Reseller views. The case against high speed rail


Reseller views. The case against high speed rail

With plans for High Speed 2, the proposed fast rail link connecting London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, now undergoing a five-week public consultation, home and land owners along the proposed route are voicing their objections.

But NIMBYism aside, the business arguments for high speed rail seem pretty hard to pick any holes in.

High Speed 2 will massively speed up travel from London to the North, cutting the journey time between London and Birmingham to just 49 minutes. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what this means for productivity.

Or does it?

Cisco partner Intrinsic Technology is urging the government to go down a different track.

Intrinsic is split between offices in London, the Thames Valley, Merseyside and Glasgow, and at first glance looks like a company that really stands to benefit from the government's plans.

But Intrinsic's head of Cisco solutions, Billy Haining, reckons it is questionable how much of an impact the rail link will have on businesses when comms technology is already evolving so quickly.

"There is no doubt that significant business time is wasted on long train journeys. However, if the government has intended that the savings resulting from reducing such journeys will contribute to its estimated £44bn of benefits to the country, then I believe they are solving a problem to which there is already a solution.

"Video conferencing is improving so quickly, and with green ICT and efficiency high on many businesses' agendas, it is increasingly being used in place of travelling to a meeting," he continues.

"With this trend set to continue, I think that the government's efforts should be put into equipping more businesses with this technology, as it is far more flexible than a rail link and really will prepare the UK's economy for the future."

So what do you think?

Does the UK really need such grand infrastructure projects when, as Billy suggests, we can invest in cheaper, more flexible remote working and video technology ourselves?

Are you likely to use High Speed 2 in the course of your day-to-day business? Will it bring benefits to the channel in terms of increasing your UK customer coverage?

Or does the thought that the government wants to spend billions of pounds but is simultaneously cutting a swathe through the public sector leave a nasty taste in the mouth?

This was first published in March 2011

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