A new high-speed rail service from Eurostar began earlier today. Trains will now depart from the newly-refurbished St Pancras Station in London, with quicker journeys to major European cities now possible. For example, the trip from London to Paris will be cut to an average two hours and 15 minutes.
This has been a rare celebration for those in the UK who would like to travel on the railways. However, some problems will arise from this, the first is the shutting down of the service from Waterloo. It would have been better if new tunnels were constructed to link the station with the new-look St Pancras.
Sadly, this is yet another example of poorly-planned transport policy in the UK. The government, despite giving extra public subsidy, has always treated the railways as an afterthought. They seem more concerned with expanding airports and building more roads for motor vehicles.
Are there any plans to refurbish every rail station in the country? Are there any plans to expand the high-speed rail-link beyond St Pancras to cover every major UK city? Are there any plans to encourage people to leave their cars to travel by train, even for leisure journeys? As usual, there’s silence from the government.
Unlike in most European countries, where there has been sustainable and planned investment over a long period of time, UK rail policy has typically been stop-start. That’s why our trains, compared to motor vehicles and planes, will always be stuck in the slow lane.