06 December 2011

The choo-choos won't run

It's a shame.  Poor old Alex Neil, Scotland's Infrastructure Minister, sought to make a song and dance about it as the centrepiece of his programme (here):

A proposal to extend the high-speed rail network north of the border was part of a 20-year investment plan announced today by the Scottish Government.
The infrastructure “mega-plan” has ambitious aims to improve roads and rail as well as schools and hospitals across the country over the next two decades.
Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil announced the list of strategic projects in Edinburgh today.
 Alas, the cup was barely raised to his lips, when the bad news filtered north:

The government has announced it is postponing its decision on whether work should start on HS2, the high-speed rail project running from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
Justine Greening, the transport secretary, confirmed speculation that the decision on the scheme would be put off until the new year.
Greening, who took up office only two months ago, said that while she had been considering all the issues raised in the HS2 consultation, she needed more time.
 Meanwhile, this guy in The Independent argues convincingly that it may never happen at all:
The plan to build a high speed rail link in the UK moves even more slowly than a train from London to Cornwall. In what is a bizarrely contorted juxtaposition, all three main parties are theoretically committed to the link and yet it seems increasingly as if the project will not happen. The reasons will be depressingly familiar for those who know the history of ambitious infrastructure projects in Britain. Once more, superficial opportunism, incompetence, fear and ministerial weakness play their destructive roles.

Poor old Alex.  He thought he was going to be the Fat Controller, but now it seems that the levers are further away than ever ...


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