I have been comparing two maps of the British Isles, 1937 and 2010. Black spidery lines criss-crossing the whole of the country in 1937, railway links connecting places that one could visit at any time. Seated in a compartment sharing small talk with other passengers. People passing backwards and forwards along a corridor separated from sitting, communicating citizens. The pleasure as a young boy leaning out of a window feeling my eyes filling with gritty soot from a labouring, smoking, puffing engine. The magic of past pleasures taking me and my family to the seaside for a day, a week, a lifetime. So it seemed.
Those black spidery lines have almost disappeared in 2010, so has most of the pleasure of train travel. I read now of a ‘high speed’ rail link joining the north to the south? Did we not have this in the past? Why would I like to hurtle along at 200 miles an hour to save precious minutes. More to the point why would I gallop along at such speeds just to visit London, when it takes me three hours to travel by train to Whitby? At one time I could get there in three quarters of an hour with interesting stops on the way.
We are led to believe that there is a north south divide, particularly where finance and industry is concerned. In the past most of our industry was based in the Midlands or in the North East.
Will a so called ‘high speed’ rail link reverse the trend? Will Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds etc regain their once proud prominence in industrial terms? Hardly, one has to say. Why do we need massive amounts of money to be spent on this folly. Naturally this country is being compared to France, Spain and Germany regarding the use of rapid surface transportation. If we look back on recent history we find that both France and Germany had very little choice in the matter of renewing their rail infrastructure thanks to ourselves and the Americans who destroyed the better part of it.
But I can see the advantages of building a rail link along the eastern side of the country, whereas I see very little benefit of a high speed link to the west and through the Midlands. Even if and when it finally reaches York it would still be of dubious benefit to those towns on the east coast.
Sorry Mr Cameron, you have your priorities wrong, this country requires a better understanding of the problems facing a lack of investment in this, the forgotten zone.