The government looks set to give the go-ahead today to that largest of white elephants, HS2. HS2 is the proposed high speed rail link between Birmingham and London, and is the first stage of a larger proposal to link to the north of the country.
It's going to cost us all billions, billions that we seem to be repeatedly told by the government we simply don't have (at least for anything we actually want!). It's going to destroy a swathe of the most beautiful English countryside, bulldozing through historic villages and cutting through the Chilterns, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And yet, only a tiny few will actually benefit from it. Only those in Birmingham or London will be able to use it, as the trains won't be stopping anywhere else along the route. So all those people who are seeing their property values disintegrate and their beautiful home county land being annihilated will receive no benefit, most will receive absolutely no compensation.
But at least they have the comfort of knowing that the rail companies will make a nice fat profit from the billions of UK tax invested, and that a handful of Birmingham business types will be able to get to London a few minutes faster. Added to which, they'll have the pleasure of seeing a train-a-minute rocket past their homes at 250mph. I'm sure that will make the pain of the destruction so much easier to bear!
In my world, which regrettably remains mere fantasy, governments listen to the majority who pay the bills, not just their rich friends who only ever seem to get richer.
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