Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Network Rail Gets Ambition

Photo by Kabelleger

Network Rail have finally unveiled their plans for a High-Speed rail line running from London to Glasgow.

While it all sounds good, my concern is that a future government would decide it costs too much and try to throttle it half-way. For that reason, I'd like to see them start building it from the Glasgow end! (Yes, I'm aware that in reality they'll be building all over the place at the same time).

The feeling in the rail industry is that Network Rail lacks ambition in the way that British Rail did. They're seen as happy to maintain the tracks but aren't as willing to spend money on big-ticket projects. This will hopefully put that feeling to bed, although it's soul-destroying to note that they have a completion date of 2030.

Another of my hopes for this new line is that it virtually destroys the demand for internal airline flights, as it has done in Spain and France. The UK is small enough that no one should be flying internally anyway.


stewartbremner said...

I love this quote:

"If, as research suggests, up to three times as many passengers will be travelling on our railways by 2020, then it is important that we move quickly in planning today for the rail network of tomorrow," said Scotland's Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson.

Move quickly?

Richard T said...

Presumably you might exempt those of us who live on islands from your restriction on internal flights. It takes pretty well the whole day (leaving Kirkwall at 5.20) to get to Edinburgh by ferry and train; it's about 2 hours by air. I can't see any chance of a faster service.

Despairing said...

Stew, to be fair to Stewart Stevenson, the Waverley Line is moving at blistering pace...walking around searching for any track laid will give you blisters!

Richard, I was in the Shetlands last month and took the overnight ferry (we stopped in Kirkwall on the return journey). If you're visiting the islands on holiday or for a few days then there's why fly? Why not make the journey part of your holiday, as I did?

If you're travelling on business or absolutely positively have to be somewhere quickly then yes, flying to/from the islands is the only way. The saving grace is that the planes are mostly turboprops which are less polluting than jets.