3 thoughts on “High Speed 2 and the logic of collective action”

  1. Posted 19/08/2013 at 13:24 | Permalink

    It may be true that the public policy debates will tend to be dominated by those with an axe to grind; but that doesn’t explain why civil servants and elected politicians, who are surely supposed to be acting on behalf of the whole community, should pay much attention to them. There seems to be an assumption that most democratic politicians would willingly sell their grandmothers for a few more votes at the next election. If that is true, it is a sorry reflection on our times. There’s an interesting passage in Nevil Shute’s autobiography ‘Slide Rule’, where he raises the question why Air Ministry officials, who (he says) must have known that quite abnormal and unjustifiable risks were being taken with the experimental airship R.101, failed to speak up when the question of the issue of a certificate of airworthiness was under discussion. His own answer is that the men in question put their jobs before their duty. Shute goes on to speculate that maybe none of those men had any substantial private means, which would have made it more likely that they would be willing to express their own honest independent opinion. But it surely can’t just be a question of personal wealth: if it were, our present cabinet would be as well placed as any for a hundred years to express honest independent opinions.

  2. Posted 19/08/2013 at 18:31 | Permalink

    How possible would it be for the whole of the UK to get behind a northern European link with plain and simple strategic nodes [beyond London] at the A) Preston & B) Perth stations as follows; and could the taskforce make comment on this (if not wishful thinking on my part)? As an architecturally trained and minded person, I imagine it would engage and give decades’ unrealised purpose to A) the colossal and centrally/strategically placed Preston Bus Station & Car Park; and of course B) the Forth Rail Bridge – an HSR-ready structure already – respectively. It would mean travelling [democratically] to England or Scotland in style and with choice, but above all would mean business. Slowing down a highly potential HSR network by planning to link it to the post-industrial cities/conurbations is surely counterproductive and vastly uneconomical. The above infrastructural clues (utilising veritable World-Wonders) are there by chance, let’s use them and put the UK on the map: quicker; for real; and for much cheaper, especially if genuinely feasible/sustainable, which I’m imagining is probable. I doubt this is the case as per the current proposal. Perhaps some creative and constructive criticism might spark thoughts on something truly economic, but when or how?

  3. Posted 22/08/2013 at 08:16 | Permalink

    Oh I almost forgot: we are in what we call a ‘developed country’, and not quite ready to ‘develop’ again as a country, hence as [simply or complexly] corroborated in the IEA report. We are happy to be capitalistic from within the comfort of our shell, i.e. the post-industrial city. Therein, lays the problem. Yes, enough risk and reward has whet our economic appetites, but no real gain is possible that thinks railways, like airways, can stop off at any old city en-route to the 7 north of the border. Getting from England to Scotland (A to B) by rail would instead be the endeavour of a ‘developing country’; i.e. something that we’re too ashamed, blindly greedy, or fearful to enact. It appears to me to be a dilemma that’s already reached its cultural zenith as well. On the BBC the other day was Lyndhurst saying “Only Fools would never be made today”, ergo even TV companies are unwilling to ‘develop’ talents/audiences on the premise that the formula is already developed, or cannot develop and grow. The smell of success might be just too sweet for our liking! If so, the UK can have my ‘…to Preston to Perth’ idea for free to prevent Scotland from becoming a Brigadoon upon the sanctioning of the current HS2 proposal.

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