The highly popular HS2 London-Manchester high-speed rail-link, widely considered punishment of rural voters for not delivering an overall Tory majority, has finished its consultation phase. However, even before the first boring machine is fired up, discussions about HS3 are already under way.
Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker, a man unknown to people outside his immediate family or without Google, has announced that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is the preferred bidder for the exciting next generation private sector funded infrastructure project.
“Ten years ago Sir Richard’s highest ambition was limited to the aeronautical equivalent of the elevator” said Baker “Going up and down in a balloon but occasionally being blown around a bit by the wind. Now with Galactic he’ll soon be able to take rich loonies up in a rocket, bounce off the edge of the stratosphere and return to exactly where they started. A metaphor for our age perhaps, but that’s beyond our brief today.”
“One of the main problems with ‘public transport’ is just that – it’s public. You find your nose stuck in a sweaty prole’s armpit in an overcrowded train when you’d rather be picking your nose and farting in private. Like when you’re driving. Or that may just be me.“
The Minister hopes that HS3 will realise that individualistic dream, using the drone-bomber and cruise-missile technology already proven in peacekeeping missions around the world. “Have you seen the video footage of a cruise missile flying right into a building through an air vent? That gives a good idea of what we’re going for. With passengers aboard and a slightly more gradual end to the flight. And without the noisy explosion stuff.”
“With Virgin 1 (single passenger) and Virgin 2 (tandem) personal missile pods you’ll be able to select from dozens of European destinations. The Launch Commander simply programmes that in, checks no fool is walking in front of the barrel, err launch pad, shouts ‘Fire in the Hole!’ presses the red button and you’re off. They've still a bit of work to do on the landing bit.”
Baker is clearly very enthusiastic about his work. “You could take off in Germany and two minutes later be landing in London! So we don’t bother about all that breathing apparatus stuff. As long as you’re reasonably fit and can hold your breath for a minute or so – no problem. The technological advances of the last decades have been astonishing. If we’d have told our parent’s generation that in our lifetime V1 and V2 missiles would be flying into London they’d have said we were mad.”
At first Virgin will keep to the immediacy of paying by debit rather than credit card. “We’re completely confident of the safety of the thing, in fact safety is our highest priority” said Sir Richard today “ but we’ll take your money off you before you take off from us. Better safe than sorry.”