I COULD not help thinking, as Airport unrolled on my screen for what seemed the 100th time, that disasters had altogether more class and drama when they were conducted on the railways. The machinery was more handsome, the surroundings more attractive, the pace more amenable and the standard of drama higher. As all connoisseurs of the surprisingly extensive literature on the subject will know, the best Victorian railway disasters do not consist merely of an unexpected bang in the night. They are preceded by a moment of the highest dramatic pathos and irony. The station staff discover that they have sent the Down Mail into the same section of track as the Up Express. It is too late to stop either train. They can only wait in anguish for the awful distant rumble which will signal the consummation of the now inevitable head-on collision. I imagine similar painful sentiments are now preoccupying the person who first waved a green flag at that doom-laden chariot of our local political gods, the Through Train. The more you look at this idea, the more unlikely it seems. Consider what is required if the British and Chinese governments are to agree that the Legco elected in 1995 should serve until 1999. They have to come up with a system of elections which is acceptable to the Brits for a British territory inhabited mainly by British citizens. And two years later this system has to be acceptable in all its details for the Chinese government's contemplation in a Chinese territory full of Chinese citizens. It is like asking an architect to produce a building which can be used for two years as an Urban Council abattoir, and then without the slightest conversion go into business as a luxury hotel. One does not expect success. The fact that the attempt is made at all is surprising. How did we get stuck with this ambitious idea? The Hong Kong Government has always had a small blind spot in one area: questions on which the Legislative Council does not represent public opinion - it represents its own interest. This leads to occasional difficulty in explaining decisions on things like expense accounts, parking privileges, helicopter rides and overseas jaunts. Most councillors no doubt sincerely believe that it would not be in the public interest for them to be hoofed off the council in 1997. We all like to think we are indispensable. The fact remains that an election in 1997 would interrupt, and possibly terminate, their enjoyment of the pleasures and privileges of Legco membership. Faced with such a strong incentive their views are rather predictable. Now clearly there are some Hong Kong institutions which must straddle 1997, like the police, the civil service, the courts, and so on. Equally clearly there are some which cannot, like the Governor, the Political Adviser's Office and the Black Watch. The question is which category Legco comes in. It cannot be seriously argued that life in Hong Kong will come to a standstill if the council is not in session. After all it disappears for four months of the year anyway. If the new SAR government had to hold its own elections, then hot air production could still resume on the normal schedule in October. No doubt there will be some concern that the people on it will not be the same ones, but that depends. If the elections in 1995 are fair, open and effective in reflecting Hong Kong opinion, then elections which meet the same standards in 1997 will returna similar group of people. If the Basic Law is going to be interpreted in a way which does not produce elections which meet these standards, then we might as well find this out as soon as possible. At least, in 1997, Hong Kong people will still know what those standards are.