March 31, 2016
Last week, the UK Government passed the latest bill to pave the way for the creation of HS2, the high speed rail line that will initially connect London with Birmingham and later cities like Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds. Most of the criticisms of the line are focussed on its financial and environmental costs, impact on the wider rail network and (frankly poor) design. We can grant the project’s proponents all of their arguments countering those points and still we are left with a perhaps more fundamental problem. We are now committed to creating a train that will monopolise the resources available to public transport for the next twenty years and exist for more than a hundred, but without considering the world in which it will arrive. I’d go further and suggest that even as its tracks are laid, the world around it will already have left it behind, leaving it as an impressive but doomed testament to hubris, old tech and failure of imagination.