Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Sunday 19 July 2009

Article in READER.ES July 8th

Transport policy

WITH the state of the UK car industry in
such dire trouble, I have had two totally
unconnected thoughts.
The first involves the safety of troops in
Afghanistan. Much has been said about the
totally inadequate armour on vehicles used
by the army for patrolling the country. They
are useless for protecting men from roadside
bombs. While men in the UK are being
laid off or are put on short time, is it beyond
the wit of politicians to put them to work
making some better armoured vehicles?
The second idea concerns the industry
itself. There are no British mass produced
cars and manufacturing is in decline a makers
around the globe rationalize their operations.
Motoring is difficult with millions of
cars vying for space on the crowded roads
and simple car parking can be one of the
day’s most stressful events. It will get worse.
With the latest innovations in Micro
Electro Mechanical System Technology
(MEMS), is now a good time, to revolutionise
the complete concept of motoring in
heavily populated countries such as the
How will it work? The Government will
have to announce that at a date in the
future, say 2030, all independently driven
cars will be banned, to be replaced by ‘pods’
that will run on a National Highway Grid
(NHG), using all the roads now in existence.
Pods will be manufactured in all sizes and
standards, as in today’s cars. You will, for
instance, be able to buy a Rolls Royce pod,
fitted out in complete luxury and containing
a bar.
Since nobody will be driving, travellers will
be able to enjoy a tipple as they travel. The
pods are all electric, recharged at home or
at work. The traveller will drive the pod to
the nearest network hub. (No more than a
couple of hundred yards). There, they
engage with the NHG. Press in the post
code of their destination and allow themselves
to be transported, travelling at
speeds of up to 200 mph, depending on the
road and completely free from collisions.
The network will be built and run by a consortium
that charges the traveller according
to the length of the trip, based on the starting
hub address and the destination post
The idea was first conceived in my novel
‘Henry Bagshot’ (As yet unpublished) and
introduces a similar scheme, replacing
heavy freight lorries, using large pods, running
on a second NHG built on existing railway
lines and those axed by the Beeching
report. This network will be operated by
today’s railwaymen. I conceive that the pods
would be relatively inexpensive, although
owning one will not be important as there
will be many for hire.
There will be no car crimes, no insurance
costs. Pods being used for antisocial purposes
can be reported and will be rerouted
to the nearest police station.
In my proposal, the whole country will be
covered apart from that part of Scotland,
north of the big loch. This will be set aside
for independently driven vehicles, providing
a new tourist opportunity as people satisfy
their nostalgic urge to drive on the old roads.
By building on this initiative, the British will
become the world leaders in this technology,
exporting it to other densely populated cities
or countries. Is this a good idea? Please
send in your comments. emails to letters@ Kevill is a recently published
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