The usual course of innovation and technology is an upwardly direction, or forward, or more simply: a natural course of progress and improvement. Unless of course you are dealing with something that has had over 165 years of government involvement in which case it has a tendency to remain the same: poor. And the latest government announcement on new trains for two of Britain’s principal railway lines proves this point.
The East Coast Main Line is currently operating trains that have been in service for nearly 20 years and can travel at 125 mph, the Great Western Main Line is operating trains that have been in service for nearly 30 years and can travel at 125mph. The government has announced that Hitachi are to supply trains for an order worth £7.5bn; trains that can travel at a top speed of 125mph. There’s progress for you, government style.
Combine this with the Conservative’s rail transport plans and you can see that in a decades time we’ll be enthusiastically discussing how Britain’s rail network is the envy of the world; in a similar vein to how the NHS was lauded over. Politicians will never learn that it is their meddling that inhibits and destroys. If the Conservatives want a comprehensive plan for allowing railways to compete, they should abolish the Department of Transport, Network Rail, the ORR and complete the sale of the rail network into private hands.
If transport companies wish to run rail services then they should run them in their entirety, track, carriage, station and especially ticket pricing. The governing establishment needs to stand aside and allow the railways to expand or contract naturally and perhaps then we can see innovation begin to flow. Until then rail customers will remain firmly shunted into a siding.