New infrastructure, and the story of the Victorians.

It's what all great societies strive toward: glorious infrastructure! Here we talk about transport links, power stations and everything in between.
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New infrastructure, and the story of the Victorians.

Post by Roy_Castle's_Trumpet »

After hearing about the recent (autumn 2023) maintenance of the Sankey Viaduct on the original Manchester to Liverpool line, it must be discussed how the various aspects of infrastructure in Britain have been left to pasture, and new build stuff is often completely without the scope of future increase in use as the Victorians (quite rightly) predicted.

The Elizabeth Line in London was predicted to had a daily ridership of approximately 400,000 but less than 2 years after opening is already often carrying 740,000 passengers a day.

Bazalgette oversaw the construction of a sewer system for London that lasted for over 100 years before it's limitations kicked in and prompted the construction of more sewer systems for London.

In Manchester, the Oxford Road Corridor, a stretch of 2 track railway has become a bottleneck to the greater regional network and desperately requires expansion. The only realistic way to do this would be to tunnel under the existing right of way. The Victorians would just get on with it.

What has happened to this country that we consistently fail to meet the basic needs of the infrastructure requirements of the nation? Unless, that is, a new road is "needed". Money and effort always seems to be available for the ongoing fiscal burden of stretches of tarmac.

Worrying, to say the least.
I reserve the right to be wrong, and to correct myself as necessary.
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Re: New infrastructure, and the story of the Victorians.

Post by sharoma »

It is a valid discussion and one which all thinking people should be having. Unless people wake up to the lack of leadership and selfish nature of their own representative governments, their poverty and misery will increase. The very best of us can become disheartened. As the Great Brunel himself said:
I endeavour to comprehend the present extraordinary state of railway matters when everyone around seems mad, stark staring wildly mad. The only sane course for a sane man is to get out and keep quiet.
Great Britain was the first to industrialise. It was the first to deindustrialise. In 1979 a new phase began in the west, which I call the Monetarist Era. It was marked by the election of right-wing fiscally conservative psychopaths in the UK, USA, and Canada: Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Brian Mulroney. Their policies can be summarised as a vast strip mining operation. In the UK and Canada this involved the selling off of state enterprises (British Telecom, British Airways, Air Canada, Petro-Canada, to name just a few). When privatization occurs, institutions and infrastructure which society as a whole built and maintained are somehow able to be 'sold off' to private investors. These private investors do not have to have any ties to the country, or anything at all. If they can provide the cash, they're in. Often the cash itself is lent at low interest rates to them by their friends in government. The people are then left with no protections and can be charged whatever the new owners desire. The era of monetarism has been a disaster for ordinary working people. There are now very few publicly-owned institutions left in the west. Since monetarism has been the norm for over 40 years now, any suggestion of returning to a world of state-owned enterprises seems crazy even to low-income working people.

I could write many paragraphs explaining why monetarism has failed everyone except the richest. One example is Thatcher's policy of selling off council houses (low-income housing). The state originally built these houses to guarantee decent family homes for working people. It is criminal that many are now in the hands of private investors. Monetarism began earlier in many ways, it just took a decade or two to become accepted mainstream thought. The Beeching Cuts to the railway network are an infamous example and highlight once again how monetarists don't understand support services: at the micro level they failed to understand that the trunk network needs branch lines to survive. At the macro level they failed to understand that people need affordable and comprehensive transport networks to work and live.

In Canada monetarism has directly led to the current housing crisis, a situation which has redefined the family home as an investment commodity. Working people by the thousand are now literally homeless because monetarist governments don't allow any protection or social safeguards: you either make it rich or you die.

Short-termism is a hallmark of monetarism. Quick cash now is much better than a societal gain played out over decades. Monetarists are not bright people, and cannot even work out that
A rising tide lifts all boats.
They themselves would also become richer if all sectors of society were allowed to flourish.

The market should be reserved for luxury goods. To move toward a fair future for all means the removal of essentials from the market. Healthcare should not be on the market. Neither should energy, transport, communications, housing or food. Had there never been an era of monetarism, today we would possibly have in the USA and Canada high-speed rail linking all major cities. The UK would have retained its rail network which to the Victorians was a way of linking every community to increase social mobility.

The solution is to remove all 'Conservative' governments from power and keep them out. Efforts must be made to prevent Liberal and so-called Labour and Socialist parties from adopting monetarist policies. Nationalisation will save humanity from the predatory energy companies, which are so short-sighted that they will continue ravaging the planet for short-term gain.

The postwar goal of the UK was to build nuclear power stations and convert the entire rail network to electric. This attempt was halted as soon monetarism began to rise in the 1960s. The result has been to turn the UK into a mini USA: clogged motorway networks, dependency on foreign energy, cities given over to carparks, communities cut off and isolated.
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