What they say

Stephen Archer is a speaker with great charisma. By using illustrations and personal experiences and not being afraid to share his own point of view of the current situation and who is to blame for it, he engages the whole audience, at the same time helping us all to understand the credit crunch a little better.

— Warwick Business School


High Speed Rail folly

It’s fashionable in Europe now to carry a monstrous debt, pretend that the Eurozone is still a good idea and now it’s fashionable to have a ‘me-too’ high speed rail system. We marvel at the 2 1/2 hour journey from the centre on London to Paris etc. but what of the social and carbon cost – never mind the financial one.

Only two routes in the whole of the EU run without subsidy – hardly a business case. In the US the idea has fallen at the financial hurdle and the same should happen in the UK. At a time when we are trying to cut a £155Biillon deficit, we face a Trillion pound debt (by 2012) we have a government wanting to commit £20billion to a new high speed rail link between London and Birmingham. That’s about 110 miles. The new route will not pick up any passengers on their way and it will shave 20 minutes off the time that it currently takes to get there. 20 minutes for £20Billion.  If this was a Robert Harris novel it would be rejected for improbability.

So the government had a number of routes to choose for this folly. They have chosen a) one of the more expensive ones and b) the only one that destroys the Chilterns.  A designated area of outstanding beauty in Britain.

In Parliament on December 2nd the following exchange took place:

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab MP): Unlike other spending blocs, the gap between spending in the south-east and the rest of the regions has been increasing over the past 10 years. If there is to be real investment in major schemes in our major regional cities, that gap will have to be closed. What plans does the Secretary of State have to close that gap?

Mr Philip Hammond (secretary of state for Transport):” As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Government have committed themselves to a public consultation in the new year on the High Speed 2 rail scheme. They have allocated £750 million worth of funding to take that scheme forward during the current spending review period.

That project (a strategic investment project) will more effectively close the gap between north and south and address the issues of differential economic growth rates than any other regional initiative that has been taken in the past couple of decades. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the commitment that the Government are making to that project, despite strong opposition to it in the southern half of the country.”

If the High Speed line is built then it will open to Birmingham in around 2025. It will perhaps then reach the North by 2040? By which time it will have cost well over £34Billion.  Meanwhile, our debt is costing £30billion a year to service and the roads are falling apart. We need an effective transport infrastructure based on upgrading the existing one. Not mortgage our future on a half baked concept that also destroys some of Britain’s finest countryside and impairs the quality of life for millions of people.

All for 20 minutes!! Plenty of passengers actually resent the idea of curtailing their peace or train work by shortening the journey. Just how much of a hurry are we really in?

The reality will be that commuters to London increase. This hardly closes the north south divide – rather the opposite.

Share this post


  • David

    Suggest you do a little more homework on HS2 before crying wolf. The only half-baked thing I see here is your badly researched HS2 blog.
    Try looking up West Coast Mainline ‘capacity’ problems and a railway network rapidly filling up, as our people choose travel on a rail network receiving much needed investment at last. High speed and travel time savings are just one of ‘many’ benefits to this country. Far more capacity also released by HS2 on the WCML for much needed rail freight to and from Europe via the Channel Tunnel, about to start increasing rail freight traffic over the next decade. All this will help rid more HGV’s off our congested roads.
    Oil and your carbon heavy 4X4, has reached its ‘swansong’, times are changing fast, don’t get left behind. Electric HSR on new generation trains, 30% more energy friendly than ‘slower’ HSR trains they replace, are the only 21st century way forward. Let alone how ‘green’ they will be at HS2 opening in 2026, with far more renewable energy on tap to power the trains. Ever evolving HSR trains that under braking also return ‘regenerative’ braking energy electric current of around 800kw back to the line grid, to help power the trains following.
    Try looking up AGV and new HSR trains about to enter service in Europe. Sounds as though you and many others have been ‘had’, by the misinformation spewing from the anti HS2 ‘scare em if you can’t win by argument’ camp, the TPA and ‘lets sell this story regardless of real facts’ media.
    The only ‘White Elephant’ many of us a little more ‘informed’ see, through proper research, is a hollow one on wheels full of hot air and now full of anti HS2 protesters with ‘local interest’, being towed around the country and web leaving piles of dung every ware.
    Mind those many punctures starting to appear though. Elephants and ‘Woolly’ Mammoths don’t survive the cold at all well in the end. The ‘real’ general public ‘national interest’ wolf may pick those bones clean.

blog comments powered by Disqus