Every cloud...

One side effect of the storms which lashed parts of France at Christmas is the large number of fallen trees unexpectedly available for future use as timber. SNCF is providing additional storage space for the windfalls at the 150 or so freight depots regularly handling timber traffic, as well as at other yards and easily-accessible vacant land. It is also preparing for an increase of 30% in the amount of timber hauled by pressing into service all suitable wagons to augment the regular fleet of 1750.

Here we go again

Think big! That’s the motto of those groups which pop up periodically to castigate railways for their insular attitudes. If only our horizons were broader, they say, by now there’d be worldwide uniform gauge, electrification, couplings, etc. ’I can’t think why India doesn’t go for standard gauge’, one of these visionaries recently opined to your open-mouthed correspondent.

So it was hardly surprising that the millennium e-mailbag should bring news of ’The World’s Greatest Project’ from TheGlobalRailway.com. This proposes construction of four long-dreamt-of intercontinental links - across the Bosporus, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Bering Straits, and the Central American Isthmus, plus one or two other old favourites such as Cairo to Casablanca (but not Cape to Cairo). With the completion of these, a world rail network would apparently ’arise’, a phenomenon which would surely stun all those folk stuck in the daily grind of actually making our existing railways work.

Tunnel vision

Fed up with personal stereos? Driven mad by mobile phones? Prepare for the next technological enhancement to your travelling environment - MotionPoster. This new advertising medium presents a series of illuminated posters fixed to tunnel walls and arranged so that metro passengers experience the effect of a film being screened in the centre of each window of the train.

Currently preparing to seek admission of its shares to Britain’s Alternative Investment Market, MotionPoster believes that infrastructure owners will be eager to exploit a new source of revenue. No doubt, and just think of the captive audience.

CAPTION: Dieter suggests that it’s time to reinvent the wheel (p131)