In her first time out as Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening has encountered the attentions of Boris Johnson the big bully of the politician’s playground. The Mayor of London demands that she take action to give him a hub.
This time he means a big brand new airport for London, replete with runways, services and all the shopping opportunities that his sponsors and favourite lobbyists could wish for. Heathrow is such a mean little place, Gatwick fit only for tourists and the others around London not worthy of attention.
My theory on this is that if all of Central London between Liverpool Street Station and Kensington Palace, north of the Thames and reaching up to Marylebone Road were to be flattened and used as the site of such an airport there would be many advantages.
Especially if other areas in London were put to a better use. Kensington and Chelsea would make a good sized trucking depot and Hampstead turned into the world’s biggest shopping mall. There would be other bonuses.
If no compensation was paid this would stop the property bubble in London at a stroke. Also, it would be a major correction to the imbalances in our national finances that could pay down a great deal of debt. Add to that it would redress the contrasts between the poorer parts of the UK and the richer South.
In the meantime, train buffs will have noticed the news item about a first ever, allegedly, rail journey starting at Euston and ending at Swanage. It was a steam special and done purely for fun. During WW1 and certainly in my memory in WW2 there were many train movements that had never been made before arising from the demands of war and disruptions from bombing.
No matter, in order to make this journey, if I am correct, the train will have crossed the Great Western Main Line, which has links, on which the Heathrow Express runs and then gone on to join a Southern line which allows routing to Gatwick and Manston.
This blog has already mentioned, more than once, the existing opportunities for links between major airports as well as a number of minor ones. The south east has many runways already in civil use with a number of former or other military ones. Around the rest of the country there are quite a number of others.
Has anyone in government, notably at the Transport department, set out to consider seriously all the possibilities and just how quick the trains could be on the basis of existing or available technology, without spending squillions on the fantasies of lobbyists acting for commercial interests anxious to raid the coffers of government?
Why is there so little interest in at least trying to work out a flexible dispersed and more responsive airport network fully linked? Boris wants to put all our eggs as well as his into one big basket regardless of cost as the ultimate political stunt of his career. Perhaps he should be offered the choice of either flatten London or forget it.
For Ms. Greening, all I will say is that Sir Edward Elgar’s mum was a Greening, so could she come up with a different tune?