Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Barry’s rant about innumeracy (1)

I am astounded by the lack of numeracy shown by some BBC presenters who consequently fail properly to address news and current events. A recent example was 'Any Answers?' on 5th September; Jonathan Dimbleby responded to a caller about the advisability of vast expenditure on British rail. The caller stated that the French had observed that travel on the railway network in France averaged 20 miles per gallon per person. This interesting point posed serious questions about carbon emission. Mr Dimbleby countered with astonishing innumeracy. He asserted that trains would be running at 1000 gallons per mile! According to him, at 20 miles per gallon per passenger there must be an average of 20000 people per train.

According to the Association of Train Operating Companies UK passenger trains have 35% occupancy. Mr Dimbleby's figures imply each train has an average capacity of 57000 passengers. Larger trains would be able to carry more. Sounds like our railways are doing just fine!

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