Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Oil Crisis Hits Home

I've been feeling a little smug as the credit crisis wreaked havoc on the financial markets.

Unlike our esteemed PM, I not only talk the prudence talk, I walk the prudence walk too. So our finances have been pretty much oblivious to the unfolding crisis.

Mortgage woes. Increasing rates. Declining choices.

No problem. We are on a long term fixed rate mortgage that's already overpaid.

Negative equity worries.

We paid a big deposit on the house.

Job security fears.

I'm freelance, so perpetually at risk. No change there. The mortgage over payments would give us a couple of years repayment holiday if required.

Reduced opportunities for credit.

We don't have any need for loans, and I've got enough credit on my cards to buy a very decent car. Mainly courtesy of Egg who gave me a £15,000 credit limit without offering me the chance to request a limit during the application process. A sign perhaps of the root of a lot of the current problems.

So, from a purely selfish perspective, all good. If anything the credit crisis might be a chance for me to exploit a buyers market.

The oil crisis isn't quite such a non-event for me. We are a two car household so rising prices are bound to have some effect.

Yet the big car is a very efficient diesel, and the little car is primarily used to get me to the train station for the commute to work.

Which means a relatively limited impact on me so far.

That may be about to change!

I'm pretty keen on environmental issues, so I should be glad that some people seem to have reached a tipping point and are ditching the car in favour of public transport.

The only problem being on my route to work there's already no spare capacity. The last thing I want after another crap day at work is a rugby scrum just to get on a crowded train for the journey home.

You might think the obvious solution is to run more trains, but there are track capacity constraints.

The best solution is to make the existing trains longer. A lot of the trains on my route are three carriage, when the platforms are built for six carriage units.

I suggested to the rail company they might want to lease more trains. They told me they can't afford it. Which makes me wonder what it takes for them to make a profit, when they've already got the punters crammed in like this...

The commute to work
If the oil crisis means more of the above, I might finally start to have some sympathy for the average motorist, so long as they promise to stay in their cars!

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