If you build railways populations grow and it eventually justifies the expenditure

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I liked Ben Lowry’s travel article (‘This is a golden age of travel for those of us who live in the West,’ July 29), especially the suggestion of a physical transport connection between Ireland and Britain.

There are plenty of examples around the world of such human-made connections i.e. Oresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden.

I notice that Ben uses the concept of critical mass when doing economic analysis. I suggest that its a chemistry carry over which doesn’t generally apply to economic analysis. (I was trained as an economist back in the 1960s, when it was an optimistic as against being the traditional dismal “science” which it now seems to be reverting back to).

The dismal science idea grew out of the stagnant Victorian view of economics i.e. Malthus. Economics, back in the 60s (we took our cue from the brilliant German economists), was seen as a dynamic growth engine.

For example, if you were to build a transport system, such as a railway, between two towns. Initially, the populations wouldn’t be large enough to sustain or justify the investment.

However, because of the opportunities arising from the new transport system, (if you look at European towns, including the UK and Ireland, historically they are generally built beside rivers which was a major mode of transport before major roads, canals and railways) the populations would grow and eventually justify the expenditure.

It is called developmental economics which seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Micheal O’Cathail, Co Fermanagh