Stephen Bayley

My addiction to the bullet train

The wonders of Japan's Shinkansen are enough to make you look forward to HS2

In 1963, Dr Richard Beeching, an ICI director with a PhD in physics, a qualification that clearly boondoggled his credulous political patrons, published a government report called ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’. It identified 8,000km of painstakingly created track for closure.

At the time, road transport seemed just the thing. Lorries? Bring them on! Commuting by car? What could possibly be the objection? Beeching was a tragic case-study in mandarin myopia.

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