Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins hits out at the “selfish nimbies” objecting to HS2
All I can say about the release of details of the second stage of the desperately needed high-speed rail link, between Birmingham to Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield is that – it’s about time!
The project is an extension of the already announced HS1 line, with 250mph trains cutting the journey from London to Birmingham to 49 minutes, with construction due to commence in 2017.
So far all I have heard are reasons why we shouldn’t embark on this ambitious public infrastructure project, and quite honestly I am staggered. For a country that in most aspects of science and technology leads the world, let alone our European neighbours, we should be ashamed that, when it comes to getting about our island, we are still pretty much living in the 19th century. I say ‘pretty much’ since, by some contemporary reports, the original steam-powered network regularly delivered people from London to the industrial north faster than it does today.
We are a laughing stock! Old lines, old technology, and poor service. Our railways have been behind the times since the 1960s, and it’s not only embarrassing but it’s also costing the economy a fortune.
Basically we need to sort ourselves out a better way to get around, and soon. Already the French speed around their countryside in excess of 320 km/hr, and even if things run to the current timetable HS2 won’t be fully completed until 2032.
Those who argue that it’s just not worth the expense are foolhardy and short sighted and fail to take into account the cost of the counterfactual. That being the day when the UK’s transport system cannot any longer be held together by piecemeal measures. Come this day and the cost to the economy may well be terminal!
Already our motorways are falling apart, and dangerous, as millions of cars fight for space with juggernauts. And when we do finally get around to deciding how and where exactly we are going to put our expanded airport capacity in the south east, we will desperately need the ability to efficiently move people to other parts of the country.
I am also told there are many more objections on environmental grounds, which just has me banging my head on the desk. When I want to fly somewhere the green lobby tells me I should go on a train, and the same goes for when I gas up the Bentley and head for the countryside. So why object to a proposal that would reduce reliance on roads and internal air travel, and replace the horrible diesel guzzling inter-city locomotives we are currently using? It seems to me this is just another example of a bunch of selfish ‘nimbies’ with nothing better to do.
There are so many good reasons to get on with building this new rail system that I feel I barely need to mention the fact that a project on this kind of scale could not only help our ailing economy in the short-term, but also be the powerhouse that drives growth for a century, just like the original Victorian railway experiment.
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