Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Central government planning authority is an important important factor (as opposed to federalized - we can see that in Germany).

Moreover, there needs to be an understanding that this is a new transport mode and not some glorified conventional railway. Fast travel for medium distances of 300-800km instead of a gold-plated RegionalExpress or Interregio.

If the early routing decisions were faulty and the culture is locked in it's very difficult to make the conversation more rational. Again, the new Frankfurt-Mannheim line: they prevented a bypass around Mannheim. So Darmstadt (population 144,000) wanted the new line to go through their city center as well. The full city council (left-to-right) wants it that way but if you did that it would no longer be a high-speed line. During the planning process it transpired that such a city-center route would be very intrusive and expensive. There is a curious (but common sense) coalition of environmentalists and the chamber of commerce that advocates a new station outside of town directly on the new line. The mayor (SPD) changed his mind, too. But the city council still insists on having a 'full connection'. It's no longer about rational decisions but about getting what they want, acting like children, and playing to some imaginary fear of getting left behind. But if no one gets 'left behind' on HSR and every little village gets a HSR connection, everyone will get left behind. The new Green mayor (!) has joined the 'full connection' caucus. "We need the ICE!" he says. What a tool!

But the funds aren't there to start building in the next decade. Maybe that's enough time for moods to cool off, to change out city council members, and for common sense to prevail. Unfortunately, more likely than not those unhelpful attitudes will be passed down to the next generation of decision makers.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2011 at 09:36:11 AM EST
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