Low-Tech Magazine: Not Every Problem Requires a High-Tech Solution

#Opinion

Wed, Dec 18th, 2013 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

I've been really enjoying reading Low-Tech Magazine, a publication which discusses "the potential of past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society," as well as how old technologies and new knowledge can bring concepts previously considered obsolete back to the forefront. Of interest, their latest article, High Speed Trains are Killing the European Railway Network, debunks the myth that high-speed trains are cheaper, significantly faster and environmentally conscious compared to the service they are replacing.

Five years ago I promised my readers I would not fly anymore. Hopping on a plane would be a hypocritical thing to do when you run a publication called Low-tech Magazine. Since then, I have been travelling across Europe almost exlusively by train (apart from the occasional boat trip), good for some 70,000 km of long-distance travel. I went as far north as Helsinki, as far south as Málaga, and as far east as Budapest. Europe has the most amazing railway network in the world. It gets you anywhere, anytime, and it's much more fun and interesting to travel by train than by air.

However, this is not the time to get lyrical about the pleasures of long-distance train travel. Every year, it becomes harder to keep my promise, and the advance of the high speed train is to blame. As more and more reliable train routes are shut down in favour of high speed lines, international train travel becomes prohibitively expensive. Strangely enough, many of these abolished routes are almost as fast, and sometimes even faster, than the new, expensive high speed connections.

As an example, let's have a look at the route which I cover most often: from Barcelona, Spain (where I live) to the Netherlands and Belgium (where I grew up). It is now possible to travel all the way from Barcelona to Amsterdam by high speed train, a trip of 1,700 km. The final link between Barcelona and the French border was inaugurated December 15, 2013. Great news, you would think.

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