As I write this, the UK’s rail network is being paralysed by the biggest national rail strike in 30 years. Many of the people who use the trains – commuters travelling to work, students at school or college – probably won’t know what a strike is. Or, at least, this will be the first time they have been inconvenienced by one.
The rail strike is a proper blast from the past and not just because industrial action on this scale is so rare these days. It is also because at the heart of the dispute is the need to modernise the rail industry and abandon the old, inefficient working practices that persist in the sector.
Some people have to travel by train but most people embarking on a long journey these days naturally prefer to travel by car. Would that change if the rail industry modernised? HS2 and its supporters obviously hope so. And judging by the crowds that greeted the opening of TfL’s Elizabeth line last month, rail can still be popular.
For now though, the UK’s road network remains the most important transport infrastructure in the country and there are plenty of projects in the planning to extend and improve it. And as Britain’s roads become increasingly choked with traffic, continued investment in the network is crucial.