Monday, 30 September 2013

High Speed 2

Rory Sutherland, in the Spectator, gets it right again:

"I think it says something about the priorities of the UK’s financial sector that you can take flights from London City airport to Jersey, Zurich (and Liechtenstein), Bern, Basel, Geneva, Nice (i.e. Monaco, a ‘sunny place for shady people’) and the Isle of Man (a rainy place for shady people). But not to Britain’s third city.

It says something too about the priorities of Mancunians that you can fly direct from Manchester airport to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Las Vegas and Barbados but not to Luton, Gatwick, Stansted, London City or Southend.

And all this also says something about how much importance people attach to getting between Manchester and London half an hour quicker. Not much.

There are two million people who live in Kent and Sussex and another million and a bit who live in Essex. All these people might find it takes half the time to fly to Manchester via a nearby airport than to get there via Euston — London’s nastiest and worst-connected station by far. I’m sure that, if offered £40 billion, Michael O’Leary would agree to operate these routes. Yet currently it seems demand isn’t there. Perhaps people are perfectly happy with the current speed.

I went to Leeds a week ago. There was a socket on the train so I could plug my phone in. I could send emails. Another half-hour in bed would have been nice (not that HS2 would help with Leeds, would it?) but it's not the top infrastructure priority for Britain.

Sutherland continues: "You see, in technical terms, a business trip between Manchester or Birmingham and London involves that unit of time which we businesspeople call ‘a day out of the office’.
And 20 years hence, after £40 billion pounds has been spent, that same trip will involve, um, ‘a day out of the office’.

I was in Leeds Court from 9 to 10.30 and back at my desk around lunchtime.

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