No HS2 (Part 1 of 2)

  • Iscotter

    If it is OK for the proHS2 groups from B’ham to lobby for self benefit, why is the local antiHS2 lobby dismissed as NIMBYs? The reality is that only those people with an interest will study the case in any detail. If there were a national case, I’d hurt, but live with it. But as you so eloquently say, the case is just not made. If we Nimbys don’t campaign against it, the debate will be sterile and flat and the nation will blunder towards a massive waste of money for no strategic purpose – and our valley will be the outward manifestation of the folly.

  • Windsorian

    In my opinion the picture says it all “No HS2 across the Chilterns”; but it OK in someone elses back yard !!

    Meanwhile on Railway Eye –

  • Suggs

    I wouldn’t infer that at all. Those are Chiltern Society posters. The Chiltern Society is a charity which exists to “promote high standards of planning and architecture, and argue against developments that will spoil the area [i.e. the Chilterns]”. They are simply fulfilling their remit.

  • Peter

    The only argument the Nimbys seem to be use is that “the case isn’t made”. Yet, if they’d care to read the business case, rather then ignore it, they’d see that the case is indeed made.

  • Windsorian

    Personally I would question the “charitable status” of the Chiltern Society in regard to HS2, as it looks more like chronic NIMBYism at the expense of the Great British Public.

  • Richcgtr34

    Apparently the Chiltern Society has been around since 1965. Presumably when the M40 was built, they were all asleep.

  • Rich

    How short-sighted is this? “The demand won’t be there”. Really? For a railway that’ll be around for 100, maybe 200 years? This is exactly the chronic lack of foresight that we just don’t need. Thank god the people who built the railways we have today didn’t have this attitude.

  • Anonymous

    If YOU’D ACTUALLY care to read the report you will see such numbers of guess work and trend analysis as not to prove anything. There are such massive cost figures excluded as the transport disruption to Birmingham whilst the spur is being built. According to informed sources the process for dealing with this has not yet been fixed and HS2 are only TALKING to the City Council

  • Anonymous

    But the people who built the railways in Victorian times didn’t have roads, aeroplanes and the internet to compete with. The world is a different place now. HS1 is already a relative white elephant in comparision with how busy it could potentially be.

  • Anonymous

    The hilarious part of it is the bit about stopping at Milton Keynes……when we all know that the preliminary route for HS2 doesn’t actually go anywhere near there!

  • Rich

    The internet and video conferencing has been around for yonks and rail travel is going up. That argument gets trotted out by anti-HS2 people all the time and it still doesn’t wash no matter how many times it gets repeated. Don’t worry about HS1 – I’m sure when it’s connected up to Uk-wide HS network, it’ll be a lot busier than it is now. That’s sort of the whole point.

  • Anonymous

    The jury is out on the impact that ever improving information technology will make. 10 years ago I’d never have thought that you would have the abilities of a high-end PC in a pocket sized smartphone costing a couple of hundred quid – yet that’s what people have got in the latest Android/Blackberry’iPhone type devices. Who knows where we will be in 10-20 years time.

    HS2 still won’t curb the amount of domestic flying that goes on between Scotland and London which is the most environmentally damaging. I still get asked the same old question whenever I say I’m taking the train:

    “Train??? why don’t you fly, it’s only an hour….” Of course the “hour” is a complete fallacy as we all know, but….the other thing I get from anti-train people all the time who don’t use the railways is “it’s too expensive”, and the usual horror stories about turning up at the station on the day and getting shafted by punitive walk-on fares. I never pay these fares because I know how to play the system. A lot of occasional users don’t. Or simply can’t be bothered.

    No-one is telling me that HS2 is going to uber-cheap or that situation is going to change any time soon – look at the premiums charged by Southeastern on the domestic Kent services.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone here talks about the local and regional cases for and against. Surely there is a national case against; in that this is an awful lot of money (£30bn, but probably twice that amount in reality) which will take investment away from the entire network, jeopardising electrification schemes, rolling stock upgrades, track realignments, restoration of double tracked sections, reopening Beeching lines etc etc. which would make a difference to communities up and down the entire country, rather than benefiting a narrow section of the population.

    No-one has considered either, of the future possibility that another post-Hatfield type industry meltdown occurs for whatever reason forcing the entire system to be renationalised proper, and all of a sudden another few billion has to be found toute sweet at a minutes notice. Such an event could blow a massive hole in the whole thing.

    Sorry for being a pessimist (or an optimist, speaking on behalf of the pro-nationalisers!) – but you never know what is around the corner!!

  • Windsorian

    On 30th March the DfT published a “scoping document” for Developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation:

    Under the heading “Alternatives to travel” are these two paras :-

    3.23 Aviation will continue to have an important role to play in our transport system, but that role will change. We are consulting on proposals for a national high speed rail network, and expect that, in the longer term, much of the demand for domestic aviation and for near-European short-haul aviation could be met by high speed rail.

    3.24 The Government’s investment of £530 million to provide Britain with the best superfast broadband network in Europe will support the development of options such as videoconferencing, telepresence and web conferencing, which have the potential to reduce some elements of the demand for flying.
    However, we acknowledge that the CCC noted in its 2009 report there was some evidence suggesting that meetings based on videoconferencing might be additional, rather than substitutes for meetings which require air travel.
    As outlined earlier, we are currently assessing the costs and benefits of different policy measures to reduce UK aviation’s CO2 emissions, and this includes increased use of alternatives to travel.

  • Anonymous

    Yes Windsorian, but its just not true – what are the domestic journeys that would be met by HS rail. London Manchester, surely, is already covered by trains since there is already a great time advantage there. London Birmingham is non existent, and Leeds and Newcastle both have very small share. Yes, of course the half hour saved might persuade some people not to fly London Scotland, but price will be a big factor there. Then there are all the regional links, like flights from Exeter or Soton which will be unaffected by HS2. It’s just Greenwash.

  • Anonymous

    But I reiterate again that the lie that is in 3.23 is that what is being proposed is NOT a “national” high speed rail network; it is a regional one – the two regions being London & the Home Counties and the West Midlands. A national high speed rail network in my estimation would be one that went all the way from London to beyond the Central Belt of Scotland.

    The problem is that up here, current Glasgow/Edinburgh-London services are sitting right on the crucial 4-5 hour tip-over point where people can make a choice between air and rail. The time saving argument is a fallacy as I said above, but as CW says – cost is the killer. Getting a cheap flight is much easier than getting a cheap rail ticket – and even rail die-hards like me get seduced from time to time by cheap deals on BA to Heathrow (free breakfast….).

    North of the Central Belt – air wins hands down, high speed line or no high speed line. There will be the die-hards that will use the sleeper or are willing to sit on a train for 7 hours to go to Aberdeen or Inverness, but they are very much in the minority. Aberdeen supports a huge market to London thanks to the oil industry (the Aberdeen-Heathrow service iswas BA and BMI’s most lucrative domestic route apparently…).

    Videoconferencing is indeed no silver bullet – no matter how good the technology gets. I work for a major multinational corporation with operations everywhere around the world, and it just isn’t practical to use it when you have timezone and language barriers to overcome. Hence we do a lot of long-haul business trips which is where aeroplanes come into their own.

  • Windsorian

    I think you are splitting hairs, as we all know the present HS2 consultation only covers the principle and first part of a UK HSR network; if approved the next stages will follow on later.

    As for the southern Scottish Lowlands, Glasgow & Edinburgh are 400miles from London and the present rail journey time is 4 – 5 hours, I think the average train speed is about 90 mph.
    With HS2 fully operational we should expect a reduction closer to 2 – 3 hours, city centre to city centre.

    On 17th March, The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, gave a speech in which she stated there were 140,000 ATMs between the SE airports and other UK mainland & near continent airports. Seems like plenty of room for rail substitution to me, not to mention modal shift from cars !

  • RapidAssistant

    Not splitting hairs at all – the problem is that the line won’t actually get to Scotland (if at all) for a good while beyond 2026……let’s see I’ll be 49 then if I’m spared – assuming another decade or two I might just get to travel on it before I have a senior person’s railcard (which probably won’t be valid on high speed services anyway….knowing this country)

  • Windsorian

    We (and the EU) are signed up to an 80% reduction in CO2 levels by 2056, so yes this is a long term investment along with decarbonisation of our electric supply. Also we require additional rail capacity for rail passengers and freight, in order to reduce overcrowding and delays on the roads.

    HS2 is just the first stage of a national project, where additional capacity will be required first ie on the London – Birmingham section.

    One area I would agree with the anti-HS2 brigade, is the need to keep non-HS2 expenditure at present levels; to my mind this is not one or tother – it is both.
    Removal of rail bottlenecks, increased capacity, continued electrification, improvements in the national rail freight network and encouraging modal shift from car and plane to electric train are all required.

  • Rich

    So when does the jury decide exactly? When all of Europe has moved to HSR and no-one wants to cite a business here because of the ancient transport system? Rail travel is going up and video conferencing etc has been around for ages. Fact. I’ve worked in IT for over 20 years, most of it for large corporations and I haven’t seen one shred of evidence to suggest that any of them are gearing up to let more and more people work from home. I’m sorry but this just drives me up the wall. Anyone using this as a case against HS2, hoping that something *might* happen is giving the game away – they just don’t want it built for whatever reason. This isn’t an argument about of economics, but something that *might* happen. I can’t help noticing that HS2 critics will confidently tell us the figures don’t “stack up”, and then see nothing wrong in going into fantasy land with this working from home rubbish, for which there is zero evidence and actual figures to suggest otherwise.

    Bottom line for me is this – HS2 will be around for centuries. The population growth is set to be fairly dramatic with people living longer and immigration, something like a major city every 25 years or whatever it is. We should be providing for generations to come, not just selfishly looking at what’s in it for us or hoping that we won’t have to travel to work any more in the future because it’ll all be like an episode of “The Jetsons”, and turning down this opportunity in favour of a make do and mend approach (when we don’t even have any evidence that money will be spent on it instead of HS2 anyway), is just ridiculous and IMO, irresponsible. We’ve been patching up the rail network for god knows how long and the time for the journey form my gaff to London has barely improved since it was steam-hauled. Time for a brave bit of vision and forward-thinking, as Europe is now doing, and less moaning about anything which requires a bit of ambition like we always sadly seem to do these days.

  • Windsorian

    Typo error in above; the 80% CO2 reduction target should be 2050

  • Windsorian

    Typo error in above; the 80% CO2 reduction target should be 2050

  • Anonymous

    As I alluded to in my response to Windsorian below – information technology is no silver bullet I’ll agree.

    But the idea though that road vehicles will all of a sudden disappear one day is pure fantasy, with things like alternative fuel vehicles in the stocks etc etc – and at the end of the day no high speed line is ever going to help those in rural communities. Do they really give a monkeys if there is a high speed line to London? A lot of the population have never been there in their lives even on the current network. Far better to develop local transport links and reopen Beeching lines to restore rail service to places that have been cut off from the network completely.

    Secondly how fast is fast? The pie in the sky scheme touted a few years ago to put a high speed line between Glasgow and Edinburgh was quashed when it was revealed that merely electrifying the existing line would result in a journey time of 37 minutes. Comfortably ahead of the nightmare drive on the M8 which people do on a daily basis.

    The problem is that a lot of people want both (massive investment in the existing network AND HS2) and the financial reality of the situation is that we can’t have both.

  • Windsorian

    I don’t agree with your comment “The problem is that a lot of people want both (massive investment in the existing network and HS2) and the financial reality of the situation is that we can’t have both”.

    At present we have Thameslink and Crossrail underway, as well as removal of rail bottlenecks, increasing capacity, further electrification, develoment of the national rail freight network and work to encourage modal shift from car and plane to electric train.

    The truth is that HS2 is intended to follow-on from Thameslink and Crossrail with continued major project annual spend averaging £2Billion+ / year.

    So why do you and CW have to frighten people into thinking that non-HS2 spending is suddenly going to dry up, if HS2 goes ahead ??
    Do you have any evidence for this or is it part of a campaign of lies and mis-information to discredit the government’s HS2 plans ??

  • Anonymous

    Well I think to be honest we will have to agree to disagree. May I say I am not completely anti-HS2 (as CW is), so much as an HS2 sceptic.

    Re. Crossrail and Thameslink – yes indeed they are going ahead. Don’t forget though they have been on the drawing board for decades, the funding (sort of) committed before all the HS2 excitment started; and the amount of times they have been on, then not on, then shelved due to recessions, then back on again the minute the political wind changes. Believe me if climate change was proven to be false, and petrol went back to 70p a litre HS2 would be dead overnight.

    The ECML electrifcation – planned for in the late 1950s – didn’t happen until 30 years later. I could go on…..HS1 was mooted in the early 70s – late 2000s before it was fully realised.

    Based on all the decades of dithering that’s gone on when it comes to major rail infrastructure projects in the past I doubt if HS2 will be any different. It won’t happen by 2026, that’s for sure.

  • Rich

    No-ones claiming that road vehicles will disappear, and since when did this become all about rural communities? I appreciate that the likes of “Stop HS2” believe that the world revolves around them, but is there any chance that just once, a bit of public money could be spent on people who live and work in major cities, in other words, most people? It’s not better to develop local transport links because a) that doesn’t address long distance capacity issues for both freight and passengers, b) it doesn’t address being joined up to a Europe-wide shift to HSR which we *have* to be a part of to remain competitve, and c), as Philip Hammond has already stated, there isn’t a large pot of money sitting somewhere to be spent on whatever we want, which is what anti-HS2 people seem to believe. Hammond has stated that HS2 will not detract from other investments so why anti-HS2 people keep peddling this is beyond me. The stuff below about dithering and how long past infrastructure projects have taken – you’ve lost me with that. Not sure what the relevance is. Nor the suggestion of petrol at 70p a litre and climate change being wrong – things which just like tele-working reducing rail travel, clearly won’t happen. Sorry, but you appear to be conjuring arguments up here out of nothing. From what I can see the only thing presenting a threat to the propsed HS2 timescale is people kicking up a fuss about it for no good reason.

  • Anonymous

    Good link below:

    Another observation of mine is – why suddenly do we have the Conservative Party supporting this scheme?? What is their logic for all of a sudden taking this stance. A party which for the last 60 years has rarely shown anything but antipathy towards the railways, generally regarding them as an annoyance, and would have paved over them given half a chance.

    So instead they gave us a half-baked privatisation that unsuccessfully tried to shovel the financial responsibility onto someone else, and we are all still suffering for – yet here they are now backing a scheme that’s going to consume tens of billions of pounds worth public money to build, and add even more to the current out of control subsidy bill once it is up and running. Bizarre.

  • MggW

    You seem to spend a lot of time dismissing arguements that are not used in support of HS2! And very little evidence is actually presented to support your arguements, even to the point of mentioning figures (such as carbon) which you can’t remember and therefore dismiss as being insignificant!

    Demand – Gordon Pettit recently wrote that usage has increased by 70% since privatisation, rather more than the 60% figure you quote. You do not make any mention that rail demand will increase because of the population increase predicted by the ONS – 0.7%p.a. which will see UK population exceed 65m by 2018 and 71.6m by 2033.

    Air travel – at present end-to-end journey time from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow is fairly close when flying or travelling by train (I know as I have done it). So reducing rail journey times will reduce air travel by making rail more attractive. Increasing rail usage means rail capacity is contrained and there is little opportunity to reduce journey time without significant investment and disruption.

  • MggW

    Fares – the only published material on fares are statements saying that there will be no fares premium as that would be a barrier to use. So the arguement that there have been premiums elsewhere is entirely spurious and purely your opinion. The economic shift “is certainly a two-way process … so [HS2] might acutally centralise our economy even more.” Brilliant work – contradicting yourself in consecutive sentences!

    “Britain is not like France where the biggest two cities are 400km apart.” No, the four biggest citites are London, Birmingham (166km from London), Leeds (274km), and Glasgow – 557km apart and all served by HS2. Which also serves Sheffield (5th), Bradford (6th), Edinburgh (7th), Liverpool (8th), Manchester (9th)… ( Oh, and Marseille is the 2nd largest French city with a population twice that of Lyon.

    What has road pricing got to do with this? Another spurious argument as the HS2 demand figures do not consider road pricing.

    Other rail investment – actually one of the few sensible things you say.

    Travel growth – your argument is that transport investment shouldn’t be made because people will use it? Surely that contradicts you earlier argument that the forecast demand is wrong. Demand will either increase or it will not – you can’t have it both ways.