The worst part of today's big rail announcement - the big announcement being "we're not building anything, really" - is that we were disappointed. That we actually, for a while there, believed that something good might happen. That when the axe came we were let down.
Britain doesn't do ambition. It used to. It did in the Victorian era, when there were railways thrown across the country. It did in the Sixties, when there was hope for the future, with Concorde and motorways and big red double arrows. But now? Now we're muddling through. It's make do and mend. It's mustn't grumble. The idea that you spend money and time building something that won't produce instant results but that will, in a decade or so, transform the lives of the population - that's far too long-term. That's far too ambitious. Can we offer you a union jack on the new national rail logo instead?
HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse rail could've genuinely changed the transport landscape in this country. Fast, new, efficient, clean railways whisking between the biggest cities in the UK, leaving smaller routes for better commuter services, increasing capacity, increasing speed. It could've made travelling across huge swathes of the country simple and quick. For a while there, they dangled it in front of us, tentatively close. They're actually building the London-Birmingham bit of HS2 right now. Euston has a massive construction site next to it for the extra platforms. There are spades in the soil. Carrying on to the North seemed tantalisingly possible.
Instead we've got a fudge, a load of nothing. Electrification schemes re-announced, electrification schemes that should've been finished years ago. Passing loops presented as a major innovation in transport technology. Bodges that make what's already being built unsatisfactory to everyone (welcome to East Midlands Parkway, just an hour from London, but ten miles from anywhere you'd actually want to be!). And of course, in a few years time, the railways will still be struggling, and they'll have to spend money building everything they meant to build, only it'll be more expensive and inconvenient and time consuming. They'll have to start from scratch when they could have it all done.
This is a backward, stick in the mud country, counting pennies like a crooked fingered miser, resenting any investment as though every pound spent on HS2 has snatched from the mouth of unborn children. There was an MP on the radio celebrating that the cancellation of HS2's eastern leg means the line won't pass through his constituency; his constituency is in South Yorkshire, but as far as he was concerned only a small number of people in Leeds would benefit from it, entirely overlooking Sheffield. Nimbys are in charge; nimbys have the loudest voices. We're a horrible, nostalgia-addled country run by fools who only value the cash that falls into their pockets and can't think about anything that doesn't benefit them or their friends and applauded by nasty idiots who want everything for themselves and nothing for anyone else. I'm despondent at today's big rail announcement, and I can only encourage you to vote out this gang of crooked narcissists at the first opportunity you get. It won't get us a railway but with any luck it might make them take a moment to reflect on what they've done.