Barlow's Beef: Book early for HS2


I'm sure you are delighted to know that HS2 high-speed rail service will be coming to a station near you in the next 12-17 years. Well, when I say 'near you' what I mean is Crewe. When and if it ever actually makes it to Wilmslow is anyone's guess.
So, fellow travellers, in just a few years less than it took to build the Great Wall of China HS2 will be heading your way. Obviously you will need to travel to Crewe to board it but hey-ho your journey has to start somewhere.

This is stunning news as the trip from Wilmslow to Euston currently takes two hours so travelling to Crewe, waiting for your connection then taking HS2 to London will mean your overall journey time will be err... never mind you will enjoy the experience.

And the cost of land, track, trains, the whole shooting match is estimated to be no more than £50B unless you believe the Institute of Economic Affairs who say it's more likely to be £80B but c'mon whose counting?

This is BIG news, in fact so big Cheshire East are advertising the service right now. Full page ads, no less. I think it's a great idea to start the promotional campaign early lest we forget.

I have already set my alarm for 2027 and booked a taxi to take me to Crewe. Okay, I may need to hit the snooze button for another six years but at least I won't miss my train.

Cheshire East is clearly a forward thinking organisation and sufficiently well funded they can afford to place full-page ads promoting a service that won't actually be available for 12-18 years.

Other councils are closing down care facilities, cutting services and couldn't contemplate the cost of advertising a facility that won't be in existence for a decade and a half. Not so CEC who have no such cash restrictions especially when it comes to self-aggrandisement.

If they are starting their promotional campaign now imagine the cost by the time the first train rolls into Crewe. You could probably buy a hospital, school and a waste transfer station with that kind of money.

God knows what the world will look like in 20028. Given our government's proclivity for firing off missiles we could be embroiled in something rather more pressing than HS2.

Nevertheless CEC is delivering a pre-emptive strike to ensure no one forgets the part it played in the planning process. Before a turf has been turned (or even grown) the marketing campaign has begun and YOU, my friends, are picking up the tab.

Who wants schools and hospitals any way?

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

Vic Barlow


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

Michael Widger
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 10:45 am
Vic Barlow seems to have missed the point that 'classic compatible' through HS2 trains will operate between Manchester and London from 2027 calling at Stockport, Wilmslow and then on to the HS2 line at Crewe. Estimated journey time from Wilmslow to Euston is 75 minutes. If, and when, the proposed extension of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester is built, there will be an intermediate station at Manchester Airport. Cheshire East is quite right to start advance preparations for the HS2 station at Crewe and the huge regeneration benefits it will bring. Manchester City Council is doing likewise for the Piccadilly station area.
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 12:05 pm
Michael makes a good point. But Vic, you're right. It is indicative of UK's poor record when it comes to infrastructure provision that we have to wait perhaps a couple of decades for something the rest of Europe commenced over 30 years ago and are still expanding. There's even a branch of the extensive French High Speed Rail system that reaches into UK - via the Channel Tunnel to London. Anyone who has traveled in Europe and many other parts of the world will know that a railway without HS arteries is like a road system without motorways. It's archaic.

Our Victorian railway system has seen a three-fold increase in traffic since privatisation and is bursting at the seams, and rail freight companies cannot expand to meet fast increasing demand such is the lack of capacity.

We need HS2 primarily for capacity reasons and we need it NOW, never mind in the decade after the next!
David Nelson
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 12:13 pm
I think Vic Barlow could be closer to the truth in the third paragraph from the end..."20028" much nearer the mark Vic! Hey the power of zero.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 1:21 pm
Well, that's the vocal minority off to a good start.
John Clegg
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 2:04 pm
The U.K.'s inability to build its own infrastructure is depressing and especially as the govt could borrow the money cheaply - as government debt - and we could build the projects ourselves - in-house, as it were - and keep the income and jobs on-shore.
The funding of the railway network has been badly managed, whether by Railtrack or Network Rail or the various train companies introduced by the fragmented system brought in by the Tories nearly 20 years ago and not reversed by various Labour governments, which consistently paid directors' salaries and bonuses, shareholders' dividends and profits, which was all money out and not re-invested in the the system.
All those arguments about how out-dated the arguments for re-nationalization are lost as time moves on.
I also like hearing those against re-nationalization call me a luddite - or worse - for even suggesting such an out-dated idea.
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 2:25 pm
One could opine that the whole thing is a colossal waste of money. If it isn't, then why did we destroy the rail infrastructure we had 50 years ago? Why did we not have the foresight that if it was not needed then to at least mothball the routes so they could be reopened. One thinks of the Midland main line to Derby via Bakewell with a huge station at Cheadle Heath for South Manchester traffic (not even proposed for closure by Beeching) and the Woodhead electrified route to Sheffield and then onward to London Marylebone, built to Continental Loading Gauge, flat with few curves - HS2 ready! Closer to home the Bollington line, now surrounded by much extra housing (a Bollington estate agent told me he could sell 50% more houses there if the railway had not been closed in 1971). Politicians and planners wasting taxpayers' money.

Now we says we have to build an entirely new line. I say improve and reopen some of our local rail services first.
John Clegg
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 4:31 pm
Ah, Dr Beeching. He, who wasn't even an expert on railways, just did the bidding of the govt of the day (I don't know - I may just have to check Wikipedia or something).
Cameron's HS2 project:
1. Just something to make it look like he's doing something;
2. Something for the whinge-y Northerners;
3. A colossal waste of money.

The thing about all Europe having HS rail links is interesting, if a good diversion: Great Britain is a relatively small island where populations are bunched together in sort-of megacities. Upgrades between major city areas is a good idea, as is improvement for freight & cargo services. But it's not as is someone is going to spend 24 hrs on a train where 1 or 2 hours or more is a proper saving.
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 8:49 pm
B'ham to Crewe is a small fraction of the project. It is without relevance in the economic development of our nation. So many more usful infrastructure projects to help export more, import substitute and innovate. If it were my money (oh! It is) I'd be looking at other options and not a partial HS2.
Finally, the Northern Powerhouse aka Northern Water World must be currently the least attractive location for businesses in the South East to relocate.
What an image down south, confirming that it really does rain in Manchester.
CEC continues to waste our money.
John Clegg
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 9:44 pm
Apparently, Swansea has more rainfall than good ol' Manchester.