One frequent theme of the pro-HS2 lobby is the idea that having a new fast train is somehow innovative.
However, this ignores all the really innovative transport technology out there – like driverless cars.
Today, the Government announced tests of driverless cars on public roads, starting in January 2015. Most major car manufacturers are already developing their own models of car, as well as Google, who has been running public trials in California.
In contrast, passenger trains have been in use since 1830. The HS2 Phase 1 route joins Birmingham Curzon Street to Euston: the exact same stations as were opened in time people to get the train to London for Queen Victoria’s coronation.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Science Minister Greg Clark said:
“Britain is brilliantly placed to lead the world in driverless technology. It combines our strengths in cars, satellites, big data and urban design; with huge potential benefits for future jobs and for the consumer.”
While the current plans use existing road infrastructure, there is a huge potential for development.
Cars that go home after dropping their passenger off. Family cars, that split into separate pods so that families can travel together for part of a journey, and than separate for different workplaces. Cars that connect to each other, to drive in convey along motorways.
Driverless cars will lead to truely innovative ways of travel: HS2 will not.