The contemplates

16.10.09 contemplates … Lord Adonis

Lord Adonis’ announcement in the summer seeking all party support for a high speed train alternative to domestic flights is of great interest, but it puts me in mind of a thought provoking article published in Eurotransport magazine earlier this year.  The reasoning by Cat Hobbs, of Campaign for Better Transport, explained that Government policy is loaded against the train (and bus for that matter) compared with the plane (and the car).

She states that “Public transport has enormous potential to help the Government cut carbon emissions from transport through modal shift, but this won't happen when fares are high and rising. The economic incentives are pushing people in the wrong direction.”

An example is the journey from London to Scotland where the plane can often be cheaper than the train, even though it produces around seven times more carbon.  In these days of austerity cost is king and carbon targets take second place.  There needs to be an economic incentive with no loss of time and a focus on the quality of passenger experience - leg room, business carriages for mobile and laptop use, cleanliness and no hanging about in departure lounges!

Meanwhile the High Speed Rail debates intensifies…..At a High Speed Rail Summit in London in mid September a lobby group emerges to establish a link for the 11 cities forming this group. With distances between them varying between 25 miles and 100+ miles not all are likely to be included. Ian Coucher of Network Rail rightly suggests that there should be a minimum distance between HS stations in excess of 100 miles. The determination for this project seems to be there from the government with Lord Adonis suggesting that detailed routes and options will be produced by the year end.

And, a thought to leave you with; can our planning and public consultation system deliver an approved route for a high speed train within two decades?