What the Victorians do for us – part two

The Stop HS2 campaign website recently revisited an interview with the Secretary of State for Transport where she drew on a Victorian heritage of ‘boldness’  to justify the need for a new High Speed Railway. I was considering this in general terms as a kind of design precedent in my last post but the StopHS2 campaign were also thinking about it as an invitation to make technological comparisons between the eighteenth, nineteenth and twenty-first centuries. Continue reading

What the Victorians do for us

The design process can be described in many ways. And the way that a designer gets from A to B can be traced along many routes. This we can read about with John Chris Jones or Kees Dorst and we can imagine what goes on under the bonnet with Nigel Cross or Bryan Lawson.

If we want to think about how a politician gets from A to B, and this is part of the gist of my work, there’s no shortage of speeches, interviews and media reports in the archived debate where that route is described either directly or through whichever commentator is on hand to help out. Continue reading

Easy algebra: When does HS2 – HS1 = HS3?

In his recent review of the HS2 project Sir David Higgins advocated the removal of the proposed North London Rail link between HS2 and HS1 on the grounds that it would provide a relatively poor return (removing the need for a one stop tube journey) on an apparently unreasonably large proportion (£700m) of the total budget (£42.6bn) .
(Therefore HS2 – HS1 = £41.9bn)

Today, according to the HM Treasury website in the kind of pre-emptive news strike that has now become the norm, George Osborne will propose a third high speed railway for Britain. Depending on who you ask this “keynote speech” or “pre-election waffle” is either a reflection on the success of his government’s long term economic planning or an attempt to deflect attention from a reported six point deficit in the latest polls. The new line, already being referred to as HS3 would link Manchester and Leeds across the Pennines.

I’m not wanting to speculate on the intention of the speech and without knowing who the audience was (apart from all of us) it’s also difficult to speculate on which particular lock his keynotes were meant to open. But the event of the speech is interesting in its own right.

Continue reading

HS2: the infrastructure of infrastructure debate

Notwithstanding my successful resurrection from memory of the GREP function in my text editor (see Datafest-2013 for details) and the glorious time savings this produces considering the number of links generated (yes I think it was 1432) it was nevertheless time to have a word with myself. This fiddling with data around the margins of the study must stop!

But before then here is a temporary resting place to catch my breath before getting back into the parliamentary (af)fray.

Continue reading

Datafest-2013

It’s creeping towards the summer and this is festival time. I’ve only been to one music festival of note and that was Latitude in 2010. I failed to pick up a programme in advance and so spent some time during the weekend without sufficient data to decide which of the many stages to go to. I find if you’re not careful this can lead to smoking too many cigarettes and drinking too much beer while listening to Nick Cave being Grinderman. To avoid that here in HS2 land I’ve been putting together a programme of Hansard activity – I wanted to get a feel for how much debate had taken place about this high speed railway.

Continue reading