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Ding! Ding! Ding! It’s Time to Spend Real Money on Britain’s Rail Network

by John Brian Shannon

Here’s a List of Seven Reasons that the UK Needs to Spend Real Money on it’s Ageing Rail Infrastructure:

  1. There are huge bottlenecks throughout the country’s railway routes and those bottlenecks make every other thing in the system worse, including timeliness, scheduling, customer satisfaction, and passenger safety.
  2. Congestion on UK roads is appreciably worse when the trains are unavailable due to labour strikes, weather-related problems, line maintenance issues and electrical power outages that affect the railway electrical grid.
  3. The UK will never meet it’s clean air commitments as long as most ground travel is by automobile, but when millions of Britons ride trains to get to their destinations, CO2 levels drop correspondingly, especially as the UK electricity grid continues to add more renewable energy capacity.
  4. In most cases, the UK rail experience hasn’t changed much over the decades. It’s overcrowded at peak times and under-utilized during the rest of the day. For the country that invented passenger rail systems in 1802 when Englishmen Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian received a patent for the world’s first steam locomotive, providing mediocre or average service isn’t good enough. Rail service in the UK could and should be the envy of the world.
  5. Rail Tourism. Most people in the UK take trains to get to and from work, to go shopping, or to visit Grandma at the weekend. But there are millions of people around the world who dream of riding in a posh railcar, seeing a foreign country from the viewpoint of a luxury railcar, eating gourmet food and tasting fine wines. If you’ve done it (I have) it’s an experience you’ll never forget — and you’ll want to do it again. The UK rail system (yes, the rail system alone!) could bring millions of pounds into the UK economy. Just by doing railways right.
  6. Building and operating HS2, removing longstanding bottlenecks throughout the UK rail system, combined with ongoing upgrades to make rail travel a truly world-class experience will create thousands of jobs — particularly if all new locomotives, rail cars, and rail track are manufactured in the UK.
  7. More capacity, better railcars, more user-friendly schedules and a higher passenger experience, will itself, cause millions more Britons to take the train to work, shop, and play, thereby helping rail operators to run a profit — even during non-peak times of the day — whether in ‘high season’ or the ‘low season’.

In short, there’s every good reason to build-up Britain’s rail system even at significant cost… because the benefits to the entire country, to Britons, and to the UK’s international tourism reputation are mind blowing.