Commuting to work over long distances is a huge waste of time and resources.
The most promising area for improvement of commuter travel is rail, where some major changes are required to make the system both more usable and more efficient. Rail has to carry more customers, give them more frequent and flexible time tabling, and make the journeys more pleasant.
A development plan is needed to make the train a better competitor for the car: smaller units, at closer spacings, travelling more nearly point- to-point.
Train frequency can be much increased if separation is reduced by improved braking and signalling. Then we need to deal with more frequent arrival of trains at stations, particularly at termini. At through stations, more rail 'by-passes' might be needed. At termini, trains ideally should not be at platforms for more than the time required for embarkation and disembarkation. Ultimately this can be addressed by using lighter rolling stock which could be more easily shuttled out of the way into buffer zones at busy periods.
The use of smaller, lighter rolling stock would have a number of other benefits: easier to accelerate and brake, and more flexible in operation and maintenance.
With properly developed computer control, schedules could be changed more easily to suit demand. Additional local stations would be more feasible. This approach could lead to a closer approximation to car travel, where units could be more readily chartered for specific journeys.
John Herrett (M), 62 Tracy Close, Abbey Meads, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 3YS