Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

National conciousness and the megaproject

Posted in Great Britain, High Speed, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 14 March 2010

Something has occured to me as I continue to think about High Speed 2, and that is the degree that the British people can see beyond their own vested interests. When was the last time that the British people got squarely behind a vast national megaproject, seeing the benefit for the whole country rather than simply “what can this do for me personally?”. The French, for all their great individual grumpiness, have this way of still getting squarely behind their own national interests; in this way they’ve built an extensive high speed rail network, as well as independently developing their own SLBM system (whatever you may think about nuclear weapons, you cannot deny the achievement of a country the size of France being able to develop both the weapon and delivery systems completely independently). Would it be possible for Britain to do this as quickly as the French? Given the fact that, assuming High Speed 2 gets through the planning process without mishap, it will still be 2017 before construction begins, the answer is no. This is even in spite of the local benefits that High Speed 2 would bring, through freeing up space on the existing network to run many more local trains through it not being necesssary to run as many intercity trains. This gets more people onto the trains and off the roads, which is what everyone wants.

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