Monday, August 10, 2009

UK plan: Cut short-haul flights, add high speed trains

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Britain's transport Secretary, Lord Andrew Adonis, has proposed a plan to create a network of 250-mph trains that would "progressively replace" short-haul flights.

"For reasons of carbon reduction and wider environmental benefits, it is manifestly in the public interest that we systematically replace short-haul aviation with high speed rail," said Lord Adonis. A public-private partnership is envisioned.

He said a new company, High Speed Two, will plan the first phase of the network, an $11.6 billion line between London and Birmingham.

As elsewhere, funding could be a problem. According to The Guardian, Lord Adonis acknowledged doubts over the potential of a line from London to Glasgow costing $48 billion.

He also said: "Other countries which have made high speed rail a priority have found it affordable by allocating long-term infrastructure funding to it. The French have decided to allocate 16 billion euros [$22.6 billion] to high speed rail between now and 2020. It looks to me the more you build it the cheaper it becomes."