High-speed trains will “progressively replace” domestic flights in the UK – unless they hit a moose or a house or a cow…

The government is planning to install a new 250mph rail network across Britain linking cities like Birmingham and Edinburgh to London.

Transport secretary Lord Adonis hopes the faster trains will reduce the 46 million short flights we make each year and “progressively replace” travel by plane.

Plans are in line with the Government’s pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Our rail network has come under fire for lagging behind other European countries in recent years. Both France and Spain have a greater number of modern trains than the UK and have expanded into fast trains even faster – their TGV and AVE fast train systems have been around since the 70s and 80s.

In comparison, the last time I took a cross country train journey was on my way back from university, one wet and windy evening in December 2007. I was held stationary on the tracks for over two hours after being informed that our particular train had, unfortunately, hit a cow.

The saddest thing was that passengers didn’t even look surprised. There was a mild groan created by everyone on board as a Birmingham accent explained over the tannoy that we had experienced head on collision with a “bovine”. But even these quiet mumblings of dissatisfaction were tempered by the fact that passengers weren’t surprised. God knows everything that can go wrong will go wrong when travelling Lancaster to Crewe by train on a Friday night.

To be fair, we were given ample onboard entertainment. For example, the decidedly wrinkled and clearly stressed business man sitting across from me was on the phone for the duration trying to convince his wife he wasn’t having an affair. It made for interesting listening.

“I’ll be back home as soon as I can, the blessed train has hit a cow.”

“Yes, a fucking cow.”

“I don’t know why there wasn’t a fence.”

“What type of cow? I don’t know – a brown one”

It was a bull by the way, the driver made a special announcement to inform us of that particular point – as if knowing the sex of the beast involved would make everyone feel better.

“No, like I told you I left the office three hours ago.”

“No, I’m still on the train. No, I told you.”

“Well do it then, see if I care, I’ll just stop off at KFC on the way home.”

Next, the heating onboard stopped working and then some woman started freaking out because the train shop had run out of tuna sandwiches. This was not the high-speed alternative to flying Lord Adonis has dreamed up for us.

At half eleven I finally arrived at Crewe station – otherwise known as the public toilet of the universe. My connection had long since departed, I was cold and I wanted a tuna sandwich too – or some KFC chips, I’m not fussy. Infact, I could have eaten that cow. But because Crewe is like the Mordor of the train world I wandered around for nearly an hour like Frodo in the fog looking for help. When I eventually stumbled across a character, not wholly unlike Smeagle, waving a sign to help direct the trains he just shrugged at me.

Eventually, after I had sufficiently pestered the attendant, I left in a lovely, cushy, reliable, warm, friendly black cab. I haven’t been back since.

Much may have changed since my bygone days of youth, but it will still take a lot to get the public on board public transport. Until the government makes trains reliable as well as faster no one will trust them – especially not people with names like Daisy.


3 Responses to “High-speed trains will “progressively replace” domestic flights in the UK – unless they hit a moose or a house or a cow…”

  1. Hehe – very funny. And also very poignant. Cows everywhere I being run over! I don’t think that’s very green! (Though it may be a range of other colours…)

  2. Cows are one of the main sources of Methane in the atmosphere (20 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas) so perhaps cows being run over by trains is more green a scenario than you think!

  3. sineadnolan2008 Says:

    Haha feckin hilarious Helen, you’re brilliant at this blogging thing!!

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