One of the rather smaller pieces of news this year has been the announcement of a High Speed Rail network in the UK. Smaller this is of course because despite this venture transforming how people are shuttled two and from work, it seems Riots, News of the World and the Royal Wedding have collectively pushed this interesting change in infrastructure well and truly into the middle pages.
The facts are it will cost £32bn, a cost which will be most likely shared between the Government and private firms, a mix that will mean a good oversight in how its being built and being built with good value for money. It will operate out of London to Manchester, and to Leeds via Birmingham. There are options to extend, but not as it stands. It will be completed in 2028/2032, Leeds scheduled to board the train at the latter date.
I rather oppose the High Speed rail network. I don't see the point and i consider it a high cost for something that won't see good use.
The UK has looked to countries such as France, China, Brazil and Germany with their High-Speed lines and wants in. You don't need to have a Phd in Geography to spot the flaw in these kind of comparisons. These countries far exceed the size of the UK. Geographically the UK is rather lucky that Leeds an Manchester can reach London already between an hour or two on existing train lines. Is slicing that time in half altogether worth it? Will people be pleased with the difference? Personally, i can reach Hull from St Albans in about 2 and a half hours and am very please about it. I reached the far reaches of Kent this summer in just over an Hour. I've reached London from St Albans in 15 Minutes. The speed of our services i think is already reasonable, for people that might have to once or twice a week visit the capital from Leeds, might accept the 2 hour commute, if it was wholly unacceptable wouldn't they just move?
Then we've got to consider the use of existing train lines. Aside from the notoriously busy London Underground and commuter trains in and out of London, are the trains that busy with commuters demanding faster speeds? I traveled cross-country from Peterborough to Stevenage (a train on its way to London) and i tell no lies, i had a carriage to myself. I have traveled before and it's been busy of course, but i've traveled at other times and it's been deadly quite. Outside of commuting times it has to be said, the 2pm from Hull to Doncaster i've been on my own before beside a few small kids who got off on route.
Finally, i disagree with the costs and time span. £32 billion doesn't seem to much compared to say the cost of hosting the Olympics or the size of our Governments debt. However that figure can be amended as time goes on and costs change - there's going to be a lot of inflation in the next twenty years. It could easily be £50bn at it's scheduled completion. By which time, will people still want it? Will it still have it's appeal? In 2030 cars will be more efficient and people might consider traveling in a car with good Miles per Gallon over paying £100 a ticket on the new trains. In 20 years peoples views can change, you've got to ask will people still want in 2032, let alone do they want it now?
The point of this venture is to try and move business away from the capital, Inshoring, is to encourage growth in areas far away from the capital which thrives from having the best transport networks. Geographically, Manchester isn't too far away, why not just split the money up into chunks of £1bn and hand it out to these struggling areas? Regeneration zones can probably provide the Governments aims. A screaming train, running on a dirty trainline that needs maintaining and manning, probably will not.