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Getting around in britain

12.12.2010

Britain has almost the same population as France but less than half the space. With 238 people per square kilometre, it is a densely populated country. So it is not surprising that the transport system is fairly comprehensive. With the notable exception of the Highlands of Scotland, almost every square centimetre of the map of Britain is covered by a net-Work of roads and railways.


As in most countries of the world, roads have taken over from rail as the major transport system. But trains in Britain are still a safe, fast and comfortable way of travelling.


There is one big problem which deters many people from using them: the price. British trains are very expensive to travel on, at least if you do not know how to.get the best deals. If you simply go into a station, buy a ticket and get on the train, you may end up paying a small fortune. To avoid a nasty shock, there are two secrets: one, get a full list of all the special types of tickets available; and two, book in advance. As an example, in 1999 the full price of a London to Manchester return ticket was £119; a Super Saver ticket, which cannot be used in the rush hour, was £48; and a Virgin Value ticket, which has to be booked a minimum of three days in advance, was only £19 — Saving exactly £100. If you are travelling from London, there is one other useful piece of advice: make sure you go to the right station, as there are seven major and many smaller ones!


Much cheaper, and without all the restrictions about advanced booking and rush hours, are coach services. Of course, there are disadvantages: no restaurant, no room to walk around and no tables. The worst drawback is that the coach station is usually in the middle of town, so there is a long struggle through traffic before your coach gets out onto the motorway.


Integrated transport? The government has recently started talking about the ultimate solution to the problems — an integrated transport system. This means improving public services and making sure that they all work together as a system, rather than a series of disconnected parts. At present, if you need to take a train, a bus and a ferry for your journey, you will often find that the bus station is kilometres away from the train station, and the bus timetable does not match the ferry timetable. You end up taking taxis between stations, and spending hours sitting in waiting rooms. In many parts of the country, trains and buses compete with each other on one route, while another route has no service at all.


An integrated transport system is urgently needed to address all these problems. But it will take a great deal of time, money and political will to achieve such a system.


Answer the questions.

  • Why is the transport system in Britain fairly comprehensive?
  • What is the major transport system in many countries?
  • What is the major transport system in Britain?
  • What deters people from using trains?
  • What will happen if you just go to the station and buy a ticket?
  • Is it possible to get a good deal for tickets in Britain? Which way?
  • What is useful to know if you are travelling in London?
  • What are the advantages of coach service?
  • What are the disadvantages of coach service?
  • What solution to the problem does government have?
  • What is the situation with transportation and timetables nowadays?
  • Give Russian equivalents to the following words and word combinations.
  • Vocabulary

  • pass — проездной
  • to take a nap — поспать, вздремнуть
  • to chat — поболтать
  • fare — стоимость, плата за проезд
  • cover — покрытие, зона действия

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