Driverless cars are in the news recently (I won’t even bother linking to the various posts, there are so many) and Brian worries they might turn High Speed Rail into a dinosaur. Which indeed seems entirely likely.
My own view is that I love railways; going on holidays via sleeper and waking up as you’re going through an alpine pass is wonderful. Commuting in the things isn’t great, though it beats sitting in traffic queues. But where does the obsession with HSR come from? As CIP points out in Brian’s comments, they aren’t energy efficient – you might as well fly. They make great macho infrastructure projects for pols to posture with, and I’m sure there are wonderful discrete kick-backs in all that concrete pouring. And they’re great for making promises of regeneration of distant areas that can’t be falsified until too late. Aside: I was always disappointed that the channel tunnel went down the obsession-with-speed thing, when what I wanted them to do was run sleeper services to the continent so I didn’t have to change in Paris. Ah well.
As for driverless cars: if they do come, they’re bound to look very different from a car that drives itself. I’m going to want one with a bed in the back so I can wake up in that alpine pass again.
* Offsetting Climate Change by Engineering Air Pollution to Brighten Clouds.
* An Examination of the Interaction between Two Prospective Transport Technologies: Questioning the Importance of High Speed Rail in a Driverless Vehicle Society – Ryan J. Westrom; Candidate, Master of Science in Transportation 2014; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (that link, to my website, is just me hosting a copy of his poster).