I flew out to Paris this morning for a set of meetings, which involved an 0400 alarm call having got home the previous night at 2300 so it was not the best of mornings although Terminal 5 was well behaved for a change and BA have sorted out their lounges at last. From Paris on the evening TGV to Stuttgart to run a workshop for IBM which will also allow me to meet up with some former friends and colleagues. The whole process reminded me why I like trains, and why I get depressed about public transport in the UK. The TGV was four comfortable hours with the chance to work, all for the same price in first class that I would have paid for a 45 minute second class journey in the UK. At Stuttgart station all the ticket machines had multiple language options (just as they did in Paris) and a 14 minute S-Bann ride took me to my hotel with no risk of missing a station and clear signposting.
Go to London and fail to speak English and you will have a very different experience, not to mention the shock of the price. I could never understand why we built the M25 (known as the worlds largest car park with cause) rather than an orbital railway with RER runs into London and main stations moved out onto the loop with park and rides. One of these days we may finally realise that investment in public transport is a good idea, and a bit more electrification a few years back would make life a lot easier now.