Congestion on our infrastructure networks already costs British business £23.2 billion every year. Although the network has made huge strides recently with upgrades such as that on the West Coast Main Line and the opening of the UK’s first high-speed railway line linking London to Paris, the network is still largely based on its Victorian foundations, with limited scope for further modernisation.
The time has come to take a new look at our railways and to take a view beyond the existing network. A new generation of trains and infrastructure have largely passed the UK by, whereas our continental neighbours have invested heavily in new high-speed networks. France now has a high-speed rail network totalling 1,700 kilometres while Spain, which only began its network in 1992, will have a network totalling 7,000 kilometres by 2010 and is predicted to extend this to 10,000 kilometres by 2020. The UK, on the other hand, has only 108 kilometres.
With public debt standing at almost 60% of GDP a...
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