Eleanor Burnham:

My constituents in north Wales certainly deserve a clean, reliable and usable service that will entice them from their cars—that is the big issue. As for the air service, I doubt that we should be investing quite so heavily in that. Why not invest in the Maglev train that the Japs use to whiz through the countryside at about 320 mph, rather than piddling around at 60 mph as we do. Last week, there was a nightmare in Newport: I was on the train for two hours while they tried to hitch some other trains behind. It was disastrous.

I checked and the website I found said that the Japansese bullet train actually travels at 300 kilometres per hour, though these are not maglev trains, but Ieuan Wyn Jones had a more fundamental objection:

The vision of a fast train trying to brake from 320 mph on entering Holyhead station filled me with horror, Eleanor; I am not sure whether the breakwater wall in Holyhead would maintain its structure under that sort of speed. However, I believe that what Eleanor was trying to say was that we need faster trains between north and south, and I believe that we will all agree with that.

The Transport Minister meanwhile could not resist a more predictable intervention against the Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader:

Members may be interested to know that those quotations from Hansard were all from the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, one Member of Parliament for Montgomery, Lembit Öpik. Excuse me for being rather cheeky about mentioning this. [Laughter.] I know that certain people transfer their affections at a drop of a hat, but I did not know that the Liberal Democrats changed their policies quite so quickly. [Laughter.]

For some reason the record did not use square brackets to record the chant of 'cheeky, cheeky, cheeky' that started amongst a number of members from a sedentary position.
"Japs" !!??

bloody hell... some of the contributions in the assembly are cringeworthy but i'd never have thought i'd hear "japs".
Burnham hurtles headlong into controversy.
According to wikipedia, the Japanese "JR-Maglev, MLX01 (X means experimental) ... attained a maximum speed of 581 km/h (361 mph) (world speed record for maglev trains) in a manned vehicle run. It is one of the latest designs of a series of Maglev trains in development in Japan since the 1970s."

Just don't spit or pee into the wind - the sheer forces just might decapitate one. But if you work at the Assembly - no one would spot the difference.
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