I have, as I write, just returned from a fantastic uplifting event to launch Better Transport Week [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/]. This is a week created by Campaign for Better Transport, the country's leading transport charity and the only one that covers all modes.
The event was a gathering of the great and the good from the rail industry in the concourse at King's Cross with rail minister Huw Merriman as the keynote speaker, posing in front of our Better Transport Week 'train'.
It was great to see the enthusiasm for rail, and indeed the whole ethos of the week is to celebrate public transport. It is all too easy to find fault, but actually our trains, our tubes, our trams, our buses perform overall pretty well and of course are essential for the economy, the environment, and for social cohesion.
The enthusiasm is underlined by the fact that the week has been embraced by over a hundred partners [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/better-transport-week-partners/], from transport operators, national and local government, other campaign groups and the public.
And this is most definitely not a London event. Campaign for Better Transport staff will be taking the sustainable transport message round the country: to events in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Ipswich, Okehampton......
The public is also playing its part, by taking part in #Loveyourstation [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/rail-day/] events, and thanking their local bus drivers [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/bus-and-coach-day/] on social media.
There are also opportunities to win prizes, such as tickets on Eurostar [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/win-eurostar-tickets/], free entry to Royal Horticultural Society gardens [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/relax-with-better-transport/], and discounts from lots of sustainable transport organisations. [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week/better-transport-week-discounts/]
Each day of Better Transport Week is dedicated to a particular mode or theme: Monday for rail, Tuesday for bus and coach, Wednesday for light rail and other local transport, Thursday for health, Friday for business.
The health day features the launch of a new policy paper, Better Transport for Better Health, which makes clear that a great way to deal with air pollution is to get people to leave their cars behind and get on a train, a bus, a tram, a tube, or a bike. Or indeed walk.
The paper also stresses that the NHS itself needs to take responsibility for the transport movements it generates. It is becoming quite common, no doubt for good clinical reasons, to centre key health facilities, such as those dealing with maternity or cardiac care, in fewer locations, but the NHS then tends to wash its hands of the extra transport required. This needs to change.
On Friday, there is the launch of a business toolkit to encourage all employers, large and small, to use train rather than plane, train rather than HGV, and to take steps to help their employees access their work by sustainable means.
So a really busy week and to be honest, I have barely scratched the surface. The impetus for the week was the fact that Campaign for Better Transport is 50 this year [https://bettertransport.org.uk/about/50-years-of-campaign-for-better-transport/] but such has been the enthusiasm we now plan to make this an annual event.
So please check out the website [https://bettertransport.org.uk/better-transport-week] or find us on social media [https://linktr.ee/bettertransportweek] and join in if you can. But you will have to excuse me now. I'm off for the next event: chairing a roundtable at the Railway Industry Association. The topic is: A vision for the future of rail [https://www.riagb.org.uk/EventDetail?EventKey=BBT2023]!