High Speed UK

Here’s a fabulous idea, create a pilot, high speed rail route from London to Cardiff:

  • Firstly, the UK government moves away from the idea of private-public partnership and decides to build a 320km/h rail link from London to Cardiff.
  • The revenue is raised by increasing VAT by 0.1% and uses the increase in revenue to fund the building and maintenance project over a 10 year period.
  • The selected rail operator then gets to run the route over a 10 year period, paying the government for the contract and usage of the track (this is normal practise at the moment anyway).
  • After five years study, a conclusion is drawn up whether or not to expand the project elsewhere in the UK.



Benefits:

  • The funding of the project comes from a relatively small increase in VAT, does not cost the government anything additional to collect, and the 0.1% increase could also be used to fund other, nationally benefiting projects (i.e. improved infrastructure).
  • The line should effectively pay for itself over a longer period of time – take the French system as a good example.
  • Improved travel time between major cities
  • With improved infrastructure, the M4 motorway could become a toll road, and with a high-speed rail link, the argument of having no alternative goes away.
  • As a "pilot" project there is nothing to lose. The government can claim it is improving infrastructure, trying to cut carbon emissions, and if the pilot project is considered a "failure" the West of England and Wales still has a fast rail link across the country.
  • The UK gets TGV or ICE.

Downsides:

  • This is the UK
  • NIMBY (Not in my backyard)
  • Too much of a "tradition" to block good ideas
  • I am sure there are many more downsides that people will find, but I will not go on.

I still like the idea of raising VATh by 0.1% to fund improved infrastructure projects 🙂

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