If time means money then we’re paying far too much
When a report involving a rail investment of £200 million runs to a thumping
75 pages, I’d expect encouraging outcomes... pointers to enhanced travel, or a vision of shaping our rail system for the better.
Or even – to quote the mantra endlessly trotted out by Transport Scotland – how we’re “going to build the best railway Scotland’s ever had”.
Yet the sole outcome I glean from this heavyweight study by Transport Scotland is that train times from Aberdeen to the central belt could have two minutes shaved off.
The report opens so encouragingly, with the aspiration that for £200m we passengers could have 20 minutes slashed off our journeys.
The actuality is the thuddingly clunking TWO MINUTES. That’s right: all that lies at the bottom of Santa’s sack is 120 seconds.
Something’s very wrong somewhere. If £200m can only save two minutes, then our existing infrastructure can’t accommodate speed-ups, so the infrastructure is at fault.
Our European cousins inherited the same Victorian-era systems as us.
Unlike us, they’ve modernised, upgraded and invested. High-speed trains running on the tightest headways connect cities and towns everywhere.
We’re stuck with risibly third-rate trains, the poorest-quality long-distance rolling stock in Europe.
Our infrastructure creaks. When one of these outdated trains heading for the central belt approaches Stonehaven, it passes through three manually-controlled signals within 300 yards – the same kind of system Queen Victoria saw 120 years ago.
So for a £200m spend, we could save two minutes? I spent almost the same time digesting the clumsy title of the report – “Transport Scotland: Aberdeen-Central Belt Journey Time Improvements Opportunities Study”.
This is a tunnel with no light at the end. Transport Scotland really has to do better. We passengers deserve it.
“So, for a £ 200m spend we’re saving two minutes?