BBC World Service Archive

The BBC have an active project to digitise and make available old programmes from The World Service‘s archive up to 2008.

The two programmes of most interest concern transport with a global perspective – On The Road and On The Move, but there are a few others in here as well. I’ve not listed all of the episodes, just those I’ve noted to have a listen to, usually because they cover cycling, traffic in towns or railways and trams. Those I have listened to have notes in italics.


On The Road:

25th November 1987 – Cycling and Head Injuries – “Why don’t British cyclists like wearing helmets, when two out three road deaths could be prevented?”

A rather one sided report, but covering a time when bike helmets were a minority pursuit.

9th December 1987 – Road Safety In Britain – “How the Institute of Advanced Motorists aims to reduce the 800 motorcycle road deaths in Britain each year.”

Also features a report on transport in Japan, and their attitude towards cars. Includes some grumping about cyclists including police cyclists!


On The Move:

1st June 1990 – Cycling and Driving – “Will cyclists and car drivers ever get on? ‘You have to think the whole time!’ says car driver Tom Boswell. ‘Most accidents happen within the first few minutes'”

8th June 1990 – Modern Inflatable Boats – “Lifeboats in Britain and white-water rafts in Borneo. Also author Brian Richards on improving urban transport, and Tom Boswell on wet weather driving”

28th June 1990 – Microlight Aircraft – “Brian Milton on his death-defying microlight flight from London to Sydney. Also Tom Boswell on driving cars economically.”

19th Just 1990 – Trams and Trailers – “Budapest’s long standing love affair with its iconic pink trams. Also Tom Boswell on trailer safety”

19th July 1990 – Traffic in Pakistan – “The deadly competition for space on Pakistan’s roads. Also, developments in the electric car, and four wheel drive in the countryside”

13th January 1994 – Channel Tunnel – “Can the newly opened Channel Tunnel tempt passengers away from the ferries?”

27th January 1994 – Transaero Airlines – “The controversy around the post-Soviet airline Transaero and the Channel Tunnel’s British terminus.”

17th February 1994 – Urban Air Quality –  “The danger posed to public health by diesel engines. Also, the Swiss referendum on foreign lorries crossing the country.”

10th March 1994 – Attack on Heathrow – “The 1994 IRA mortar attack on London’s Heathrow Airport. Also, Bentley and Audi release their own ‘small car’, and the extraordinary shipwrecks of the Falkland Islands.”

31st March 1994 – Railtrack – “Will the privatised separation of Britain’s rails and track lead to progress or disaster? Also, the steam engines of India.”

5th May 1994 – History of Tunnelling – “The opening of the Channel Tunnel, and an exhibition on the history of tunnelling at London’s Science Museum.”

30th June 1994 – Traffic Pollution – “Alternatives to the internal combustion engine, the battle for cross-channel business and flying saucers in Russia.”

10th August 1994 – Airbus Crashes – “The implications of Airbus Industry’s recent crashes in France and Korea. Also, should vehicles be banned from city centres?”

18th August 1994 – Maritime Safety – “The cost of false alarms to the global maritime distress and safety system. Also the Ecomobile, the motorcycle of the future.”

22nd September 1994 – Eurotunnel Opens – “Eurotunnel finally opens – but why all the delays? Also, the secret of calming traffic, and re-enacting the Vickers Vimy flight from London to Australia.”

13th October 1994 – Roads and Traffic – “Do more roads mean more safety or more traffic? Also, the return of Tupelov Tu-144 or ‘Concordski’, and a new technology – Global Positioning System.”

27th October 1994 – UK Transport Policy – “A report into Britain’s roads, public transport systems and the future of the car.”

3rd November 1994 – Russian Aircraft Safety – “The US Federal Aviation Administration investigates Russian aircraft safety. Also is the age of the motor car coming to an end?”

10th November 1994 – Eurostar Public Services – “The start of Eurostar public services and the problems caused by the British third rail electrification system.”

24th November 1994 – Commuter Aircraft – “Why do smaller aircrafts experience twice as many accidents as larger ones? Also, the British government’s privatisation of Railtrack.”

8th December 1994 – Intelligent Car Systems – “How to make traffic information relevant to motorists. Also, a ferry collision in the South China Sea, and Middle East Airlines fights for survival.”

15th December 1994 – Estonia Ferry Disaster – “The aftermath of the Estonia ferry disaster. Also, British rail privatisation, and Japan’s under-used Osaka airport.”

29th December 1994 – The Tram – “The global rise and fall – and rise again – of the tram”

19th January 1995 – Airline Accidents – “Is the rise in airline accidents due to falling safety standards or rising passenger numbers? Also, a pirate attack in Rio de Janeiro, and plans for high-speed rail in Britain.”

2nd February 1995 – Heathrow Airport – “Why have plans to expand the world’s busiest airport been dropped? Also the threat of terrorism to the Channel Tunnel, and how enormous ships can vanish without trace.”

9th March 1995 – The MV Derbyshire Sinking Inquiry – “The MV Derbyshire sinking inquiry. Also, the launch of a new MG sports car, and a new way for British traffic police to communicate with drivers.”

16th March 1995 – Air Pollution – “Could oxygenated fuel be the answer air pollution? Also, big losses at Air Italia, and the tram returns to New York.”

24th March 1995 – Traffic Master – “A technological solution to traffic congestion. Also, the worlds first electric police car, and charting shipwrecks around the British Isles.”

30th March 1995 – The Brox Bike – “Could the four wheel bike designed by Tony Brox replace the delivery van? Also, the world’s first airport casino, and technology to speed up border crossing for truck owners.”

2rd May 1995 – Concordski – “Why have American businessmen leased a Soviet ‘Concordski’? Also, cycle paths in America, and Britain’s railway privatisation.”

25 May 1995 – Brazilian Bandeirante Aircraft Crash – “Report on the Brazilian Bandeirante aircraft crash in Leeds Bradford Airport. Also, can the Smart Car, made by watch manufacturers Swatch, really help end inner city pollution?”

1st June 1995 – Maritime Safety – “Safety at sea. Also, plans for tunnel under the Straight of Gibraltar, and a British housing estate built with aircraft hangers and taxi runways.”

15th June 1995 – Pirate Attack – “A pirate attack on a high speed ferry in the South China Sea. Also, a plan for every family in China to own a motor car, and a new air traffic control centre for London.”

27th July 1995 – Car Ferry Safety – “The safety of the world’s fleet of roll-on roll-off car ferries. Also the challenge of owning a car in Tokyo.”

3rd August 1995 – Car Ferry Owners – “British car ferry owners defend their safety record. Also, the proposed merging of Europe’s high speed train-makers, traffic jams in Amsterdam, and where did I park the car?”

10th August 1995 – Protests About Pollution – “The protests about air pollution caused by traffic. Also, the technology on airplanes that doesn’t always work, and the skills needed to fly vintage planes.”

1st September 1995 – Britain’s M25 Motorway – “Measures to tackle congestion on the M25. Also, how to reduce the noise of aging aircraft, and Barcelona’s claims to be the most “go ahead” port in the Mediterranean.”

7th September 1995 – Stena Ferries – “Stena Line’s plans for a super-ferry. Also, cars with “eyes under the bonnet” at the Frankfurt motor show, and technological support for pilots.”

12th October 1995 – Piracy on South China Sea – “The attack on the cargo ship Anna Sierra by armed pirates. Also, satellite phones on airplanes, and disabled people’s demands for access to buses.”

19th October 1995 – Traffic Congestion in Singapore – “Can road pricing control Singapore’s traffic congestion? Also, turning a former American naval base in the Philippines into an international airport, and India’s new private airlines.”

2nd November 1995 – British Rail Privatisation – “The companies bidding to run Britain’s privatised railways. Also, the shortage of merchant seafarers, and a novel way to stop drivers from breaking the speed limit. ”

9th November 1995 – The Pollution-Eating Family Car – “Ford’s plans for car radiators that decompose ozone. Also, battle-scarred roads in Mozambique, the hazards of driving in Moscow, and Autocar Magazine’s 100th birthday.”

16th November 1995 – Bidding for British Railways – “Concerns about the government’s rail franchise lengths. Also, airlines woo the business class with gifts, and the floating widget that cleans canals.”

20th December 1995 – British Rail Privatisation – “Selling off Britain’s rail network. Plus stowaways on cargo ships, and car sharing in Germany.”

4th January 1996 – Railways Around The World – “The privatisation revolution sweeping the world’s railways. Also, journeys on the South African Blue Train and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.”

11th January 1996 – The Electric Car – “The first American electric sports coupe the EV1. Also European car manufacturers promote their electric cars at the Electric Car Show in Monaco.”

18th January 1996 – Turkish Ferry Hijacking – “Turkish ferry hijacking by Chechen rebels. Also, experimental solar powered aircraft in Los Angeles, and a British motor industry’s centenary attracts protestors.”

25th January 1996 – Indonesian Ferry Disaster – “The sinking of the Gurita in Indonesian waters with huge loss of life. Also, cities trying to ban the motorcar, and the Dutch Fokker aircraft company fights for its life.”

1st February 1996 – European Gridlock – “The possibility of gridlock on European roads. Plus flight simulators in pilot training, and a blow for British merchant seafarers.”

15th February 1996 – The Hanoi Railway – “The Hanoi Central Station becomes international terminus again. Also, the pirates threatening economic growth in Philippines, and the Dutch town where the bicycle reigns supreme.”

28th February 1996 – Fire at Sea – “The implications of the fire on Cunard’s passenger ship Sagafjord. Also, flying with London’s Air Ambulance, and the newly opened Rhine-Danube Canal.”

21st March 1996 – The Sea Empress Oil Spill – “Cleaning up the Welsh coast after the Sea Empress oil spill. Also, the need for more ocean-going tugs to deal with tanker disasters, Schiphol airport’s tour of tulip fields, and rickshaws in Oxford.”

4th April 1996 – British Rail Privatisation – “The controversial sale of British Rail’s tracks, signals, and stations. Also, a satellite to track speeding boats in Venice, and the railway with corkscrew shaped track.”

23rd May 1996 – British Railway Privatisation – “The end of the line for Britain’s state owned railways. Also, booking your berth on an 18th Century ship, and Boeing’s new 777 jet for Cathay Pacific Airlines.”

30th May 1996 – Aeroflot – “Russia’s Aeroflot orders a fleet of new Boeing jets. Also, a new era for cyclists in London, and how pilots can cope without air traffic controllers.”

Enid Church of the London Cycling Campaign tries to encourage people to cycle in London as National Bike Week comes up. She explicitly talks up the plans for a network of segregated cycle routes by 2005. She also notes that everyone looks to Holland where a reasonable amount of space has been given to cycling. The presenter is less convinced.

6th June 1996 – The History of Heathrow – “Fifty years of commercial flying from London’s Heathrow Airport. Also, the search for the wreck of the Derbyshire, and the sound of the world’s first jet engine.”

27th June 1996 – Language and Safety in the Air – “Communication problems between air traffic controllers and flight decks. Also, why pedestrians are better off being hit by bus than car, and the changing pattern of crime at sea.”

10th July 1996 – Hi-Speed Channel Crossing – “Crossing the English Channel on Stena Line’s new hi-speed catamaran. Also, commuting by seaplane, and the British government’s strategy for cycling.”

Bicycling Baronet Sir George Young gets interview by James Naughtie about the new cycling strategy. Includes such things as showers at employers. Young compares to Switzerland and Sweden on grounds they have higher rates of cycling but greater physical barriers.

8th August 1996 – The Florida Overland Express – “The Florida Overland Express – America’s fastest high-speed train. Also, Russian forest fires thwart an attempt to fly around the world in a Chipmunk plane, rebuilding Britain’s canals, and a new type of garage. ”

15th August 1996 – Russian Aircraft Industry – “The resurgence of the Russian aircraft industry. Also, the battle for the land speed record in Nevada, the return of the tilting train in Britain, and a new high-speed electric car.”

14th September 1996 – The World Road Congress – “Road safety at the World Road Congress in Canada. Also, the airshow with lots of planes but no flying, and the Saint-Malo catamaran rescue.”

19th September 1996 – Traffic Congestion in Sao Paolo – “Brazil’s banning of cars on different days of the week. Also, rescuing Air France from bankruptcy, solar powered cars, and 50 years of the Vespa scooter.”

10th October 1996 – A Hundred Years of British Motoring – “The history of British-made cars, from following a man with a red flag to the production of Ford’s two hundred and fifty millionth car.”

31st October 1996 – Bosnia on the Move – “How road, rail and tram traffic is moving again in Bosnia after the end of the civil war. Plus the growing demand for city centre airports.”

14th November 1996 – Deadly Delhi Air Collision – “What caused the third-deadliest air crash and the worst mid-air collision in aviation history? Also, the rebirth of the British Triumph motorbike, and the car of the future which drives itself.”

13th December 1996 – Airport Security – “Was a US TV programme revealing lapses in airport security useful to militant groups? Also, is road rage inevitable, and the world’s first modern electric car goes on sale.”

30th December 1996 – French TGVs – “The French introduce their latest passenger TGVs – ‘train a grande vitesse’ or high-speed train. Plus flying in the Falkland Islands, and the plans to re-open the notorious Burma railway.”

16th January 1997 – Breathalysing Pilots – “British police plans to breathalyse pilots for alcohol and drugs. Also, privatising London Underground, and designs for a new royal yacht.”

23rd January 1997 – Happy Birthday Concorde – “The world’s only supersonic passenger jet is 21 years old. Plus Andrei Tupolev, Russia’s most famous aviation pioneer who continued to design while imprisoned by Stalin, and have Britons fallen out of love with the car?”

5th February 1997 – Travel in the 21st Century – “The technology that could change the way we travel. Includes a plane that runs on hydrogen and a new electric car. Plus visionary writer Arthur C Clarke explains his idea for a space elevator.”

6th February 1997 – Post-Wall Berlin Transport – “East Berliners abandon public transport for the car. Also, crashing cars for safety, and complaints from car manufacturers.”

13th February 1997 – Italy’s Cycle City – “Ferrara – the Italian city where the bicycle is king. Caribbean cruise liners and how the waste generated on ships is disposed.”

20th February 1997 – The Car v Public Transport – “The car versus public transport: do more and more cars mean less public transport? Also, the latest in fast train technology, and the new cockpit warning device designed to prevent mid-air collisions.”

6th March 1997 – The Herald of Free Enterprise 10th Anniversary – “Special report on the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise when 193 passengers and crew lost their lives. Also, UK police officers travel to Finland to learn how to drive on ice. And are trams the answer to inner-city gridlock?”

30th July 1999 – The Century of the Car – “The Twentieth Century was the century of the car. Five stories from around the world tell how it all began.”

26th May 2000 – Postmark Africa: Cycling and Infertility – “Can cycling reduce a man’s sperm count and cause infertility? Dr Simon Fishall sorts fact from fiction.”