Mr Hammond wont change trains

 

            The media went to town on the “grenade” Mr Tyrie chucked into the Chancellor’s path with his wide ranging condemnation of current economic policy last week-end. They have largely ignored the equally explosive attack on Mr Hammond the Transport Secretary  made by no less a figure than Archie Norman.

           Mr Norman was a Conservative Shadow Cabinet member. More than that, he was the first serious moderniser of the Conservative party, bringing in new measures and  a new dress sense for William Hague’s Conservative HQ. Mr Hague regarded him very highly and adopted a lot of his advice. Mr Norman is now Chairman of ITV.

           He  chose eve of conference to publish a damning indictment of High Speed 2. He recommends scrapping the project, and spending half the amount of money it is estimated to cost on substantial improvements to the existing railway. His business sense tells him we could could get a lot more improvement for a lot less money by making this change.

          Meanwhile, Mr Hammond was busily putting himself about in the media, granting personality type interviews. He seems to be positioning himself for a possible move in next year’s reshuffle. The spinners and his own words are designed to portray him as a safe pair of hands, in a job he does not particularly relish.

                     People who want to control public spending are against him, as to them  HS2 appears to be a large vanity project with  a very large cash price attached, little suited to an age of austerity. Conservative greens are against him, as they dislike cutting a huge steel and concrete pathway through the beautiful English countryside. People who want some balance in tranport budgets are against him, as they fear this project will swallow too much of the available cash.Many business people like Mr Norman are against him, as they do not think this is the best high cost project to stimulate growth.  Even some anti CO2 greens do not think this is the best way to curb emissions. Mr Hammond has united petrol heads and countryside lovers, greens and the business lobby against him, to say nothing of most of the Conservative party.

             I suspect Mr Hammond  would like to move on to leave behind this meddlesome project. My advice to him remains that he should defer commitment until after the next election. If they have turned the public finances round by then, things might look different. They by then might also have changed their minds about the true transport priorities for our nation.

         In the meantime, if Mr Hammond does want to build some bridges with Conservatives, he needs to review the spending priorities of his department, and do more to ease road congestion. He has now accepted the proposal some of us have urged to allow more hard shoulder running on motorways, as a quick and realtively cheap way of doing something. In my area of the country this is needed, linked to noise suppression measures to improve the quality of life of those who live near the motorways.  So far his enthusiasm for hard shoulder running has not extended to the Thames Valley.

 

67 Comments

  1. backofanenvelope
    October 9, 2011

    I seem to be a member of another group who are against this project – a group of one. I just find it hard to believe that the best we can do with a project due for completion after the middle of the 21st century is to build a copy of George Stephenson’s Rocket.

    1. lifelogic
      October 9, 2011

      HS2 is clearly not green by any measure, what so ever, and the money would be far better spent on general ticketing improvements, general capacity and other minor improvement across the network. Also road improvements and the Heathrow – Gatwick high speed 15 minute link. Road improvements like using the hard shoulder, getting rid of the deliberate congestion causing measures installed in towns islands, red lights, environmental road blocks and mazes, pointless bus and bike lanes and similar.

      I as see reported that the government pays £68M to state sector union workers in wage payments while on union business. Why do they do this and please can they stop?

      1. lifelogic
        October 9, 2011

        Given that a lack of confidence in the UK economy (understandable given the absurd “tax, borrow and waste” coalition line) is one of the main problems, is it really helpful for Sir Mervyn King to say “this is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen, at least since the 1930s, if not ever.”?

        I think not.

      2. Bob
        October 9, 2011

        You could reduce the journey time between Birmingham and London by just removing the 50 mph speed limits through the road works when there is nobody working. I drive to Birmingham regularly and rarely see anyone working (or even leaning on shovels). No wonder it takes years to finish these road widening schemes.

        Speed limits are too simplistic. How can 70 mph be a safe speed in all weathers and all traffic conditions? I have been on motorways when 30mph seemed fast due to poor visibility, and where 70 mph seemed slow due to good road conditions and light traffic.

        Like discipline in schools, discipline on the roads has declined noticeably. Speed cameras do nothing to correct the problem. Where are the tailgating cameras or mirror-less manoeuvre cameras?

        We need more highway patrols, marked and unmarked. Enforce some lane discipline. On the newly widened stretch of the M1 at Luton there are four lanes, and hardly anyone uses the leftmost lane. The other three lanes are filled with lane hoggers.

        I also think it’s shocking that with all the tax paid by motorists that there should be any toll booths on any British road.

        Just a little o/t, I read in the Mail on Sunday that we are now paying for new cars every three years for parents of ADHD children under the motability scheme.
        Couldn’t these parents just be told to stop plying their kids with soft drinks and sweeties, restrict their Xbox time and get them out in the fresh air for some regular exercise?

        1. uanime5
          October 9, 2011

          It you want to give advice about ADHD you should first try to understand what it entails. Removing video games and fizzy drinks is as likely to cure ADHD as removing a person’s guide dog is as likely to cure blindness.

        2. Electro-Kevin
          October 9, 2011

          You are right of course, Bob. The idea was that police officers enforced the laws with discretion.

          Speed cameras don’t do that.

          1. Electro-Kevin
            October 9, 2011

            A propos speed limits being arbitrary.

        3. Winston Smith
          October 10, 2011

          I notice on large sections of the M4, the inside lane has been resurfaced with nice smooth aspahlt, with the two outside lanes left in the old rough surface. This encourages drivers to move to the inside for a smoother ride, particularly the lane hoggers who don’t tend to drive expensive luxury cars that give the occupants a gentle ride. Perhaps, this could be made a motorway policy.

      3. uanime5
        October 9, 2011

        “getting rid of the deliberate congestion causing measures installed in towns islands, red lights, environmental road blocks and mazes, pointless bus and bike lanes and similar.”

        Why not get rid of the pavement and make it illegal to walk anywhere while you’re at it. Just because you have a car doesn’t mean that everyone should accommodate you.

        Reply: We all think pavements are a good idea for pedestrians. As someone who mainly walks in London – or goes by tube – I think the balance between us pedestrians and the motorists has now swung too far against the motorist.

        1. lifelogic
          October 9, 2011

          I just want a sensible balance between all road users not one driven by religion and the idea that buses, bike, trains and walking will save the world when clearly they do not even have a CO2 benefits in most circumstances.

          Even if you do believe the exaggerated AGW theory.

        2. Electro-Kevin
          October 9, 2011

          It’s interesting that councils agree that supermarkets can only work with massive car provision (making us all ever more dependant on driving to get our provisions.)

          Why do they think that town centres should be able to thrive without it ? Hence boarded up shops and our country starting to look like it’s failing – thus reducing everyone’s morale.

          By the way, what is Mr Clarke’s position on the sentencing of up to five years imprisonment for careless/reckless driving ? I’m not against it for the record. However, it would seem curious if he’s against imprisonment for all but the driver.

          Typically lefty I might add.

          1. Electro-Kevin
            October 9, 2011

            Boarded up shops meaning that even people prepared to walk to get their provisions can no longer do it.

      4. lifelogic
        October 9, 2011

        I also see reported today by Rod Liddle a good example of “all are equal before the law”.

        Daubing a St George’s flag and a poppy on a mosque – one year in jail for each offender.

        Daubing “Kill Gordon Brown” and “Islam will dominate the World” on a war memorial – a conditional discharge and £500 to costs.

        I realise that Gordon Brown is rightly not very popular, but even so, is this really justice or – am I just a banana as Ian Hislop might say.

        1. Winston Smith
          October 10, 2011

          The Police and the justice system has been politicised to such an extent that a two tier system is now in place. One for politically unfashionable (that is unfashionable to the small, but vocal middle-class left) people and one for the rest. Hence, the man who burnt poppies on Rememberance Day recieved a £50 fine and the man who tried to stop him was fined £350.

          Read up on the persecution of the EDL leaders by the Police. Even the Guardian ws shocked by the falsification of evidence.

      5. lifelogic
        October 9, 2011

        Harriet Harman this morning on Andrew Marr. “I am going to be the strongest supporter of the BBC” – “I think it is really important.”

        Well perhaps if you have the Harriet Harman/BBC agenda at heart of pro ever more powerful EU, pro green tosh exaggeration, pro ever bigger state and tax, pro “equality” (regardless of merit), and pro special interest pressure groups, a Labour admin at the next election then that that is understandable.

        But why are Cameron and Patten stuck on this mad agenda too?

        Later the BBC’s great economic guru (I opted out in the Maastricht Treaty remember) John Major comes on to give us a good laugh. Talking, as usual, as if to dim 12 year old’s.

        Andrew Marr to Major “You had a recession that you had to grapple with” (you personally caused a pointless recession with the ERM fiasco and never even apologised – might have been a better more impartial way of putting it).

        He even admitted that you, JR were partially right!

        1. Bob
          October 9, 2011

          Harriet Harman this morning on Andrew Marr. “I am going to be the strongest supporter of the BBC”
          And the BBC will reciprocate!

          Google “BBC Question Time – Impartial or working for the Labour party ? “

          It will lead you to a You Tube clip showing Harperson nudging Dimbleby and then Dimbleby interrupts Iain Duncan Smith mid flow.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtANCL3lAoo

    2. Tim
      October 9, 2011

      We could also make progress on using the hard shoulder on our motorways by stopping immigration!! The country is full, our driving experience everywhere is now a nightmare and still the Coalition are waiting until April 2012 to introduce visa controls for study. The scam where students claim fake courses and bring their entire family and disappear with no means of obvious support!! This also places a huge burden on our health, housing and mainstream education. There has been no discernable diffenrence in our lives since the Coalition came to power, except increased taxation in our wages, VAT and useless green taxes. Some hidden in our electric and gas bills (20%) to build windmills that don’t work, others being introduced to pretend to reduce airtravel. All based on non proven science.

      1. uanime5
        October 9, 2011

        Climate change is a proven science, like evolution. Just because some people don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong.

        Reply: Do you accept that science often revises its ideas in the light of new evidence or better theory?

        1. lifelogic
          October 9, 2011

          The evidence for evolution is overwhelming and we are looking at what has happened we can see evidence everywhere. We know how change evolves by trial error – death to the losers before reproduction and reproduction of the winners we see the DNA codes. There is totally overwhelming evidence we can prove it with experiments.

          Predicting the climate in 100 years time given all the variables and complexity of the system is more like predicting what kind of animals will develop way way into the future – we may know the mechanism but not the outcome. We know the mechanism a roulette wheel but the outcome?

          Prediction (especially about the future) are difficult as someone said. Why do you think they cannot predict the weather at say Christmas – but can in 100 years time and they do not even know the Suns activity, any volcanoes due to erupt or all the starting conditions and countless other variables.

          Chaos theory is however real science take a look at that. Weather is a chaotic system.

          1. lifelogic
            October 9, 2011

            Put another way – would you trust someone who told you they could predict the world temperature increase for 100 years time (caused by mankind) but could not tell you the world population, all the technological developments, the volcanic activity, the development in agriculture, epidemics, meat production methods, energy production methods, the solar activity, future meteor impacts, building design and countless other variables they need over the intervening 100 years.

            How can you take these people seriously they are not Gods? They are mainly even real scientists in the main.

            The BBC should ask some searching questions, on these lines – but they won’t. Footage of polar bears on melting ice is so much more box office.

          2. lifelogic
            October 9, 2011

            The quote is:

            Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
            Niels Bohr
            Danish physicist (1885 – 1962)

          3. Bazman
            October 11, 2011

            So whatever will be will be? Mankind burning massive amounts of fossil fuels despite it being so difficult to predict the future, this is having no effect? You are certain of this uncertainty? God or fate will protect us all? Pretending to be scientific when in fact are anti science. Theories as John points out can be revised and hopefully wrong, but as you have already drawn your conclusion and now try to prove this. Not by the likes of you.
            This way of thinking is pretty much the basis of all right wing religious thinking. A preordained future for individuals and the world. The poor deserve to be poor and will always be with us the only way to improve their lot by making the rich richer. Mankind has no control over his own and mankinds fate. The fact that I am typing this is already been wrote. You need to see a Doctor if you think this is true.
            As you often seem to not understand. I’ll repeat my main point. CO2 Emission despite the uncertainty of the effects on the climate because of it’s complexity you are certain they have no effect and even if they do as no other country is doing anything we are all doomed anyway?
            You can set yourself on fire. I ain’t.

        2. Kingsbury Lad
          October 9, 2011

          Quote: “Climate change is a proven science, like evolution. Just because some people don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong.”

          Yes, Climate change is a perpetual occourence,as is evolution. However the idea that emptying everyones’ wallets will bring the climate under control is as fatuous as it is dishonest. This “King Canute” mentality of the Greens & the Left will completely finish off this nation if not challenged at every turn.

        3. Bob
          October 9, 2011

          The climate has been changing since long before men walked the Earth! What does that prove?

        4. Robert
          October 10, 2011

          No sir it is not proven science!

      2. Electro-Kevin
        October 9, 2011

        Screamingly obvious isn’t it, Tim ?

        Have you any idea what 2 million people looks like ?

        Perhaps HS2 isn’t based on present figures but on what they’re expecting !

        1. sm
          November 8, 2011

          Anyone asked Tesco what the population is and published it recently? It was approx 80m if my memory serves correctly. The irony of no to 70m. I heard the Census may be scrapped soon enough with the ONS buying data from the likes of …

  2. alan jutson
    October 9, 2011

    I will freely admit that I do not have a lot of knowledge about this particular project, other than the new route has met with lots of local opposition from those who will be affected, and huge costs seem to be ar for the course..

    As I understand it the argument falls into two parts:

    1.
    Shortening the times for direct travel to Birminham-London and then onto Manchester.

    2.
    Unblocking a log jam of old routes at Birmingham and Manchster for travel throughout the north west.

    Our record of high speed train routes and high speed trains is not good, the 125 being the last real sucesss many decades ago (I have excluded Euro star as it stops at but a few stations en route to France)

    The vanity part of the project (high speed) to save a few minutes on a journey which is not overly long now seems almost pointless, but if by constructing this new line it enables the whole of the north west (as has been claimed by some people) to be unblocked through rescheduling etc, then perhaps it is worth a study.

    Are there less expensive alternatives:
    If we do have a log jam of traffic on existing routes, why not examine the Reading station model, which is having major reconstruction,with new platforms, new track, new signaling, with little destruction of the countryside.

    As understand it work is proceeding on time and to budget for what in effect is a bypass solution on rail, to what was congested track.

    Can this solution not be used elsewhere, or do we really not have enough track capacity between major stations.

    1. Mike Stallard
      October 9, 2011

      In “Railroad Tycoon” the trick is to find a really busy route and to put on as many trains as you can afford, to update and improve the route every year, and to reap the enormous profits. Japan (lots of suburbs) is a much easier game than Africa (large open spaces).
      Manchester to London is not a good route for “Railroad Tycoon”. Not enough people want to travel and it is very expensive to build. Much better, as you say, to make a lot of money out of existing suburban routes and then to keep speeding them up so you eventually end up as Otto von Bismarck with a standing ovation.

  3. Mike Stallard
    October 9, 2011

    I cannot afford to travel by train. I have bought a tiny little KIA to run about in and we have a free bus pass (still) which my wife used just yesterday to get to Peterborough. When we went on holiday recently, we went by car. Most other people of my age, I suspect, do just that. You simply cannot beat the car for availability, economy, speed and comfort.
    Can you turn on the radio on a train? Can you pick your nose even? Your own experience recently – and certainly that of other commentators – at the Conservative Party Conference is enough to put off any businessman using the train, even on expenses.
    Even my businessman children never even think of using the train in UK.
    Hence the eight people in your recent trip to Manchester in what ought to have been a very busy time.
    The HST project is just the sort of thing that ought to be cut back on – why borrow the money for a thing like that?

  4. Martin
    October 9, 2011

    I’m sorry but you are forgetting the reality that Nimbys oppose new Motorways just as much as new railways.

    Where Mr Hammond is in a mess is over runway capacity at Heathrow. The Conservatives tried to win marginals with the promise to block runway 3. Maybe it was also to appease the UK isolationist party?

    What is it about Britain that we see weird financial derivatives as being worth more than concrete runways? Why do folk say no to the Tobin tax but yes to APD? You mention the 50p tax rate as being something that keeps people out of Britain. I have to disagree – it is the physical hell of our roads, railways and airports and the sky high petrol taxes, railway fares and Air Passenger Duty.

    It is time we had a pro-transport lobby in Britain – the car, train and plane folks should stop fighting one another.

    1. lifelogic
      October 9, 2011

      “the car, train and plane folks should stop fighting one another” – yes fine but on a level field of taxation and subsidy not the hugely distorted anti car current one.

    2. Mike Stallard
      October 9, 2011

      And the trains aren’t a lobby?

  5. Electro-Kevin
    October 9, 2011

    What you said earlier about passenger loadings on the West Coast is interesting and needs quantifying. If the Govt won’t do this can passenger counts be done independantly ?

    I’m with you all the way about HS2 btw. And not for environmental reasons.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      October 10, 2011

      If we’re going to have a Keynsian boost of this magnitude wouldn’t the money be better spent benefitting manufacturing ? Extracting shale gas or encouraging/securing the rights to new inventions ?

  6. English Pensioner
    October 9, 2011

    The railways in Victorian times were all built by private enterprise, with no government money involved .If 21st century private enterprise wants to build the railway using their own money, the government should encourage it and see that no unnecessary obstacles were placed in the way, but do nothing else.
    I have no doubt that the quoted cost of HS2 is a fraction of the likely real cost, as if the true figure was quoted in the first place, the project would never get off the ground. So those involved ensure that a far lower initial figure is quoted in the belief that no government would abandon a part built railway. Just look at recent projects, particularly IT and defence – they all cost several times the original quoted price, demonstrating to me either the gullibility or connivance of senior civil servants (take your pick !).

    Public money should be used to improve existing facilities, particularly roads, where we would get far better value. For end-to-end (not station-to-station) journeys, road transport is generally more efficient and greener, and, in spite of present fuel prices, still generally cheaper, particularly when there is more than one person in the car.

  7. Demetrius
    October 9, 2011

    At the risk of endlessly repeating myself. There is ample opportunity for linking places with much faster trains by means using existing lines or restoring old links or adding short other links with minimal environmental effect or financial. If then you want to spend more put in place electrification and linking of all existing main routes and links. This means sensible detailed work not huge high priced schemes. This week it took me 2 hours 8 minutes London Euston to Liverpool on a Virgin train. But it took nearly 2 hours to get to Euston. For the proposed HST2 it might save up to half and hour to Liverpool but it would take longer to access the HST2.

    1. Winston Smith
      October 10, 2011

      You’ve raised the intrinsic failings of the project. However, the promoters of HS2 and the political/media elite. all either, reside or have access to accomodation in Central London. As long as they can easily access the transport hubs, then who cares?

  8. lojolondon
    October 9, 2011

    18 times more expensive than that massive white elephant, the Dome. It is the kind of stupid, wasteful project that people will be pointing at for the next 50 years, especially as it will take 20 years to build. That is before the project over-runs, costs double and the ticket prices come in at a level that means it is never utilised to a fraction of capacity.

    We need common sense to take over, and the ability to know when to quit.

    Honourable mention goes to the BBC move to Salford – a masterstroke for Labour that Goebbels would be proud of – is a complete waste of taxpayers money that has been mooted for one reason only – that is to ensure that the BBC centre of power is moved to the heartland of Labour support, so the BBC will forever be a bulwark of Labour support, even more than at present.

    Only extreme lack of guts and understanding of the issues within the Tories allows this craziness to continue.

  9. Mark
    October 9, 2011

    Unblocking the A404/M40 junction at High Wycombe by making it three lanes each way under the roundabout could be done for very little money. Coupled with an 80mph speed limit the improvement in journey times for the many who don’t live within a few minutes of some HS2 terminus would be significant.

    HS2 has long looked like a sacrificial lamb, designed to be chopped with a flourish when the IMF come to call. I guess that’s the only reason it is still in the government programme. Isn’t it??

  10. Damien
    October 9, 2011

    How can Mr Norman be certain that by spending half the High Speed 2 budget on improvements that they will actually be delivered within his budget when experience tells us that these projects invariably overrun the initial budget?

    There has been billions spent on upgrading our rail network in recent years and I cannot think of a worse time to begin another expensive round of upgrades running into the billions. I can see the Keynesian argument behind this but I would rather take the Adam Smith view just now.

    High Speed 2 should be parked in the sidings as you suggest and all but the most essential expenditure of public finances should be committed to at this time.

  11. Bernard Otway
    October 9, 2011

    Why not try and discourage commuting by incentivising employees and employers to work as close as home as possible and to employ those as close to work as possible,using the tax system,the distances and cost of people travelling in this country are stupid just to go to work.
    When an individual lives not more than half an hour from work,their standard of life is immeasurably better and not just financially,more time for self and family and less financial worries,plus a happy employee is a productive and motivated employee so the employer gains just from that,add this incentivisation and there is a Win Win situation.In 1980 I went to live and work in a very well paid job in DURBAN South Africa,I lived 5 minutes from the office ,5 minutes from the beach and best of all 5 minutes from the golf course,I felt I had arrived in Heaven,my employer got at least 20 minutes a DAY free from me which did not inconvenience me one iota,and of course what does 100 minutes per employee FREE per week do to a company’s bottom line.What would happen to our transport system
    IF by this means only a 20% reduction of traffic of all kinds was achieved.A proper cost benefit analysis of transport costs to go to work would show most people are much better off anyway WITHOUT any incentivisation anyway ,so it would be even more win win.And with less passenger train congestion and trains running to time [as per JR’s recent journey
    to Manchester shows to be not the case],perhaps this mythical 20 minutes saved to Manchester would be achieved anyway so no need for this ridiculous project. What IMHO what we need is the relocation of Heathrow to the Thames estuary FAST,HOW many houses would the land of heathrow accommodate or maybe it could be a real Silicon valley.

    1. uanime5
      October 9, 2011

      Given that the Government requires the unemployed to accept any job within an hour and a half travel time of their house don’t expect this to be adopted very soon.

    2. DBC Reed
      October 9, 2011

      Siting the airport in the Thames Estuary (this was the original Foulness/Maplin proposal ,cancelled in a short-term financial flap) would indicate that a HSR would need to approach from the North down the East of the country. (See letter below)So with Mr Otway on this one.The whole point of HSR ‘s is to link up with similar in Europe and get traffic north as fast as possible,possibly avoiding London bottleneck.

  12. Andrew Smith
    October 9, 2011

    Surely it is now a necessary position to take to be against all of what the members want and to antagonise the market aware commentariat. It is meant to show seriousness of purpose to fly in the face of all conservatives when seeking high office in the Conservative Party.

  13. Neil Craig
    October 9, 2011

    It does seem to make no economic sense which should be a killer for any sensible statesman.

    I wish Tories pushing this despite its damage to the countryside had allowed the expansion of Heathrow, which will overall take up far less land and makes total economic sense.

  14. DBC Reed
    October 9, 2011

    I am in a minority that believes in a High Speed railway but not on this particular route: London to Birmingham already has two railways and two motorways.If you are going to go to Yorshire why head off west then cut across? I am so much in favour of an Easterly High speed railway,I could envisage it going South from the ill-served Yorkshire towns down to cross the Thames on Boris’s Airport island and linking up with thew Channel Tunnel line,by-passing London altogether.This would promote huge land price rises and you could help pay for the line by a Land Value Tax.Viva Henry George!(The Easterly route would still be better sans the LVT).How did we ever get stuck with this Hobson’s choice route?

  15. REPay
    October 9, 2011

    I am completely at a loss over the benefits of this project. I am wondering where the pressure is coming from…since no one much wants it. Cui bono? I wonder no journalist has followed the money…

  16. Tedgo
    October 9, 2011

    I am totally against HS2, if its such a good idea then the Government should invite the business world to form a consortium to finance and build the line without any taxpayers money.

    The problem is that the only benefit is the 20 minutes saving which cannot be turned into real money and profit. Every one who travels always allows time for contingencies so instead of arriving 40 minutes before their appointment they will arrive 60 minutes early, time for another coffee and trip to the loo because of saturation in the lower regions.

    The destruction of the countryside is because of the high speed, the lines need to be straight. Lower the speed and the lines could follow the natural contours more and thus be less intrusive.

    I canal boat in the midlands every year. Train lines often follow or cross the canals. Most of the Virgin trains I have observed are empty, I always assume that the empty trains are simply repositioning for the peak periods.

    The problem with trains is that the fares are too high and too complicated. A few years ago we wanted a day return to London from Andover for four people. One could not do it online as there was no time to get the tickets to us. I phoned up and was told that the price at the ticket office would be £160. However if I mentioned ‘group travel’, the price would be £80. The help desk person stressed that if I did not mention the word ‘group’ I would not be offered the discount.

    I think rail transport developments should be focused on the international container market. A business should be able to put a container on a train in say Manchester and have it arrive in say Munich in a day or two. Unfortunately the rail system is too focused on stopping in London, to achieve quick movement of containers better cross London links would be required.

    As to air travel I agree with the Government that Heathrow and Gatwick should not get additional runways, a third runway at Heathrow would blight many thousands of people.

    The most efficient airport layout is two widely spaced runways with the terminal buildings in the middle. The advantage is that aircraft landing or taking off do not have to cross the other runway. This arrangement maximises efficiency and safety and could be achieved at Stansted, so I think the 2nd runway should be built there. However the ideal arrangement cannot be achieved at Gatwick, so no 2nd runway there.

    As with all transport, air travel it is too focused on London. For most of the country Heathrow is not a natural hub. The majority of the population would like to have direct flights to their destination from regional airports, avoiding the hassle of getting to London. The low cost operators focus on holiday destinations. Development of direct low cost business destinations, from the regions, would be welcome.

    If you live away from London, airports like Amsterdam are more natural hubs, particularly with regard to luggage. You check your luggage in at your regional airport and it goes all the way. Similarly on your return journey. If you fly through London you have to reclaim your luggage at Heathrow, drag it to another terminal, then check it in again.

    Heathrow as a hub only benefits the likes of British Airways. I think the Heathrow Gatwick rail link is a none starter, if the airlines like the idea let them pay for it.

    My own pet runway project thoughts, for the South, would be turning Boscombe Down airfield to commercial use. A long runway next to the A303, and close to the Exeter London rail line. Many people from the southwest pass it on the way to Heathrow and Gatwick. Call it Stonehenge Airport.

    Talking about the A303, now there’s a infrastructure project which needs doing, the delays around Stonehenge and further west can be horrendous in summertime.

  17. Bazman
    October 9, 2011

    Are we supposed to feel sorry for them? Have whip round? These same figures apply to someone on minimum wage. Six quid an hour with little or no security. Many on this site are even against that. Do come out from under your stones to be squashed. You have to be fortunate to have a job that pays enough to pay 50% tax. They have a choice about living in an ‘executive home’ and council tax is limited. Their choice of car is exactly that a choice and often paid for by the company as part of their wages.
    What many rich people would like is no tax on income and tax collected by VAT. In this way the people who actually us the services pay for them. Basically they would like to see regressive taxation, a tax on the poor no less.
    You want to do a post for low earners John, posts like this just confirm my suspicions of the Tory party as a party for a rich elite wanting servants not workers and having nothing and being happy with it, except when this rule applies to themselves. etc.

    Reply: I have often blogged in favour of lower taxes for lower income earners.

    1. uanime5
      October 9, 2011

      John you seem to blog a lot more in favour of tax cuts for the rich, than lower taxes for the poor. For example you have written many blogs regarding about removing the 50% tax rate but very few about reintroducing the 10% tax rate.

      Reply: I do nto agree with a 10% tax band, but regularly argue for raising tax thresholds to take people out of income tax altogether.

  18. Tim Almond
    October 9, 2011

    He recommends scrapping the project, and spending half the amount of money it is estimated to cost on substantial improvements to the existing railway. His business sense tells him we could could get a lot more improvement for a lot less money by making this change.

    The best thing the government could do is fire a whole lot of pointless agencies that I seem to share my table with on the train, probably going to lots of pointless meetings. Someone should do a survey into how much rail travel is the result of these people.

    The rest of us, the sector where time is money, have learnt how to work with our customers with far less travel. We’re doing a lot of things online because we don’t need to meet people face-to-face very often.

  19. Bob
    October 9, 2011

    At my local train station there is an old Lyons tea room that has been rented to an antique dealer who uses it as a warehouse, which is of no usefulness at all for passengers using the station. The station has no waiting room and nowhere to leave a bicycle with a reasonable expectation of finding it there upon your return.
    In the winter, passengers fill the open platform in freezing conditions standing like emperor penguins facing driving rain or snow while the “next train” indicator stays on “1 minute” for 20 or 30 minutes. If the government have so much money to spare, then why not spend it on smaller more manageable projects to make existing infrastructure more user and bicycle friendly?

  20. Ian
    October 9, 2011

    I gather that HS2, like the separation of track and trains into different organisations under Major, is a European Commission scheme. This would explain the colossal funding commitment made by the government.

  21. Brian
    October 9, 2011

    From another site….

    The problem is that most of the detractors here of the HS2 plan have decided they are against and have not been bothered to actually research the problem.
    The High Speed plan is part of an actual national strategy to increase capacity on our Rail Network.
    In the background is the fact that most of the rail lines heading out of London are either full or soon will be. There is plenty of background on individual lines, in Network Rails RUS (route utilisation strategy). A lot of lines can cope for the next 10 to 20 years through longer trains and some lines can still add extra trains. But that is not going to last. I urge you to read them. They look at every signalling project, platform extension to see what can get the best bang for the buck. The problem is that increasingly they are coming up with no obvious project to solve the problem ( read as requires a really expensive new line).
    People think that such large growth cannot happen, except it already has in the last 15 years and it only requires 3% growth a year for demand to near double in 20 years. Considering the timescales involved in major infrastructure projects that is no time at all.
    Looking at demand we can see that car travel has peaked, either because of full roads and/or high oil prices. This has meant more people are transferring to rail. Considering that car trips consist of over 80% of all trips over a mile, it does not take much of shift in travel for it cause a massive increase in demand for rail.
    So as things stand we can see there is plenty of growth to fill any new rail lines. Also the area of rail travel that has seen the fastest growth has been long distance rail travel. This is also the most profitable part of the rail network.
    Looking at the project directly, the West Coast Mainline will be running out of capacity between London and the West Midlands by 2021.
    The Midland main line to Sheffield is already full at it’s southern end. Network rail has declared it cannot fit anymore trains on it. The East coast mainline has a lot of problems south of Doncaster.
    You may ask why, they can’t fit more trains on the same line, like a tube line, well it’s simple. It’s because they are not tube lines. A long distance railway has trains or different weights and lengths all capable of different speeds and acceleration. In other words the fast trains keep bumping into the slow ones.
    To increase capacity for both the fast and slow lines it is better to have a line for slow trains and one for fast ones. While we have those near London they are full and we need more of them.
    Others have said why don’t we upgrade existing lines and put extra tracks next to them. It might work in a low population density country but can you imagine each town along the route where you need to demolish a couple hundred houses. Besides we have the answer for why don’t we upgrade an existing line. It was called the West Coast Upgrade project. It was only supposed to cost £3 billion and allow 140mph trains to whizz up to Glasgow. I’m sure you are aware how it turned out. £10 billion later, we end up with 125mph trains, no snazzy signalling system and some high speed flying junctions. Apart from the cost there was years of weekend closures. It’s this searing experience that finally pushed Network Rail and Dft towards a new rail line.
    So while the first stage of the new line will only go to Birmingham all other trains to the North west will also go along this route, freeing up capacity for more commuter trains at the southern end. All trains will save 20 minutes on their journeys not just those to Birmingham.
    The true benefit will only be felt once the two spurs to Manchester and Leeds are built. Not only will Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham see much faster trains to London and Birmingham, more capacity will be released on the East Coast, Midland and West Coast Mainline.
    The entire cost is £33 billion, £17 billion for the first stage.
    There is a good reason why the line is built for 250 mph rather than 125 mph. It will not cost that much more, but will earn a lot more money. The faster the trains the more passengers will be attracted. Also, the faster the train the cheaper it is to run. A faster train will make more trips a day with the same crew, so it will earn more ticket revenue for the same amount of capital.
    byRational Plan September 2nd, 2011 at 12:01

    Reply: The main estimated source of passengers for the new line and faster trains is people who would otherwise have been passenegrs on the existing lines. The business case thinks very few additional passengers will be attracted to rail by it.

  22. Tony Houghton
    October 9, 2011

    Surely HS2 is the Prime Minister’s pet project not Hammond’s? The SofS for Transport is only dancing to the PM’s tune.

  23. rose
    October 10, 2011

    There is no point in having state of the art airports unless we also have state of the art railways to go with them. The only question is where do you start, and when?

    Some motorists seem to think we can go on for ever with everyone driving everywhere. But you would think they would be the first to realize that isn’t possible with our huge population and tiny island. After all, they are the ones who have to sit in the jams, and not find anywhere to park when they finally arrive.

    They have had it all their own way ever since the fifties – only motoring has been seriously catered for – so it now looks as if the country which invented public transport will remain the most old-fashioned and run down of all, the most inefficient and congested, the noisiest and the most fume ridden, while other countries, including the new Chinese African Empire, will get themselves into the 21st century. But why shouldn’t we have really comfortable bullet trains too, at some time in the future?

  24. MartinW
    October 10, 2011

    Hammond has never even hinted that the HS2 project is anything but a UK government intiative. But anyone who looks into it has long known that it has been part of the EU TEN-T Europe-wide transport strategy, over which the UK has virtually no control.
    In not being straight with the public, Hammond can be accused of being hypocritical. Of course, the BBC will never say that HS2 is an EU project, but I am surprised that you, John, have not mentioned it in your article.

    1. lifelogic
      October 10, 2011

      Is there really an EU input to force this daft HS2 scheme onto the UK taxpayer if so we should know about it?

      1. MartinW
        October 12, 2011

        Look up the TENT-T project on EU websites., and also consider the agreements that the labour governemnt entered into (not via debate in the HoC, of course, but slyly, the method by which most EU controls are insidiously inserted into our legisdlation.

    2. rose
      October 11, 2011

      It was just the same when Major privatised the railways. It had to be done in a daft EU ordered way, which was why it wasn’t a success. No-one ever made that clear, at the time, or since, though it would have been in their interests to explain who the villain of the piece really was.

  25. Anne Palmer
    October 13, 2011

    Since when did we allow a foreign Country decide where and when we should have a High Speed Rail on our once Sovereign land? Y’know, the land that so many young lives were lost in trying to save this Country from foreign rule-yes, I know it was from Hitler, but how do you know or could stop the next person in charge of the EU from being a tyrant? The next step re the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy is giving the EU Sovereignty over our sky-all part of TEN-T- (When a ‘plane wants to fly over the UK-the EU would give permission-over Pakistan-ask their permission. And then give the EU sovereignty over our Ports and Sea. The UK never again to “Rule the Waves” never ever to sing Rule Britannia ever again and mean it. Does the EU’s Motorway in the Sea go all the way down to the Falklands? I think-in the debates the answer was a “YES!”. It seems rather obscene to take money off the students, elderly and the poor to finance things like this, don’t you think so too?

  26. Anne Palmer
    October 13, 2011

    I am going to ask a question now that concerns our Constitution. As you know, without a doubt, the EU’s Localism Bill (also known as Mr Cameron’s “Big Society”) drives a Coach and Horses through our long standing Common Law Constitution. I would like to know, do the people have to obey such legislation knowing that it is contrary to their Constitution, and/or would they be found guilty of deliberately committing an offence if they DO obey it knowing that it is indeed contrary to our Constitution?

    For instance, and I will just take one tiny clause from the Localism Bill which comes from the European Union-therefore it is foreign law to begin with-proof, for it is recorded in the Council of Europe, although our Governments have indeed ratified certain EU Treaties which are not compatible with our Common Law Constitution.

    “In terms of various recent Acts by Parliament to ratify incorporation of the UK into the European Union, the Act of Supremacy is quite unequivocal: “ … no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm …”. etc. However, here we go on just one Clause in the Bill.

    ● Clause 30 – EU Fines to the UK Government: Power to require local or public authorities to make payments in respect of certain EU financial sanctions. This part creates a power to recover funds from local authorities and other public authorities in England in order to pay all, or part of, a European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) financial sanction imposed for a failure of the United Kingdom to comply with an obligation under the EU treaties.

    ● Firstly, everyone in this Country is innocent until proven Guilty.

    ● when individuals are “Fined” by a UK Court, their ability to pay is taken into account, and a trial is of course held-innocent until proven guilty.

    ● Every Minister of the Queen’s Realm, every MP, every Member of Government swears a true and faithful oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Yet time and time again, Government put the EU needs before the needs of their own Countrymen.

    ● EU Fines tend to come in thousands, millions and who could stop them coming in billions? All this is also contrary to the Declaration and Bill of Rights 1688/9, “nor excessive fines imposed” and as above all are innocent until proven Guilty. When was the trial? Was the Jury sworn in?

    ● I ask when some-one (or our UK GOV) is “fined” can this fine be passed on to others (REGIONS?) that have had absolutely no hand in committing any “crime” what-so-ever? Neither have the people in UK Regions? Yet it is their money used in fines!

    ● We-the people- pay twice for the same fines, once by our taxes that pay for our MP’s to govern us according to our own common law Constitution (Which they apparently cannot do) and again by our taxes to the newly organised Mayors and their entourage. Fines that are imposed upon our Government by the EU, that our Government-the people YOU elected- now expect US/YOU/ME to PAY THEIR FINE. Yet the people will not have committed ANY OFFENCE.

    ● Clause 29 Magna Carta makes clear that “for a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a husbandman the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a Royal Court. NONE OF THESE FINES SHALL BE IMPOSEDEXCEPT BY THE ASSESSMENT ON OATH OF REPUTABLE MEN OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD”. See also Clause 39 and 40. When will our money run out if we keep paying fines?

    As you probably know, there are more ‘examples, I could quote on this Clause alone but suffice for now. I look forward to your thoughts and reply.

    Reply: Our constitution evolves and is amended by Acts fo Parliament. The European Communities Act of 1972 was revolutionary Act, but entirely legal.

    1. Anne Palmer
      October 13, 2011

      Reply: Our constitution evolves and is amended by Acts of Parliament. The European Communities Act of 1972 was revolutionary Act, but entirely legal.

      True, the European Communities Act is indeed entirely legal for those that can alter Treaties that were written after the last war, but from the debates that took place in the 1960’s (which most of us didn’t have access to at that time-plus we tended to believe our Politicians then) from the reading of them at a much later stage, many MP’s knew exactly, and some fought hard to protect the sovereignty of our Country, and even then the people were told, “that there would be no loss of essential Sovereignty” by one who had made a Solemn Oath of Faithful and True Allegiance to the British Crown and through the Crown to all in these Islands.

      Prime Minister Harold Macmillan 31st July 1961 (column 928) “This is political as well as an economic issue. Although the Treaty of Rome is concerned with economic matters it has an important political objective, namely to promote unity and stability in Europe which is so essential a factor in the struggle for freedom and progress throughout the world”.

      Mr Fell (Same day Column 935), “Is the Prime Minister aware that this decision to gamble with the British sovereignty in Europe, when 650 million people in the British Commonwealth depend upon his faith and his leadership, is the most disastrous thing that any Prime Minister has done for many generation past?”

      On 2nd August 1961 column 1478 a Mr Silverman is restating that on the 28th June he moved a Motion about the European Common Market in the following terms, “That this House, being gravely concerned at the pressure to make this country enter a European Common Market and the consequent threat to subject its independence, its membership of the Commonwealth and its right and power to plan its economy in its own way, to a political union with Germany, France, Italy and Benelux, as well as a threat to the survival of the Commonwealth inherent in these proposals, urges Her Majesty’s Government not to enter into any negotiations concerning such entry until expressly empowered so to do by a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and by this House.”

      Later on that same day, column 1480 at 3.42 pm, the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan: “I beg to move, That this House supports the decision of Her Majesty’s Government to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to initiate negotiations to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom. Etc, etc”

      Later on (column1491) he states, “This problem of sovereignty, to which we must, of course, attach the highest importance is, in the end, perhaps a matter of degree. I fully accept that there are some forces in Europe which would like a genuine federalist system. There are many of my colleagues on both sides of the House who have seen this at Strasbourg and other gatherings. They would like Europe to turn itself into a sort of United States, but I believe this to be a completely false-analogy.”

      Mr Gaitskell then reminds the Prime Minister (column 1498) what Macmillan said in 1956 when Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was, Finally, we must recognise that the aim of the main proponents of the Community is political integration. We can see that in Article 138 of the Treaty, which looks towards a common assembly, directly elected. The whole idea of the six, the coal and steel community and Euratom is a movement towards political integration. That is a fine assertion, but we must recognise that for us to sign the Treaty of Rome would be to accept as the ultimate goal—to accept as the ultimate goal–political federation in Europe, including ourselves”.

      Right from the begining they knew and I have many pages from the past, and if we do not get out of the EU soon, we will lose completely the Governing of our Country, the Commonwealth and the complete loss of two Houses of Parliament because the Localism Bill is the birth of the EU REGIONS in ENGLAND until even the word ENGLAND no longer appears on the map and the death knell of those once two proud Houses of Parliament. There is no way the people would ever pay for those that betrayed them completely.

      Reply You also need to remember that because the 1972 Act was such a fundamental change to our constitution it was put to the peoplem in a referendum and they did approve it, against the advice fo some of us.

      1. Anne Palmer
        October 14, 2011

        And in the gentle reminder of the conduct of those of ‘yesterday’ – we are seeing a repeat in the efforts of some of those that have the honour to sit on those same front benches “today.”

        In one way the ratification of the Treaty of Rome did indeed bring about such a vast and terrible constitutional change-yet it didn’t and couldn’t touch parts of our Common Law Constitution. It has just been ‘ignored’. Parts of it cannot be touched and haven’t been touched because Magna Carta is a Treaty between the Crown and the people and neither have been asked for such a Treaty change or destruction (repeal) and the Declaration and Bill of Rights 1688/9 exactly WHO would dare to repeal or destroy the people’s RIGHTS that have been theirs for all those many years? They will last far longer than those Human Rights that have been used and distorted in ways the founders never wanted or expected “todays” devious people would use. Those that brought them into being were truly honourable people and because they were, they never, imagined they could be brought into disrepute in the way they have been in “today’s” world. Their main aim then, was for there never to be another bitter bloodyconflict that those that went through in that last WAR, for as you perhaps have read, it touched all the people here ‘at home’, not just those that fought the real battles “on the front”.

        Now? Those that would have us believe they are the “great” men of ‘today’ are busy trying to start a third World War.

        Our Government today has a choice. The decision is and will be permanent. They can choose to Govern this Country according to its Constitution or they can choose to hand the governing of it forever to the European Union. They have that choice. The people of this Country will be denied that choice.

        I thank you John Redwood for placing this contribution on your Website.

        Reply: Appeal to ancient statements of our liberties drawn up before the EU was on the scene do not have force to win what you wish to win. Parliament has continuously modified these ancient statements of liberty and has the power to do so. Now Parliament and people have given Brussels the power to do so as well.

  27. D Lewis
    November 8, 2011

    The above comment is rather defeatist.
    People of the United Kingdom have not been asked whether they wish to give up their national identity and to become EU ‘citizens’. All the constitutional changes have been implemented by stealth and without full and open debate as to their full implications. According to the laws of our land no Government shall have the power to bind it’s successors. We can remove ourselves from the European nightmare whenever we like.

  28. Anne Palmer
    January 14, 2012

    The Coalition: Our Program for Government
    13. EUROPE The Coalition: Our program for Government. Cabinet Office.
    22 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2WH Publication Date : May 2010.
    © Crown copyright 2010

    “The Government believes that Britain should play a leading role in an enlarged European Union, BUT THAT NO FURTHER POWERS SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO BRUSSELS WITHOUT A REFERENDUM. This approach strikes the right balance between constructive engagement with the EU to deal with the issues that affect us all, and protecting our national sovereignty”.

    • “We will ensure that there is no further transfer of sovereignty or powers over the course of the next Parliament. We will examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences and will, in particular, work to limit the application of the Working Time Directive in the United Kingdom”. End of Quotes.

    Without doubt the permanent transfer of British Sovereignty to the EU over our land (HS2-part of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy) and particularly over our Air (Air Traffic Control) and Ports and Seas, (for the EU’s ‘Motorway in the Sea’) so that EU ships can come and go without asking permission, and ‘the Seas’ includes all that is in them and under the sea bed etc and is a massive and permanent transfer of Sovereignty from this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the European Union, and yes, according to a reply in response to one question recorded in Hansard, even down as far as the Falkland Islands. (Permanent because World Maps will have to be changed particularly re the transfer of the Seas. ) The people should have a full, fair and true referendum on this matter before any start on HS2 and before one House has been demolished to make way for HS2.

    I am preparing a case should there not be a referendum and I am sure this time the money will be raised and more and more facts will come from all different sides and from all different groups that want freedom from foreign rule. However, I would far rather a British Government decided IT truly wanted to Govern this Country according to its Common Law Constitution rather than hold a referendum that not all people would trust any more, and certainly no more foreigners making laws for ALL in this Country to obey-sadly that even our Government has to obey.

    The only way any British Government may be looked up to ever again by their own people is if THEY decide to take this Country out of the European Union-without a referendum-and to govern this Country as they should have been doing so for all time, according to its own long standing Common Law Constitution. To repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and then repudiate the Treaties.

    I note your reply thank you, but the people have fought against all odds before, and even if the people lose this fight, the Government will not have won.

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