High Speed to a Costly Mistake: An open Letter to the UK Parliamant’s Secretary of State for Transport

Subject: High Speed to a Costly Mistake: An open Letter to the UK Parliamant’s Secretary of State for Transport
From: Edward Crane
Date: 4 Feb 2013

Dear Patrick McLoughlin

You have now unveiled the routes of the high-speed rail links to be built in the North of England. You claim that these will boost jobs, and that the 250mph trains will slash journey times and boost regional businesses, closing the North-South divide. I understand that because this is so essential for the recovery of an economy that you have called “stagnant”, the public consultation will be fast-tracked.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is bringing forward public consultation on the plans to later this year in a bid to fast-track the controversial project.
I am not in favour of the plans, not because they will upset Nimbys (Not In My Back Yard) in constituencies where the lines will run, but because they are so incredibly expensive and the detail of just how they will turn the country’s economic fortunes around are vague.

At best, and assuming that the lines are built, the journey times between some cities will be halved. London to Manchester in just over an hour. Brilliant. But just what will that extra hour be used for? These are passenger trains, not freight trains, so how will getting a businessman (not his wares) to a city quicker boost his or her business? Have you not heard of the internet? Most people buy their goods and services from the internet these days, or has that escaped you? High speed trains will not deliver dvds, furniture, food or DIY goods to your door. The internet was originally called the Information Super Highway. But it is also a business super highway. Linking sellers and buyers and then arranging got the goods to be despatched. Not by high speed train link, but by road.

The age of high speed railways would be great for holidays, visiting relatives, and sightseeing, but for the conveyance of goods, the money would be better spent on an innovative and new vision for Britain’s roads. Not for cars, but for lorries. They carry more goods than the railways, and should be the focus of the future. Apart from leisure, railways, whether steam, diesel, high speed or whatever, are not what the country needs. Railways are not the transport of commerce. Roads are. And the sooner you realise that, the sooner we can begin to plan to get our businesses thriving again.

There are developments across the world for the new metal that is lighter and stronger than any previously made. This can be used for a new generation of electric lorries that will cleanly and silently speed goods to their destinations. This is all do-able within the time frames set for the laborious construction of new railway lines across the North.
Please consider these arguments now and when the public consultation begins!