Thursday, August 02, 2007

If you build it ...

When I previously worked in London, about 15 years ago now, I once hopped onto the train back to Reading only to find a brochure on my seat that appeared to be advertising an express train route that would go from Reading, under London and direct to the City. I was so happy! ... until I realised that this was a cruel tease. The line did not exist. The brochure was a marketing survey. The rats.

15 years later and "Cross Rail" as it was called then, and is still called today (even the logo is the same), is no further forward:

BBC NEWS | Business | Mind the Crossrail funding gap

This would be a hugely popular route. The people who currently travel from the west of London (e.g. Reading and Heathrow) to the City pay a hefty fee for the privilege so there would be lots of custom for a Cross Rail service. And yet the government are fretting over the funding of construction.

Yes, this Cross Rail will be expensive to build, but it would be a significant boon to the City of London and thus to the country as a whole. So just build the darned thing out of public funds and then get the money back over the following decades through licensing and taxes etc.

If only construction had started 15 years ago ....

1 comment:

Reinout Heeck said...

Watch out what you wish for. In The Netherlands we have the infamous 'Betuwe lijn' a 5.000.000.000 Euro project that would have been financed by commercial parties. Unfortunately these parties didn't find it worth it so the government went ahead anyway and built it from taxpayers money. We now have a railroad that has seen just twenty trains since it was opened six weeks ago.

It is said that if the railroad runs at full capacity (twenty trains per hour) the money that the government gets won't cover the maintenance expenses, never mind recouping the investment...