Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Peak everything: return to segregation in Italian trains?

This post is a bit off topic, but I thought to publish a little note on this subject because it seems to me that it illustrates how so many things are changing in this world that looks more and more "post-peak". One thing that is clearly changing is the increasing unbalance in the distribution of wealth, worldwide. An effect of this change seems to appear in some recent choices made by the Italian national railways ("Trenitalia"). The company has recently introduced a new, low-cost "fourth class" in their trains. In this class, passengers are segregated; they can't access the other three classes, where the bar and the restaurant are.

That's already nasty in itself; but what the managers of Trenitalia seemed to have in mind came up from something they published on their site. There were pictures of the passengers in all the four classes; those of the first three classes were all white, whereas those in fourth class were - imagine that - black (see above). Of course, there were protests and the image has been hastily removed from the trenitalia site after the scandal erupted. You can read the whole story (in Italian) here, and here. Trenitalia has not apologized, so far.

Things are indeed changing in this post-peak world.


  1. I've read about gangs of "youths" who get onto trains and attack and rob other passengers.

    Allowing this to go on would destroy rail as a useful mode of transportation; people will drive or fly for their own safety even if the cost is far higher.  Putting a cost barrier between such "youths" and everyone else will maintain rail as a viable option.  Ignoring the racist hostility of the underclasses is not just foolish, it's suicidal.

    1. So it wouldn't be cost effective for these rumoured gangs of youths to buy a ticket for the non-immigrant carriages of trenitalia? surely the pure satisfaction of beating carriagefuls of unsuspecting passengers, if not the financial return of robbing them, would be incentive enough.

      Perhaps they would not stop their orgy of purported violence to get their tickets stamped anyway, so may not be deterred by whether or not they have a ticket to travel with the 'overclasses'.

      As an aside, I lived in Italy for a long time, in the centre of affluent cities and in small relatively poor villages. The villagers were sceptical of outsiders, but the most racist people I met were the rich fascist kids.

      Ignoring the racist hostility of the overclasses is not just foolish, it is myopic.

  2. Well EP, I've heard of people getting beat up in restrooms and in schoolyards. Perhaps it's time to bring back segregated schools and other assorted facilities.

    (i.e. just come right out and say what you mean)

  3. I have read about anything, even UFOs landing.

    I travel a lot in Italian trains. In the only case (in 30 years) I faced a gang of young boys harassing someone it was sufficient to sit in the same compartment with a meaningful face and they stopped. They were without ANY ticket, and were forced to get down at the first station, so increasing the fare would have not stopped them.

  4. Off-topic, but I am happy to announce that a work of David JC MacKay has been mentioned in today's Nature Editorial:

    As many scientists as possible should convey these messages through outreach to local or national organizations, the media, in blogs and in policy discussions.

    Even better if one can be extra-creative and provide people with interactive tools to explore the possible scenarios, such as the energy-pathway calculator launched last month by David MacKay, chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (see



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014). His most recent book is "The Seneca Effect" to be published by Springer in mid 2017