Azara Blog: Tories want to blow billions of pounds on high-speed trains

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Date published: 2006/12/28

The BBC says:

The Conservatives are to look at the possibility of introducing 300mph magnetic levitation trains to the UK.

The party said it would also study whether high-speed rail links like those in France were feasible.

Shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling said it was important to develop new technology to "help our battle against global warming".

He also said a dedicated freight route between ports, the Channel Tunnel and business centres would be examined.

The Tories said it was discussing options with other groups, including the high speed rail panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers to provide an independent assessment of the options.

Last month the Institution of Civil Engineers said that spending public money on introducing Maglev magnetic levitation trains in the UK would be "inappropriate and irresponsible" as it was "not yet a mature technology".
And Sir Rod Eddington, a former British Airways chief executive, said in his report on transport requirements this month that a new north-south high-speed rail link was a low priority.

The Conservative Party said it would look into constructing:

Mr Grayling said: "Transport is one of Britain's big headaches.
He added: "Any of the three options we are looking at would be expensive, and would probably need to be developed in phases in the way our motorway network was.

"But we would not be doing our job properly if we were not looking at the longer term as well as short- term challenges."

Dear oh dear, the new Tories are rather like old Labour. They only need to mention the "white heat of technology" and we will be back to the 1960s, with government deciding what should be technology winners. Although some high-speed trains might make economic sense, the case is not nearly so clear-cut as in France, because Britain (or at least the populated part of Britain) is so much more compact. And, for example, although few French people would consider commuting every day from Lyon to Paris (although there is a good high-speed train service), if the UK put in a high-speed link between Manchester and London you can guarantee there would be loads more people commuting every day between the two cities. Perhaps Mr Grayling could explain how these zillions of extra train miles "help our battle against global warming". It is an unfortunate tendency of the UK ruling elite (including most of the so-called environmentalists) to believe that train travel is somehow environmentally friendly, almost by definition, although it is not.

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