Could holographic teleconferencing like this system created by researchers at University of Southern California make HS2 obsolete?

Holograms could make HS2 obsolete says peer

The HS2 project is unnecessary because in 20 years' time people may be appearing at meetings as holograms, a peer says.

Labour peer Lord Mitchell, an entrepreneur and former party spokesman in the Lords, said that at first he "enthusiastically" supported the £42.6bn scheme but had since changed his mind.

Mitchell, who was recently appointed as Labour's business ambassador and enterprise adviser to the party's shadow business team, follows former business secretary Lord Mandelson who this month warned the HS2 rail project could prove an "expensive mistake".

Lord Mitchell told the House of Lords yesterday: "I simply don't get the logic of spending £40bn plus just to enable people to get from Birmingham to London 23 minutes earlier and Manchester to London 50 minutes earlier; for them then to be stuck in monster traffic jams on the Euston Road.

"I adore using the TGV in France and I have been envious of that country's achievements, but could it be a 20th century phenomena? Just for once why don't we try and project what the world will look like in 20 years’ time when HS2 is scheduled to be completed?"

He said that 20 years ago no one would have predicted Skype or "thought it would be possible to watch and speak to one's children in Australia holding a small device in one's hand".

He added: "Now let's project forward. In 2033 can we imagine a technology which could transmit a perfect hologram of a person half way around the world sitting on a chair in front of us? A hologram where you are hard pushed to tell the real from the image. 

"If this and thousands of other technologies that are bubbling away come to pass, who in their right mind would journey to a business meeting starting early in the day and getting home late at night?

"It's why we should always project technology forward and factor this into all mega infrastructure decisions."

For the government, Lord Newby said he had spent quite a bit of time in Birmingham over the past 20 years involved in two projects.

"There is no way I could have done that without actually being there engaging people face to face," he said, replying to a debate on the government's role in generating economic prosperity.

"While I am sure a hologram of myself in front of Birmingham City Council or a head teacher would have been mightily impressive, I simply don't believe that at any point in the foreseeable future we are going to do without transport.

"The population of the UK is set to increase very, very significantly over the coming decades which means that all forms of transport are going to need to be enhanced and that's why the government has put so much effort into longer-term infrastructure proposals."

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