Two hours and three minutes is the time it takes a train to go from Paris to London, two hours fifteen minutes is the expected time when the new service to St Pancras starts in November.
So why does it take me the same amount of time to go from Yeovil to Newport?
Well in France, the railway lines and the trains are publically owned. When the French government spent the billions of pounds on modernising the French railway network about a decade ago, the money got put to work. It didn't disappear into the hands of private business.
Britain spent £5.8 billion doing-up St Pancras station and building 110km of high speed track to reach the Channel Tunnel. Very poor value for money, why? Because it disappears into the hands of private business, I wonder what they try and keep their margins to, 30% 40% or more?
The solution, not only to get better value for money for the British public, but to improve the state of Britain's railways is...
The re-creation of British Rail.
In 1947 the railways were crappy in Britain, almost as crap as they are now, the Labour government of Clement Attlee passed the Transport Act. This act nationalised the railways, canals, bus companies, shipping, road haulage and others effective as of the 1st of January 1948 and placed them under control of the British Transport Commission, which reported to the Ministry of Transport.
I propose we repeat such an act. With two tiny little changes and a little bit of extra money to help rebuild the network.
Instead of doing what we did when nationalising the 'Big Four' rail companies in Britain at the time, Great Western Railway (GWR), the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the Southern Railway (SR), namely paying their owners money for decades as compensation for nationalising their assets. I say we pay them no compensation, in recognition for the amount of money they've been making since the destruction of British Rail under the Tories.
I also say we make British Rail and other nationalised transport, controllable not only by something like the British Transport Commission, but also by the people who use such services and the people who deliver them. Not only will they be nationalised, they will be socialised, under the direct control of working people.
In recognition of the state of the railways, the government should also give the new British Rail a lump sum up front of say £100 billion to modernise and rebuild the railways. Such money can be found easily, by scrapping Britain's nuclear weapons program for example, or getting corporations to pay the taxes they're supposed to be paying, if they don't want to the government should pass a few more acts nationalising things, or by reducing the amount of money wasted on the military for two or three years.
Britain is the forth richest country in the world. So why should we put up with such rubbish railways any longer?