In Britain we used to talk of the Loony Left. Now it's the Loony Lib Dems. Yesterday their Transport spokeswoman Susan Kramer called for a £10 per passenger levy on Anglo-Scottish shuttle flights to pay for 170mph fast rail link between London and Edinburgh. In her speech to the party conference in Brighton, she said it was "genuine madness" that travellers have to fly to get from London or Birmingham to Edinburgh or Glasgow "in a reasonable time at a reasonable price". God knows what she'd make of US domestic air travel.
"Talk to just about anyone who has to travel in the UK and they will tell you they want a decent, fast train service like the ones in continental Europe or Japan. So we will introduce 'a climate change charge' on passenger flights that originate and terminate within the UK, set at £10 per passenger."
Now excuse me for being sceptical but it sounds a bit like saving pennies in a piggy bank for a Rolls Royce. The cost of instituting such a railway line will be enormous (will it go to Edinburgh or Glasgow first?) It will be the next century before we've saved enough. I'm not saying that it isn't a good idea to have faster and better trains, I use them all the time from Scotland to London, but this childish £10 levy is not the answer.