Britain Refuses to Take No for an Answer
Earlier in June we brought you the story of Britain’s rail minister’s nonsensical rejection of HSR. Tom Harris rejected plans to build an HSR link from London to Scotland arguing against the evidence that HSR isn’t a green form of transportation.
Far from closing the door on HSR in Britain, it has instead energized activism. Over the last two weeks British HSR advocates have stepped up their criticisms of the Labour Government’s rail policy and particularly its preference for a third runway at Heathrow over HSR. They’re refusing to take no for an answer:
The campaign for a British high-speed rail network has gained further momentum after it emerged that 2.5 million transfer passengers a year fly into Heathrow airport from British destinations.
Transfer passengers, who fly into a hub airport in order to connect with a long-haul flight, have become a battleground in the debate over building a third runway at Britain’s largest airport.
Opponents of the proposals claim that the latest figures prove that many Heathrow slots are used for unnecessary flights that could be replaced by high-speed rail routes….
Executives at airport owner BAA have admitted privately that the transfer passenger debate is crucial in the PR battle over a third runway, with Tory leader David Cameron among the influential figures who believe that connecting travellers add nothing to the UK economy.
British Airways is leading the push for a third runway, but Britain’s environmental and rail groups are rejecting their claims, noting that HSR can service the same passenger load in a much more sustainable way (and give Britain’s ailing rail network the boost it needs to catch up with their continental counterparts). The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are piling on, as seems to be happening with pretty much everything in British politics these days.
But the underlying point is sound. Britain is being impacted by the same fuel crisis we are, and it is hitting British air carriers as well, with several on the verge of bankruptcy. Since fuel costs are only going to continue to rise, it doesn’t make sense for Britain – or California – to reject sustainable, climate-friendly methods of travel like high speed rail that aren’t dependent on the fluctuating price of oil.
Nations around the world are developing high speed trains – from Morocco to Vietnam to Iran to Argentina. It’s a matter of global competitiveness now, as California businesses will have higher costs that overseas competitors if we remain dependent on oil to move around our state.