Wednesday, 9 March 2011

High Speed Rail: Are We On The Right Track?

Last week saw trains hit the headlines. Should we rip up great swathes of our pleasant pastures to make way for a new super fast train that would get people from Birmingham to London in less time it takes the man on the other end of the phone to calculate the cheapest rail fair from Birmingham to Biggleswade based on a long list of complex route and time of day permeations that I would challenge anyone but Stephen Hawking to understand?

Now, like most things commonly associated with rail travel in Britain, this blog is late. But I have an excuse. I was actually on a train for most of the working week. And, unless I was willing to pay the equivalent of a return flight to Dubai, I couldn't write a blog as the man sitting half on top of me / half next to me would have dropped his pasty crumbs onto my laptop and set it on fire.

And herein lies the problem. However fast the new train goes, there will still be other people on it. For most of us, sitting at spaghetti junction for a week or two in an overheated Ford KA is infinitely more bearable than sitting underneath the arm pit of Bob from Brighton who has a penchant for Wotsits for breakfast.

As I see it, Britain is so poor that we all have to have full time jobs to enable us to pay enough taxes to keep the bankers in Bollinger and in our spare time we need to volunteer to clean park benches to save the country money in the name of The Big Society.

Unlike some, I'm not anti the high speed rail link. There's a good chance it will be good for my business but I do wonder whether, given the fact that we appear to be more debt ridden than Kerry Katona we should revert to the old principle of make do and mend.

For example, on most trains things have got so bad that seats have become an actual luxury. I am not sure why but us Brits don't feel the need to complain that we have given Richard Branson £120 to stand up all the way from New Street to Euston.

And if you think getting a seat is bad - you should try going to the toilet. On every carriage there is at least one person who only goes on the train to experience a mobile bathroom. I am not sure what unspeakable act they are performing in there - I just know that the occupied light stays on for 20 mins at a time and I am always the one to follow them in.

I have thought long and hard about this and I think I have cracked it. How about we make the trains bigger? Call me mad but I think this could work. Not sure what a couple of carriages cost but I am thinking it must be less than £17billion.

Seriously, if the Government wants to get more of us on the train, seating us would be a start and the further away from Bob's armpits the better. Which is why the quiet carriage should also be shelved. Ditch that for a section where no cheese and / or onion products are permitted and the loo doors open after 5 minutes - and we won't care how long we are on the train.

If I am right I will have saved both the Chilterns and the country's coffers and might yet be the most influential PR person in British politics since Mr Campbell himself. First stop Birmingham - final destination number 10?


Post a Comment