Green Party leader Patrick Harvie
"That kind of hard right slant is quite alien to Scottish politics," Harvie, 40,
one of the two Greens in Edinburgh's 129-member parliament who both back independence, said.
may be at that point that some undecided voters start to see the positive case for taking responsibility for our own decisions."
The Green Party's Patrick Harvie, an increasingly prominent figure in Scottish politics,
said he would not want to bet on the result of the referendum
Scotland's Greens are
campaigning for greater use of renewable energy in a country that is a pioneer of wind and wave power as well as having offshore
oil reserves. While the Greens back the SNP on independence, on many issues they appeal to left-leaning supporters of Labour,
the main opposition in Scotland's parliament.
The Labour Party is trying to come
up with plans for constitutional change that would keep Scotland within the United Kingdom but shift more powers from London
- something polls show most Scots would favour.
Harvie said he saw the potential
for the Labour party to split on the extent of those proposals after its Scottish conference in March, potentially aiding
the pro-independence camp.
"If people in the Labour Party start to peel
away then that could change the dynamic far more powerfully than anything we've seen to date," he said.
against Scottish independence say it would be unrealistic, costly and unworkable.
'Yes' vote would certainly open a can of worms financially, including negotiations with London on dividing up debt, oil revenues
and the operations of two of Britain's biggestbanks.
Harvie is among Scottish politicians, including some in the SNP, who
have spoken in favour of at least preparing the ground for dropping sterling and creating a new independent currency. SNP
leader Alex Salmond has said an independent Scotland would want to keep the pound, at least for a time.
the idea of a new currency, Harvie said "In the longer run, and it might be over a number of years, the economic needs
of Scotland and the rest of the UK would be more likely to diverge."
The struggling campaign for Scottish
independence could get a lift from an expected swing to an anti-EU party in Britain's European parliament elections in May,
the leader of Scotland's Green Party said on Thursday.
months until a September 18 referendum, opinion polls show about half of Scots oppose ending the 307-year-old union with England,
about a third favour the Scottish National Party's bid for independence and around 15 percent are undecided.
The mood could shift in favour of the Green Party in the coming European Parliament election, Green Party leader Patrick
Harvie told Reuters in an interview.
be at that point that some undecided voters start to see the positive case for making the Green Party the largest future focused
party, with eco for the economy."
Rail would transform Baltimore and America
watch the video here.
Maglev is back,
tantalizing Marylanders with the promise of speeds that could whisk train passengers from Baltimore to Washington in 15 minutes.
What is billed as a new generation
of magnetic levitation technology is at the heart of the latest proposal, the first step in what would eventually be a line
taking passengers from Washington to New York in 60 minutes at a cruising speed of 311 mph.
The proposal resurrects a technology that seemed to be
the next big thing in the late 1990s and early 2000s before fizzling out amid concerns over its cost, the difficulty of putting
together a suitable route and its potential effect on neighbors.
“The technology itself has progressed,” Wayne Rogers, chairman of TNEM, said in a presentation to The Baltimore
Sun this week. “We as Americans never picked up on it.”
Supporters of the maglev concept have long seen it as a game-changer for Baltimore,
bringing the city closer to the capital and making it a more attractive place for businesses that deal with the federal government
to locate. The latest proposal includes stops in the city and at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Whether the United States
will embrace the project any more warmly than it did in the early 2000s, when then-Mayor Martin O’Malley and others
were intrigued by the prospect, is debatable. Even if the technology operates superbly, the project faces numerous obstacles.
Rogers, chairman of the Synergics
energy company in Annapolis, estimated that building the Baltimore-D.C. segment alone would require “somewhere north
of $10 billion.” But the extensive tunneling that would put more than 30 of its roughly 40 miles underground, avoiding
Linthicum and other neighborhoods affected by an earlier plan, could drive the cost higher. By Rogers’ own estimates,
tunneling costs alone could reach $4.5 billion to $6 billion.
Unlike past proposals, the TNEM group says it can count on financing from a Japanese
government bank, reflecting Tokyo’s eagerness to launch the new superconducting maglev technology — developed
by Japan Central Railroad — in the U.S. Northeast Corridor.
The TNEM group pointed to a September speech by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe to the New York Stock Exchange in which he praised the “dream technology” of superconducting magnetic levitation
— now being tested on a short segment of a Tokyo-Nagoya line that is projected to be completed by 2027. Abe said he
presented President Barack Obama with a proposal for a line between Washington and Baltimore.
Yoshiro Taguchi, transportation attache at the Japanese
Embassy in Washington, confirmed that such an offer was made in February. He said Abe offered Obama the use of the technology
and “substantial financial support” — with no amount specified — for a Washington-Baltimore line.
Japan is hoping that development of the Washington-Baltimore segment would entice investors to finance the rest of the line
between Baltimore and New York, Rogers said.
There’s little mystery to maglev’s appeal. Artist renderings show a sleek, bullet-like
system that uses magnetic forces to let trains glide on a cushion of air, with none of the friction caused when steel wheels
meet rails. Speeds are projected at more than three times those of Amtrak’s Acela train, currently the nation’s
But a ticket
could carry Acela-like costs. The investment group does not have a precise estimate of the fare, but one representative said
it would be a little more than the cost of an Acela ticket. A low-end round-trip ticket on Acela now costs $84 between Washington
and Baltimore and more than $330 between Washington and New York.
Japan Central has had an 11-mile maglev test track open since 1996 and has reported
reaching speeds as high as 361 mph. The government has given the railroad approval to build a 320-mile commercial line between
Tokyo and Osaka at a cost estimated at $112 billion.
The TNEM group is counting on an undetermined amount of financial help from the federal government
but none from the state, Rogers said. The hope of federal funding poses a challenge on Capitol Hill, where Congress has shown
little inclination to spend on big infrastructure projects — especially those involving intercity rail.
The investment group has attracted the support
of some big names. Today, TNEM will announce a bipartisan advisory board led by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
The board will include three former governors of Northeast corridor states — Republicans George Pataki of New York and
Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and Democrat Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania — and two former U.S. secretaries of transportation,
Democrat Rodney Slater and Republican Mary Peters. Kevin Plank, founder of Baltimore-based UnderArmour, is also on the list.
The group is not disclosing
the identities of its American investors except for Rogers and vice chairman D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, a corporate lawyer in
conventional high-speed rail, the prevailing technology in most of the developed world, superconducting maglev represents
a complete break from old ways. That’s part of the problem. It could make no use of existing right-of-ways or other
infrastructure. Critics point out that if it were built in stages, northbound riders could face years during which they could
go no farther than Baltimore without having to switch to an Amtrak train, negating any benefits of the increased speed.
“The only way the maglev
would make sense is to build it from D.C. to New York all in one shot,’ said Andrew Kunz, president of the US High Speed
Rail Association, which backs a more conventional technology in use around the world now. “And that’ll never happen
because it’s outrageously expensive and nobody will spend the money on it.”
Kunz said Amtrak’s estimated cost of a conventional
high-speed rail system it wants to build between Washington to New York is $110 billion to $120 billion. Maglev, he said,
costs five times more per mile than that technology— even before of the cost of the extensive tunneling envisioned in
the TNEM plan.
flirted with maglev technology a decade ago, conducting detailed studies that put the cost of a Baltimore-Washington line
at $3.7 billion in 2003. That was for a plan using a previous generation of technology along with much less extensive tunneling.
John Harding, the U.S. Department
of Transportation’s last chief maglev scientist, retired in 2004 and now lives in California. He remembers assessing
the feasibility of a series of maglev proposals all across the country. None came to fruition. The Baltimore-Washington project
ultimately was rejected for reasons from a curvy right of way to low passenger projections, he said.
The top speed of the train in the proposal,
which followed existing rail right-of-ways, was 240 mph, but “because of the curves, the average speed, God, it was
pretty terrible,” closer to 150 mph, Harding said.
“What was really killing the Baltimore-Washington design
was the curves, because they were following, pretty much adhering to, the present right-of-way, and that was a right-of-way
that was designed in the 1800s,” Harding said.
He said the current proposal to build most of the line along a straight shot underground “solves
that problem, but at great cost.”
Financial evaluations for Baltimore-Washington maglev never showed “enough traffic to pay off the cost
of construction in any reasonable amount of time with a reasonable fee,” Harding said, and that was building the line
still has longtime fans in Baltimore. Robert Embry, president of the Abell Foundation, said a maglev line to Washington would
be a major boost for the city.
“I can’t think of any other public expenditure that would have nearly the effect that would have,”