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News Release


Where commuters enjoy dream trip to work

BRISTOL, 4 June 2014 – Jeremy Richards, head of Bristol office of JLL thinks the city shouldn’t just compare itself  with other UK or European cities but perhaps it should be looking further afield for inspiration.

Imagine a morning commute that starts with the train arriving exactly on the platform spot where your ticket says it will. You hop on, take your first class seat to London for £16 then plug into the free WiFi.

You travel at up to 186 miles an hour and arrive in 55 minutes while overhead monitors give you updates on connections, news and the weather. On arrival, you use your UK-wide Oyster card to get on the underground with free WiFi and 4G. You arrive at work relaxed and up to date. And if you miss this train, that’s not a problem. They depart every 10 minutes and are never late.

Sound too good to be true? Well, the only incorrect information is the reference to London and the UK. 

I have recently returned from a trip to South Korea to visit my son and the contrast between our infrastructure and theirs is marked. I was travelling between Daejeon, a city of 1 million people, and the capital Seoul which is about the same distance from Bristol to London. I understand we are hampered by Victorian stations and ageing infrastructure but the underinvestment in our network is plain to see. Over recent years this is starting to change and the proposed electrification of the line and the arrival of superfast broadband is a start. But it is only a start. We tend to compare ourselves with other UK or European cities but perhaps we should be looking further afield for inspiration.

The way South Korea has embraced technology and applied it to everyday life is quite remarkable. Seoul has one of the world’s largest underground systems that is clean, fast, efficient and connected, making it a pleasure to travel on. It is easy to see why it has become Asia’s fourth largest economy and an economic power house with brands such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai leading the way.

So what are we to do? As the UK invests in cross rail and other major projects, we also spend years wringing our hands about the impact of HS2 before any work starts. Meanwhile the rest of the world pushes ahead.

Bristol is starting to make good progress but it must be bolder in its ambitions. Look beyond the next innovation and we might just stay in touch with the rest of the world.
Two days after my rail trip across South Korea I stood on the platform at Temple Meads waiting the 7am train to London. The usual scrum ensued.  I got one train earlier to make sure I made my meeting. The 3G network came and went, we encountered a slow moving train ahead of us but made up the time and arrived just five minutes late. The cost was £96 standard class – sound familiar?