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Anorak | We don’t want more trains are useless; we want 21st Century technology

We don’t want more trains are useless; we want 21st Century technology

by | 29th, May 2018

We have another of those calls from people who would spend our money for us. They’d like lots of it all to be spent upon trains. Lots of ’em, to cover the country with railway lines. There are problems with this idea, two of them being pretty obvious. Trains are a 19th century technology. It’s really more than a little odd to be pushing them quite so hard here as solutions to our 21 st century problems. The other is that they’re concentrating upon moving people around when that’s not the problem at all, freight is.

But, you know, they get to have fun arguing about how to spend other peoples’ money:

The UK risks becoming too reliant on HS2 to plug the gap in its national transport strategy, analysts have warned.

Transport thinktank Greengauge 21 has said that in order to develop a truly “national” strategy, the UK needs to move away from the “hub-and-spoke” model centred on London to a network that links together upgraded city centre “hub” stations.

It suggests that instead of forming a “Y” shape that will link London with Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, HS2 should instead form an “X” shape with a new connection in the West Midlands, allowing trains to operate from Bristol and Cardiff to places in the Midlands, the North and Scotland.

Well, that does rather depend upon the idea that there are people in Bristol who would like to go to the Midlands. People who would but won’t currently, given the necessity of going toward London then taking a left. Or, perhaps, up the M5 and right.

High-speed rail connecting all of the UK mainland by 2050 would put ‘rocket fuel in Britain’s economy’, a leading transport think tank has said.

The proposed plan would be a further development of HS2 (High Speed 2) which is the new high-speed rail linking London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, due to be operational by 2026.

The ambitious proposal by a UK think tank is to extend the HS2 line and create 1,000 miles (1,600km) of new rail network that will ‘reach all parts of the country’.

Quite why this would invigorate the economy isn’t really known. For we do that by adding value. What we build must be worth more than what it costs us to build it. And HS2 itself doesn’t even manage that. The reason being that we’ve all got other methods of both communicating and travelling now. Cars, sure, but the internet and mobile phones have reduced the value gained by faster rail journeys.

Fast train sets just aren’t worth building that is.

It would also cut road traffic and shrink a long-standing productivity gap with countries such as Germany, Italy and France, the group believes.

But wasting money on something not worth it reduces productivity, not increases it.

Now, it is about possible that more freight railway work would be worthwhile. It’s a bit difficult to say in a country as small as Britain actually, but it’s possible. But more passenger rail? It’s simply not worth it, doesn’t cover the cost of building it.

So, obviously, we shouldn’t go build it, should we?



Posted: 29th, May 2018 | In: News, The Consumer Comment | TrackBack | Permalink