A new railway for 2033?

Yesterday’s announcement about High Speed 2 was given more significance by the media than perhaps it deserved. The route of the track from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and the sites for the stations on the northern lines, remains to be finalised. If all goes according to plan the first passangers could travel on the new trains to Birmingham in 2026, and to the more northerly destinations in 2032-3.

I asked how much money will be spent this Parliament on this project. I was told just £200 million. This presumably covers the further work on consulting the public, confirming the works on the Birmingham section and choosing from the options for the northern legs. I was told that no construction contracts will be let this Parliament.

This means that a new government elected in 2015 at the scheduled General Election will in practice be able to make up its own mind about this project then, before letting the contracts. It will need to fit into the budgets being drawn up by the new government. It will need to demonstrate value for money and a good ratio of benefits to costs to the then Secretary of State for Transport and Chief Secretary to the Treasury. It would be wise to look again then at the forecasts of passenger demand, likely fare revenue, and the ratio of costs to benefits. It is also likely that voters in the affected constituencies will make this a continuing issue in the 2015 election.

I understand the strong feelings of some in the north that they would like to see this project go ahead to provide better travel links between north and south, in the expectation that it will stimulate northern economic activity. Such a view needs to grasp that we are talking about contributions to the economy from construction jobs towards the end of this decade, and stimulus to the wider economy from the transport links after 2026, 14 years away.

It makes it even more important that the present government, spared significant cost for this new railway, spends what money it does have in its transport budgets to boost other rail and road capacity for maximum economic advantage for the whole country as soon as possible. This one day railway will neither help the UK out of the recent recession by construction jobs soon, nor provide the stimulus to northern economic development this decade. This very fast train is on a very slow planning and building timetable.

The original London to Birimingahm railway took just five years to build, despite the opposition of local landowners who forced diversions of the route in places. It was also built with private sector finance. Not everything has got better and slicker.

Meanwhile, the best possible investment for the greater early success of northern – and southern – UK business might be better and faster broadband. Like the railways in the Victorian era, this is the latest technology, with much more private finance around to go into it.

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136 Comments

  1. Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    EUR-Lex – 31996L0048 – EN, is the European Directive which will cause, by Statutory Instrument, the Transport Executive to burst into the 21st century with a new communications network which will syncopate the northern regions with the southern hub.
    In constructing the new canal between Much Haddock, Yorks, and Market Regis, Somerset the entire economy of the world will be transformed, as Britain once again leads in the field of water transport.
    The modest cost of £121 billion pounds over the next decade will be subsumed by monetary easing. During this parliament, however, the battle with the NIMBIES will continue.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      e-petition
      “We the undersigned believe that there is no business case for HS2, that there is no environmental case and at this time of cuts and austerity, there is clearly no money to pay for it. We want the Government to scrap HS2 or at least call an independent public inquiry, which would mean the details are assessed properly.”

      http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/353

      Currently stands at 22,588.

      • Posted January 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        “Currently stands at 22,588.”

        23,343

  2. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Like you I am confused at the obsession with an ancient technology which will be totally out of date before it is finished. Does the government imagine anyone will travel to business meetings or indeed work in 2033?

    If I am around in twenty years I imagine I shall take my son (or perhaps he will take me) to see a heritage museum loooking at post-millenial government white elephant projects, or maybe we will just look at the 3-D holographic internet by then.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Indeed and this technology has been out of date for a very long time. People want to go where they want to go, at the times they want to go, calling off on route where they want to call, perhaps changing the agenda as they go and taking all their clobber with them. Not just London to Birmingham with few or no stops at times chosen by the rail company and when the unions agree.

      People always fight the last battle rather than the next.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      We will all be in flying cars then and eating pills instead of food. A few years after that teleporters will make all physical travel obsolete. Or you could take the view of Prince Charles that all technology except medical advances, is unnecessary and for him this is true.

  3. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Never was so much money, contributed by so many taxpayers, for the benefit of so few.

  4. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    This project is so absurd it is hard the understand why on earth it is even being considered. It does not seem to have any political benefit even and clearly has no economic or environmental benefits, being hugely negative on both counts.

    You say “the best possible investment for the greater early success of northern – and southern – UK business might be better and faster broadband.” Perhaps or perhaps just leaving the tax with the existing good businesses and tax payers to do something useful with instead.

    We should however build a high speed rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick around the M25, taking about 2o minutes and a new runway at each. This would be far cheaper and thousands of times more useful and give a real economic return and could be financed privately. Creating one 5 runway hub airport that is clearly urgently needed. One could then also go anywhere as needs demand and not just to Birmingham and it would pay for itself. Planes need only a runway at each end no track and are thus hugely more efficient and totally flexible on routes. They are often “greener” too for this reason as they planes can be far more intensively used and need no tracks to maintain.

    No one cares about saving a few minutes on a journey to Birmingham. Those who are so very busy can work on the train with phones and computers anyway those who are not can look out of the windows or read a book or watch a film or sleep anyway. Anyway it is door to door times that matter and the saving here are very marginal. Probably less than the endless delays cause during the proposed construction or the current absurdly complex and inflexible ticketing systems.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Would this project be going ahead were it not for the influence of the BBC and their John Betjeman dream world and rose tinted view of the railways and their constant abuse of Dr Beeching who saves us so much pointless expense?

      I see that Justine Greening was rather disparaging of “patch and mend” in her speech. There is nothing wrong with patch and mend it is often by far the best way. Especially when you are broke due to endless government “tax and waste” all over the place.

      Doubtless all the overtaxed businesses who will have to pay for this nonsense will then have to “patch and mend” to survive after the mugging.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        I noted that the BBC described those who considered HS2 to be uneconomic as NIMBYs.

        • Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Nimby and Luddite see to be the words much used on the BBC. I live nowhere near the route (nor near any of Huhne’s absurd sometimes rotating, religious wind crosses) nor am I a “Luddite” indeed quite the reverse. I am against them, simply because they do not work in engineering, economic or even environmental terms. They will clearly destroy net jobs and never pay for themselves.

          The good news I see is that all this extra C02 caused by these daft government projects and absurd energy policies will help stave off the next ice age according to researchers at Cambridge university.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9002131/Carbon-emissions-to-block-next-ice-age.html

        • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Yet again the BBC find themselves on the same side as Labour, now that’s what I call balance.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      Agree an M25 type circular railway line which linked all London airports (perhaps including the Thames estuary proposal as well) would have some use and give flexibility.

      When flying we always tend to use Gatwick ,even though Heathrow is closer.
      Reason.
      Reading/Wokingham is linked by rail with a service directly into Gatwick Airport, others are not, advance group ticket for four people, £40 return. Makes it a no brainer with luggage.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I think one of the problems is that ministers this travel is about a government car to the station first class high speed train or plane and another car to collect you at the other end with the tax payer picking up the bills. Not much environmental, green, economic, sensible or sustainable there at all.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Well it seems to have the backing of Bob Crow and the Labour Party.
      What does that tell you?

      Quite frankly I would rather they cut down the time it takes to get to and from the respective stations by sorting out the traffic chaos. Fifteen minutes at each end and that’s a half hour off of the journey time!

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Another poor decision to grab a head line and another waste of money. There are so many examples of the government wasting money it is difficult to understand why Cameron and Co keep telling us they have to cut back. It is as though they have billions of taxpayers’ money to waste.

      Overseas aid to Argentina still continues despite Argentina escalating hostilities towards the UK and blocking Falkland ships from docking at south American ports.

      Energy policy where our bills are about 20% higher than they should be because of Huhne’s obligation to the environment and VAT. Canada stands out as the sensible country in the west. They are pulling out of Kyoto agreement for all the right reasons starting with national interest and economic viability.

      Barrosso and Rampouy visit Russia on separate private jets for the same meeting and from the same destinations; hundreds of millions spent on EU buildings that is a complete waste.

      Economic lunacy, presumably, taught at Oxbridge for the innumerate PPE course.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      What is the point of mobile phones then? He absurd and pointless they are. Is anyone that much in need to make a telephone call? What did we do without them.
      “I’m sorry to interrupt you Mr Bazman, but someone is trying to telephonically contact you Sir. Should I tell them to $£%* off?.” “You should Jeeves.”
      What you are saying is that faster travel to the north is unnecessary, but faster travel around London is? Why can’t Londoners as you say just look out of the window and play with their computers Why is there not already enough in London and should the burden and prosperity be spread around the country? Why not just spend the money on another three decks on the M25 and have an eighteen lane super highway from south Wales? On top of more airports and railways? The saving could then be used for tax cuts for the rich.

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        Bazman, the point is that OUR 32Bn is wasted on a project that WILL come in late and over budget (probably by 50-100% if experience tells us anything) and will only come online in 2026 at the very best, and will NEVER deliver value, unless you think that paying £500 for a return trip to Birmingham is good value.

        So let’s spend, say £16B. Improve the broadband for the entire country, a phone call to Mr Branson telling him to convert at least half the First Class carriages to standard, perhaps, although I am totally against subsidies, support the cost of a standard ticket on the current line. THAT will improve the links between the cities!

        PS I am still waiting to hear the honest truth from the government, that this whole silly, wasteful, expensive scam is all pushed by the EU’s directive that all countries should have HS train services.

  5. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    For me, high-speed trains are a much more comfortable experience than short-haul flights. It’s a pity that the UK is so late with its high-speed railway network. If I remember rightly, already in the nineteen-nineties EU financial instruments were available to assist in development of trans-European transport networks. They were and probably still are also available for broadband development.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      You may well personally prefer high speed trains to planes for your personal comfort, but are you prepared to pay so much more for that comfort? Clearly not enough people are or these absurd trains would not need such huge subsidy.

      I prefer the comfort of first class flights or a rolls – but I am not prepared to pay so I go economy and drive an old Volvo.

      Demand has to mean “real demand” from people actually prepared to pay the real costs themselves. Not artificial demand caused by government and Huhne/Greening style subsidy.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        @lifelogic: That’s all relative. I regularly travel from Rotterdam to Paris, but as there are few cheap flights from Rotterdam, I’ll check for Amsterdam – Paris:
        By high-speed train – cheapest return ticket: €70,-
        Cheapest found airline ticket (return): €98,84
        The shorter flying time (1:15 versus 3:19) is offset by extra transport time (airports aren’t in city centers), check-in time, security hassle, cramped seating, (and no internet)

        • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

          Yes but the train is subsidised and the plane fair is largely tax.

        • Posted January 12, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          Aha! We have you there Peter. The UK situation, with privatised railways and private airlines is totally different.

          Travelling tomorrow, London to Edinburgh on Friday 13 Jan :
          EasyJet – 8:30 – 9:55, cost £73.99
          Return – 19:40 – 21:05, cost £63,99

          National Rail – 8:00 – 12:25, cost £60.50
          Return 17:30 – 22:20, cost £60.50

          So a private transport mode delivers massively more effective transportation than a public one. This always is the way, unless, like the French train system, they run up a debt of Euro 30 Billion, which the taxpayer is going to have to pay at some stage in addition to the current massive costs!

        • Posted January 12, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          PS I did a similar exercise to Paris – Eurostar tomorrow return taking 5hrs = £254, Easyjet taking 2hrs30 = £164. In every case, the heavily subsidised public transport is far more expensive, all I can say is privatise the railways AND ENSURE COMPETITION.

          • Posted January 12, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

            Privatization of telecoms may have worked out well, but privatization of the railways hasn’t been such a success at all, with loads of complaints and poor performance and different business units ending up in different companies which makes cooperation much to formal and often failing. I actually find the railways around London quite confusing with the different operators and timetables, whereas all my British family prefer by far the punctual and cheaper Dutch railways. Privatization isn’t the panacea for every public service, you have to be choosy.

          • Posted January 12, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            And much of the Easyjet fare is no doubt air passenger tax not applicable to trains.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      I wonder whether Peter is happy about the bailout of the Dutch/Belgian Fyra high speed service that his government has just had to implement. I’d guess that those who live in Leiden and Den Haag will be less pleased that their services into Schiphol and Amsterdam will now be routed the long way round via Haarlem instead of via Hoofddorp.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        @Mark: I was referring to Thalys (successful), not Fyra, a disaster caused by KLM and NS (Dutch railways) when they submitted an irrealistic high bid in the tender for exploitation of the link, a bid which should not even have been accepted by the ministry. Leiden to Schiphol / Amsterdam 4 x per hour with no stops, will remain.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      The EU is the direct cause of this project. The directives are all available on the Internet. About ten years ago, the discussion started – in Europe. The most recent directives were about five years ago.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      The high speed train in the Netherlands is running at a big loss. The new “Fyra” high-speed service in the Netherlands — opened just two years ago — is close to financial collapse with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty.

      The line, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda, cost taxpayers more than £7 billion to build but is losing £320,000 a day amid disastrous levels of patronage.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        Please see my comment to Mark. Operating empty trains (because of a way too high surcharge) for 2 years is bound to fail. I see this as an exception, not as a failure of the principle of high-seed trains. The high-speed trains between Amsterdam and Paris are very busy.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Dear Mr van Leeuwen,
      If the UK was actually building a high-speed speed network, you might have a point, but this is an aged ad hoc plan. The proposed HS2 would even go to a different London terminus from HS1, which provides the fast rail link to France and Belgium. Through bullet strains, linking the Midlands and North of England to the heart of Europe would be an after thought for later, if they ever happened.
      As others have commented, the plan is just about speeding more people from North, South and West to London, which our elite still believes to be the centre of the known world.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

        @outsider: Thank you. I’m not familiar with the HS2 and for me, the Midlands will always mean flying or taking the car/ferry.

  6. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Totally agree with you, Mr Redwood.

    More carriages on peak services, some lengthened platforms and improvement of railway bottle necks now please.

    HS2 will be at least double what they estimate.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      If the olympics is anything to go by then four times plus!!

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Plus the huge inconvenience and delays to the public during construction.

  7. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Current London Euston to Birmingham New Street service:
    – journey time 1 hour 25 minutes
    – four trains per hour
    – advance purchase fare from £6.

    It is difficult to see the need for HS2.

    Meanwhile, the UK’s main airport has only 2 runways.

  8. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Whenever I see HS2 I find myself thinking of H2S. The latter is a highly toxic gas which is a potent chemical asphyxiant with a smell of rotten eggs – perhaps there are more similarities than just the letters and number!

  9. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    By the time 2026 arrives we’ll be lucky if our wonderful leaders haven’t pauperised the entire country. Our own shower of placemen and pseudo socialists are prepared to steal far more than 50% of the country’s wealth and the EU is even worse. All creativity and enterprise are strangled unless they conform to a bureaucrats idea of what should be. The depletion of oil, coal, gas and just about every other resource is coming to a head. The USA is determined to start another war in the Gulf and our idiots will be only too pleased to join in, no doubt. Plus the little matter of the Bank of England doing it’s level best to ruin the currency. All adds up to a perfect outlook to spend billions on a pointless railway to save a handful of people 20 minutes a trip. While we’re at it what about a 20 trillion pound umbrella over the north west of England to save people the cost of buying a raincoat.

  10. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling HS2 is a diversionary project so we don’t pay attention to the growing problem of Heathrow. HS2 development is in accord with EU objectives but it would suit Brussels for Heathrow to lose status and custom to European mainland competitors.
    The HS2 money would provide a far better return on investment if spent on a new runway or relocated Heathrow.
    We are witnessing a two pronged attack: destroy The City AND Heathrow – both envied by Europe.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      HS2 has nothing to do with the EU.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
        • Posted January 12, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          Remember how to vote at the 2014 MEP elections, it will also give Europhile Dave something to think about. The plan for the train line could be stopped by the next government, let us hope it will be by pressure from the public.

          Of course this has everything to do with Europe. it will give a life line straight through Britain and cut down borders even more- if that is possible with Green in charge of the continuing mass immigration policy.

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        Mate, you are so naieve – HS2 has EVERYTHING to do with the EU.

        Remember the 80mph limit that was passed through parliament with no opposition and barely any discussion? EU speed limit is 130kph, we are getting in line. HS2 IS a strategy of the EU, linking cities across borders, that is their main plan, using it to break down national boundaries.

  11. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The “construction jobs created” argument is bunk. Spending the same money on the NHS, housing, booze, massage parlours, you name it would create much the same number of jobs.

    Second, if good connections to London are important for job creation in Brummigham etc, how come Kendal which is VASTLY more remote from London or any large conurbation has a long history of relatively low unemployment levels? And how come there are London boroughts with high unemployment levels?

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      How can we be sure that the trains and construction will be done by British companies?

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        Er, we can’t, this would be illegal under EU rules.

  12. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    This is madness. we don’t even have decent roads. Congestion on our roads is thought to cost £8 billion. A good road transport system is what we need. By 2025 we will have elctric cars or hydro cars, but we will need the roads between cities to drive to them. Doh. We will have wasted billions on trains that we don’t want and don’t take us to where we are going.
    Please, John, do something to stop this madness.

  13. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Do you think there’s validity in the argument about helping the north economically. In. The case of the midlands a 45 minute(have I read that correctly) train to London could perhaps turn Birmingham into a London commuter zone! Taking the best jobs out of Birmingham rather than providing them. Also Edinburgh does better than south Yorkshire, for example despite being far from the English capital.
    I’m not saying the lines won’t help but I’d like to know more about how the argument works that suggests the new line will bring prosperity to the north.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      This and similar posts seem to point to an argument for constructing the northern branches first.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      This argument is nonsense. Speaking as someone in “The North” I can tell you categorically that when the West Coast Main Line was improved, it didn’t result in more eeconomic activity moving north. Rather the opposite – my job in Manchester suddenly became a London/Manchester role, with me spending half the week in London as it was so much quicker to get to.

      I spent more of my money in London, along with the other regular commuters I observed on the train. The improvements led to London sucking in more economic activity, as has also been the case in Spain, I believe, where Madrid has sucked activity out of other cities and towns.

      Given the huge cost, our money would be better spent improving transport across the country.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Ruth

        My thoughts exactly.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        Ruth

        Absolutely 100% correct. That has also happened here in Kent where HS1 has sucked dry all the towns thru which it runs and transported local workers and the majority of their spending to London, whilst simultaneously raising rents and house prices

  14. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    As a supporter of the Govt’s espoused policy on rebalancing the economy, on this occasion I do not agree with JR’s overall conclusion i.e. the anti HS2 stance. (Largely I reason that transport infrastructure breaks monopolies). Nevertheless I do agree with JR that the speed of the HS2 project is ridiculous. Another elderly tried and tested technology is that of jet liners (1940s) and yet successive Govt’s have failed to implement suitable SE capacity and are always seeking to further tax domestic flights. Again, I agree with JR that the Victorian technology of information networks is a useful one for continued encouragement but overall I conclude that the Govt’s espoused policy of rebalancing is not enacted:

    Delays to HS2
    SE airport capacity and APD
    Skew of per capita transport spending to London
    (And my standard gripe – national galleries, museums etc not being moved out of London)

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Also on: “stimulus to the wider economy from the transport links after 2026”

      Pesumably once (-if ever) plans are clear then there will be stimulus because freeing up capacity for freight on existing lines and knowing that existing lines/stations won’t be distrupted will be built into organizations business planning.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Careful what you wish for. The aim here is to create a monopoly so it can extract premium fares. This would be done by downgrading services on the existing lines for both frequency and speed. This is exactly what they’ve been doing in Holland on the Fyra line.

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

        Whilst I agree that the privatisation of BR and the associated gravy trains can be criticised, I would hope that lessons from history and other countries can be learned in implementation (and similarly that lessons of delay – 40 years for a Thames estuary arirport – are recognised.)

        The monopoly I refer to is that of London and its commuter belt.

        More generally I see HS2 as timely (if the Govt would just get on with it) due to:-

        (i) Yuan dealing potentially happening in London (good to use a station near the City),
        (ii) Midlands and North of England growing in attractiion for Chinese and Indian manufacturing investment
        (iii) Birmingham International runway extension (2014? – so direct flights to India and China rather than through UAE / European hubs)
        (iv) West Coast Main Line being mixed use, with large freight carriage (-tough to update and expand once above certain utilisation due to down time).

        But even though JR is against HS2, I do agree with his timing criticism.

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      I have seldom heard of anything so silly! London is a global centre for museums and galleries. Move them elsewhere for what? To break up the environment that has been slowly been built up over hundreds of years?
      Do you really believe that culture tourists will want to spend 5 hours in 20 different cities or towns in England, or will they rather go to Milan, Paris, Rome?

  15. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    If this is justifiable for businesses then let them pay for it. If it’s justifiable for private travel then ask them to stump up the money in advance through investment in the HS line owner.

    In other words don’t use a penny of taxpayers money.

    What’s wrong with video conferencing rather than sitting on the train that goes from one centre to another rather than from your own workplace to be where you want to be?

  16. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I dont live anywhere near this railway but am opposed to it as I havent heard any good arguments for it. The computer models used to project usage provide the same false confidence that have led to ruinous financial decisions in banks and absurd forcasts of the weather in 50 years time. The fact that there is no thought of financing HS2 in the private markets shows what a doubtful scheme it is. Lets push for Boris Airport instead.

  17. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    This remains a very expensive project to save 30 minutes on a London-Birmingham trip and sort out some capacity problems. I’m surprised that upgrading Marylebone (London) to Snow Hill (Birmingham) was considered.

    Further “north” has a vague sort of promise for a time when the national debt and the Greek debt might be paid off! The north might have been better served by the private sector third runway at Heathrow that a Conservative lead government killed off.

  18. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    In short it will not be built.

  19. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    This has cheered me up, Mr Redwood. All we are committed to is spending a couple of hundred million pounds on a plan that will be abandoned in 2016. I noticed that the Transport person has admitted that this is a Victorian Plan. I would have placed it a bit before Victoria took the throne myself.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      You don’t get much for £200million the way that the transport ministry spends it, it seems.

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      My guess is if you placed a plan like this before Victoria(R) she would place your head on a spike!!

  20. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I thought we were trying to privatise the railways !.

    Once again a government ideal is costing the taxpayer a fortune, and we still have a subsidy (supposed to be shrinking) to underwrite on the present system.

    Why is it that so many government projects have such little joined up thinking.

    Remember Prescotts supposed combined transport plan fiasco.

    More construction jobs, probably not for local labour, probably eastern European, where all of the money will be sent home, and very little spent here.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Remember Prescott’s supposed combined transport plan fiasco

      I think you probably mean the EU Commission’s transport plan (TEN-T). John Prescott has never had an original thought throughout his time in office.

  21. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    If this project made economic sense then it would be possible to raise the funding privately and buy the land without using Compulsory Purchase Orders. It’s a vanity project that should be shelved at a time of national economic crisis.

  22. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Dear John, your words about the spending limits for this parliament do offer comfort. I also want to commend the Conservative party for their bravery and honesty in allowing this to run through the next election, something Labour would never do, in fact as we can see from Gordon Brown, who’s style is to appoint a contractor in his local constituency and agree cancellation clauses so harsh that he ensures local employment (and his seat) forever.
    However :
    Of all the High speed train systems in the world, only 2 run without constant government subsidies.
    The TGV in France has caused SNCF’s debt to rise to 30billion Euro
    Truth is that not many people in the North care, because almost everybody knows it will be too expensive for them
    It will come in at double the budget, at least
    It will come in 5 years late, at least
    It is being built mostly because the EU wants HS rail
    It will save only 20 minutes
    To get ‘direct’ to Europe you will have to walk from Euston to St Pancras

    I recommend we save at least £25 Billion, that will give us £8Bn to spend on longer trains, fixing the roads and broadband.
    A no-cost option is to tell Virgin to offer just one first class and 7 Standard class carriages, that will nearly double capacity on the current line.

    And, if you like, cut the price of a ticket, THAT will get people using rail!

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Lojolondon – You offer much sense and this project seems to me to have been proposed by people who really don’t have the interests of the people of Britain at heart.

      One politician said today that “This is our generation’s opportunity to bequeath something great to the next.”

      I think that the next generation would far rather we worked at getting our debts down so that they needn’t have to pay for them.

  23. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Re para 2: “I asked how much money will be spent this Parliament on this project. I was told just £200 million.”

    According to Norman Baker, £750M will be spent on HS2 preparation cost in this parliament: HS2 debate on Newsnight 10/1/2010 – see iPlayer at about minute 11:44.

  24. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    HS2 seems to be a project in which established norms are being cast to the winds, and not just financial. There are those who are arguing that the line to Birmingham will help to reduce the North-South divide! No doubt these are the same people for whom the view of the world beyond the M25 gets a bit hazy. And we have known for years, have we not, that the North begins at Watford – ha! ha! ha!

    Its hardly surprising that the Scotts feel they get a poor deal from London.

  25. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    The acid test is to float the idea of HS2 as a ‘toll train’. With the track and rolling stock funded by private money and financed by the fares it charges.

    If no private consortium is willing to fund the project it would be reasonable to ask why the general population should.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Why should all roads not be toll roads if this is the case? Why because people do not want them and do not want to use them.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        A lot of the trunk roads in England used to be toll roads in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was one way of providing ‘infrastructure’ without general taxes.

        Of course there still are ‘toll’ roads etc. like the M6 toll road, various bridge tolls, and the Channel Tunnel was built with ‘private’ money.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        Fuel taxes are effectively toll taxes levied without having to have toll booths.

  26. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Those blighted by the government’s decision to go ahead with HS2 will not relish the prospect of living in limbo in the hope the 2015 election is their only prospect of the project being stopped.

    Nor will business welcome the uncertainty.

    What the 2015 election does do is offer the prospect of a change to the political landscape such that a U-turn can be achieved without too much egg on face.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      How will a 2015 election put a stop to HS2?

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        In the sense that, and I accept this may be unrealistic optimism, on present trends the electorate will want to big shake up of MPs and the next lot will have far more sense.

        • Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          You mean there will be a landslide victory for UKIP?

          • Posted January 13, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

            Landslide in relative terms is on the cards, victory is far fetched, coalition partner a tantalising prospect.

  27. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    If you believe in Keynesianism then yes this is a good idea. It will create jobs, but mainly for migrants.

    But really railways are a thing of the past. Hardly anybody uses them – 2% of the population will use this. Far better to invest in sustainable broadband backbones all over the UK – 75% of the population will use this.

    If railways then why not canals?

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Hardly anyone uses rail travel? Passenger numbers are the highest they have been in ninety years. This idea that broadband will allow use to live and work where we like has in the main proved to be not true.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        According to the National Travel Survey, just 3% of trips are by rail – including London Underground.

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        Broadband will never allow us ALL to live and work where we like, but it does enable things to be done, both business and social, without having to travel. As yet there is not enough high speed broadband nor applications to exploit the technology, but there will be a significant shift as facilities improve.

  28. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I realise predictions about the future are invariably wrong but I’d be surprised if we’re not all being driven by high speed automatic cars, all of which communicate with each other and GPS, by 2030/40. Google already have a prototype which has been proven to work on busy roads. All the technology already exists, the main problem is existing non-compliant cars which, like standard definition TVs, will take a decade or so to work their way out of the system. And that people will be very wary to kick back with the laptop and leave the driving to a computer which is why it’s being introduced gradually – matching the speed of the car in front, automatic parking, automatic emergency stop, etc. How long before the car keeps you on the road or slows you down if it sees you’re coming to a sharp bend?

    I also imagine at some point in the next 50 years we’ll be using virtual offices where you put on a star trek like visor and see a perfect 3D replica of a typical office materialise around you which, of course, will interact with your companys server and all the other employees.

    We’ve had over a century of good use out of existing railways, I highly doubt HS2 will see a quarter century of productive use (let alone profitable) in a small, densely populated country.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      “Car trains” have potential to decrease fuel consumption significantly, while increasing traffic density dramatically, since vehicles travel only a couple of feet apart instead of “two chevrons”.

  29. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    “The original London to Birmingham railway took only 5 years to build”. There were probably fewer nimbys and lawyers around in those days, and we were much less densely populated.

  30. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    For a lesson why Central Banks shouldnt mess too much with economies. Have a look at the Swiss

    First I’ll point to this story in Reuters – showing the swiss bought alot of derivatives to stop teir currency getting to strong. Reuters say

    “Due to the risks involved with over-the-counter derivatives, from leveraged positions they create to the credit risk of engaging in bilateral contracts with banks, central banks tend to stick to the cash markets.

    Using options also means that the central bank is exposed in both the spot and options markets if the franc strengthens sharply through 1.20 per euro.”

    ** Actually losses will amount to 10% of the Swiss GDP if the EUR/CHF drops through 120.00 **

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/09/08/uk-swiss-snb-intervention-idUKTRE78723920110908

    Now look at the steady downward fall of the Swiss Franc. This is due to people moving money into Switzerland to escape the EZ crisis. I think its fair say the pressure to move money out of the EZ will continue. When the Swiss central banker resigned this week the EUR/CHF fell to 121.00 (100 pips from triggering the derivates put option calls).

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=EURCHF=X&t=2y&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=

    If their is a crisis in EU the Swiss central bank will have its hands full. In these times of defensive trading and profits being so hard to find it amazes me the Swiss Central bankers were so cuckoo to enter into these derivative trades !! Especially when their currency was well below EUR/CHF 120 only a few years ago.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      The question is whether the Swiss stick to their guns on this and buy Euros ad infinitum to keep the 1.20 peg, in which case one assumes the CHF supply will grow to epic proportions and we have a Zimbabwe on our doorstep , or whether the peg fails and they have to deflate.
      Personally I don’t get it why Swiss wages and prices couldn’t fall by say 10% in a strong franc, deflationary environment. Interest rates could be held to 0.01%, making mortgage repayments and hence rents easier to bear. If the Swiss can’t enact and take deflation, nobody can.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      PS the Swiss manage a very popular, sophisticated rail network stopping at most towns and villages over approx 1000 people, and manage to keep their government finances in order. I don’t think it’s all to do with safe haven money-they manage to attract business through reasonable tax rates and stability. Unfortunately this wildcard action of pegging their currency is an aberration.

  31. Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    JR, I am pretty much in sympathy with most of what you say, especially the crescendo in the last paragraph about broadband.

    Seems to me government, and this government particularly, just does not get broadband. The vast sums happily being thrown at HS2 is in dramatic contrast to the pittance being spent on broadband: indeed most of the money isn’t actually “government” money at all – it is top sliced off the BBC licence fee receipts.

    Another dramatic contrast is the beneficiaries. HS2 will benefit a tiny part of a sub-set of the population living in a small area. Broadband, by contrast, can be rolled out more quickly at less cost across the whole country. The benefit is not just for those additional people with a good broadband connection but that for those who already have the good connection there will be more people with whom they can socialise and exploit business opportunities.

    The really depressing thing is that that which is being done through Broadband Delivery UK is a pathetic flop. For those who would like to be updated on the government’s target for the end of this parliament that Britain “should boast the best superfast broadband in Europe, and be up there with the very best in the World” I recommend the feature article in the March 2012 edition of PC Pro Magazine (in the news agents now) where see p40.

    It is as if for a project to get proper government backing being really fast is not good enough, it must also be big and shinny enough to provide the backdrop for an ideal photo opportunity.

  32. Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    In 2033 ,our population would have increased by 5 million (250*20), we will need more than a train line, more like new cities built along the line with roads etc. Its a logical progression of our population growth strategy.

    Keep housing demand up,property prices up, labour rates down,some extra marginal economic activity. Where is our sustainable economic policy , can we end this pursuit of overdevelopment, who voted for this?

    Any chance you can ask Tesco what our population count is and publish it and contrast with official numbers?

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      sm, they’ve already done it….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/city-eye-facts-on-a-plate-our-population-is-at-least-77-million-395428.html

      I suspect that their methodology is far more reliable than any proposed by the Home Office.

      I have read a lot of the comments here and agree that there is no real economic case for HS2, and far better ways of spending that money on transport infrastructure to facilitate economic growth or make business easier. The Victorians managed to finance the great infrastructure projects privately because there was business sense to them.

      I favour more high tech investment in IT and broadband to reduce unnecessary travel. A far more intelligent use of pricing and train services could be made in the future in order to renew routes.

      I have also lied the idea of a Thames Estuary airport for the future, but I think that the link between Heathrow and Gatwick offers the best medium term solution.

      It is very annoying that the only tangible benefit for this huge investment in HS2 is a small time saving which is neither here nor there. I agree, however, that more freight needs to be moved by rail.

      zorro

      • Posted January 13, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Yes but its from 2007, so suspect we are plus 80 million. Now consider the extra demands on social capital,infrastructure and other basic demands like power,water,roads, food,health,schools,housing, labour markets and potential instability.

        Another policy which just happened with no democratic input? Then we have Hulne trying to reduce CO2 emissions rather than imports.

  33. Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    In Norway over the last 2 decades they have cut 700 km of tunnels at a cost of about £4 million/km> Denmark has done something similar in the Faroe Islands, at a slightly higher cost but it is remote.

    If we could match that price and if it has been done engineers can do it, then that would be about £5.5 billion for 2 track tunnels all the way to Scotland. In fact since we have economies of scale and no problems with undersea tunnels it should be much less than that.

    What this proves is how enormously parasitic our publuic projects system is.

    In FoIs I have been told that government projects have an inflation rate consistently 4% above everybody else’s and that this has been the case for over 50 years. This explains why British public projects cost around 8 times their enginering cost.

    A further FoI elicidated the fact that the civil service’s only possible explanation for this was that in the early 2000s oil prices went up!!!

    Clearly the real reason is some mixture of bureaucratic parasitism (like the £200 million mentioned without a spade being turned) and “preferred bidders” getting to charge whatever they want.

    I don’t think the business case for this would be good anyway but certainly the best use of government time would be cutting costs to what real costs are rather than preparing to spend £10s of billions wastefully.

    Perhaps a Parliamentary question or committee enquiry into why our public projects cost so many mutliples of their actual cost might be worthwhile.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      A bloke down the pub said that it is common practice for bidders on public works contracts to collude with each other and take it in turns to win.

      Surely not, it must have been the drink talking.

  34. Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    When the Transport Select Committee took evidence on HS2 they had before them representatives from existing HS train companies in Europe. They gave evidence that the highest train frequency achieved was (if memory serves correct) 17 trains per hour, and that they could not see how this could be improved upon due to inherent technical limitation (a combination of speed and braking distance, I think).

    This information caused a noticeable stir, for the HS2 case depends on (again if memory serves correct) 19 trains per hour.

    I may have the numbers slightly wrong, but the point is that the HS2 proposal relied upon doing that which those with the practical experience and relevant expertise considered could not be done.

  35. Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    A high speed rail line makes more sense the greater the distance travelled. So how about this?

    Start at Glasgow/Edinburgh and come down the “East Coast” to join up with HS1, and thus through the tunnel to mainland Europe. Branch off to link to cities in the North of England, the Midlands and London.

    Now I am not suggesting this is a practical proposition, but from a social and business point of view it does illustrate some interesting contrasts with what the government proposes.

    Firstly, if reducing the North/South divide is an objective then this scheme is far more likely to achieve it.

    Secondly, it gets rid of the London hassle for those living North of London wishing to travel to the continent: if you are in Birmingham or Leeds and want to go to Paris, say, why on earth would you want to have to change trains in London?

    Thirdly, if saving the Union is an objective then this scheme is far more likely to help the cause.

    Fourthly, branch off to a new UK hub airport to the east of London.

    As an aside, I can well imagine those living near Cardiff and in the West Country, say, may well feel all these wonderful, new transport schemes are all pain and no gain as far as they are concerned.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Several Northern airports are well located on motorways which I’m sure makes them easier to reach than Manchester Piccadilly or Leeds Central. Flying has to be more attractive for those who live in the North wanting to get to the continent – and it’s much cheaper too.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Fifthly it will reduce the number of flights from Edinburgh to London.

  36. Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Another thing Norman Baker revealed on Newsnight yesterday was that the estimated costs for HS2 include an allowance for cost overruns- about 60% I think was mentioned. I would have thought this was a sure-fire guarantee that contractors would hoover up all the contingency!

    Would you reveal to your builder that you had funds readily available to cover his cost overruns?

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      If you were going to sell 400 tonnes of gold bullion, would you broadcast the fact in advance of placing the selling order?

      It’s only money, and it’s not even their money, otherwise they would be a damn sight more careful with it!

  37. Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    That information about the actual timetable is the first good news on this vanity project. Even better would have been its cancellation. Even so, £200 million is very expensive spin. Could it have been timed to distract attention from the Chancellor`s proposed raid on pension funds? If HS2 is a scandal, this new pension raid sounds even worse – (interfering with -ed) peoples` savings. Are you able to comment on this?

    Reply: I assume Trust law will still operate and Trustees of funds will need to be satisfied that infrastructure investments are attractive to their savers.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      That (ie the Trustees, with the advice 0f their financial advisors, decide) is what should and normally does happen. If so, why is it thought necessary to make the statement? If normality applies, it is superfluous.

      I am suspicious because I vaguely recall this idea being floated before some months ago. I believe it has already happened compulsorily in one, if not more, East European copuntries. It would not do for a Conservative Chancellor to follow this precedent.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Eurotunnel provides a fine precedent.

  38. Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Who on earth wants to be stranded at “Oak Common” ? It will take about another hour and a half to get into Central London – what a saving ! Costing how much?
    Has the government seriously got any brains amongst its members? And at a time of virtual bankruptcy this is the maddest idea yet from a load of wealthy toddlers. Grow up and think!

  39. Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I drove over the Humber Bridge the other day at around 5 pm – completely empty! So much for expensive transport projects bringing work and industry to the North! Another white elephant foisted on the country by do gooding politicians.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps no one can afford the petrol any more as they are paying too much tax to fund things like HS2 and the Olympics.

  40. Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    How many Start-ups, Technology development projects, Commercial Development banks, Export company’s, could we create with £32bn? Real wealth creation!

    The real Opportunity Cost, or should that be opportunity lost!

    Call me cynical, but is this not the product of a traditional politician view of the world? Solving problems from the top down. I have always thought that this sort of spending can only, at best, support growth, and not create any?

    I just hope that as a Political investment, it is worth while?

    Regards,

    RDM.

  41. Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I gather an additional eight miles of tunnels principally to placate the constituents of a Tory minister will cost £500,000,000. How many hospitals, how many nurses for how many years is that?

    I recall seeking with the Site & MD of a company which used our “village’s” roads for lorries to considerable complaints by those not employed by that firm. He pointed to a corresponding situation in W Germany where people accepted that economic activity has some priority. The situation may have changed, German Greens I’ve met have a bit of clout these days.

    But I do wonder wether the objectors to HS2 are not in direct line from those who saw the coming of the canals as the devil’s work.

    With the collapse of the German economic recovery concerted VAT cuts are essential. £200m is trifling in the context of current reflationary requirements.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      I think most objectors understand that the economics of high speed rail look very unfavourable. I know investment in uneconomic projects has become fashionable – especially for Greens, but really it isn’t common sense.

  42. Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Another reason (if one were needed) to vote for UKIP.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      What do they propose doing nothing or towing Britain to a more favorable part of the world? Somewhere between the two I expect.

      • Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        It’s all on their website Baz.

  43. Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I would have thought that economic activity is far more predicated on the facilities for transporting goods than of creating opportunities for more people to commute longer distances.

    The railways are a 19th Century technology, but I cannot help believing that advancing technologies cannot extract more performance from the existing infrastructure. If it is possible to fly planes remotely (into buildings), surely trains could be run automatically and safely at higher speeds and with greater proximity? I cannot help feeling that paying professional engineers to undertake design studies of newer technologies to overcome such problems as braking distances and stability would be money better spent than paying dweebs to negotiate with nimbies.

  44. Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    From last Sundays Telegraph.
    The new “Fyra” high-speed service in the Netherlands — opened just two years ago — is close to financial collapse with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty.
    The line, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda, cost taxpayers more than £7 billion to build but is losing £320,000 a day amid disastrous levels of patronage.
    BobE

  45. Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry John, but I think at this time of austerity we shouldn’t be spending money like this at all. Yes, the railways need modernising, but they need it nationally not one line. The trains need updating as some are terrible. Its not right to concentrate on one line for the saving of 30min. Modernising what we already have would serve the country much better, and still create more jobs in the long run, and that would be all over the country not just in one place and one line. We had a modern line from Shewsbury to Birmingham to London, it as been stopped for lack of passengers, and high priced tickets; so how do they assume this will be used. Round London yes, but anywhere else I doubt it very much. I couldn’t afford to buy a ticket it will be much to expensive, so one does ask, ‘who will use this line? Is it for business men and women only, if so it’s an expense the taxpayer can do without. As for getting from South to North, we have excellent flight routes and cheaper than petrol for a car. No, this is wrong, and will lose the Conservatives lots of votes, they haven’t listened to the people at all. I hope they change their minds and cancel this scheme for the people concerned, where they live, and for the costs alone. This is one thing your party as got very wrong.

  46. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    For me business, trade etc is people face to face physically presenting an idea or a product and will still be the case years to come.

    A more prosperous North will save some of the £20 to £40bn a year that gets redistributed away from the South East in taxes because other parts of the country lack industry.

    It will allow increased fright to go on the West Coast line. That volume can’t be accommodated by the M1 or planes.

    The idea of £30bn for infrastructure projects coming from pension fund investments has some alarm bells but more the silly idiots who buy more than a tiny fraction in those bonds to come (que a local authority fund manager).

    Bring it on.

  47. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Just read some of the comments. No doubt people who thought the M1 was a bad idea. Probably hark back to the days before the the Roman Road / Watling Street out of Londinium. And as for those bridges Brunnel built! tut better to wade across in me corricle, more time away me wife.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Some better benchmarks might be the Millennium Dome, Eurostar or Concord?

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Not sure about the Dome but Eurostar and Concord yes. The upgrade of the port of Felixstow, Heathrow Terminal 5, all these things bring economic benefits. Prefer that to paying benefits.

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      Also more time to check the spelling of coracle!

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Fair enough though not a word or form of transport I’m familiar with, I use the train alot so know how to spell that.

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 3:57 am | Permalink

      facile and embarassing

      • Posted January 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Its just as facile to criticise those who think investment into our infrastructure is makes no sense. This investment equivalent to about 3 weeks worth of public spending will benefit generations.

  48. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Better to spend the money organising our existing rail network to run a decent service.

  49. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    It seems that there will be no stations in between London and Birmingham. From which transport modes and for which origins and destinations will HS2 attact custom? Let me hazard a guess.

    (1) It will draw customers from the existing London – Birmingham railway service, the % transfer depending on the fares charged.

    (2) It will eventually win customers from air travel but London to Edinburgh and London to Glasgow are the target markets, so this will happen even later than 2033.

    (3) It might attract a little traffic from road but only for selected origins and destinations (the reduction in travel time by rail will have the effect of slightly increasing the catchment areas of Euston and Birmingham stations).

    Rail freight should benefit indirectly. High speed passenger trains and long slow moving freight trains do not mix very well. Removal of high speed passenger trains from the existing railway would create more paths for freight trains.

    All a bit thin, eh?

    Finally, a question. What rate of population growth has been assumed in the forecasts? I think we should be told.

  50. Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    John,i tend to oppose many of the things the government want to spend money on because we are skint.Deficit reduction is a coalition promise as far as i am concerned.Spending loads of borrowed money on things like this will give many public sector workers the impression we can afford all the pay rises and pensions that are being disputed.

  51. Posted January 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    The UK is like a ship without a captain or officers wandering aimlessly over the sea because of the type of clones who are our politicians and in charge.
    There is no plan as to where we are heading so there can be no strategy or tactics.
    There are passengers on board called lobbyists who direct the ship in random directions that benefit themselves and individual MPs.
    The UK has hundreds of MPs and thousands of bureaucrats but does not have a plan. Without a plan the public is at the mercy of random contracts awarded to lobbying companies. There should be no place for lobbyists as government should know where it wants to be and have in depth analysis by experts as to how to implement the plan. Contracts should then be awarded based on competition rather than to friendly companies leaving nothing for lobbyists
    Since the large majority of MPs and nearly all bureaucrats have never had a real world job they are extremely unlikely to have the skills to put a detailed effective plan together.
    At least half MPs should be older experienced people with a background from the real world private sector. This alone would be enough to see off contracts that will only ever be loss making required endless decades of taxation for us, for or children, and our grandchildren, and their children.

  52. Posted January 13, 2012 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    HS2 is just one part of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy. In other words Mr Cameron has agreed, in accepting to go ahead with the EU’s “Ten T”, he is allowing the EU to have Sovereignty over our land. Therefore the people should have the promised referendum.

    Other parts of TEN-T is giving Sovereignty over our Sky to the EU (Air traffic Control) for their Single European Sky. eg, when a ‘plane flies over say India, they ask permission to do so. Fly over the UK and permission would be asked of Eurocontrol.

    What I dislike the most of all is giving the EU Sovereignty over our Ports and Seas for the EU’s Motorway in the Sea. So that EU ships could come and go without having to ask permission. (would our ships also be classed as EU ships?) World Maps would be changed for this, for of course it would be permanent. (What about “No Parliament shall bind”?) When will the promised referendum for all transfer of Sovereignty come into being eh?

  53. Posted January 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    A little fairy story

    A man sat at the bar in his local, bought a pint but instead of drinking it, snivelled loudly and wept in to it.
    The landlord was concerned. “What’s up mate?” he asked his unhappy customer. “I’m so skint,” said the man. “Work is hard to find and badly paid. I’m short of money. I’ve had to cut the wife’s housekeeping and cancel the pocket money for the kidsd. My family hates me. They don’t understand that we have to suffer austerity now for a brighter future.” He swigged at his beer, “My old car has clapped out. I always get to work late but I can’t afford to get it serviced.”

    The landlord commiserated, said he knew plenty of good mechanics in the community who could fix up his car at a reasonable cost, and it would help local employment too. The man said he’d think about it, drank his beer and went home.

    The next evening the man came in beaming. “Goodness, what a change in you!” said the landlord.
    The man continued to beam. “Yes,” he said, “I’ve just bought a brand new Roller. Will get me to work ten minutes earlier every day”
    “But I thought you said your work was badly paid,” said the landlord, “and what about your debts and the housekeeping and all that?”
    “Never mind all that. This car is an investment in the future. I have to have it.”

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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