As the fast train to Euston pulled out of Coventry I happened to notice that a train on another platform was scheduled to travel direct from Coventry to Bournemouth.
I was deeply shocked. Or to be slightly more accurate, I was mildly surprised. But when you look at a map, it makes sense. In fact it makes almost exactly the same kind of sense as travelling from Norwich to Coventry would. It’s about the same distance, and London doesn’t get in the way.
But there is a vital difference. Coventry to Bournemouth is north-south, and Norwich to Coventry is east-west.
Never mind southern bias. The real bias in this country is north-south. If you wish to travel vertically, there is no problem: plenty of road options, and rail travel is straightforward.
But if you want to travel from, say, Norfolk (to pick a county at random) to central England or Wales, there is nothing direct. You have to zigzag. And if you should want to travel from Norwich to Coventry (to visit your brother, for instance) you are strongly advised to travel via London – involving a Tube journey, and not a direct tube journey at that; the alternative is wandering around the East Midlands on tiny little trains and changing twice.
This is known as triangular travel. On a good day.
We in the east laugh hollowly at talk of HS2. Just a normal amount of speed and less platform-hopping east-west would be a vast improvement. Time for some lateral thinking, surely.
Any chance? No, the authorities are blinkered. The only time a politician looks sideways is when he thinks someone is after his seat.