Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Coordination, that’s what you need

Posted in Europe, High Speed by Chairman Pip on 11 June 2010

The news released today that France, Spain and Portugal plan to coordinate the development of their high speed rail networks can be welcomed, given the financial difficulties being suffered by all. We all know the extent of France’s network, while Spain’s is the most rapidly expanding in Europe. Portugal meanwhile plans to build a high speed line to connect Lisbon with a line being built on the other side of the border from Madrid. By coordinating their efforts to corridors that are most used, it stops money (that realistically isn’t available) being spent haphazardly. Indeed, SNCF have admitted that parts of the TGV network were built for political reasons rather than that they were geuinely needed transport arteries. Basing the construction on need rather than political points scoring will save money both in the short and long term. As part of the proposal, the three countries will also set up a new international rail operator between their three national operators (SNCF, RENFE and CP) along similar lines to Thalys, which again is a cost saver, as it ensures one voice, one fleet, one set of costs for international travel between France, Spain and Portugal. Perhaps the British government should consider entering into such an agreement with its neighbours in regard to constructing the British high speed network. Given that France, Begium, Germany and the Netherlands are all now within reasonable travelling times of a large part of Great Britain, it would make sense for High Speed 2 Ltd (in lieu of a national operator) to come to agreements with SNCF, NMBS/SNCB, Deutsche Bahn and Nederlandse Spoorwegen over similar coordination.

“Spain, Portugal and France agree on high-speed rail”

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