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By Alain de Botton

From the bestselling writer of The artwork of Travel comes a wittily fascinating exploration of the unusual "non-place" that he believes is the creative heart of our civilization.

Given unparalleled entry to 1 of the world's busiest airports as a "writer-in-residence," Alain de Botton stumbled on it to be a show off for plenty of of the key crosscurrents of the trendy world--from our religion in expertise to our destruction of nature, from our international interconnectedness to our romanticizing of the unique. He met tourists from everywhere and spoke with each person from luggage handlers to pilots to the airport chaplain. Weaving jointly those conversations and his personal observations--of every little thing from the poetry of room carrier menus to the eerie silence in the course of the runway at midnight--de Botton has produced a unprecedented meditation on a spot that the majority people by no means decelerate adequate to work out sincerely. Lavishly illustrated in colour via well known photographer Richard Baker, A Week on the Airport unearths the airport in all its turbulence and soullessness and--yes--even beauty.

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As Figure 5 illustrates, there has been a rapid increase in total rail industry operating cost per train kilometre since the Hatfield rail accident. All elements of cost seem to have increased (see Smith, 2006). It is widely argued that there had been under-investment in Britain’s railways immediately before privatisation and during the Railtrack era as well, creating a need for increased renewal activity (with the high volumes of track renewed in the 1970s now 87 28/3/06 12:50:22 t h e r a i lway s , t h e m a r k e t a n d t h e g o v e r n m e n t Figure 6 6,000 t h e r e s t ru c t u r i n g o f t h e r a i l s y s t e m i n b r i ta i n Rail industry capital expenditure 2002/03 £m, 1989/90–2002/03 Table 2 Government support to the rail industry (£m) Year Rolling stock Central government grants PTE grants 849 755 796 551 479 637 902 1,194 926 1,815 1,712 1,809 1,429 1,196 1,031 847 731 935 78 70 68 70 84 115 120 107 166 346 362 291 375 337 312 283 306 304 Infrastructure renewals Other infrastructure 5,000 Enhancements & TPWS 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 1989/90 91/92 93/94 95/96 97/98 99/00 01/02 Source: Goddard (2004) becoming due again for renewal).

Arguably this is much greater centralised government control than ever before, even in the days of British Rail. At the same time, there has been an explosion in costs and therefore 97 28/3/06 12:50:24 t h e r a i lway s , t h e m a r k e t a n d t h e g o v e r n m e n t in government subsidies. To what extent this was necessary as a result of past neglect of the infrastructure is debatable, and it certainly raises again the question of whether a rail network of the current size provides value for money.

G. and E. Godward (1997), The Privatisation of British Rail, London: Railway Consultancy Press. Hibbs, J. (1989), The History of British Bus Services, 2nd edn, Newton Abbot: David & Charles. Hibbs, J. (2000), Transport Policy, the Myth of Integrated Planning, London: Institute of Economic Affairs. Hibbs, J. (2003), Transport Economics and Policy, London: Kogan Page. Joy, S. (1973), The Train that Ran Away, a Business History of British Railways 1948–1968, London: Ian Allan. indb 68-69 seeking a market solution Marchant, I.

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