England's high speed railway link between London and Birmingham is to go ahead, according to the Telegraph, with tunnels through the most highly disputed areas of the countryside between London and Birmingham. Parliament still has to vote on the matter, but as Labour is also committed to the high speed link, it is likely to leap that hurdle with little problem.
Cheryl Gillan, SoS for Wales, who, for some unknown reason has her constituency in that Buckinghamshire, has previously, somewhat rashly, threatened to resign if the scheme went ahead. It remains to be seen whether the tunnels, (at an estimated £190,000 extra a yard) are long enough and deep enough to appease her and save her job, her face and her ministerial Mondeo!
Anyone who has travelled on the Continent, through Spain, France, Italy and Germany, the high speed trains are, if you're used to UK trains, simply amazing. You can get on a train in the North of Sweden and get off in the South of Portugal, Greece, Italy, having enjoyed a smooth and comfortable ride, with good service, in hours and having travelled through 3 or 4 countries on the way. And you can travel up to England from Brussels or Paris in the same comfort... but there it ends.
Anywhere north of London and you are back to dirty bone shakers running over Victorian track with antiquated signalling and the inevitable delays. And north of Edinburgh, even on intercity routes, you are relegated to diesel trains!
Back in the 1970s, Europe realised that there was a need for fast efficient rail connection between major cities. The UK preferred to develop a road system. And in the '80, the network developed across the Continent. But Mrs Thatcher didn't like trains, as you can see from the map.
I support the UK government's decision to go ahead. Britain has to catch up with the rest of the world at some point and the English Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said that the £38 billion line is just the foundation for a high speed network Britain wide.
The English transport department MUST take notice of the National Audit Office's findings on how the Civil Service negotiates contracts with private companies.
The £38 million could easily double or triple over the time scale set for building this railway, the first stage of which is set to be completed in 2026.
Oh, by the way, does anyone know why is it going to take 14 years to build this little bit of railway?