Volterra part of Arriva’s successful rail franchise bid team

The government announced today that it intends to award the Northern rail franchise to Arriva Rail North Ltd. This will see a transformation of rail travel in the North through a £1bn investment programme. Volterra provided ongoing economics support to Arriva throughout the bidding process. This included a comprehensive ‘backcasting’ review where we examined the […]

How do you deal with someone who thinks the Earth is flat?

Imagine you are relaxing at a bar enjoying a drink after a hard day’s work.  The person next to you strikes up a conversation.  Initially he seems reasonable.  But soon he begins to go on at length about how the Earth is flat and how a misguided cabal of scientists hides this truth from us.  […]

The national accounts are the new JK Rowling

A potential candidate for the world’s most boring book is the Office for National Statistics’ National Accounts: Sources and Methods.  This book, all 502 pages of it, is currently available in hardback on Amazon for just 1p.  It does exactly what it says in the title.  It gives a detailed description of how the data […]

strong case for Light Rail integration with HS2

Volterra partner Paul Buchanan was invited to give a presentation during this year’s 10th Annual UK Light Rail Conference in Nottingham, discussing the opportunities for light rail integration with high-speed rail. Norman Baker, former light rail minister; David Ralph, chief executive of D2N2; and Martha Grekos, partner and head of the planning and infrastructure team […]

Why the financial system has the same qualities as cancer

Massive fines for banks, gross misbehaviour, huge bonuses for failure, bailouts at vast expense to the taxpayer: it’s little wonder that politicians and pundits can almost invariably win cheap applause by describing the financial system as being a cancer on society. But in a deep way, cancer and the financial system do have much in […]

Markets are good, but we need clear signals

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the general election result is the abuse which is now being heaped on the metropolitan liberal elite from many quarters.  Theirs is truly a difficult mind set to comprehend, based as it is on an unshakeable belief in their own omniscience. Yet this is confounded on an almost daily […]

Opinion Polls, Financial Crashes and Groupthink

The election is done and dusted, but many interesting questions remain. Was there a swing to the Conservatives at the very last minute, or was it indeed possible to foresee the victory in advance? Snippets are emerging which suggest that the electorate had made up their minds well before polling day. Rod Liddle, the entertaining […]

The cost of being late: do incentives always work?

Economics provides us with a really big insight into how the world works. People respond to changes in incentives. A great deal of public policy is based on this principle. You want fewer people to drive into Central London? Introduce a congestion charge and make it more expensive. It works. In practice, of course, estimating […]