It was almost a throwaway comment, but sometimes even throwaway comments cause ripples.
In an article on HS2 for Engineering and Technology magazine, I concluded
One option would be government support to decarbonise the electricity industry. Many people think that a better use for the money would be to build a world-class digital infrastructure in Britain. If it’s transport the government wants to build, we could start putting in place the infrastructure needed to make electric cars – possibly driverless – a real option.
But for all their romance, modern railways are essentially updated versions of 19th century technology. So, I’d say, cancel HS2 and build new infrastructure that looks forward to the future, not back.
As far as I’m aware, no-one else had previously suggested electric cars as a HS2 alternative, but in some ways they are very obvious. They clearly need an infrastructure network, but that is appearing already, with supermarkets putting in charging points, as well as car parks in places like Milton Keynes.
As to driverless cars, again that is being discussed at length, mentioned on BBC Click, and in other places as well.
Having been first to mention electric cars as an alternative to HS2, I was gratified to see Allister Heath’s article in the Telegraph today: HS2 is already obsolete, David Cameron should be preparing the UK for self-driving cars. It would be nice to think that Allister read my article, allowed the ideas to permeate, and then wrote the Telegraph article.
Or maybe it’s just the zeitgeist of the times.