Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A bridge to nowhere

A Network Rail operative guides a bridge into place
A Network Rail operative guides the bridge into place
You know, as an expert planner I have a great interest in Scotland's infrastructure. For the ignorant among you this can mean roads, sewers or railways. The other day, I spotted a fascinating update on the progress of the Borders Railway project.

This is another of these ridiculous projects where common-sense has disappeared. Why try to rebuild an old railway line when:
  1. there are perfectly good roads to the Borders, and
  2. the money spent on the railway could have been spent on a motorway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.
This is the sort of blue-sky thinking that planners of my generation can come up with. Most planners today just tick boxes and are so buried in procedures that they can't let their imaginations flow! They achieve nothing. Nothing!

Anyway I digress. It was fantastic to hear Network Rail project director Hugh Wark on the progress of this absurd scheme. They had just lifted into place a new bridge on the railway near Galashiels. He said the lift had gone "very well" and thanked businesses and residents for their "patience and co-operation".

I'm full of praise for this approach. By using this crawling obsequious language, the project manager can cover up all manner of failure and mistake  - it's essential to have these linguistic skills today. Politicians do this all the time of course. It's the bland sunshine language of the PR professional used extensively by planners and other folk in the firing line.

But the best bit was to come later when he said that "the new bridge had a "vital role" in the Borders Railway project". Now I wonder what that could be? Indeed what kind of "vital role" could a bridge possibly play? Is it a military exercise - perhaps something to do with the independence debate? Or could it be that this bridge will connect the Tory rural slums of the Borders to Edinburgh? Maybe building the bridge was necessary for trains to run further south than Galashiels? But dramatizing this trivial event has made the whole thing sound incredibly impressive and that's what appeals to me.

Dear Dr Pangloss, long may your black safety helmet glisten in the Spring sunshine!

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