From the Archives: Justine Greening, Victorians versus Today

This was originally published on 28th August 2012: shortly after this interview she was reshuffled to Secretary of State for International Development, a move widely seen as a demotion.

Justine Greening was interviewed at length on the Today program, in an interview which focused on the possibility of a third runway at Heathrow, but also touched on railway issues.

After a long period in which she refused to say whether she would refuse to sit in a cabinet which supported a third runway, the interview eventually got on to discussing railway issues, including the awarding to First Group of the franchise for the West Coast Main Line.

The First Group bid depended on growth of 10% per annum whereas the interviewer pointed out that growth was currently less than 1%.

Finally Greening got onto what sometimes seems like her favourite theme, of why she wanted to copy the Victorians, and build a new HS2 railway. She said the last major railway finished in 1899, under Victorians, and that she wanted to be bold like the Victorians were.

The thing is, the Victorians didn’t look back and copy what was going on more than a century earlier, in the 1700s. They looked at what was new in Victorian times, and that was trains – then.

If we want to copy Victorian vision, we should not try and rebuild what they built. We should look at what is new in the 21st century – and that isn’t a faster train.

The development of internet and digital technologies and the things that come from those is one of the more exciting new technologies now (the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Burners-Lee, took part in the London Olympics opening ceremony).

What is changing the world now are the developments to support broadband, allowing remote working and videoconferencing. This will reduce the need to travel, affecting both air travel and reducing further the demand for long distance rail travel.

3 comments to “From the Archives: Justine Greening, Victorians versus Today”
  1. Pingback: What the Victorians do for us – part two | A PhD in Design by Darren Umney

  2. Pingback: What the Victorians do for us | A PhD in Design by Darren Umney

  3. MPs on the very fringe of aircraft noise should not dominate the need for more runways and tunnelled main road in and out of London to the west.

    Several MPs could not handle the requirements for West London where party and self interests dominated common sense.

    West London is successful and needs to be more successful not Boris’s Housing site.

    Earnings are vital for economic activities.

    Vote positively to move from £50B of HS2 folly with better road access for millions of people and goods each week coming in and out of West London.

    Motorways and urban roads need large tunnels and at the same time new runways can be added to Heathrow.

    HS2 is a side show in passenger movement to the daily needs of West London Reading Slough Northolt Greenford Uxbridge.

    How will Boris promote trade for the Western London Sector of Southall and Ealing.

    Heathrow keeps the West of London functioning.

    End this popular based self centred interest of one to six Conservatives and start evolving the West of London for the 21st Century please.

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