Barlow's Beef: HS2 a miracle waiting to happen

vicbarlowmerlin

Cheshire East Council has welcomed the announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the Government is aiming to bring forward the construction of HS2.

The final route has yet to be decided but the Council is delighted that the Secretary of State has called for HS2 to be 'fast tracked' (nice sound-bite there Mr Secretary). Cheshire East want HS2 ASAP and so do I.

For somewhere between £43B and £80B (depending on whose estimate you believe) I will be able to travel home from London 20 minutes quicker. It's an absolute bargain.

Err... sorry, say again. HS2 won't stop at Wilmslow... no matter I can get off at Crewe and grab a connection that does.

Okay, I'll have to switch platforms and hang around for a Wilmslow train but I'll still shave at least five minutes off my journey time. Hey, I'm a busy man five minutes is enough to change the world. Tony Blair swore Saddam could wipe us out with his Weapons of Mass Destruction in five minutes. He was in such haste to start a war he forgot to tell us Saddam didn't have any.

Forget the thousands of acres of ever shrinking countryside that must be destroyed to facilitate HS2 and a cost greater than the annual education budget. This is a project the prestige of which has not been seen since the scientific miracle of Concorde.

Remember what that did for mankind? It revolutionized air travel for... err dozens of wealthy folk. At less than £1B per celebrity it was a snip.

There's no use us hanging onto the past. Yes, of course we could upgrade our entire existing rail network for a fraction of the cost and yes Virgin does stop at far more stations. But the sort of people who will use HS2 won't want to stop at more stations. These are executives and politicians (travelling on expenses) who want to move between international cities at the speed of light- or at least 20 minutes faster than Virgin.

Do they want it desperately enough to buy a HS2 ticket out of their own pocket? As they have probably never had that experience it's impossible know.

People point out that it wasn't Concorde that created the massive boom in air travel but Freddy Laker's Sky Train swiftly followed by Easy Jet, Ryan Air etc all of whom offered affordable flights to the masses.

But upgrading the current rail system isn't as grandiose as ripping up the landscape and spending Billions of taxpayers' cash on a headline-grabbing project.

Think of the advantages HS2 will bring. There must be millions of people around the globe who lie awake at night thinking I'd love to travel to the North West of England... if only it was 20 minutes closer to London.

Mmm... just had an idea. If Virgin had a service that went from London to Manchester without stopping they could save 20 minutes now. No desecration of the countryside necessary, no need for £80B of taxpayers' cash AND no self-aggrandizing politicians queuing for knighthoods as though they had invented steam.

'A half-ounce of coal will draw two tons a mile," Robert Stephenson said that.

'Everyone's a winner, Baby...' Errol Brown said that.

"Forget HS2 give us better trains at cheaper prices." I said that.

Yet another barnstorming idea from wilmslow.co.uk.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of wilmslow.co.uk.

Tags:
Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Manuel Golding
Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 12:41 pm
You are so right, Vic. This is yet another case of the emperor's clothes or a politician's "legacy". One thing I have learnt in life, to be very afraid of politicians who wish to leave a "legacy".
In the HS2 case, the legacy infestation has attacked George Osborne, Michael Jones, Manchester's leaders and many other politicians. We are blighted by these so short sighted and legacy desiring politicians. Who will rid us of the likes?
You rightly draw attention to HS2s non existent service via Wilmslow, or Macclesfield. All mythical time savings on the Wlm/Macc journey to/from London will be lost, well lost. What you have not mentioned is that the London terminus is miles away from Euston & central London. Now add that journey time and far from any time saving, it will be added journey time.
As you have rightly pointed out, the fares are bound to be too exorbitant for the non expenses class. What of the existing service? Will it continue? With the 1st class expenses class moving to HS2, the Wlm/Macc to Euston lines will lose unquantified millions, enough to put "our" service in real jeopardy. Back to the overcrowded M6/M1 then or should we be investing in horses & carts once again?
Politicians? Gawd save us from these myopic, legacy focused idiots.
Bob Jones
Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 5:11 pm
The West Coast mainline is running out of capacity. It is possible it could be upgraded but please remember the chaos and knock on costs to the economy during the original electrification and later upgrades to accommodate the current tilting trains. A new line will be far less disruptive and it would be shortsighted to build a non high speed line ( whatever that might be).

Let's have some ambition for our children and grandchildren and not join the 19th Century landowners rail blocking tactics.

Road, rail and air travel are all subsidised in different ways but social policy should concentrate on efficient use of the subsidies and a leaning towards safe, climate friendly transport.
Jackie Pass
Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 6:28 pm
The West Coast mainline is running out of capacity because of the whole of the network linking the welsh borders to the midlands was removed as a cost cutting exercise many, many years ago.

Vic - you have forgotten to build into your estimated time save that HS2 might not run into the existing Crewe Station.

As to Wilmslow station- this will close as Virgin Rail wanted it to do and all trains will, no doubt, go via the airport. So residents of Wilmslow will have to get to Macclesfield or the airport. Time saved?
Peter Davidson
Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 10:42 pm
I see you haven't changed your basic modus operandi from the Wilmslow Advertiser days Vic - still churning out selectively edited, fact free claptrap, masquerading as journalism?

1. HS2 will serve Wilmslow Station from day one of phase 1 operation - when phase 2 comes into operation, those (hybrid compatible rolling stock) services could be reviewed but there is a station planned for Manchester International Airport, still within taxi commute distance for most Wilmslow and surrounding area residents?
2. The actual budget for HS2 is £28bn (at 2011 prices) + a whopping 50% contingency (mandated by HM Treasury). Both HS1 and CrossRail had similar contingencies in their budgets, which weren't used?
3. Virgin can't run a non-stop service to London because there aren't any free slots on the WCML to accommodate them - the same reason why a plan to introduce direct Pendolino services between London and Shrewsbury/Blackpool was turned down - mixed traffic on the main trunk http://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/11679/david-lewis-are-recruiting---make-a-difference-to-someones-liferoute is a major reason for this capacity shortfall - if all traffic on a line moves at the same speed (as it will on HS2) this feature alone greatly increases total capacity.
4. Price is a function of demand vs supply - when you vastly increase supply on one side of this basic equation, average prices tend to fall. What does HS2 do - massively increases supply - perhaps you can deduce the rest of this simple calculation?
5. Doing nothing isn't an option so what would you do to increase travel capacity for the future - you could build a raft of privately funded toll road motorways or vastly expand the network of Regional Airports or you could build a high capacity 21st century rail line instead - now guess which one of these possible transport policy options would use up less of the precious countryside you appear to be so concerned about?

If the topic in question wasn't so serious your lame attempts at journalistic endeavour would be fun (to poke fun at) but future transport policy is a serous topic, worthy of serious debate - not your half baked interventions.

So Vic, why not change the habit of a lifetime and do some proper research before posting ill-informed and poorly phrased diatribes about subjects you clearly know nothing (of value) about?
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 1:40 pm
Oh ye of little faith:

"The project is being developed by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, a company limited by guarantee and established by the UK government. The cost is estimated by the Department for Transport to be £43 billion; a study by the Institute of Economic Affairs suggested a total cost of £80 billion."
Jackie Pass
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 3:17 pm
Peter - so I was right. Taxi to airport to pick up HS2 possible in phase 2. An extra £20 on the cost + three quaters of an hour attempting to get there in peak periods from Wilmslow.
Peter Davidson
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 3:34 pm
Yes Vic and the £43bn total figure advised by the DoT includes £14bn of Treasury mandated contingency - check your facts!

Institute of Economic Affairs (IoE) - I'd have a close look at their credentials (and motivations) if I were you - this is the same unfettered free market think tank (aligned to the Adam Smith Institute and Tax Payers Alliance) that would have us privatise huge swathes of the NHS and in terms of transport, urges the wholesale construction of toll funded motorways to solve the looming transport capacity shortfall - yes, let's trust these kind of characters to develop transport strategies for the future - certainly less burden on the taxpayer but at terrible long term cost to the environment?

The IoE hatchet job on HS2 has been widely discredited - subjected to scrutiny, their analysis was found to contain all sorts of mysterious factors related to infrastructure schemes they just added in to inflate total costs, such as CrossRail2.

Let's be candid here - HS2 is by no means perfect but it is at least a huge step in the right direction, forming the central plank within a long term transport strategy aimed at creating a modern rail network fit for the 21st century.

So instead of just doing a thirty seconds copy and paste job from a government dept website why not earn your fee by undertaking some proper research into the facts?
John Clegg
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 3:35 pm
I fear that there are too many of the We-must-do-SOMETHING camp who have too much of a say in what passes as a great idea.
There must surely be a better idea than simply ripping thru' the countryside with a brand new railway.
Once it's built and the green space has gone, it can't be returned later. I think Vic said that. I'd agree.
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 3:40 pm
For many years I have struggled with others obsession with TCKU (London - The Centre of the Known Universe). It is compulsory for all houses for sale within 150 miles of TCKU to have details of how quickly one can travel from home to TCKU as the inhabitants think the whole country works there. We do need the railways updating following many, many years of being run by incompetents and those filling their pockets at our expense. Whether this grandiose plan is the answer only time will tell. Whether it really matters if the trains come to Wilmslow or not in the future is another unknown but for certain the area will not be anywhere near as attractive to live when all the Greedys have finished.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 3:41 pm
Vic - I'm not sure citing Wikipedia as evidence of your in-depth research helps your argument that much.
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 5:18 pm
My 'in depth' research tells me we have a finite amount of land in our small island which needs to be treated with respect before we 'develop' ourselves into a totally urban society.
Peter Davidson
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 7:01 pm
So that's your answer Vic - you're firmly in the "do nothing" camp, A.K.A. sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away?

Doing nothing isn't an option - please don't bang on about how we're all going to be living in a virtual world communicating via fibre optic because the evidence does back up that conclusion.

Firstly look to South Korea, similar in economic status, geography and population to the UK and also top of the superfast broadband league since records began - are they content to reside in an environment where they travel less and communicate through internet based mediums - are they NOT investing in new rail technologies - well see for yourself
http://bit.ly/1BZkFVB

Secondly concurrent with the recent period of advancing communication technology, increases in demand for rail travel has continued unabated - there is even an argument that says far from depressing demand for travel, 21st century communication mediums have actually stoked up pressure for improved, faster means of travel.
http://bit.ly/1dxaUIn

So the challenge (which you appear willing to simply ignore and hope it goes away) remains - which transport policy option are you going to choose; air, road or rail? Short-haul air is incredibly damaging to the environment and if you're concerned about land take for road vs rail, I suggest a quick view of this on-line video, where at 1:30 in you can see both options side by side - it doesn't take a genius to work out which choice to make if protecting the countryside is your desired outcome?

Perhaps you should reconsider your position after reviewing some relevant research about the topic?
Jackie Pass
Wednesday 10th June 2015 at 8:06 pm
"Air, road or rail"? Is the underlying assumption that HS2 is needed to London because of capacity issues? What percentage of rail passengers currently travel to London en-route to elsewhere? I ask this as someone who had to travel every month to Hampshire. Two options - either Stockport with a packed through train going all he way to Portsmouth and stopping at every mainline station, or Wilmslow to Euston, underground to Waterloo - Waterloo to destination. The latter was considrably quicker and a more pleasant journey. What we have is an unbalanced rail network. I cannot see how filtering more rail traffic through London helps this situation at all.
John Clegg
Thursday 11th June 2015 at 3:39 pm
"Do nothing"? A few decades ago, it was decided that out-of-town shopping centres were the Next Big Thing. When you look at these now, they are dominated by big chain presences - Sainsbury, Tesco, Next, TK Maxx, you know the others - and have done nothing but rip the heart out of pre-existing town centres - and everyone then says "that's a shame" and goes shopping in the out-of-town centres anyway. Except in many cases, there are examples of out-of-town centres which have failed - or at least are not as successful as they could/should be. Handforth Dean has had empty units, White City Retail Park, Old trafford has had many re-vamps in not-quite 20 years; Ancoats retail park, Manchester is mostly bombed-out units; Macclesfield's has many empty units; Stanley Green has 1 empty unit out of 6 - altho' we have seen new businesses open in the surrounding Stanley Green trading estate but I can't be sure what happened - chicken or egg?

So we have to further wreck the countryside with more houses, vanity railway projects and roads to compete with the likes of South Korea?
I fear the Tory govt will get their way and HS2 will be built - but carefully avoiding key big-wigs' NIMBY concerns. And we won't be able to calculate any benefit this side of 25 years or so, will we?
Vic Barlow
Thursday 11th June 2015 at 4:01 pm
You're forgetting the 'massive benefits'
of the Channel Tunnel
Where would we be without that ?
It's been a real cash-cow.
Ryan Dance
Thursday 11th June 2015 at 6:35 pm
Jackie - I think the point is we need additional capacity on the rail network. Extra capacity linking cities & towns...and yes, in most major developed nations around the globe this involves a few major hubs.

Not quite sure why people take issue with London being connected to the rest of the UK. If you think extra capacity isn't needed on the rail network then.....ummmmm.

Vic - Your comments are rather funny, seldom are they factual.
Jackie Pass
Thursday 11th June 2015 at 7:27 pm
Yes Ryan we do need additional capacity on the rail network, but at the moment it is quicker to travel to the South coast via London. It is also quicker to travel to the West country via London. Also try travelling West to East on our rail network. Rebalancing the economy means not assuming that everything emanates from London.
Vic Barlow
Thursday 11th June 2015 at 8:01 pm
I think we all agree extra capacity is needed.
We are not convinced HS2 is the best option.
Simples...
Ryan Dance
Friday 12th June 2015 at 5:22 pm
Simples.....for sure!. I quote "My 'in depth' research tells me we have a finite amount of land in our small island which needs to be treated with respect before we 'develop' ourselves into a totally urban society".
Peter Davidson
Saturday 13th June 2015 at 11:51 am
To clarify, obviously my sentence should read "because the evidence DOESN'T back up that conclusion"

I also post the missing video link referred to in my last comment - take a look 1:30 into the video and judge for yourself the land take of road vs rail
http://bit.ly/1cSBv1N

Vic - perhaps it might be a good idea to post some factually accurate information by way of rebuttal rather than your gut feel inclinations?
Jon Williams
Saturday 13th June 2015 at 7:35 pm
And look what happened to Concord:
While commercial jets took eight hours to fly from New York to Paris, the average supersonic flight time on the transatlantic routes was just under 3.5 hours in Concord
A round trip ticket on the Concorde cost 5 times as much as a ticket on a regular subsonic airliner like the 747. When you could buy a round trip ticket from N.Y. to Paris for $2000.00 the same trip on the Concorde was $10,000.00. That's why it was said that it was for only the rich and famous who could afford to spend that much money to save a few hours of air travel time. Although the service was First Class as far as the food the seats were rather small and the long thin cabin and tiny windows made the cabin seem cramped.

A bit like HS2 !
.
Peter Davidson
Monday 15th June 2015 at 10:15 am
@Jon Williams

Wrong!

Your analogy is fatally flawed - rolling stock on HS2 will be high capacity, high frequency. Up to 1000 seats per train, double deck potential (on the new lines when completed), peak time trains running at 6 minute intervals

Using your aircraft comparison, obviously HS2 is more akin to 747 jumbo jets than Concorde, with its limited capacity and relatively infrequent service operation - one a day each way if I recall correctly?

There will be thousands of seats per day on offer at relative bargain prices - the entire business model of HS2 is predicated on a high volume service - not exclusive premium pricing as you imply?
Alan Brough
Monday 15th June 2015 at 2:25 pm
I broadly agree with Vic Barlow.

HS2 is the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

Can anyone explain how the provision of a fast line in and out of London is going to bring anything new to the table in terms of moving people and freight around the country more effectively.....and by "more effectively" I dont mean a few minutes faster.

There is currently no difficulty in travelling to London from Wilmslow or pretty much anywhere else. But try getting from (say) Wilmslow to Felixstowe, or Wilmslow to Southampton and it's a costly and inefficient mess!

Investment should be made in additional mainline East / West routes with hubs where they bissect either the ECML or WCML

In addition, local branch lines would benefit from investment in order to get cars off the roads and to offer alternatives for movement of freight. Just take a drive down the A14 and look at the volume of container traffic that brings that road to a standstill everyday - Toll road anybody?
Peter Davidson
Monday 15th June 2015 at 9:10 pm
Which might be relevant @Alan Brough but sadly aren't because your comments focus on the wrong aspects of HS2 for the wrong reasons and in relation to the wrong areas of the existing rail network.

Your immediate response starts off in the wrong direction from the outset so the basis of your entire argument is predicated on flawed reasoning - the primary benefits of HS2 flow directly from the relief it provides to the existing network - a network fast approaching gridlock in many choke points, ie. no more free slots - hence the recent refusal to sanction new Pendolino based direct services between London and Shrewsbury/Blackpool.

You want more freight on the rails and less on the roads - so do I but where are you going to find the slots on certain constrained parts of the network to accommodate - answer; you can't - to do that you need to take existing services off parts of the existing network - you can't do that until you build a new line - what is that new line strategy - it's called HS2!

You want more investment in the existing conventional network - it's already happening - more funds are pouring into renewing, refurbishing and extending the conventional rail network - to wit, £38bn over the current (2014-2019) 5 year control period (or more than £7bn per year compared with the £2bn per year slated for HS2 during its construction period). That investment programme includes opening up new lines, even those going east-west as you advocate - try the following link for a summary of the projects in hand http://bit.ly/1dHoDMQ
Finally you might say you agree with Vic Barlow but in fact Vic doesn't agree with you because you seem to want new road and rail construction and guess what; that's going to involve ploughing through the precious green belt lands that remain sacrosanct no-go areas according the Vic Barlow master plan?
Ryan Dance
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 8:27 am
@peterdavidson - great addition to this debate rather than the usual clap trap we get from some contributors.

I think a number of contributors here would like our infrastructure firmly rooted in the 1900's for fear of change. The world is changing at a phenomenal pace.....embrace it!
Alan Brough
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 11:11 am
@Peter Davidson. Perhaps you could slow down a little and tell me where I have advocated new road construction?

I wouldnt mind the brusque response quite so much if I thought you'd bothered to read and / or understand my point of view.
Peter Davidson
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 3:15 pm
@Alan Brough: "Just take a drive down the A14 and look at the volume of container traffic that brings that road to a standstill everyday - Toll road anybody? "

Maybe I've misunderstood but that sounds like a plea to build a new toll road to me?

If it isn't apologies but the alternative comes back to more freight slots on the existing network - that's not possible without construction of new lines - a new freight line was investigated some time ago and didn't get past first base - current transport strategy is focused on providing much needed capacity by an indirect method - build HS2, take the bulk of intercity traffic off the WCML and ECML and free up slots that way.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 4:13 pm
Peter,

What I am saying is that the road (A14) is over capacity and the only proposed development of it at the moment is to add a lane and make it a toll road. This is not really a sensible proposition.

By far the largest use of the A14 is by freight (container) lorries carrying billions of tons of cargo each year from the port of Felixstowe to the main distribution hubs in the East and West Midlands. In addition there are huge volumes of ro/ro cargo moving on North Sea crossings via Felixstowe and Harwich.

Building HS2 will do absolutely nothing to remove any of that freight volume from UK roads.
Indeed it will prove counter-productive as it will suck up every nickel and dime of spending on transport infrastructure well into the forseeable future (these are "austere" times remember.)

For all sorts of reasons (environmental / cost / efficiency/ infrastructure) we have to considerably reduce the volume of freight on UK roads.

The only realistic alternative is rail, but again HS2 fails to deliver anything other than a slightly faster passenger transport service.

By choosing to spend on HS2 now, rather than invest in a long term, joined-up transport strategy that will serve the whole of the UK well into the future, we are (in my opinion) missing an opportunity that is unlikely to present itself again any time soon.
Ryan Dance
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 5:10 pm
Alan - Your idealistic pleas are admirable....in fact ....i love your rhetoric...!

"By choosing to spend on HS2 now, rather than invest in a long term, joined-up transport strategy that will serve the whole of the UK well into the future".

This sounds wonderful...but what does it actually mean? we need extra capacity?....please translate your wonderful words into a meaningful statement. We have debated transport policy for 50 years or more? we can't even build a new runway at the (once) world's busiest airport without a 30 year debate!
Peter Davidson
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 7:06 pm
@Alan Brough: "Building HS2 will do absolutely nothing to remove any of that freight volume from UK roads. Indeed it will prove counter-productive as it will suck up every nickel and dime of spending on transport infrastructure well into the forseeable future (these are "austere" times remember.)"

I'm sorry but I don't agree with your conclusion - please show me some evidence to back up your assertion? I happen to know something about containerised freight movements because I work in the industry - you're correct in stating that huge amounts of containers move from Felixstowe up the A14 but large qtys also move by rail as well and a lot more could transfer to rail if only the infrastructure could support the additional slots required - it can't - by infrastructure this doesn't just mean the bit from East Anglia to the WCML & ECML - you have to update/augment/improve the whole network - that's why HS2 does have a role to play because of the relief it will offer as a main north-south artery to the existing, already overloaded conventional network.

As for your claim about transport infrastructure funding - sheer nonsense - plain wrong - utterly false.

I've already posted a link to show a summary of the current Network Rail strategy and the vast sums dedicated to the existing network - approx £7bn per year compared with the £2bn per year slated for HS2 - here is that link again http://bit.ly/1dHoDMQ

Do you just ignore the facts if they don't sit well with your opinion?
Alan Brough
Tuesday 16th June 2015 at 9:06 pm
Peter,

I would be interested to learn more about your experience in the industry.

Without wishing to engage in some sort of willy-waving competition, I have worked for over thirty five years in the Industry and currently run the UK Operation of an International Haulage company operating over 400 units daily over North Sea Port routes. On a day to day basis I have to consider the movement of cargo around the UK and, believe me, it is a question of ever decreasing circles!

I repeat that HS2 does very little (I would like to say "NOTHING") for the movement of cargo throughout UK and I repeat my earlier assertion that it will take any hope of investment from the many other (more deserving) schemes to link industrial hubs throughout the UK.

I cannot help but think that your arguments are more political than altruistic (or realistic) otherwise you would recognise that HS2 is, as Vic Barlow postulated, little more than an expensive, expansive vanity project.
Peter Davidson
Wednesday 17th June 2015 at 10:41 am
I work in Freight Forwarding of containerised imports - I'm not at the level you are but I have day to day experience of the problems you allude to - caused primarily by capacity constraints - I know that providers such as Logico would like to run more trains but can't because the freight slots simply aren't there

Sorry but I don't agree with your analysis

You have also dodged the challenge I made in my previous post - you claim that HS2 will starve other projects of investment but when I show you a list of current projects by way of challenge, your answer is; silence?

Vic Barlow's postulations - ho, ho, ho is all I can say - ZERO factual content, massive reliance on unreferenced heresay, utterly discredited sources and populist rhetoric - if you really believe Vic Barlow is talking sense, what can I say?
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 17th June 2015 at 11:43 am
@ Ryan Dance, I really think that a lot of the contributors here WOULD like the RAIL network infrastructure rooted in the 1900s. There would be no need for HS2, for example there would still be three separate routes from Manchester to that London. Every town and many villages would have their own freight sidings. You accuse others of posting clap-trap but perhaps you should consider what you write more carefully.
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 23rd June 2015 at 4:43 pm
Vic - you often shoot from the hip without really bothering to gather facts and aim accurately, and this anti-HS2 diatribe of yours is one of the worst examples of that you have committed. Peter Davies has offered solid facts as to why we have to have HS2, indeed should have had it and other high speed rail links decades ago. I don't need to repeat what he has said.

I've just come back from Spain. That country is typical of the rest of Europe in already having thousands of miles of high speed rail. And everywhere you look, they are building more! Just like France, Germany and pretty much everywhere else, including Japan and China. Having a cramped, crowded, twisty, slow Victorian rail system with no high speed links is like having a road system with no motorways. Never mind that is almost full and there's no way to expand capacity without new lines! It's no way for a growing country to be in the 20th century, never mind the 21st! And the environmental footprint of a new railway is many times less than that of a motorway - go look at the Lune Gorge in Cumbria where the WCML and the M6 run side by side. The motorway is a constantly noisy scar on the landscape visible from many miles away. You have to look hard to see the railway at all! There's no comparison in land-grab between a 6-lane (plus shoulders) motorway and a twin-track railway.

We're arguing about a few hundred miles of HS rail, while everyone else just got on and built it decades ago! Fast, comfortable, far more roomy that present loading-gauge-limited trains, and offering thousands of new rail seats per day while freeing up slots on the classic lines for freight and local services.... we just need to get on and do it! We have a lot of catching up to do if we are to compete as a viable nation in the years to come!
Pete Taylor
Thursday 25th June 2015 at 2:55 pm
@Vince, you will have noticed that Spain, France and Germany are massive compared to the UK, for them HS makes sense. For little countries like Denmark, Holland, Belgium and the UK they make no sense at all.
I see that the funding for the rail network for the "Northern Powehouse" has just been withdrawn and the bloke in charge sacked. Election over, business as usual.
Alan Brough
Thursday 25th June 2015 at 9:23 pm
Todays news about the planned investment in the rail network is no
surprise.

Trans-Pennine electrification? Why would we need that? The line doesn't
point in the direction of London....let it die!

Any comment now Peter Davidson? "
Vince Chadwick
Friday 26th June 2015 at 10:43 am
UK is ideally sized for rail. Too small for inter-city air travel and long distance motorway travel being hell due to many hold ups on our crowded roads.

The announcement yesterday is disappointing but perhaps not unexpected in our London-centric society.

Trans-Pennine? The Spanish built an 18 mile tunnel for 300 kph trains under the mountains between Segovia and Madrid. Can you imagine UK building a similar a sub-Pennine tunnel?
Pete Taylor
Friday 26th June 2015 at 5:04 pm
Interesting to read the report, suppressed before the election, which proved that HS is untenable, only released under FOI request. This gives our MP and others hoping for personal gain, a real problem.
UK is ideal for rail but not HS.
There already is a rail tunnel under the Pennines (three actually). Stupid decisions by vested interest closed it. Now electricity cables will have to be moved to reopen it.That was the plan under the Northern Powerhouse- now the Northern Powercut.
Vince Chadwick
Thursday 2nd July 2015 at 4:55 pm
Pete, those are dingy inadequate Victorian mouse holes, narrow and slow and short, compared to what Spain has built under the mountains between Segovia and Madrid. Manchester to Leeds by train is tortuously slow. Would you drive between those cities without using the M62? Of course not. So why shouldn't rail have its motorways as well, only far far faster and more comfortable than any road?

And what was that 'suppressed HS2 report'? I'm not aware of any HS2 arguments, for and against, that are not freely available in the public domain.

Perhaps that one was suppressed in embarrassment by its author(s) because it was ill-informed tosh?
Pete Taylor
Friday 3rd July 2015 at 3:47 pm
@Vince:
http://bit.ly/1LL0MY6

http://bit.ly/1GUn9qx

http://bit.ly/1LMGtwn

I think that you will find that the report was not suppressed by its by its authors but by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.
Vince Chadwick
Saturday 4th July 2015 at 7:26 pm
Pete, I see nothing there that is new. From one of your own links:

"A DfT spokesperson said: “To suggest HS2 is in doubt is false and misleading. The MPA reports are out of date. The spending round in 2013 confirmed long-term funding for HS2.”

There are also links you give which suggest HS2 is responsible for the temporary hold on funding electrification of the Midland Main Line and Trans Pennine lines. There is no connection between HS2 funding and those projects.

It's not a question of 'can we afford HS2?'. It's a question of 'can UK afford not to have HS2?'. You won't find the pay back for HS2 in the fare box. It's an enabler. The payback is making UK plc a far more productive place, and helping prevent it being left behind by China, Japan, and the rest of Europe to name but a few!

The Victorians would have built it two centuries ago had they had the technology! We need to get back some of that Victorian spirit of entrepreneurism and just build it!
Pete Taylor
Saturday 4th July 2015 at 9:58 pm
@ Vince: "The Victorians would have built it two centuries ago had they had the technology! We need to get back some of that Victorian spirit of entrepreneurism and just build it! "

Victoria was not even born 200 years ago.
I'm afraid that you do not seem to have read any of the detailed financial analysis; from whatever source.

How will making a journey from Wilmslow to London half an hour longer (at least) "make the UK a far more productive place?"

UK was left behind by China when our manufacturing industries were no longer competitive, for whatever reason. Japan has been a busted flush for some years and "the rest of Europe" is too complex to bundle together.
Jon Williams
Sunday 5th July 2015 at 8:25 am
Vince Chadwick - "The payback is making UK plc a far more productive place, and helping prevent it being left behind by China, Japan, and the rest of Europe to name but a few!"

Britain was left behind years ago Vince and wasting money on HS2 won't help !