Transport Costs ?

I was just thinking about the price differential between petrol and diesel in the UK and perhaps it all boils down to the fractional distillation of oil, a topic as part of the O level physics sylabus in the 1970s, and included in the BR handbook for Diesel traction, in fact crucial information for any skilled engineer.  However, very few people know that all oil is not the same, apart from the fact that Brent Crude is 20$ more expensive than WTI Texas light crude.  Its is probably the case that Brent crude yields far more diesel under distillation than WTI, and even then all ” diesel ” is not the same, some is noticably less good than the best, when I was driving wagons you could often tell when there had been a new delivery at the garage, used to run it pretty dry and then get a full 8 wheeler full of the new stuff.   I have never noticed any significant difference between petrol because I always keep a full tank, except that you get less Mpg since they started adding 5% ethanol, which lowers the calorific value.

The thing is that ” Is Brent more expensive because it yeilds more diesel ” for which there is an ever growing market for, a diesel car is now better than a prius petrol electric as far as theoretical Co2 emissions are concerned and therefore environmentally trendy, ( the particulates now being caught in a mega expensive filter thus increasing the long term running costs ) big market out there for diesel at the moment.  The reason they first started using petrol is because it was a cheap waste product of the oil refining industry in the 1920s, people only moved onto diesel engines due to the major problem of burnt out exhaust valves on petrol engines.  Lead saved the exhaust valves so pertol was still popular in larger vehicles right up to the 1960s, even though diesel was significantly cheaper then, diesel cars were almost non existent until the late 1980s when lead was banned.  I had a 1989 Metro 1000cc with valve seats fitted and a lower compression ratio 8:1 instead of 9:1 but it wasn’t much good so I went back to leaded fuel and tweaked the ignition timing as far advanced without pinking giving me the performance of a 1300 but got rid of it and got a diesel Peugeot 309 in 1991.  I kept that for ten years intill the gearbox went and got an almost new Skoda diesel which was not much use for a couple of years until vandals set it on fire outside the back of our house.  Then I got a older Peugeot 205, which I ran until 2006 and it was basically knackered.  I could see that diesel prices were rising so I took the plunge and bought a new Kia Picanto 1000cc petrol which performs as good as my tweaked Metro did, its a 12 valve engine, ( two inlet valves one exhaust per cyl ) better than a 16 valve for low speed pulling.  Even on the unleaded petrol now and current high fuel prices I can get 17p per mile out of it, ( it was 10p with 2007 fuel prices and not as much ethanol ) and it does everything I need it to will cruise at indicated 80 on the motorway all day and fun to drive on A roads.  I believe Ford now claims to have built a 1000cc petrol engine with the performance of a 1600, if it catches on we could in time see diesel prices fall, but you can cut your running costs by avoiding air conditioning if given the option by the manufacturers, I don’t have A/C on my Kia.

The whole road fuel market would appear to be rigged by the theoretical need to cut Co2 making the more efficient diesel more competitive yet thinking in the longer term perhaps the high cost of changing the particulate filter makes the new Ford more cheaper for an average family, my Kia is OK for just single me, yet the road safety lobby are conspiring to increase everyone’s costs by insisting on 20 Mph zones which are impossible to keep to on uphill  with a small engine.  Everything is designed to make motoring as expensive as possible especially if you are a young driver, insurance costs are now a complete rip off and offer no cost advantage in running an old vehicle, free insurance deals on new cars must be the cheapest form of motoring for the young in this rigged by the corporate cartel market.   It could be said that the insurance companies are promoting the imposition of a financial apartheid barrier to young drivers which impacts most on those who need a car due to the lack of public transport.   It is probably also the case that bus fares are kept artificially high by the entry cost to motoring as jacked up by insurance costs.  In fact the corporate have got you enslaved whichever way you turn if you want freedom of mobility in the UK, affordable long distance train fares are only available if you book at least a month in advance and the company can record your movements.  Now the insurance companies are offering cheaper insurance if you are prepared to submit to be tracked by spy in the sky navigation technology, so much for freedom yet its not yet the ” big brother ” state imposing conditions on you, its the Corporate Multinational Cartel you need to worry about.

Perhaps the only way to get a true free market in transport would be to issue state third party motor insurance, the public payment for which could be included in the cost fuel thus encouraging fuel efficient cars yet perhaps it would be better to go back to the original motorcycle road fund licence principle of flat road taxation based on engine capacity for vehicles over 5 years old, at the moment if you run an old car you are at a significant disadvantage. Commercial vehicles could get a rebate on their fuel costs up to a set maximum annual mileage, ( use red diesel ) thus encouraging shorter distance traffic and promoting the use of rail for longer journeys unless you can prove that there is no true economic alternative but to use the road for bulky goods etc.  Some large corporate logistics companies are already using rail due to the subsidy, but traffic can not increase further until Network Rail complete the renewal of all the pre 1970s jointed track, its all part of the dash to be green trendy and in fairness it is a true environmentally beneficial market direction but its subsidy makes it false economic growth despite the track improvement programme.

Whilst in the rail arena todays developments on the west coast franchise are quite interesting, the whole process scrapped and Branson snubbed yet again by the fact he didn’t get the franchise on his original bid, whatever the economics the First Group bid was better as it had new direct trains to Blackpool, the ones Branson withdrew and no new committment.  It may be the case that in the end the government take over as on the east coast franchise, the Tories would appear to be operating a cunning plan to take back the train operations back into public ownership, in short a reborne BR which can provide the most competitive deal for UK taxpayers.  The rail fare pain will continue in the short term but once the track is improved to safely take modern freight locomotives on all the key routes net track costs should fall on average and take pressure off the need any fare rises in the medium future.