It is good news that Indonesia is opting out of plans to build a high-speed rail in favour of a cheaper option ("Jakarta scraps high-speed rail project"; last Saturday). The money saved can be spent on development schemes, which are in greater need.
Having a high-speed rail requires a high degree of engineering skill and meticulous track maintenance. Good skilled manpower is not easy to get, and the safe and ongoing maintenance of the track is a challenge, given the shortage of skilled labour and the threat of terror attacks.
A high-speed rail can also be considered unnecessary in the era of tablets, smartphones and the Internet, which reduce the need for a person to be physically present.
In countries that struggle to fund basic development schemes to alleviate poverty, investment in a high-speed rail is... socially counter-productive.
Businessmen and people who need to travel urgently can opt for air travel instead.
In countries that struggle to fund basic development schemes to alleviate poverty, investment in a high-speed rail is not only an avoidable waste but also socially counter-productive.
M. V. Ramani