Passenger train is on the wrong track

May 5, 1995

Roxanne Powell of the LSE is not "standing before the axed Advanced Passenger Train at the National Railway Museum" (THES April 21). It looks rather like part of an old steam train - a metaphor perhaps? Also, fascinating as her paper appears to be it is worth noting that the considerably cheaper option of high-speed tilting trains which the APT pioneered before being stopped for the sake of a few million (and not the billions the TGV lines have cost) has now been taken up by Italy, Sweden and Germany where these kinds of trains are already in service.

France meanwhile has continued with its policy of building entirely new high-speed lines, a distinction which is important, and which was never an option in Britain.

Surely the truth behind the French TGV is of a society used to the "Grand Plan" and a government at local and national level prepared to develop a long-term strategy embracing all transport options. French policy includes road pricing and legislation to control how freight is moved. Amiens and Lille battled over who should have the new line to the Channel Tunnel, contrast that to what happened in Kent.

The failure of the APT project says rather more about our society and the way our politics works than anything else.

ROBERT GWYNNE

5 Northcote Street

Shelton, Stoke on Trent

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