I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. My usually faultless moral compass is in a spin.
What’s sending it haywire? The UK government’s proposed investment in high speed rail between London and the North.
A massive investment in public transport – £32 billion – it would cut journey times to and from the capital considerably, to the benefit of the economies of the great Northern cities such as Manchester and York.
No doubt I would personally benefit too, being a fairly regular rail traveller from Manchester to London. So what’s the problem?
Well, whilst I can only applaud the fact that so much money is being found for rail transport in our age of of cut-backs, I think this particular scheme is deeply misguided.
The fact is that it’s a great idea but it’s at least 50 years too soon.
There are so many more pressing needs for investment in the North’s rail and light rail infrastructure that this is a bouquet of flowers to a starving man. An expensive gesture that completely fails to address the need.
The fact is that, if I can afford it, I can get from Manchester to London by train in just over 2 hours anyway. What’s the big deal?
There is an alternative way to cut the time it takes me to get to London though; improve the speed and regularity of my local service to the city centre. It’s only once an hour and it doesn’t even go direct to Piccadilly Station where trains to London run from.
And, thinking about it, that would considerably speed up my daily commute too! And also the daily commute of tens of thousands of other people!! And if you spread £32bn across the North it would benefit hundreds of thousands of people every day, probably millions of people!!! And the money would actually be spent in the North, so that must be even better for the economies of our great Northern cities!!!!
Why didn’t those silly billies think of that when they were planning all this, down in London?