Azara Blog: The Tories are allegedly plugging ahead with high-speed rail

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Date published: 2010/10/04

The BBC says:

The government will back plans for high-speed rail links to Manchester and Leeds, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

The planned new 250mph rail route between London and Birmingham aims to cut the journey time to 49 minutes.

North of Birmingham, ministers prefer plans for two lines - one to Manchester and one via the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
They say the new rail routes would reduce journeys from London to Leeds to 80 minutes - down from 140 minutes at present and from London to Manchester to 80 minutes from 128.
Mr Hammond said the scheme - estimated to cost £33bn - would "make rail the mode of choice for most inter-city journeys within the UK" and would change "the economic and social geography of Britain, connecting our great population centres and our international gateways together".

He said it would help rebalance economies that the government believed had become too dependent on the public sector - by encouraging business investment in regions which have been considered too far away from London.
Friends of the Earth spokesman Tony Bosworth said the government must ensure any new rail network led to an overall cut in carbon emissions from transport.

He said: "A fast and efficient electric high-speed rail system could help reduce domestic flights and car journeys, but it will only be a low-carbon travel alternative if it is powered by renewable energy."

The fact that the government has to massively fund this says already that it is uneconomic. And once again, for some bizarre reason, train passengers are successfully externalising the cost of their journeys onto the rest of society, which is a classic definition of an unsustainable practise. But high-speed rail sounds sexy, so the government falls into the trap of throwing billions of pounds of public money at it.

The government, along with the FoE spokesperson, do not even understand that this could well increase carbon emissions, rather than decrease them. It might reduce domestic flights and car journeys, but it will also create a whole new category of London commuters, who previously would have lived closer to London but now will be able to live way in the north of England. This is not a victory for the environment, it is a victory for London commuters to take over more of the country. If the London commuters paid for the privilege, then so be it, but they have not and are not and will not.

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