Some months it’s difficult to know what to write in this editor’s column. The story of the railway is one that always has its twists and turns but, since taking over as editor last November, there hasn’t always been something happening in the news that’s significant enough to warrant an extended commentary.
But then there’s an issue like this one, where it practically writes itself.
With Brexit delayed and a general election called, the rail industry, somehow, faces even more uncertainty. The Williams and Oakervee reviews into Britain’s railway and HS2, are unlikely to report back until after a new government is formed, while the debate over nationalising the country’s railways will resurface.
Although Brexit will undoubtedly dominate debates, HS2, which continues to struggle to convince the public of its worth, could find itself used as a political football. Depending on who emerges victorious, they may well look to pull the plug on it before Douglas Oakervee reports back.
Thanks in part to the headline-grabbing activity of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, climate change is likely to be a major issue too.
New research backed by around 11,000 scientists has once more stressed that the world is in a climate emergency. We face “untold human suffering” if we do not make deep and lasting changes, according to the report.
Where it differs to previous research is it states that while things might be bad, they are not hopeless. Detailing six key areas in which a major difference can be made, it stresses that the onus isn’t just on policymakers but the public, and this has reached some, but not all, areas of society.
Rail is working to lessen its environmental impact, making it an even greener form of transport, and some of this work is featured in this issue, RailStaff’s most significant focus on the environment to date.
When it comes to voting in the general election on December 12, many will be acutely aware of the small role they play in supporting a functioning democracy.
With new government policies and grassroots movements, concern over climate change is rising. Nevertheless, more of us – myself included – need to realise the important role we have as individuals in making meaningful lifestyle changes to save the planet.