So today the government has given the go ahead to the controversial high speed rail link that will be built between London and Birmingham at a whopping cost of £33billion for the 90 mile route, equating to about £336million per mile. There are a few crazy things about this.
The first phase of the high speed rail link will not be completed until 2026, some 14 years away. The rail link has been pushed through as it is said that it will boost the economy. Has anyone in government done a proper study on what the economy will be like in 14 years time? Do they really think business people will be spending all this time commuting to London or hopping on a train for a meeting? Have they not considered what the digital landscape will be like in 14 years time and that we will all be so used to having virtual meetings, video conferencing, and working remotely from home, that there won’t be this demand on the rail services as there are today. It’s hard to imagine what the digital revolution will bring in the next few years never mind over a decade.
The second phase of the high speed rail line will be extensions to Manchester and Leeds but not until 2033, that’s 21 years away. Crikey, by then my oldest son would be 32 and will probably be married, with kids and well into his career.
The rail link has been pushed as the “most significant transport infrastructure project since motorways” and will cut the journey time from London to Birmingham by 33 minutes (a billion pounds for each minute) down to 49 minutes from 1 hour 22 minutes … well worth the massive expense wouldn’t you say! The crazy thing is that because of all the objections that have sprung up there is now going to be nearly a quarter of the line (22.5 miles) in tunnels, so it will be unpleasant, ear popping and dead phone signal fun all round.
Why on earth haven’t the government used the investment to increase the number of carriages on the existing rail network, done more to stop cable theft and scrap metal dealers to reduce the delays, and then invested the billions in high speed broadband networks, Wifi areas, better power sources for the increasing demand on electricity from all these devices we are glued to and got 4G going.