Monthly Archives: May 2011

England’s lost world of barging

The publication of an 88-year-0ld retired barge captain’s memoirs of 50 years spent barging on English waterways prompts reflection in the Yorkshire Post.

“LAURIE Dews retired from the wheel of his barge Selby Margaret on the River Ouse on his 65th birthday in 1987. He was one of the last vestiges of the river’s history that will never be resuscitated. He had watched it die over 20 years, and while sad to say farewell to a life of hard graft and fresh air with the comradeship of the folk on the waterway and their easy, familiar banter, the industry was long past its heyday and all but dead.”

In England (and Europe), a “barge”  or narrowboat is an integrated unit, with engine and living quarters in the rear. While renovated barges are popular as floating living quarters, and London even has a small district of moored barges with gardens on their roofs, commercial barging is dead in England. The government is trying to revive the waterways for recreational use. But the channel widths and depths (most narrow canals are only seven feet wide), and the small size of the locks, make commercial barging as we have it in the U.S. uneconomical.

Norfolk has a mostly natural network of canals and waterways called the Norfolk Broads. Here’s a map of the British waterways.

GAO “stings” TWIC program

The Government Accountability Office, the investigativeor “watchdog”
arm of Congress, released on May 10 a scathing report on the TSA/Coast Guard-managed TWIC (Transportation Workers Identity Credential) program. GAO officials conducted a “sting” operation and obtained a TWIC using false documents.

Among the key findings: the Department of Homeland Security presently has no program of internal evaluation that supports its argument that TWICs make us safer.DHS concurred with all of GAO’s recommendations to develop such evaluations.

Waterways Journal readers know, of course, that the TWIC card-readers are not yet available, and won’t be for some time, making the information in the card’s sophisticated biometric chips useless at present.

WARNING: the full report is 60 pages long. The report notes, “This is a public version of a sensitive report. Information DHS deemed sensitive has been redacted.” No doubt this referred to information about how the GAO workers got a TWIC using false documents.