Cliff C asked in Cars & TransportationRail · 1 decade ago

Why are there no high speed lines in Britain (except one)?

Obviously there is a high speed line in Britain but it benefits London more than the rest of Britain. Why is it that countries like Spain France, and Germany can build lines yet our government is always spending ages thinking of this. If they worry about delays they obviously haven't been on a train in Italy (in my experience average time waiting for a train to leave is 20 mins after its meant to)

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Whilst we have only the High Speed link from St. Pancras to the Channel Tunnel, we manage to run trains which are high speed on conventional lines. For example, when I first moved to the north east of England 30 years ago, the average time from Newcastle Central to London was around 41/2 - 5 hours. Now, with first HST and later electrification it is down to around 3 hours. The East* Coast from Euston to Scotland has benefited from increases in speed following the introduction of Pendolinos. Even journeys to the far west of England are far faster than 30 years ago with the use of HSTs. Nevertheless, there is a case for at least a dedicated north-south High Speed link. One company proposing this is Central Railway - see:-

    There is a real problem, of course, in that we are a small island and land is at a premium. Also we have very slow planning procedures in cases like this. In France, they have no such inhibitions - if the Government wants something done, then it gets done without endless public enquiries. Whether or not that is a good thing is a matter for debate. But in France there is at least political will - here there isn't. The Government pays lip-service to the need for less congestion, less pollution from motor vehicles, but will not but the money towards new railway construction.

    Later *oops, should, of course, be West Coast

  • 1 decade ago

    Rdenig_m has answered this question extremely well. I would just add that although the maximum speed on our Inter City lines is only 125 m.p.h. , apart from Holland and Germany, we have the densest and most frequent network in Europe; there are very few parts of the country that are not on or close to a frequent train service. Leicester for example only a medium size town in the Midlands has 3 trains per hour to London, Brighton has 6. The Marches Line from Manchester to Cardiff which travels through some very sparsely populated country has a train every hour. The TGV system

    in France is marvellous but it has been developed at a cost to much of the rest of the rail system with many rural lines having been closed, severely reduced in frequency or replaced by buses.

  • 1 decade ago

    Public money just has not been invested enough in the rail system in Britain.

    In 1948 the government took over a network which was the densest and most intensively worked in the world. It needed modernisation of course which had already started, with electric lines being built and diesel traction already introduced.

    Sadly a golden opportunity was missed here as for too many people in the establishment, modernisation meant cutbacks and the development of road transport instead.

    Continental Europe has a modern road system of course but the railways have not been neglected over the past half-century as they have in Britain. It would need billions and a sea-change in this country's attitude to transport issues to put right. Not helped by the government saying on the one hand they want to encourage people to be greener and on the other reducing the amount of support for rail travel forcing fare increases way above inflation.

  • 1 decade ago

    NIMBYs. Cost. Land space. Population generally against rail expansion.

    Compare to France where they love the train, spend vast fortunes on it, have large open tracts of land unpopulated compared to the UK and people lobby to have a HSL through their town.

    France is so many times bigger than the UK, yet have about the same population.

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  • 1 decade ago

    There are many Express Lines - I think they are all very good

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