Wednesday, September 13, 2006

London to Paris in 2hr15mins

It would seem that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link programme is one of the UK's best kept secrets. A week or two ago I caught a train from London to Nottingham. I was literally gobsmacked by the contruction happening at St.Pancras, so when the opportunity arose to listen to a talk by the Implementation Director, David Bennett, at the Institute of Engineering and Technology, I leapt at the chance.

In the event, I was lucky enough to grab a few drinks with David afterwards which was a bonus. It is sort of deliberate that the programme is not entertaining the public gaze- which can be very distracting for these mega-programmes. It's not easy to hide a £7bn spend. I'm comfortable that my blog hasn't exactly given Mr.Murdoch many sleepless nights so this hardly qualifies as publicity, but WOW, WHAT A PROGRAMME. David was keen to point out that this is all tried and tested technology, BUT in my view the resultant effect is a fundamental change. When 'Section 2' (the bit through, and under, east London) opens in 2007 you could be in Brussels in 1hr51 and Paris in 2hr15mins. This is the scheduled time- suggesting it could be even quicker with a perfect schedule and green signals. Looking at the achievement another way, imagine cruising through the motorways of Kent at 70mph to have a train pass you doing ANOTHER 100mph on top.

How can airports hope to compete with those times- especially when you factor in the punctuality statistics and the effect of check-in times? I love airports, but I'm no air martyr.

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