Posted by chdot on April 18, 2007
Just ahead of an election when politicians are promising the earth (or just ways of saving it…) it’s good to see people concerned with rational reality.
Once again politicians and interest groups are talking up the idea of a brand new high speed link between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Nothing will ever be as fast as broadband. Face to face meetings can (often) be just as effective by video link. Free WiFi on ScotRail (not just in First Class) would be a cheaper way to ‘increase productivity’ for those who ‘have to’ commute.
TRANSform says “The fantasy of a ‘bullet train’ taking twelve minutes should remain just that – the new infrastructure for ‘Maglev’ type hovertrains would be enormously expensive and very destructive of the urban fabric unless long sections were put in tunnel. Ultra-highspeed trains are highly energy-intensive, and need vast amounts of new traffic to justify their existence thereby creating the danger of increasing rather than reducing overall CO2 levels from transport. A multi-billion pound, entirely new route is simply not required to get substantial reductions in journey time from the current 48 minutes down towards 30 minutes.”
As well as proposing cost-effective moves such as re-opening Edinburgh’s South Suburban Line to passengers, (an ever running saga), TRANSform makes sensible suggestions about tourism.
“Scotland’s rural routes need a distinctive approach. Many of them depend on tourism and leisure travel, yet the trains provided are standard designs used for suburban services in the Central Belt. Unlike the situation in Switzerland, our scenic routes have no special panoramic railcars aimed at the tourist, and too many of the Highland lines are saddled with worka-day Class 158 units with poor window views, badly designed toilets and a cramped atmosphere.”
The potential for ‘low impact’ tourism in Scotland is MASSIVE. There are good Sustrans routes in many places. Local Authorities are developing Core Path Networks. The Forestry Commission is building mountain bike trails. Though in spite of the fact that taking bikes on trains is free (booking sometimes required) most are transported by car. Somehow the idea of “Green Tourism” hasn’t got much further than low energy light bulbs and whether people are willing to use the same hotel towel two days running….