THE Daily Telegraph’s Transport Editor, David Milward, travelling with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to Lille, in Northern France, reported the city has a driverless metro network.
It was “something that McLoughlin believes could be replicated in conurbations of a similar size in Britain,” wrote Milward.
Lille is twinned with Leeds in this country, where all attempts to launch any form of light ral or metro system have been rejected by the Department for Transport (although not in Patrick McLoughlin’s time, but when Labour’s Alistair Darling was Transport Secretary).
However, it is surprising that no one has apparently told the new Transport Secretary, nor the Telegraph’s Transport Editor, that there is already a very successful, booming driverless metro network in London.
It is called the Docklands Light Railway. Moreover, it is operated by a British company — Serco — which also now runs more driverless metro systems around the world than any other company. Its most recent operation is in Dubai city.
Perhaps the more significant factor about Patrick McLoughlin’s visit to Lille — which has become the hub of high speed rail services in North West Europe — is that he chose to go there to see (in the Daily Telegraph’s words) how “high speed rail has transformed the economies” of France and neighbouring Belgium ahead of next month’s announcement of the detailed proposed routes of HS2 to Manchester and Leeds.
One thing the Daily Telegraph report almost certainly got right about the new Transport Secretary was that “any hopes Tory rebels have that his appointment will see a weakening of support for HS2, the proposed high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and the North, are likely to be dashed”.
After 17 years as a Conservative whip at Westminster, most recently as Chief Whip, Mr McLoughlin knows how to get things done and to get Tory MPs to support them.