The Scotsman brought us up to date on the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail electrification: “a £742m project with journey times reduced to 42 minutes in December 2018” (7 November).
Older readers may remember that in 1971 journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow were reduced from 55 to 43 minutes (45 minutes with a stop at Falkirk) by the simple expedient of replacing trains with a top speed of 70mph with new trains capable of 90mph.
Since then we have of course got used to steadily increasing journey times.
It is now possible to buy electric trains off the shelf with a top speed of 110mph or more; an example is the class 350 electric multiple units currently working in and out of Edinburgh – a proven design.
Another possibility would be to have an eight-coach Pendolino, an electric multiple unit capable of 125mph – another proven design.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, after completion of electrification, using faster trains such as these, it should be possible to achieve a similar significant reduction in the journey time as was achieved in 1971.
It is also fairly obvious that a journey time of 42 minutes could easily be achieved by the existing 100mph diesel multiple unit without all the expense of electrification.
Forty-seven years pass, £742m is spent, and we have a reduction of one minute!
Are we really getting the sort of value for money that we should be looking for in today’s tight financial circumstances?