Connectivity Progress | Digital vs Transport

Facebook has turned 10 years old this week. I know this mainly because they have launched a feature which captures your ‘best bits’ in a mini video with music – Facebook is currently full of them! It’s quite phenomenal to consider the evolution of social media in just ten years and how it now influences and affects our lives in so many ways in modern culture. I am a big supporter of social media; it goes way beyond keeping in touch with people. I have many experiences of how these channels can be incredibly impactful in business. Social media is here to stay and there’s no telling how it will evolve further in the next ten years. But it will.

Thumb up hand with like text on button. Isolated on white.I’m currently ordering a new mobile phone and am pondering whether to opt for 4G. I suspect its probably necessary, but the rapid development of super-fast WiFi/ Broadband and mobile networks further supports our ever expanding need for faster connectivity and increased data usage. I heard this week that 90% of online stored data in the world was created in the last 2 years, this is due to Cloud technology. The digital world continues to move at an incredible pace.

My Dad worked for BT for over 27 years. I remember in the late eighties/ early nineties he’d bring those green phonecards home (which I used to sell at school! Sorry Dad, not sure I’ve ever told you that). He also brought home a sample of fibre-optic cable (or photonic crystal fibres to be precise) when that first came out. I was amazed that this hairlike tube could apparently carry millions of phone calls (not to mention ‘data’ which was a lesser know concept at that time).

In contrast to the digital revolution, it seems to me that our ability to move around the planet is regressing. This is confusing to me. From the mid-seventies, for some twenty seven years, it was possible to fly around the world at supersonic speed thanks to Concorde. Myself and a colleague, Jason Ainsworth, were lucky enough to go on Concorde once, admittedly though it was firmly on the ground at Duxford! Concorde could get from London to New York in around half the time we can now. It’s now over ten years since Concorde retired and planes have become more efficient, bigger and marginally faster, but its surely still a sizable step backwards.

ConcordeLikewise, after years of debating whether motorway speeds should be increased to 80mph, the Government have recently announced plans to trial 60mph speed limits on the M1 in Derbyshire? This is apparently to improve air quality in these (rural) areas. I wonder if/ how the Government have factored in the rapid progression of car engine designs to their plans? New engines are increasingly quieter and more fuel efficient, with substantially less Co2 emissions. The 60mph idea would also provide; “reduced congestion, increased capacity and improved journey time reliability for users of the motorway”. The M1 was built in the late 50’s. More lanes to increase capacity is the solution. I’m not sold on the 60mph idea just yet. Mainly because it will affect me personally.

East Midlands TrainsAnd finally our trains. Britain pioneered the railway – and then, its seems, many other countries overtook us. For sometime I’ve been frustrated with our ageing trains. Some of the trains I regularly catch down to London are older than me! And don’t even get me started on trying to use East Midlands Trains WiFi “service”. However, we have all been sold the dream of the forthcoming HS2 network which promises benefits to business and the UK economy. Phase 1 will be live in 2026, with Phase 2 becoming live in 2033. So that’s between 12-19 years from now?! And lets be honest; there’s every chance these dates will slip a bit. The big benefit we will all realise though is faster journey times to the capital. Well, actually we wont.

According to the HS2 website the current journey time from the “East Midlands Hub” (presumably East Midlands Parkway?) to London is 91mins. In around 15 years from now the HS2 journey time will be just 71mins. Very good. That’s a 20 minute reduction. But they are locating the (new?) station between Derby and Nottingham. Therefore most people who might be using these “super-fast trains” will have to travel extended distances to get to/ from the station. I reckon the journey time from central Nottingham and Derby respectively to somewhere around Toton is approx. 20-25mins (totaling around 96mins). You can see my point now perhaps?

Interestingly my current journey time from Derby to London is 89mins. HS2 will, it seems, be slower for me (and I rather suspect a lot of other people too potentially). The only people who will benefit are those who travel from centre to centre (i.e. with no additional travel at either end).

The point here is that modern lifestyle and business needs fast and effective travel more than ever. The Digital world has boomed in ten years, but more needs to be done to provide long-term solutions to our travel infrastructure. The ideas being discussed seem to be more like sticking plasters to an already struggling system.

Digital development; *Like*
Our ability/ prospects of getting places quicker? I’m not convinced we are progressing.

One final mention must go to Bombardier in Derby. I live in Derby and the city’s “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” is a convincing one with fantastic heritage. Bombardier’s recent contract is great news for the local economy.

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