23 Jul 2009

A green Brown success?

When history comes to review the Brown government, it has every chance of proving an unhappy event. Gordon Brown’s takeover from Tony Blair settled uneasily into a sad and dispossessed period of ‘readjustment’ to the global financial catastrophe.

But one of history’s other asides in reviewing the Brown government may yet come to rest on the works of Lord Adonis. Who? You may ask. Adonis is a rare creature – a minister who’s ended up running a department responsible for one of his lifelong passions – the railways.

When I was a child, the M1 motorway was being built and opened under the leadership of an unremarkable Tory minister of transport by the name of Ernest Marples.

Marples was a scion of the family that gave its name to a then very large construction company called Marples Ridgeway… which did what? Why, it built roads. Marples therefore had some interest in seeing the growth in Britain’s then revolutionary motorway road system.

Adonis has no such pecuniary interest; his passion seems to come from his brain and his heart. Hence today’s dramatic, even romantic, announcement that our treasured railways are to see a major environmentally friendly upgrade – the electrification of the London Swansea mainline with spurs to Bristol and Oxford.

As a former student at Liverpool University, I’m obviously excited to see the Liverpool-Manchester line included in the electrification plans (the journey will be cut from 45 to 30 minutes).

Now all he has to do is make an even bigger decision – where to go ahead with a completely new ultra high speed north south line to connect with both the Swansea line and the European network.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4