There has been a number of articles in the news in the past while about the forthcoming development of high-speed rail in the UK (most recently this one). And for those who don’t know what high-speed rail is, it’s rail transport that goes at a very high speed.
The rest of the world has it, and the UK has lagged about a century behind, apart from one small stretch in the south-east of England connecting to the Channel Tunnel.
The plan, it seems to be emerging, is for a link to be built in stages, probably London to Birmingham first, then perhaps – and ideally – a split into western and eastern lines that would take in the big cities of northern England and finish up in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
It will be many years before the work starts, and many, many years until it reaches Scotland, as the above article notes.
Many other countries throughout the world have high-speed rail and have had it for ages. It’s helping people get places faster than old-skool rail, and more comfortably and environmentally than by air.
So I am all in favour; and it’s great to see some movement from the UK government on this front at last, largely via the brilliant Lord Adonis whose passion for a world-class transport infrastructure, and admission that privatisation is why we’re decades behind other countries, makes him one of the few decent politicians Labour has got.
But of course, the chances of high-speed rail going further north of Glasgow or Edinburgh are probably somewhere between laughable and zero, which is a real shame as it will see Scotland being left behind.
On Wednesday, I am off to Edinburgh for work for a few days, and it’s a journey of three hours and fifteen minutes (at best) on line which is often single track and barely faster than the traffic on the A9. It will seem a long way away from the much-vaunted advantages of high-speed rail travel. Further, even, than it seems for the rest of the UK.