Simon Calder: A rethink on the HS2 route would be wise
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 07 January 2012
Australian railway engineers celebrated the new century by building 900 miles of new track across the Northern Territory in two years flat. In crowded, complicated Britain there is nothing high-speed about building a 21st-century high-speed line.
But by the mid-2020s Britain should have a piece of transport infrastructure of which to be proud. The land that gave railways to the world will regain some long-lost credibility, people will win time, and the hard-pressed West Coast Main Line will gain some respite.
All good? Sadly, not. The reason the Victorian railway builders were so successful was that they ran lines not just between big cities but via large towns. The chosen route steers away from existing population centres. Milton Keynes and Oxford are astride the main road and rail corridors between London and Birmingham. When HS2 ploughs through the Chilterns, they may be sidelined. Just ask the people of Maidstone, left high, dry and slow by HS1 to the Channel Tunnel. While looking again at the route will add more delay, it could prove time well spent.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...