Posted by: miniflex | March 15, 2010

Is High Speed Rail more important than High Speed Internet?

The Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has announced the estimated cost of providing 120 miles of high speed rail from London to Birmingham to be £17.4bn, starting work in 2017.

Using recent technical innovations, instead of just reaching Birmingham the government could connect every home and the whole country with optical fibre for this sort of money. Instead of waiting to start high speed rail in 2017 the Fibre Broadband rollout could start tomorrow and be delivering value to the economy long before then.

The bigger question is, will we still need high speed rail networks if we have optical fibre to every home and business in Britain?

It could be and has been argued that super fast broadband will dramatically cut the need for everybody to travel so much. Working from home, video conferencing and increased use of social tools will reduce the need for people to travel great distances quickly. The high speed internet will provide a faster and easier solution; help reduce our carbon emissions to
boot and foster things like tele-medicine, tele-education, and care in the home etc. which will save money in the health and education budgets as well!
Lord Carter went into the benefits in more detail in his Digital Britain Report (April 2009). Maybe Lord Adonis and Lord Carter should compare notes.

Peter Jenkins, Technical Director

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  1. As a transport economist couldn’t agree more

  2. I vote train. The internet connection is never the same everywhere (mines always rubbish) so I’d rather get to London quickly!

    • Clare, you’re absolutely right – the internet connections are rubbish. But what if they were all 10 times faster and all perfect connections that never drop out? That is what fibre to the home is all about, particularly if you live out of town. If we all had equal access and equal oportunities imagine what a difference that would make to everyones life. Especially the old and infirm, or those of us disabled and in need of constant support, or even just feeling a bit off and prefering to work from home for the day. The opportunities for better services and a better life for us all are endless. And yes, I do want to see high speed rail as well, but that certainly won’t benefit everone! Lets get our priorities right – fibre to every home first and then high speed rail for the happy few.


  3. I vote for fibre. With decent connections many journeys won’t be necessary. We could do this:
    for meetings, training, healthcare, education, socialising with the family, its mega! (lins found it not me) @digitaldales on twitter

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