24th September 2019

Written by Tom Gillingham (Associate Partner)



Tom's got his complaining cap on this morning: how come London soaks up the vast majority of the transport budget? And wouldn't Edinburgh benefit from a touch more investment in its transport network?
















Good morning,


I recently witnessed the deep depths of one commuter’s misery.


Clad in the seasoned travel pro’s uniform of AirPods, an oversized rucksack and a suit paired with expensive looking trainers, his despair as the train doors closed just before he could wedge himself on board was something to behold.


There were expletives. There was an ostentatious watch check. There was the slow, mournful shake of the head as the train pulled away.


It’s a scene that plays out every morning at stations across Britain, except there was one notable difference in what I witnessed that day. I was standing on a packed tube train and, while sympathetic to his plight, he could probably console himself with the fact that the next train was two minutes away.


You only truly appreciate London’s transport infrastructure when you move away from it, and the idea of publicly losing it over a two-minute inconvenience probably baffles people anywhere else in the UK. I’d say the fact that London receives £2,389 more of transport spending per head than other area is perhaps something to get worked up about instead.


But, rather than stoking aimless anger, I’d like to posit a potential solution - for Edinburgh at least. Earlier this month Edinburgh City Council revealed more detail on its City Centre Transformation Plan - but I reckon there was one thing missing.


Would you be surprised to find out that there’s a working railway line that used to connect a large chunk of Scotland's capital, but isn’t now open to passengers? Or that the cost of reinstating this line for passenger use was estimated at a very reasonable sounding £30m? Or that this link would mean reduced journey times from areas like Morningside, Gorgie, Portobello and Piershill?


It was definitely news to me. Having also spent a few years in Leeds - the largest city in Western Europe without a rapid transit solution – it’s just possible that other UK cities would jump at a similar opportunity.


While it has been raised by various administrations in the past, and then kicked firmly back into the long grass, surely it is worth another look. It would be a low-carbon, relatively cost-effective way to improve a growing city’s transport system battling against significant road congestion.


I suppose what I’m saying is, it would be great if a two-minute delay in every UK city was cause for apoplectic commuter rage.



News


The UK Supreme Court will decide today whether or not Johnson acted in line with the law by proroguing Parliament. If the judgement - due at 10:30 this morning - goes against the prime minister, Parliament could be reconvened immediately.


Greta Thunberg’s ‘glare’ at Donald Trump as he made a 14-minute appearance at the UN climate change summit has led the coverage of the event. The climate change activist later addressed the summit, saying: ‘How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight’.


Speaking from New York, Iran's president has said his country's message to the world is ‘peace and stability’. The UK, France and Germany jointly blamed Tehran for the attack on a Saudi oil facility.



Business & Economy


Lloyds of London has condemned the findings of an independent survey which showed that nearly 500 people working in the insurance market have either suffered or observed sexual harassment in the past 12 months. Lloyds is the world’s oldest and biggest insurance market, and commissioned the survey to better understand the scale of the issue, which was first revealed by a Bloomberg investigation.


The fallout from Thomas Cook going into liquidation continues, with 15,000 passengers repatriated yesterday. The CAA-led Operation Matterhorn continues today to bring back those stranded abroad in the wake of the travel operator’s collapse.


People in the UK are more worried about their personal financial prospects than at any time since 2013 (£), according to the well-respected IHS Markit survey. It suggests political uncertainty means households have less appetite to make big spending decisions.


Markets


What happened yesterday?


London stocks remained in the red at the end of Monday. There are concerns about US-China trade relations, the looming UK Supreme Court judgement and the signs that the eurozone economy is stalling. Following the collapse of Thomas Cook, rival TUI bucked the negativity to finish the day 7.12% up.


Other beneficiaries of Thomas Cook’s demise included EasyJet and Ryanair, which were also trading up, by 4.63% and 0.85% respectively, while Dart Group - the owner of Jet2 - increased by 6.19%.


The FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.26% at 7,326.08, while sterling was 0.41% lower against the dollar, at $1.2427 and down 0.19% on the euro at €1.1302.


At the US close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up marginally by 0.06% at 26,949.99, while the S&P 500 closed 0.01% lower at 2,991.78. The Nasdaq Composite was 0.06% weaker at 8,112.46.


Whats happening today?



Finals

1pm Blan Tech Grp Dx Plc Hotel Choc Innovaderma Town Centre


Interims

Alliance Pharma Animalcare Grp Card Factory Digitalbox Dp Poland Everyman Media Flowtech Fluid Minds+mach Pennant International S & U Serica Ten Ent Grp Tremor Int Ltd


AGMs

Draper Kibo Energy Knights Group Limitless Earth Park Grp Versarien


Interims

(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys


UK Economic Announcements

(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys


Int Economic Announcements

(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER)

(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)

(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)

(14:00) House Price Index (US)



Columns of Note

In the Guardian, Polly Toynbee argues that the Labour leadership has made a serious mistake by staying ‘firmly rooted on the fence’ when it comes to Brexit. She suggests that the party membership - and the future of Labour - are young remainers, and that the position should reflect that. 


Hugo Rifkind suggests that there will be no need to ban meat (£) as people are increasingly reducing the amount they consume. Despite his less than positive experiences with some ‘plant-based ham’, he says that we are in the midst of an eating revolution - but only time will tell if it’s a trend that’s here to stay.



Did you know?


The Greek national anthem, Hymn to Liberty, has 158 verses


Parliamentary highlights


Today


House of Commons No business due to prorogation. The House will next sit on Monday 14th October.

House of Lords No business due to prorogation. The House will next sit on Monday 14th October.

Scottish Parliament

Finance and Constitution Committee Debate: Report on Common Frameworks

Topical questions