Thursday, 21 March 2013

Work In Progress

I was in Reading yesterday for the first time in a few years, and since the work started in rebuilding the railway station there.
It all looked an incredible hive of activity with plenty of work going on - I guess it's a huge logistical challenge to do this work whilst maintaining a fully-operational large railway station open and running to the general public.
My train was slightly delayed arriving due to issues "allocating platforms", and my departure home similarly delayed by a few minutes, the reason this time a "signalling issue".
But what struck me were 2 things.
It is good to see real investment in the future of our railways. Birmingham New Street is also currently receiving major renovation - again whilst staying open. Like Reading, it is a hugely significant location on the UK rail map, and so hats off to everyone involved in these huge works.
Secondly, it made me ponder the suggestion by opponents of High Speed 2 that we scrap the plans and instead improve what we already have. Well, we are already improving what we already have in many different examples, but imagine many more years of upheaval on the West Coast Main Line along the lines of Reading and New Street - only to end up with something inferior to HS2.
Both Reading and New Street aren't currently nice places to be. They are effective building sites with the added challenge of running a full rail service in between. But the price in the relative short term is one worth paying to see much better facilities for rail travellers in the longer-term.
When we consider HS2, we consider the real, long-term future of our country. For too long, we have neglected our rail infrastructure. Speed, actually, is only a part of what HS2 will bring - capacity is the biggest thing we gain.
Building a brand new railway of course will be an upheaval, and for those personally affected there is much to be considered and sorted out by Government, but that is another issue. Upgrading the WCML with years and years of inconvenience for existing travellers is not the answer. We need to continue investing in our existing network, but also move on with the HS2 build for future generations to benefit from.

No comments:

Post a Comment