What is the real reason businessmen need to travel by high speed train?

Our correspondent wonders why businessmen need to travel around the country by high speed train when they could simply use video conferencing.

It is difficult to understand why this scheme for a new high-speed railway slashing across the country was ever dreamed up, and even more difficult to understand why no-one thought better of it the morning after.

The important matter to consider is who and what it is supposed to cater for? Who are these 14,000 people per hour who wish to travel from London to Birmingham, and vice versa?

Even if there are businessmen so old-fashioned they see a need to travel from one place to the other instead of completing their business the modern way over the phone or by video conferencing, there surely cannot be that many of them.

Assuming Mr Old Fashioned Suit feels the need to travel to Birmingham, he will presumably do so early in the morning – which he could accomplish on the existing rail lines. Does he seriously need to get to Birmingham 20 minutes earlier – and then spend 20 minutes trying to cross the road?

Who are the people who will fill these massive trains later in the day?

Finding 140,000 persons, even for only 10 hours a day, is going to be rather difficult.

And unless these 140,000 old-fashioned suits come forward, day in, day out, the running of this monster train is not going to be economically viable – in which case, a minimum 17 billion is being wasted on something no one needs or wants.

There are very few reasons why businessmen actually need to travel nowadays.

Or is there a subtext to this?

If it is not for legitimate purposes they travel, is it for illegitimate ones?

Are there 140,000-plus old-fashioned suits who must get to Birmingham for an assignation with a lady? This is one of the few things which is not yet possible by conference link-up (unless anyone knows better).

Should the lives of residents in the Vale of Aylesbury be ruined and a blight cast on house owners for years to come, just for the illicit pleasures of the few?

All honour to David Lidington for sticking up for his constituents and for his principles.

As an intelligent man, he no doubt sees clearly the sheer daftness of the idea in the first place.

It is to be hoped that financial stringency will see this nutty idea abandoned and its originators sent for much-needed treatment.

Shirley James