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Is high speed what we need?

I was very pleased to note that rail minister Tom Harris has said that we do not need faster trains. He is absolutely right, even if the environmental disadvantages are ignored.

What passengers want from a train journey is reliability, punctuality, a frequent service, and a degree of comfort. Journey time is generally much less of an issue. These days you can conduct your business on the train, whether via your mobile, laptop, or simply allowing yourself time to read reports.

There is also time for reflection and maybe a bit of lateral thinking as the countryside passes before your eyes at a pace that allows you to take it in! For non-business users of the rail network, time spent on the train is often an enjoyable part of a holiday or trip.

Slower trains are safer trains and are reliant on less assiduous maintenance regimes for track and rolling stock.

Frankly, I find the thought of hurtling along the ground at 350km/h in a metal box very unpleasant.

There may be some basis for the argument that high speed trains will replace aircraft, but it would require an enormous investment in track and rolling stock for this to be generally the case, and it simply is not necessary.

Invest the available funds in improving the rail system that we already have, and let those for whom minimum journey time is critical, fly.

Let the train take the strain….slowly.

 CHARLIE RICKARD (F), independent consulting engineer, 4 Millards Lane, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9ES

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