29.1.12

IT USED TO BE ROYALTY.

At one time, the Cold Spring Shops research library maintained a subscription to Back Track, a history of the evolution of railways in the British Isles from the beginning to the end of the steam era.  On occasion, an article would mention a cosmetic cutting, or tunnel, or a curve not dictated by the terrain, so as to keep the steam cars out of the sight or hearing of some local noble.

Now commoners want the trains hidden.
Fellow Conservatives have expressed worries about zippy trains slicing up pretty countryside, particularly the Chilterns, home to many Tory voters.
It's not necessarily Tories, thinking far enough back in time. William Wordsworth there and Henry David Thoreau in Massachusetts were not necessarily fans of the rich, but they, too objected to the steam cars. We're no longer speaking of steam cars.
To preserve such beauty spots, more than half the 140-mile track to Birmingham will now run underground. But the proposed tunnels will not bury all criticism. More than 60 miles will still be open; cross residents of several constituencies are already gearing up for legal challenges to the government’s plan. There are no assurances that the northern part of the route, which will not be finalised until 2014, will see equivalent lengths of tunnelling. Tunnels are not just costly to build but also more expensive to maintain than open track, which will increase running costs, says Steven Hayter of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Concealing the high-speed lines in tunnels is common, even without spiritual heirs of the Earl of Reaction griping about the noise (I wonder if any of the older Tories in the Chilterns remember Castles and Kings in full cry protecting two hour Snow Hill to Paddington timings).  Much of Japan's bullet train trackage is in tunnels, as you'd expect on volcanic islands, as is a good deal of the German line from Köln to Frankfurt.  As far as I know, that is neither to avoid disturbing the sleep of Barbarossa nor to provide a station in Nibelheim.

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