for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), apt.
A few weeks ago, our Prime Minister promised the UK a world-beating Track and Trace app in the fight against COVID-19. With a straight face. I suspect many UK citizens would have settled for an ordinary app, just one which worked.
What better introduction to another world-beating UK project, the Advanced Passenger Train (APT).
This was a project which ran between 1969 and 1985 and which, ultimately, did not deliver. The goal was simple – to build a faster train and to reduce journey times. One did not necessarily guarantee the other – railways in the UK tend to have lots of twists and turns, so the “win” would be maintaining a decent speed as the train went through these curves. Enter the Advanced Passenger Train, a new design which relied on tilting the train as it travelled, and used a new gas turbine propulsion system. To name but a few.
I think it is important not to be too derogatory to the train. Much of its design has been copied successfully in the years since the project. The government wished to see a return on its investment and the train was pressed into service in 1979. Basically, anything that could go wrong, did. Although the kinks were quietly ironed out in the next five years, the writing was on the wall, and the project canned in 1985.
Total cost to the UK taxpayer was estimated at just £50 million – that’s about half the budget required to develop a car, at around the same time. Not to mention, a car is less complicated.
Britain’s answer to France’s TGV -nearly!