Two announcements from the government this week show remarkably disjointed thinking on switching from diesel to electric power on the roads and railways. Firstly came the announcement that several railway electrification schemes have been delayed (yet again) due to spiralling costs.
In other news the government has also committed itself to ending the sale of internal combustion cars by 2040.
The cynical way of putting this is that the government is happy with switching from diesel to electric power so long as they are not the ones that have to pay for it. The cost of switching to electric cars will largely be borne by car manufacturers and their customers. In fact car makers such as Volvo are already switching to electric power without politicians insisting, so the government's "commitment" will basically involve zero effort from them other than providing charging points up and down the country. Meanwhile wiring up hundreds of miles of railway will cost large sums of money that inevitably must be paid for by taxpayers. It's time for the government to put their (our) money where their mouth is by committing to wiring up more of the country's railways. Michael Gove is absolutely right when he says that we have to deal with air pollution, but there is a difference between soundbite announcements about something that will happen anyway without your intervention and actually rolling up your sleeves and making things happen.