Skip to main content

19th century Rail

As the high speed rail link is finally tested between Paris and London, it is certainly progress to report that the journey time between the two capitals is now set to be 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, it is rather depressing to report that the average speeds into London on other railway lines are now slower than they were in 1910! I am sure that the Victorian engineers that had such vision to create the network in the first place would be astonished to find that it takes five minutes longer to get from Richmond to Waterloo, for example, than it did 100 years ago..

Mind you, across the UK, we seem to be missing the vision to create an effective and efficient transport system. Partly this is put down to cost. The price of land and other inputs makes investing in infrastructure a far more expensive proposition per mile of track than it is in France, for example. On the other hand the UK is half the area of France, so any high speed track is likely to be more densely used. Nevertheless it is frustrating to note that London is linked by a high speed line only to Paris and Brussels, whereas Paris is linked to at least ten other destinations- and the number is growing rapidly. It can surely not be long before taking the train to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport seems a better bet than transiting the squalid corridors of Heathrow- and at what cost to British jobs?

In there was a single French-style 200 mph high speed line from London to Aberdeen, for example, it would only take about two and a half hours to get between the two cities. Edinburgh would be an hour and twenty minutes from London, and Newcastle barely an hour. Instead the rail service from Aberdeen, even the Express, takes over 7 hours to King's Cross. Even the plane, city centre to city centre takes nearly four hours.

Once, we could have argued that investment in motorways was more justified than in rail. Now, however we have inadequate motorways, inadequate railways, and mostly even our airports look tatty, tired and seedy. Driving across France over the summer, there is still new investment going into French infrastructure. In the UK, however investment in infrastructure, the new terminals at Heathrow aside, whether public or private has essentially ground to a halt.

Hard to believe that there won't be serious consequences for British competitiveness.


Anonymous said…
Phew for a second Cicero I thought you were going to blame Putin again

Devil's Kitchen said…
"I am sure that the Victorian engineers that had such vision to create the network in the first place..."

I am sure that the private companies that built and funded the network would be equally surprised and disappointed.

However, that is what happens when the state takes over: far from investing in the infrastructure, governments prefer to spend its money on more headline-grabbing material.


P.S. Word verification: "furyxu"...
Cicero said…
DK- yep, tend to agree with that, well, not the word verification, obviously... :-)

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

In praise of off-shore tax havens

The last few years has seen a spate of "scandals" about the use of off-shore tax havens. The hacking and subsequent leaking of data about who does and does not hold assets in off-shore jurisdictions has become an old perennial in the British press, rather like the "COLD weather happens in winter and QUITE HOT weather happens in summer", whose alarmist capital letter laced headlines are such a lazy part of contemporary "journalism". 

The increasing sophistication of the hackers, whether Russian-inspired or not, has resulted in a steady trickle of information becoming a torrent. After the relatively filleted release of data in the so-called "Panama Papers", the data release of the "Paradise Papers" is even larger.  Of course, just natural curiosity dictates that the off-shore ownership, or even just "ownership", of assets is of general public interest.  Celebrities, from the Royal family to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys, are …