British Conservatives Embrace an HSR Future
Britain’s Conservative Party used to be rather strongly anti-rail. Margaret Thatcher never traveled on a train while Prime Minister. John Major helped privatize British Rail, which had devastatingly negative consequences. While European nations were busy building a high speed infrastructure, Britain lagged. Its only HSR route connects London to the Chunnel, and even that line was only completed last year.
But in what some are calling a “stunning turn of events” the Tories are now embracing high speed rail – specifically as a replacement to a third runway at Heathrow. The plan is to run trains at 180 mph from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. David Cameron, who looks set to be the next Prime Minister, claims it will cut 66,000 flights from Heathrow.
Labour has opened itself up to this move by stupidly rejecting HSR. Now Cameron and the Tories are poised to burnish their green credentials even further by embracing a form of transportation that has been quite successful on the Continent.
Credit shouldn’t go to the Tories alone. HSR advocates blasted Labour earlier this year, and Greengauge 21 has been persistent in putting the subject before British voters, emphasizing many of the same economic, environmental, energy and transportation benefits as we have here in California.
It’s worth noting that Britain too is facing the same financial and economic problems as the US – but they also recognize the need for long-term infrastructure planning, that green infrastructure is the best tonic for an economic downturn. If British conservatives can get past their old hostility to rail, let’s hope California conservatives can do the same.