The frontiers of state practice in Britain and France : pioneering high speed railway technology and infrastructure
The thesis examines British and French state action, that is to say both the characteristic practices of central governments and their underpinning, the working conceptions of public policymaking in technical, political and administrative circles. Taken together, practices and conceptions make up a `referential framework' of public action with distinctive, deep-seated and enduring features in each country. The British and French referential frameworks are deducted from two empirical, comparative case studies of passenger rail transport policy in Britain and France in the years 1965-1993. Use is made of published, archival and interview material, comprising both quantitative and qualitative data, relating to the British and French experiences in the research and development of high speed rolling stock technology (APT and TGV trains) and the planning of new high speed rail infrastructure (Paris-Lyon TGV line and Channel Tunnel Rail Link schemes). The case studies thus constitute windows into the realities of the British and French policy processes. The empirical findings of the case studies point to highly contrasted British and French referential frameworks, of which traditional models of state action cannot adequately take account. For instance, the dominance of often contradictory political and financial imperatives in the British case studies cannot be explained solely in terms of limited government intervention, whilst the prevailing technico-economic rationale in the French case studies does not fully accord with received ideas about the propensity of the French State to intervene in economic life.