Trains - I was opposed to HS2 as a transport scheme again because I think it is a UK inclusive issue - do we really need it. I have spoken to a couple of MPs, MSPs and some green activists recently at a hustings earlier in the year and have changed my mind somewhat - yes it is a good idea. But first I would like to see a transport policy that looks at our 18th, 19th and 20th century train infrastructure and superimpose on top of it a 21st century infrastructure. This could mean tweaking a bit of track hear, linking another bit of track there, removing a link somewhere else first before doing HS2. This would mean smaller projects taking 10, 20, 30, 45, 1 hour off journey times just by using 21st Century technology. For example, a person suggested to Nicola Sturgeon at a hustings a year or so ago, that there is a need for a 22 mile piece of track from Fort William to Dalwhinnie which would connect the north west of Scotland to Inverness and to Glasgow or Edinburgh to London. All that was needed was 22 miles of track - where in the grand scheme of things is that going to happen. From Fort William they could do infrastructure to Ullapool to Bettyhill to Thurso and link back down to Inverness via Wick. The chances of that ever happening is probably zilch. But 22 miles of track is a possibility. A lot of traffic would come off the road and tourism would receive a huge benefit. There is definately a case to be made. But I am wondering how many other rural areas just need a wee bit of track as a link from A to B to C and that could shave off 30 minutes of journey time or indeed 2 hours re Dalwhinnie to Fort William by road as an example. So whilst I do consider HS2 is necessary - I would not necessarily start HS2 at London, but more northerly and cut journey times. The reason why I was opposed to HS2 was because I could not see a reason why Scottish people would use it to go to Heathrow when they can fly. I could not make the case for it, but Scottish money will presumably go into the project. Further I thought taking lorries off the road as haulage and sending them by sea down the Ports would be a better option, but I now consider upgrading the train transport system would effectively do the same thing. It was even put to me that dualling the Inverness Perth line would be a good idea, but a train can only be on one piece of track at anyone time - so it would be a good idea but not necessary. Sending trains down the track at night would be a good idea and this probably happens already. So whilst I am happy to see HS2 go ahead, I would prefer the Government to do a proper transport all encompassing with bells and whistles train survey and transpose a 21st century map on our old infrastructure to see if a tweak here and there could not achieve the same result of 30 minutes lobbed off a train journey first. I would also like to see all of the UK surveyed as a train infrastrure project and money allotted accordingly. It should not all be about the south.
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