Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width!
That’s from a 1960’s TV sitcom, but please don’t look it up, as it will feed your paranoia about stereotyping. It came to mind during an interesting chat this morning about the topic for this newsletter as we try to avoid mentioning Brexit, Boris Johnson and Coronavirus. The issue, of course, is the huge cost of HS2 and whether that money should be spent on hospitals or more cops. Someone else pointed out that it’s only going on the old credit card, anyway, and this year’s savings would hardly make a dent in supporting the NHS or elsewhere.
The question, is, therefore, not the money, but the need. Do we need a fast track to the North in order to feed the proposed Northern Powerhouse? And what do we do with all these buzzing businessman decamping from the trains in large number on some farmland miles out of the local City Centre?
Many people say the money would be better spent on upgrading current capacity – but the gridlock caused by freight, local and express service all trying to use the same bit of track almost certainly contributed to Northern Rail becoming renationalised. Local travellers can all point to the frustrations of trying to cross the Pennines to get to work.
HS2 will not solve current problems. It’s still some time away before it will come into operation. Within that time scale, though we will see a complete revolution in personal and short haul transportation. Car ownership will decline because of the low cost of subsidised autonomous ground vehiclesand low capacity and frequent aerial transport using VTOL capabilities dumping you, within minutes, in the heart of your destination . The Railway System we developed for the World in the 1830s lasted over 150 years before it started to creak – we have to look ahead to the next 150 years and plant an enduring legacy for the future. It’s not Buck Rogers type Science Fantasy – it’s already happening elsewhere.
A final comment, though. In the Victorian era the cities of the North, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Liverpool, were the PowerHouses. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say – 'London – what would you want to go there for?'
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