Its more of a hope than anything else. Tomorrow (06 Nov 2007) sees the opening of the reconstructed St Pancras station in London. Not only being the home to the UK International rail terminal, it will be the home to the first true high-speed rail line in the UK and the station itself will aim to be a focal point in London, a place to meet and eat. In 2009 the station will also be the terminal for the UK’s first domestic high-speed route. It is this specific aspect that is hoped will herald the dawn of a new age, a high-speed revolution.
This hope is shared by Chris Green, the Railway Forum chairman who told the BBC…
“HS1 is really a trailer for what we could be enjoying across the length of Britain,” says Chris Green, Railway Forum chairman. “It is the best way to get more long distance transport capacity and get the UK economy into better balance by bringing the North and South closer together.”
Having a working example, real-life anecdotes and some sort of positive press could provide a “viral” extension of the high-speed network. Even just concentrating on a few parallel routes to compliment existing ones (North West and North East to Scotland and West to Wales) would make a difference. Imagine being able to see that travellers going from Kent to London taking half the time to make a journey, in incomparable comfort, that the rest of the UK takes almost twice as long to make. At some point people will start asking questions as why they can’t have the same and why its only the South of England that has this type of thing. At least this is the hope, and it makes sense.
I would not be convinced that the UK needs anything more than three further high-speed routes that take in a huge swathe of the population, with perhaps an additional route between Edinburgh and Glasgow. One step at a time, but at least this appears to be a step in the right direction.