Astral bodies, fast trains and a legal reckoning

Jason Ford

News Editor

As long as the snow allows ministers to get into the House of Commons, the government will today announce the preferred route for HS2, the high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham. Trains on the route would travel at over 200mph, cutting journey times between the two cities.

The Engineer has been anticipating the announcement for quite some time. Previous reportage from The Engineer has had many of you writing to tell us your thoughts, which fall broadly into preferring the shortest possible route between London and Birmingham; wanting to see a route that incorporates other transport hubs such as airports; and scrapping the idea entirely to improve existing infrastructure and open new links.

Moving onto defence, and a report from The Sunday Times that a Defence and Security Industry Technology Policy green paper is due today which is expected to refocus the MoD’s financial resources toward technologies to combat the cyber threat.

The green paper will start a 12 week consultation process with industry and a white paper is expected in Spring 2011 at the earliest.

Back in October, The Engineer reported that more than £500m will be invested in a national cyber security programme to enhance the country’s defences against online attacks and fix holes in the cyber infrastructure.

BAE Systems will no doubt provide significant input into the consultation but prior to that the defence giant will today learn of the sentence passed against it following a Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of poor accounting.

The company is alleged to have overpriced an air traffic control system sold to Tanzania.

BAE Systems had previously agreed to pay compensation and fines totalling £30m for overpricing an air traffic control system sold to Tanzania.

The ruling from Southwark Crown Court will decide how this sum will be split between the company’s fine and compensation to Tanzania.

From court to the economy and news that the CBI today published its latest economic forecast, which includes GDP growth, unemployment, government debt and inflation.

The business group predicts growth of two per cent in the UK economy in 2011, and 2.4 per cent in 2012, but warns that inflation will significantly exceed the Bank of England’s two per cent target in 2011.

Briefing signs off 2010 with news from the Royal Astronomical Society who have issued a statement saying there will be a total eclipse of the Moon tomorrow.

The event will take place at sunrise and is likely to include a brief period when both the Sun and eclipsed Moon are above the horizon and precisely opposite each other in the sky.