UK High Speed Rail Network | Benefits of fast trains

Fast trains vs air travel. Proposals for UK high speed rail network to mirror those in Europe that make travel to Amsterdam, Paris & Frankfurt quick.

An interesting proposal has been put forward in Britain this week by a group of bigwigs who appear to dislike London’s Heathrow Airport nearly as much as I do.

A group of 21 local councils – all of whom are against the idea of Heathrow getting a third runway – have proposed a radical high speed rail network for the UK.

Well, I say radical, but this is what’s been happening on the continent for years. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best invention since chocolate fudge cake. It is beginning to revolutionise European travel, cutting out thousands of totally unnecessary flights.

Why on earth would anyone fly – bearing in mind the time needed to get to and wait around at airports – when it’s just over four hours from central Paris to central Amsterdam? Or less than that to get to Frankfurt?


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Put simply, it’s greener, it’s far more pleasant, and it’s arguably quicker. Bring it on.

The plans put forward in Britain look fascinating. The proposal is to have one main line, connected to both Heathrow and the Eurostar rail link at St Pancras in London. It’d then zip up the country to Edinburgh and Glasgow, stopping at major cities like Nottingham, Leeds and Newcastle on the way. There would also be branches off to the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

The tragic thing is that it’ll probably never happen. Britain has currently got one pathetic stretch of high speed rail – from St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel. And that only got built because the French, justifiably, got sniffy about the fact that the British part of the London to Paris journey was far too slow.

The problem will be money. A figure of GBP30bn (just over AU$60bn) has been quoted. Personally, I’d see that as a price worth paying for the country’s infrastructure, not to mention the environmental benefits of far fewer domestic flights.

But some bean counter somewhere will probably say it can’t be done.

Well, it seems like it can be done in Europe. Gradually more and more high speed lines are being created and it’s unquestionably A Good Thing.

But, to prove the point, let’s put it in a different context. Imagine a rail journey from Sydney to Melbourne that took around three hours. It’s technically possible – the French TGV trains go at 350km/h.

If that option was there, would you fly? (And factor in the journey time from Tullamarine, which I believe is closer to Alice Springs than central Melbourne).

Exactly. It’s time high speed rail was thought of as an investment, not a cost.

Do you think European – or even Australian – governments should splash the cash on high speed rail? Or have you travelled on Europe’s fast trains? If so, what did you think of them? Share your thoughts below.

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