Monday, December 20, 2010

Vanity projects

Despite desperate economic circumstances and cut backs in government spending, the government is pushing ahead with plans to spend untold billions of public money on a "high speed" rail link between London and Birmingham.

The fact is that there is already a perfectly good railway link between London and Birmingham - the problem it has is that it has been neglected and allowed to decay for the best part of twenty years or so. This rail link - in good condition - is quite capable of supporting trains capable of very high speed, but I'd question if there is even a need for such a high speed link at all.

All people really want from their trains is that they depart when they are supposed to, arrive when they are scheduled to and are reasonably clean and comfortable while doing so. They're not really bothered whether it takes an hour or fifty minutes - what bothers people is when they are told it will take one hour and it ends up taking an hour and ten minutes and they miss their connection or appointment.

Rather than wasting money on new projects, the people would be better served by a government that ensured that the existing infrastructure was fit for purpose and delivering the service people want. Spending billions we haven't got on infrastructure we neither need or want is just sheer vanity.


Mike Spilligan said...

Agreed entirely - except the last sentence should read: Spending billions we haven't got ....

William Gruff said...

I'm trying to buy tickets to travel south for Christmas and it's a bloody nightmare. None of the local stations have ticket offices, I've no idea whether I can buy the tickets we want from the conductor on the train and calling National Rail Enquiries, which used to be based in Newcastle upon Tyne, now gets yet another robotic half-wit in India, to whom everything must be explained at least three times and from whom one almost always learns nothing one needs to know.

Stan said...

Thanks for spotting that, Mike - fixed now.

Good luck with that, WG. I had a similar call centre experience myself when trying to sort out a broadband issue back in the autumn. What should have taken one call and fifteen minutes ending up requiring more than a dozen different calls (never speaking to the same person twice) and took six weeks. Progress, eh?