Muchos respect for Lord Adonis (Transport Secretary) with his very clear and convincing case for European / Japanese-style high-speed rail in the UK, as recorded at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/8361131.stm
The crux of his argument is that, to provide sufficient capacity for future generations, the UK has three options:
1) High-speed rail links between the major cities in England and Scotland, to put UK cities directly within reach of the rest of Europe
2) Massive increases in the motorway network [and therefore a massive increase in private car ownership, yet more traffic jams, and a further general decrease in the standard of living in congested cities]
3) Massive increases in domestic aviation travel
Of course, the fact that in each of the various high-speed route proposals "London to Birmingham is a given" is most welcome as well ;)
The only downside is that it's unlikely we'll see any physical progress on this before 2025 or so, which is leaving it rather late to catch up with [poorer] countries like France, Spain, and even the Netherlands, who opened their first high-speed link only recently. Despite this, the long-term nature and benefits of the project are also its strengths.
Hooray for long-termism!