Britain must build a network of high-speed rail lines by 2020 to prevent existing services from being overwhelmed by demand, and provide a greener alternative to air travel, the chief executive of Network Rail has told The Times.

Iain Coucher is proposing three new lines operating at up to 200mph: from London to Glasgow via Birmingham and Manchester; London to Edinburgh via Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne; and London to Cardiff via Bristol.

He will commission a detailed study soon into possible routes for a network that is likely to cost more than £50 billion to complete.

Given the British record on such infrastructure projects, shall we try £150 billion?

Still want to try it?

 

11 thoughts on “How Much?”

  1. Sure, sounds like a good idea.

    The question is, can we learn anything from the C19 American experience? If we do it the way James J Hill did, then go for it. If it’s going to be a repeat of the Big Four, then forget it.

  2. If he can raise £50-150 billion privately then good luck but if he is looking for my tax money he can **** off.
    I wonder if the railways would be “overwhelmed by demand” if they were not heavily subsidised.

  3. Actually, a high speed train consumes about the same amount of energy as a car or a plane. Since Greenpeace wants no nuclear energy, then we are looking at a solution that produces the same CO2 for another 150 billion 🙂

  4. If there really is an economic demand and benefit from all this rushing about at high speed, wouldn’t users (rather than the taxpayer) be prepared to pay for it?

    It always amazes me that travel and transport are seen as a ‘good thing’ per se, requiring lots of taxpayers money. If it’s so valuable to people, they will pay for it. If they won’t, it isn’t.

  5. “Actually, a high speed train consumes about the same amount of energy as a car or a plane”

    Actually, it doesn’t – about 4x less than a typical plane on the same journey, and also about 4x less than a single-occupant car. Roger Kemp’s survey was slightly misleading in itself, and very very misleadingly reported.

    Re overruns – HS1 (CTRL) cost £4.8bn to go 110km – i.e. about £50m per route-km all-in. 250km to Cardiff via Bristol; 700km to Glasgow via Manchester and Brum; and 650km to Edinburgh via Newcastle is a total of 1600km, suggesting a total cost of £80m including overruns if we’ve learned nothing from the HS1 project.

    In fact, that figure is likely to be an understatement, because a large percentage of HS1 is in tunnel through London / under the Thames. The new lines would obviously also require London tunnels, but a much higher proportion of the length would be in open countryside (there also wouldn’t be the c.£1bn cost of refurbing St Pancras to consider – the HS terminus would be much duller and cheaper…)

  6. £150 billion is surely an underestimate. Even assuming that figure, it works out at 60% of the cost of a Tata Nano for every household in the UK. And that’s before you pay the rail fares.

    As an alternative I suggest we spend the money on sending a “hemi-Nano” voucher to each house. You can cash it in, club together with your neighbour to buy a whole Nano, or the whole street could get together and buy a Merc to share.

  7. “Britain must build a network of high-speed rail lines by 2020 to prevent existing services from being overwhelmed by demand, and provide a greener alternative to air travel, the chief executive of Network Rail has told The Times.”

    Wouldn’t the greener alternative be to dig up the rails and put coaches on them, seeing how they pay for the CO2 they produce (and some)?

  8. john b – only an idiot would say something is “4x less” when they mean a quarter as much.

    A moment’s thought will illustrate this. 2 is a fifth of 10. It is also 4x (4 x 2 = 8 and 10 less 8 is 2) less than 10. So if you describe something as having a a value “4x” less than something else, you are saying that its value is one fifth.

    I though you probably meant “a quarter of” when you erroneously said “4x less”, which is why I asked the question.

    If you are going to provide a statistical argument, it does help if you have some rudimentary knowledge of mathematics. Unless, of course, you’re Polly Toynbee in disguise.

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