The government has announced today that the Transit 1 High Speed rail link from Orpington to London Victoria is to go ahead at a cost of £20 billion. The 17 mile trip currently takes an average of 39 minutes, longer if changing at Bromley South, but the new line and rolling stock will reduce the journey time to 34 minutes.
Ministers say the time saving, a full 300 seconds, will have a significant beneficial impact on the economy, although critics have said that similar improvements could be achieved by simply stopping at fewer stations. Supporters of the scheme say that the 200 mph trains will save valuable time while still taking in the major conurbations of Petts Wood, Bickley, Bromley South, Shortlands, Beckenham Junction, Kent House, Penge East, Sydenham Hill, West Dulwich, Herne Hill and Brixton.
The controversial new line will broadly follow the existing route but for a large part of its length will tunnel deep underneath London. Environmental campaigners have expressed concern about the impact on the subterranean ecology but unfortunately for them, nobody gives a shit about sewer rats. Even Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, has realised there are no votes in them.
Milek Aldon of Petts Wood, who works in Caffè Nero at Victoria, said the line would make an important and very real difference to his life, enabling him to stay in bed another two minutes in the morning, allowing for the extra time needed to get to and from the 400 metre long trains.
However, tests of the new rolling stock have hit a snag. The acceleration and deceleration forces involved in reaching 200 mph between stations have thrown standing commuter dummies the length of the new carriages. The Health and Safety Executive says all passengers will have to be seated and belted in, adding around twelve minutes to the average journey time and halving capacity, requiring the building of another new line starting in 2023.