Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catching The Southbound Train

Right, that’s more than enough about the royals, this blog is almost becoming like Hola! I saw a bizarre item in El País today praising the British for having completed a high speed railway line on time and under budget; comparing the case with the delays and problems of the high speed line to Barcelona. I think there are a couple of minor details which probably need pointing out here. Firstly, comparing a train line from London to the Kentish coast with a line connecting Madrid and Barcelona is hardly comparing like with like, the distance in the British case is barely over 100 kilometres. Secondly, and a bit more importantly, comes the simple fact that the line connecting London to the Channel Tunnel was supposed to have been built in the 1990's, not in 2007!

I lived in Sarrff London in the late 80's and early 90's and remember a big public meeting held in my area because the proposed line was going to run through that part of the city. Eventually the planners changed their minds and decided it was better to knock down bits of East London instead. The real point is that under the jackboot of the Thatch it was decreed that the public sector would have nothing to do with the new line, it was all going to be constructed by the super efficient private sector. Ten years later, with the tunnel already open, with nothing constructed and no sign of it ever happening, even the pro-market Blair agreed that the project needed what you might call a bit of impetus. Of course those awful statists in France (where nothing at all ever works) had their side of the high speed connection up and running almost from the day the tunnel was opened. Britain gets there about 13 years later and it gets presented as a model to follow. We apologise for the delay to your 1994 service from Paris, this was due to dogma on the line.

1 comment:

leftbanker said...

Ah yes, the myth of the superior efficiency of the private sector brought to you by Milton Freidman and the Chicago School of Economics. The American Right still insists on this point despite raging failures in the private sector to carry out services once provided smoothly and relatively inexpensively by the state. The whole philosophy of the neo-cons is that if you say something often enough and loud enough then it must be true. American conservatives scream bloody murder whenever public funds are needed to repair railways yet they think nothing about siphoning off billions for airport construction that benefits private airlines (not to mention the huge public subsidy of automobiles). It’s not like conservatives are wrong; they are lying.