Azara Blog: Britain might actually get around to building more train lines

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Date published: 2008/06/21

The BBC says:

Five new high-speed main lines crossing the width and breadth of the UK may be built as part of a review of the rail network, Network Rail says.

The network operator will announce on Monday it is to commission a study looking into what could be the largest track build since the 19th century.

The study will consider laying new lines alongside five of the UK's busiest routes by 2025.

They include the East Coast main line and West Coast main line.
Richard Dyer, transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "Expanding Britain's railways by building new high speed lines is potentially very exciting - and could play an important role in weaning Britain off fossil fuels and developing a low carbon economy."

The one thing that of course is not mentioned in the article is who is going to pay for this? For some reason, rail passengers always seem to think that someone else should subsidise their journey. And presumably these new rail lines will indeed be heavily subsidised by the taxpayer.

The Dyer comment is bizarre. For some reason some people seem to think that railways have something to do with a "low carbon" economy. These new trains will be powered by electricity and most electricity is still generated by extremely carbon intensive sources. Indeed, high-speed trains in particular consume a lot of electricity. Sure, some day most electricity might be generated by less carbon intensive sources. By then most cars could also well be electric, but you can bet your last pound that the FoE of the day will still campaign against cars and for trains.

In related jargon, no service which is subsidised by others can be deemed to be "sustainable", no matter what kind of energy it uses. It is extremely unlikely that any train service will ever be "sustainable", because no government is willing to force train users to pay the actual cost of their journeys.

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