His difficulty with facts
On 3 July 2015 the Financial Times gave Labour infrastructure charlatan Andrew Adonis another opportunity to air his views about Heathrow airport expansion, and high speed rail.
[Heathrow backers take hope: the expansion will be built, Andrew Adonis, FT, July 3, 2015]
High speed rail is a similar story of prevarication followed by decisive action at crisis point. For decades, Britain stood out from the international trend to build entirely new rail lines to tackle congestion and connectivity, apart from the short Channel tunnel Rail Link (HS1). Instead we spent billions on upgrading old Victorian lines.
The turning point was the last modernisation of the West Coast main line, which links London, Birmingham and Manchester. Costing nearly £10bn, yet delivering only incremental capacity benefits on a railway infrastructure close to breaking point, it concentrated the minds of transport planners on the need for a completely new line to meet future capacity demands.
Similar challenges led Japan to open the world’s first high-speed line, between Tokyo and Osaka, as long ago as 1964.
In the late 1950s, or at any later time, there was no practical means of upgrading the old 1067mm railway between Tokyo and Osaka to match the speed and capacity of lines in Western Europe. With Britain’s West Coast Main Line, the situation was, and is, entirely different.
When it comes to railways, Mr Adonis seems to be incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction. On more than one occasion, he claimed that Wales and Albania were the only countries in Europe without an electrified railway track.
Far from delivering “only incremental capacity benefits”, the West Coast Modernisation was designed to increase intercity paths “by 80%” (Railway Gazette, 1 Sep 2003). The value of the upgrade component was less than £3 billion, not £10 billion.