Transport capacity

The last time I took an early morning train on the East coast mainline, only one in four of the Standard class seats and one in ten of the First class seats were taken in the carriages where I counted. The West coast mainline was similarly little occupied when I have taken early morning trains to the north on that. I reported on journeys to Birmingham and Manchester.

This makes the tri party decision to build more capacity on these train routes all the more curious. I can think of plenty of places where we need more transport capacity now. Providing more on routes where the existing train franchisees are finding it difficult to fill the places is not a model for success or a good investment. Whilst travellers will welcome the eventual fare cuts competition between HS2 and the WCML will bring should HS2 be completed, the poor taxpayer will be left with a large bill to pay the big running losses on both lines.

We could start by looking at the chronic shortage of capacity on our major motorways. They could all do with widening and improving in many locations. We could continue by completing proper capacity on major trunk routes, like the A14, the A 303, and the A 27.

We could move on to the commuter trains into our major cities. We are short of commuter capacity into Manchester, Leeds, London and Birmingham. We need better brakes, lighter trains, better signals so we can run more trains per hour. We need longer trains and in some cases longer platforms. All these improvements could delay the need for more track, though doubtless there are some pinch points and shorter sections into city centres where more track would be a good idea, and even some where it is also possible.

There are a host of detailed local road and rail improvements needed in many towns and cities around the country, that come a lot cheaper than the prospective bill for HS2.
Your thoughts on priorities would be interesting.

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  1. Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Lighter trains are not a good idea. Adhesion between rail and wheel depends upon the weight of the train which governs both traction and braking. On the Sheffield to Leeds railway line the “sprinter” trains lose traction in wet weather on the approach to Darton and have to rely on the tunnel outside of Darton to gain traction on the dry rails.

    Reply Yes, but you could on slower commuter trains add a rubber tyre onto a rougher surface to provide traction, as with the Paris metro.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      But a lighter trains need less force to accelerate and decelerate anyway (F=MA) so the loss of grip cancels out and is not really relevant, anyway a loss of grip can be addressed in many fairly simple ways when needed.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      The weight of the train makes no difference to braking or acceleration, increasing the proportion of braked/powered axles is the only variable in the steel wheel/rail equation.

      Putting on rubber tyres removes the energy benefits of the steel wheel. Once we put on rubber tyres we might as well stick with the bus.

      Why do we need to travel so much or so far? Do we need mega-offices, mega-shops or mega-hospitals.

      Could it be that the reason your trains are empty is that you are going against the flow INTO London?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        “Once we put on rubber tyres we might as well stick with the bus”

        Well indeed, in most cases we should certainly stick to buses, cars, mini buses and coaches as they are not stuck on largely single route tracks and do not need expensive purpose build tracks and go door to door. Much more flexible and far, far cheaper.

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

          How about guided buses that run on concrete tracks with rubber tyres? Are these a good idea? Cambridge has spent a 100 million on one, so lets hope so..

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            No they are probably not.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        How can the weight of the train not be a factor in its acceleration or deceleration?
        See how much faster a 175bhp motorbike weighing about 230kg accelerates against a car with the same power weighing 1500kg. 100 mph will come up on the bike in less than 5 seconds. A bit longer for the car…

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          For a train, the limiting factor constraining the maximum horizontal force before slippage is given by the coefficient of friction x vertical force acting through the axles of the driven wheels; if all the wheels are driven or if the weight acting through the axles of the driven wheels as a proportion of the total weight of the train remains the same, there will be no differential effect. However, the coefficient of friction will be reduced by imperfections of track or wheel or lubricants such as oxides or rain or leaves being applied to the track, in which case the vertical force from the weight acting through the driven wheels may have a differential capacity for displacing the causation of that reduction in the coefficient of friction.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            Wheel spin. In one word.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          I did not say that. The grip depends on weight (and thus pressure on the wheel contact areas). But also the forces needed to accelerate or decelerate are proportionate to the mass. They largely cancel each other out – if anything lighter is rather better.

      • Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Some dodgy armchair ‘science’ going on here…

        ‘The weight of the train makes no difference to braking or acceleration, increasing the proportion of braked/powered axles is the only variable in the steel wheel/rail equation’. Nonsense sir!

        ‘Putting on rubber tyres removes the energy benefits of the steel wheel. Once we put on rubber tyres we might as well stick with the bus’

        Not has been said previously Force =Mass x Acceleration or
        Acceleration= Force/Mass….ie reduce the mass of the train and you can accelerate faster with the same engine power.
        Then of course if less power is needed ..less grip is needed between wheel and track. Conversely with a lighter train, less braking force is needed so you can decelerate more quickly or have smaller braking systems again saving weight.

        Rubber tracked tyres aren’t comparable with tyres on buses – the sidewall in a bus tyre will flex and cause drag (hysteresis loss) . This is minimal in a rubber tracked steel wheel as there is only a relatively thin shell of solid rubber to deform.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      This is probably the origins of the unwanted HS2:

      As expressed in the original 1971 FCO report 30/1048. Anything that is unpopular must not be allowed to show its origins in Europe.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        Where exactly does TEN-T require that high speed trains be used? If you’re unable to find any EU requirement for high speed trains then your claim that this is due to the EU is effectively destroyed.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          As a starting point for investigating the position of the EU you could just put “high speed trains” in the search facility here:

          and then check through the 10,817 results.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

            Thank you Dennis.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

            Sinister and worrying. Perhaps Mr Redwood could help the debate on HS2 by flagging up this EU meddling in the house of commons debates ?.

          • Posted November 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

            Kenneth r moore: “Perhaps Mr Redwood could help the debate on HS2 by flagging up this EU meddling in the house of commons debates ?.”

            The issue of HS2 and the relationship of the project to the EU has been discussed at length on Mr Redwood’s blog. His position is that it is entirely a matter of the British government.

            It’s all just a huge coincidence that the plans were hatched in Brussels.

            Reply I have never denied that the TENs exist and include part of HS2. It remains true that the UK Parliament/government can proceed or cancel as we wish.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I spent many years running locomotives with rubber tyres and found they attracted very high maintenance costs and suffered low reliability.

  2. Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Sorry, out of your hands.
    EU and all that….

  3. Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I used to work night shifts in London for a while.

    When I went home from Liverpool Street at 8 am I had a carriage to myself while the trains coming into London were packed with people standing.

    Exactly the same will be happening on the ECML and WCML. I know that morning trains from Cambridge to London have recently been lengthened from 8 to 12 coaches to cope with demand.

    Come to think of it, trains from London to Wokingham are probably not very busy in the morning – but trains going the other way are extremely busy.

    Reply HS2 is meant to spread business out of London, not allow longer distance fast inward commuting. As I said, I think there is a commuter capacity problem into London, which could be tackled more quickly and cheaply than building HS2

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Trains from Wokingham to Reading are very crowded in the morning rush hour. In particular those ariving on the Guildford line.

  4. Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Indeed but largely innumerate MPs

    and political parties always like one high profile vanity project with nice computer pictures of new streamlined trains. It is a highly damaging for real jobs and the economy. A huge mistake as is very clear from just looking at for a few hours and putting a few numbers into a spreadsheet.

    Far more value could be obtained by many minor improvements to the roads and some minor tweaking of rail especially where there actually is a real shortage of capacity, better “on train” ticketing systems, simpler tariffs and the obvious engineering improvements you have suggested above. It often takes over an hour just to work out the route and and buy the right cheapest valid train ticket needed – they could save all that time easily with simpler tariffs & ticketing systems on the trains.

    If rail passengers actually paid the full cost of their travel and we had a level tax/subsidy playing field between road and rail there would be even less demand for rail and even more over capacity on rail and more demand for road. Just provide the road and parking capacity road goes door to door and is far more flexible and cheaper than rail and more energy efficient door to door in general too (when all the cost of the rail track and staff are considered).

    The last time I drove up the M1 it took nearly 4 hours to go just 130 miles just due to weight of traffic. There is a huge need for a new bridge at the Blackwall tunnel too.

    But the government has a nonsense religion – trains, trams, public transport, buses (in usually empty bus lanes), bikes, walking and electric cars are good and cars, trucks, air and coaches are bad. It has no basis in science trains, no basis in energy efficiency it is an irrational belief system, empty of any rational logic whatsoever. They have seen too much John Betjeman and other BBC dream world thinking.

    Road is unpopular only because that is how 90% of so of people choose to travel (it is thus far more noticeable). This despite the tax & subsidy regime being totally biased against road and the huge under provision of road space (and it irrational allocations to buses and bikes sometimes).

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Lots of good points LL that I agree with. Of course JR is correct in his cogent view of the issue. However, the issue is not about cost or capacity it is about infrastructure links between main EU cities. The government will not mention or criticise the EU it will provide a cover and as we saw this week will try to use ingenuity in figures to justify a white elephant.

      Today Christopher Booker highlights how the Maastricht Treaty costs the UK about £120 billion a year in tax from large companies taking advantage of the capital freedom it introduced. Remember the EU was not meant to be able to interfere with taxation as it was a so called red line issue. Cameron makes a lot of hot wind about tax avoidance, as does Margaret Hodge, but he does not criticise the EU treaty that created the problem. Nor does he mention how the UK lost a court case in 2007 to challenge the position. £120 billion is a lot of money that could be used for all sorts of things, including building roads, improving rail, reducing the debt and reeducing taxation on citizens. This would require someone able to add up like our host, but that is not going to happen while Cameron is the Tory leader

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        What exactly is the problem caused by capital freedom? How exactly is it different from companies off-shoring their profits in tax havens via the Channel Island stock exchange or in countries outside the EU?

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          The point is that treaties such as Maastricht have enabled these multi national corporations to do what you dislike them doing Uni.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

            How exactly is Maastricht allowing companies to move their profits outside the EU when it only applies to profits moved within the EU?

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know why I have to act as your unpaid researcher Uni but the answer is it allows multi national corporations to declare where their HQ’s are for accounting purposes when trading generally in the EU.
            Some declare it to be Ireland, The Channel Islands, Lichtenstein or any other EU low tax nation they fancy.
            All their sales in all EU member states are then fed back to this HQ and tax is paid on the profits in that jurisdiction.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        It could explain why big business is so keen for us to remain in the EU. It is an alarming situation as more of our major companies e.g. utilities are foreign owned we have no legal ability to enforce national taxation. The more you read about how pervasive the EU is the more ludicrous it is to understand why anyone believes Cameron and his re-negotiation drivel.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Big projects are always more ‘sexy’ than lots of small projects or long term maintenance.

      What we need is a unit along the lines of the Office of National Statistics which could build a transport model, independent of political direction, to track all the analyses, plans, benefits, and outcomes and provide even handed guidance about the best way forward. Then you could have an informed debate about big schemes vs small schemes and other alternatives.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Travel by rail is more competitive in areas of higher population density or where fuel is expensive, because conventional trains are more fuel-efficient than cars when passenger numbers are high, similar to other forms of mass transit.
      If passengers paid the full cost of their travel there would be no railway system except for a few profitable routes, which would be exploited to the full by rail companies in terms of price, the rest of the population would then have to travel on the already overcrowded roads and no amount of expansion would fulfil the capacity requirements. Rail travel is poplar and growing every year despite the high fares and crowding of many peak routes. They choose to travel short local routes by car and often because trains are to expensive for this. In Germany this is not the case. You have yet to tell us how anyone can drive for more than a hour each way through traffic twice a day 5-6 days a week for many years. Coach travel? Really? Not for you thats for sure.
      Do not quote science and fact if when you are confronted with scientific facts then refuse to answer these points repeating the same many times?! You are at the same time telling us of BBC think and non factual lefty thought?
      Ram it

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        Despite your arguments Baz, most people still send their goods to their customers by road and most get to and from their home and their work place by car.

        I like trains and I enjoy my longer journeys from the Midlands to London or to Scotland on occasions, but the price is huge compared to my car, especially when a few of us share.
        Compare the cost of a family of four travelling to Scotland by train from the Midlands with the cost of one car journey.

        I cannot afford first class ticket prices and I would take a guess that HS2 will be even more expensive than existing first class prices.
        Rather odd you favour an elitist train service that will only be used by the rich.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Surely the best way to reduce road congestion would be to create alternatives to travelling by road. Especially for people travelling to cities as you can’t widen the roads in a city.

      Also I thought you left the country so how long ago did you drive up the M1?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        If you can build new railways in cities then you can clearly find room for new roads, flyovers or tunnels they both need space. Road space is usually more efficient than rail.

        I left the UK over five years ago but I return on business trips or to see friends and relatives.

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          To a secret location it seems. You need to look at scientific evidence of the efficiency of railways and stop telling us your feelings about roads. Righty purple faced Colonel think.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

            So Commissar Baz, we are only allowed have money spent on trains, despite the vast majority of the people not using them and using cars, buses, planes and coaches instead.

            One minute you are all “power to the people”, the next minute your “do as you are told, we know best” socialist attitude comes peeking out.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Replacing train by cars and lorries is his point.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            Well not quite correct Baz
            Uni was demanding that we create alternatives to road travel because cities have no space for more road expansion.
            LL responded by saying this was not correct because if we have the space to build more train tracks and stations then we obviously do have space for better roads as well.
            I have never seen LL say that we should replace trains with roads .
            So the argument seems to centre on how much we should spend on the peoples choice of road travel, versus the train network and in particular the HS2 project.
            I my opinion we spend too little on roads and too much on trains.

  5. Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Wokingham (the town you are paid to represent) could really do with a fast service into Waterloo. This would require more track and CPOs for the houses that line much of the route between Reading and Richmond.

  6. Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Rail should be able to provide cheap and clean transport, which would be great for the environment and the economy. If our network was electrified then the most efficient method of energy production available could be used to power the trains. If we could conveniently get into, around and between cities, and if we were able to do this at a reasonable pace then personally I’d think that would give us a firm foundation to build from. As tempting as I find the thought of high speed rail in the UK, I think we need a solid network first. And at the moment the trains are too expensive, and the connectivity outside of London/SE is too awkward. My priority would be to fix that first.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      “Rail should be able to provide cheap and clean transport”

      Why? Is is far more expensive and energy inefficient and less flexible than cars and needs a special very expensive track. A car can take seven people from London to Manchester (or Guilford to Bury etc. for perhaps £35 (and of that about £20 is tax that trains do not have to pay)!

      What does a single train ticket London to Manchester to travel at any time of day or night cost? £60 per person or so and that is highly subsidised? So £420+ the subsidy against £15 (with a level tax system in place).

      Cheap how exactly?

      Clean? Well you have to generate the electricity (usually from Coal, Gas or Nuclear first). Most energy is wasted before it even gets near to the train, and you have all the energy used by the track maintenance, the staff, the stations, the complex ticketing systems and the taxi/car/bus connections at each end. You have to consider all this too.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        I guess I’d put emphasis on the should. I was thinking that it was possible, and could be aimed at, for rail travel to be cheap and clean.

        I agree that trains are presently much more expensive than travel by car, especially when you’re talking about multiple passengers. Cars also have a lot more flexibility. I also agree that motorists pay a lot of tax, and that trains currently receive a lot of subsidy.

        Rail infrastructure is expensive. Roads also cost, though.

        In terms of fuel efficiency per passenger, over comparable journey lengths for average numbers of passengers in each trains and cars are surprisingly similar. Cars have the advantage of flexibility, as you said. Trains can better avoid congestion.

        My thought was that, once we get better at producing energy (and I’m largely thinking nuclear here, and honestly, fusion, which is getting closer), being able to run a transport system from that source should change the equation. Rather than needing hydrocarbons, or better batteries, we could have an electricity driven rail network which would have less environmental impact (cleaner air, for example) and which would be cheaper to run than at present.

        If that were possible, and if the network were sufficiently developed to counter the lack of flexibility of fixed routes, then I could imagine that being of huge benefit to the nation.

        I don’t think it will or should replace personal transport like the car, but I think it can be done well, and my opinion is that it “should” be done well.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          Well if we crack fusion or have other cheap electricity and sort battery technology we can have workable electric cars, hydrogen cars or methane or even petrol cars, trucks etc. fuel made using this cheap electricity.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            You know, lifelogic, I like trains, I think that they can provide fast and efficient transport for people without them needing the wealth to own a car, and I think commuting by train (at least into cities) tends to be a better experience than getting stuck in traffic.

            However … if we were to do those things … if we cracked fusion, if we found non-toxic ways of storing sufficient amounts of that energy in cars, and perhaps even if we also cracked self-driving technology, and if that meant the death of rail, then I think I’d at least feel comforted by the fact that all that technology would be awesome.

            I’d miss the public spaces, and I’d hope that the world wouldn’t become all private and insular … but still, I’d feel like I was living in the future. And I’d like that.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Explain how commuting over distance by car and coach is possible on an every day basis? A question you are avoiding in you rants and when confronted by any real evidence have no answers despite demanding absolute proof from all others.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          Well this is what happens Baz, you get in your nice comfy car at say 6.00 am and within a few hours you have travelled a long way.
          Stop for a nice tea or coffee break, perhaps with a change of driver at the half way point.
          I did this for a long time because of the relative cost and unreliability of commuter trains.
          Coaches are also good and quite relaxing and cheap. Have you not done any checking on coach services yet?

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

          What is a train after all but a few coaches joined up but then restricted to an expensive and rather severely limiting single route track and with limited stopping points?

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            As if you ever travel by coach and know how bad it is.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink


          Try living in the real world. Where I live in SE there are 12 or more coach companies offering daily commuter services, they are all full and have waiting lists.

          I guess you never heard of National Express and Stagecoach then.

          Why rant about coach and car travel and then post a link to a comparison between rail v air ???

          Why do you persist in posting stuff that is so easy to check and refute? What is the point?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        If you’re going to consider energy used by “track maintenance, the staff, the stations, the complex ticketing systems” for trains they you’ll also need to consider the energy used by garages, mechanics, and their staff for cars.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          Indeed we do and the car & trucks usually come out clearly on top.

          Mainly as they go door to door directly, do not need end connections, use the road space more efficiently than trains and need fewer staff.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Following the carbon trail you will find trains are more efficient. Which is what you are saying.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            No on CO2 cars are usually better than trains door to door certainly full car are by miles. HS trains are worse than normal ones.

  7. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Completely agree that sorting out our A roads would be far better from the saving time perspective. The delays on the A27 near Chichester alone probably cost more in an average week than HS2 would save in a decade. HS2 is ridiculously expensive, wholly unnecessary and grotesquely wasteful but the opportunities for backhanders, consultancies and directorships are huge. Widening some A road just doesn’t get anybody a consultancy fee or a nice one hour a month £100k pa directorship. Pretty obvious why HS2 was passed in the commons then.
    If you want a really cheap aid to relieving congestion stop councils putting traffic lights on every single junction when roundabouts are cheaper to maintain and cause far less holdups (traffic is continually moving on a roundabout).

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Indeed traffic usually flows far better when the electricity is down and the lights are out of action – even better when the buses are on strike (and if bus lanes were cancelled too). One wonders how many “consultants” and “lobbyists” the traffic light manufacturers actually employ and how much entertaining they do at local authority, EU and government levels?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        My experience of managing road networks with traffic lights is the opposite. Collisions between vehicles increase significantly and unbalanced flows at intersections lead to minor roads becoming very congested. Clearly the issue varies enormously according to day of the week, time of year and time of day. I’d be interested to see the stats behind your view as I regularly have to make decisions about whether to install signals or not and if you have strong evidence that junctions work better without them it would be really useful to see.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

          It clearly does depend but in London the lights are usually set to be very anti cars & vans which is actually the vast majority of the traffic. I can certainly vouch for the fact that traffic often flows far better when the traffic light are switched off. Bus lanes (usually empty) are clearly a total waste of good road space (other than as a motorist mugging device).

  8. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Policies that encourages people to work nearer to where they live, rather than endless commuting and to use video conferencing etc. rather more would also be a good plan. People travel rather too much often I find, when time could often be far better used.

    They prefer sitting on a train looking out of the windows on expenses, perhaps going to a team building exercise or environmental conference or something else daft – rather than doing any useful, productive work.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      But you would also need a greater number of smaller schools and cottage hospitals to reduce the distances traveled too.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Another mass generalisation this time of commuters from a person who rarely travels except on the odd journey and then decides how and when is the best way to travel. Coaches will not feature in any journey though despite its many advantages. Idiot.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Presumably the opinions of MP’s and Quangocrats who rarely, if ever pay, for their own rail fare impresses you more Baz.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        “Another mass generalisation”

        Well yes is a brief comment it is rather hard not to generalise. How can I say anything without generalisation -address all of 60 million people’s travel needs individually perhaps?

        The point is most people businesses who know their own travel needs choose to travel mainly by car, truck and van not train and that is despite the tax and subsidy bias in favour of trains.

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:39 am | Permalink

          lifelogic–A point one never sees mentioned is that many business trips are of a sales nature, many of which involve buying the customer lunch. Certainly a lot of mine did. One has to eat and this is a fact of life. Unless the customer or prospect is based in the new Parkway near Birmingham (and the hopeful seller lives in London to start with) I just don’t get this HS2 stuff. Is one supposed to get off the train and take a taxi to the customer, possibly, indeed almost certainly, miles away from a station and on arrival take it for granted that the customer is going to drive you to the nearest and best restaurant, again probably miles away? And being in the car en route from home enables one to think specifically and unencumbered about the customer one is visiting as one poles along whereas, and I shall deny saying this, I personally read the paper on those very few trips when I took the train and that’s ignoring the ghastly train commute/Tube connexion in the first place, which even then requires a car in the first place–by the time one has got to Euston one would be half way to Birmingham anyway.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink


        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          Travel often on coaches do we?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink


        Oh the irony of you calling someone an idiot and then posting what you posted in total ignorance. Where I live ( SE england) there are at least a dozen coach commuter companies which do the run full every day. My son and the vast majority of his friends commute the long distance to University as well as various festivals almost exclusively by coach as its cheaper and quicker.

        The nearest City to me has 3 Universities the majority of students travel by coach from there to various destinations all over Europe by coach and this is from a City that is less than 15 miles from the channel tunnel international railway station.

        Idiot indeed.

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

          Skint students travelling on coaches. I suppose there is quite few pensioners on them too? LOL! The X5 bus in Cambridgeshire is very popular, but not quite the same as coach travel. The last coach I got was a two hour journey on the train, but six hours on the coach after it stopped to pick up every old woman and her dog in every village on the way. Travel often by coach yourself? No you do not and that is a big point.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            So Baz we are all wrong as your experience of a single coach journey laughably makes you the only valid commentator on the whole of the UK’s popular, cheap and expanding coach travel industry.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


            ha ha what a dufus you are. There is a major difference between bus services and long distance coaches. Yes the poorer in out society use coaches rather than trains as theyre cheaper . i thought you were a poverty campaigner and now you want to support a very very expensive mode of travel affordable only by the rich.

            You completely ignored the 1,000’s of commuters who commute into their well paid jobs in London by commuter coach

            Of course I don’t travel by coach or train for that matter. I either drive or hire a helicopter if I need to get somewhere long distance in a hurry

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            Had a large number of fag breaks too as I remember. I smoked at the time too, but was to outraged to get off for one. You’re right. Poverty transport. Ford 200bhp S Max for me. Trains can ram it too. However if I worked in London than it would have to be the train. Employer picking up the tab. You think I am not real? I only work 9 miles or 20 minutes away from my house and advise everyone else to do the same. How much is that worth a year?

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

            200 bhp?!
            I’m shocked Baz. I thought you would have a low CO2 diesel hybrid with your solid belief in the dangers of global warming.
            Or even cycle the mere nine miles to work as encouraged by many climate campaigners.
            You and Prince Charles two for a pair.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            I have never claimed the fight against CO2 emissions is a personal quest. Like the fight against plastics and electronic wast the solutions will really only come from legislation and innovation to meet this Only does 35 mpg at best and is expensive to service and maintain, so I do have to pay for it.

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            But it should be a personal quest Baz, as your global warming religion requires us all to de-carbon and reuse recycle and reduce as much as possible.
            Those who believe should therefore set an example.

            But it is a religion handed down from a high pulpit by its leaders who preach “do as I say” not “do as I do”

  9. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    JR : ” My priority would be to fix that first.”
    Why then didn’t you vote against the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill on Thursday?
    Actions and words; actions and words!

    Reply As I explained before, there was no chance of defeating HS2 this week. The Bill before the House allowed payment of compensation to people with blighted properties, something I think the state is duty bound to do given the majority intention in Parliament to proceed with this scheme. I have made my opposition to the project clear and will vote against the project when that is the main issue, in the Bill which follows.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      There will I am quite sure not be proper compensation paid. The properties are already blighted, damage is already being done. £50Bn is not simply enough to provide compensation and still build the line?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Compensation paid at market rates is not enough?

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          As usual you need to do some checking Baz.
          The compensation scheme is full of reasons why they will not pay out.
          Complex limitations set by them, on what angle and how far you live away from the track for example.
          Market rate you say…well you only get the market rate they feel is correct once your claim is accepted and many claims are being refused due to their long list of rules.
          If you were trying to sell your house or business anywhere near to the proposed route for the last few years, you wouldn’t be quite so relaxed.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            I wonder how much those who live in houses right next to ring roads in London got, because lets face it they now must be worthless with a two lane motorway a the front door? My house is about 300 meters from the A1 directly, some more expensive houses are closer. Sounds like jet in the distance. Any compo for us?
            Ram it.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            I fail to understand the point you are trying to make Baz.
            Apart from from perhaps you are just arguing to pass the time
            PS there are compensation schemes for properties reduced in value or disrupted by motorway or other main road projects
            As well as reduced council tax ratings available.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink


            My house is about 300 meters from the A1 directly, some more expensive houses are closer. Sounds like jet in the distance. Any compo for us?

            Did you buy your house before the A1 was built?

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            No. I would like some compo though. Lets call it a subsidy or a benefit or remuneration even.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          I would say not. Compensation for property is just a part of it and is tangible. How about the upheaval and the stress involved with moving, not to mention losing ties with the local community etc. that is intangible, how does one calculate that, or is that merely disallowed and not factored into the equation?

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            What do you care about this. Were you not in favour of moving to poor to cheaper areas and the bedroom tax? Yes tax.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          Well no you have the cost of the move, new buying cost and lots of inconvenience. And they will not get true market value as they already are blighting the areas.

          • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

            Indeed LL.
            People I know are being given “current market rates” after the market has fallen, due to the knowledge that HS2 has been coming for years, which has obviously depressed values.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            Are they blighting areas of tower blocks or just large Tory voting houses?

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

          Bazman: “Market rate”

          Only applies where there is a free exchange entered willingly by both parties.

          Compulsory purchase is no such exchange.

          There is no market rate for somebody who does not wish to sell.

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            How were any motorways or electricity pylons ever built or installed? Some old Doris stops the world?

          • Posted November 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

            Bazman: “How were any motorways or electricity pylons ever built or installed?”

            For gods sake, are you lefties so hard of understanding?

            We know the motorways were built, we know electricity pylons were erected.

            The question you raised was, were people affected by ‘compulsory purchase’ not compensated at market rates.

            Yes they were, but if you don’t want to sell, it doesn’t matter that you were handed the ‘market rate’, since you didn’t wish to be in the market.

            It wasn’t a free exchange.

    • Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:51 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–With thinking like yours (ie on basis of anticipated result especially when you say you feel strongly), HS2 will never be defeated. The point is that every vote against now adds just that little bit more weight to cancellation now. Reading Gilligan in the Sunday Torygraph was enough to make one weep. Never any comment ever from anybody on what’s wrong with the Great Central revival which apart from all else would, whereas HS2 will not, connect to HS1 which I started off thinking was half the point of all this “HS” tosh.

  10. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I am inclined to agree with you, however the many projects, project managers , logistics, materials, planning etc would probably amount to much more than HS2. If improvements on this scale were to be implemented, prioritisation would need be a primary consideration.

  11. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Recent arguments on the TV in support of HS2 have focused on the need for more capacity in relation to the West Coast Main Line, and emphasising that it is the capacity at peak times they are talking about. This is the capacity INTO London at peak times. In other words, the objective is to improve the ability of people outside London to get into London.

    That argument is at odds with another of the arguments in favour of HS2, that of reducing the North/South divide, and the related argument that HS2 will bring benefits to northern cities. It would seem that the benefit they have in mind is for people living in the North to make money working in London!

    As I recall, when improvements were made to the East Coast Main Line several years ago the reduced journey times resulting in more people commuting to London from further afield.

  12. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    We need to consider how much technology can right now and will in the future change transport.

    Better train braking systems and lighter carriages are part of it. So are fully automated trains. So are fully automated cars (unless the politicians prevent them in Britain they will be common in a few years). In turn this means fully automated taxis. Then there is Hyperloop which means we can have something much cheaper than HS2 & much faster. We must also expect the trend of air travel becoming continually cheaper to continue.

    We should also have a serious examination of why public construction project cost 8 times what they do in the rest of the world.

    The one thing we can say for sure is that in the 2030s when HS2 is finished, it will be obsolete.

  13. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I still think the debate about capacity is ill conceived. Sufficient capacity can be achieved by reducing demand.

    I do not think there is any inherent good in commuting. People do so because it has been necessary. But it does not follow that because it has been necessary that it always has to be so. The need for commuting can be reduced by diversifying the centres of employment, such as to towns, villages and the countryside. With good video conferencing it is just as easy for an employee in the Scottish Highlands to discuss business issues with a colleague in a city centre as it is for two people at either end of a large office building.

    Obviously it will be a case of horses for courses, but the point is not for everyone to change but to reduce the current myopic methods.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      the working day could be staggered, as the capacity problem is mainly at peak hours. it would be easy to give tax breaks to firms which stagger their workers start and end times, and to employees who accept such terms. this would spread the load on the networks.

  14. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    You talk of the improvements to the A14, yet fail to mention that the A14 and the improvements to the Felixstowe/Nuneaton line are being part-funded (if you can call £9m out of £46m part-funding) by the EU. You also fail to mention that the A14 is part of one of the 9 priority corridors designated by TEN-T. One can legitimately therefore question the real reason for these improvements.

    Incidentally, I note that under the “Connecting Europe Facility” HS2 is listed as one of the projects that could receive funding from the EU – and the betting is that it will!

  15. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Completely agree we need an inclusive transport policy.

    Problem is we have for years had Councils and Government wanting to put in traffic management systems all over the Country.

    Traffic management being the buzz word for traffic obstruction.

    Chicanes, humps, traffic lights, yellow lines, bus lanes, restricive parking places on new developments, restricted widths of roads on new developments, Coloured tarmac, endless confusing signs, cycle lanes.

    All the above has cost a fortune to install, and a fortune to maintain.

    Yes of course we need some controls, but as usual we have gone completely over the top in the name of safety.

    How about letting traffic go through the Dartford Tunnel and Q E bridge for free to keep the traffic moving, last time I went that route, waited 30 mins in traffic due to toll booths.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      From next year drivers will be registered by number reading and have to pay each time on the net or at shops. This is supposed to save congestion and will help. Unfortunately, to pay each time will take longer than it does when congestion has stopped. It is doubtful whether the civil servants even thought or care about this. How much money is taken by the Thames crossing in comparison with the cost of HS2?

  16. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Nothing curious about this at all.

    Its yet another pork barrel project so beloved of the talentless principle free political class who are happy to take our money in ever increasing amounts and waste it on vain glorious projects.

    One day the people of this country might eventually wake up and realise that ignoring politics disengagement and tribal voting are the root cause of this and they may start to look for an alternative, but I’m not holding my breath

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      How are you getting on with your high wage Britain fantasy now that a report for the international tax and auditing firm KPMG shows the number of people who are paid less than a “living wage” has leapt by more than 400,000 in a year to over 5.2 million?
      Obviously they need to spend less do they?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        If you set an arbitrary level and them increase the population each year by well over a million then its no real surprise is it.
        What would the figure be with a static or falling population?

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink


        Getting on very well with real facts old son.

        See you’ve now changed your story from minimum wage ( which is fixed ) to living wage which is arbitrary . However not being a brain dead socialist I can work out that even if your figures where accurate that still leaves more than 80% thats 24 million people who are paid MORE.

        What do you think about that in your deluded socialist utopia?

        Yes of course the government need to spend less, as YOU told us yesterday you earn £35k per year but also claim benefits from the government, if people like you were stopped from claiming then there would be far more money to go to people who genuinely need it.

        None of what you posted has anything remotely to do with my post about railways, (words left out ed) but at least try to stick on topic.

        We don’t need £50 bn spent on a useless railway line, if we are going to spend £50bn of taxpayers hard earned money it should be on something useful

      • Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

        Not only do I and my wife make reasonable money I do not pay rent or a mortgage either, as do millions as you point out, but getting rid of child tax credits and especially universal child benefit would not be a vote winner so which political party would? The difference between the living wage and the minimum wage is a couple of quid an hour is that what you are arguing? How deluded is that? Real Tory stuff. A packet of fags is eight quid and a gallon of petrol nearly seven quid if you want to talk like that. The millions making more do not enable the millions making less to go to Tesco and spend this. This is your brain dead idea. A pay cut for everyone else is a pay rise for yourself is what you are saying. A common idea of mean minded fools.

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          Easy to call those running a business”mean minded fools” Baz.
          Try running your own company in a price competitive area and then having to find the extra two pounds per hour times for say fifty of your staff, times thirty five hours per week times fifty two weeks per year.
          Oh and don’t forget then you will get claims from higher paid skilled staff, like you no doubt, demanding their differentials be maintained with a big rise for them.
          Easy I hear you say just put up your prices.
          And then watch as your customers go off and by cheaper imported products.

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think you are quite as (misguided ed) as you make out in your posts Baz.

          I think you post your gibberish just to be confrontational .

          What I’ m telling you as a fact is that 25 million people EARN MORE THAN £9 per hour.

          I agree with you totally about the horrendous cost of fags, booze, petrol gas and electricity. This cost is mostly tax so that your socialist mates can redistribute what they’ve just taken away as tax credits.

          I’ve never told you what my ideas are to improve the lot of the lesser paid and you’ve never asked me preferring as you do to rant change the subject when confronted with the facts and then come back to the same old drivel in another post about a different topic.

          As I’ve also told you before I’m not a Conservative I think I’ve made it quite plain I don’t like socialism and the Tories are a socialist party these days. Not just at central government level but at local level too.

          The way for workers to have a better standard of living is to be able to keep their own earnings and money. In my opinion no one should be paying taxes of any kind on an income below £12k pa

          • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            Got any agency jobs liby? What do they pay.? Oh waste of time is what they pay. Goes like this. …Agency?! I don’t talk to agents. Is that specific enough for you? Do you wonder why it is like this? The horrendous cost of many things such as utilities is down to rip off companies running cartels all evidence points to this. Anyone on 12 k should not pay tax and companies should pay the correct tolls or tax as it’s known. socialism for the rich you are not against though. Ram it.

  17. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The HS2 project is ill conceived and financially unsound. The best way to encourage growth in cities outside London is to improve the local infrastructure in and around those cities. Local schemes for improved commuter traffic systems (including rail), park and ride and a mixed system appropriate to the circumstances of each city. The process would be greatly assisted by the judicious use of local enterprise zones with tax breaks around the periphery or in derelict/undeveloped areas where they exist. These will will help attract investment and local jobs. Spending a gargantuan sum on HS2 fails to deliver any of these alternative solutions.

  18. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Agreeing to commence expenditure on HS2 for whatever reason was a mistake . If one approaches any problem with the view that it is pointless to object , is “negative” thinking ; the voting on Thursday should have been vociferous against this issue .

    Reply I have objected! I have set out the case against. I refused to vote for the Paving Bill and have said I will vote against the enabling Bill.

  19. Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I think eventually common sense will prevail and the project will be scrapped with the £ 42 billion budget spent more wisely. It would be a crying shame if Mr Balls is in a position to make this decision. Forget about the tax on bankers’ bonuses ….what sort of heaven will be promised with this sum of money.

    Transport infrastructure here certainly requires and deserves improvement. One day I will read the Red Book to see how much we pay in fuel duties VAT and rail fares which are then spent on roads to nowhere in Greece, unused airports in Spain and vanity projects in Eastern Europe.

    On paper HS2 is a laudable project which would not vandalise the countryside to the extent its opponents argue. But it is the wrong priority in the 21st Century. Canals went into decline in the first half of the nineteenth century as did the Turnpike Toll Roads when faced with competition from the Victorian Railways.
    HS2 cannot compete with door-to-door high class roads and on-line communication in our century.

    You list many deserving transport projects and I am sure that every MP could list priorities in their area. That is the way to bring progress to the country as a whole and I wish you good luck.

  20. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know which trains you are travelling on, but when I use the East Coast the trains are invariably busy.

    The real concern I have about HS2 is that in some cases it does not appear that the station is to be the existing city centre main line station. If this is the case, then the benefit will be lost in the transfer times. Also the projected fares look prohibitively expensive.

    Reply I travel on the main business trains out of London in the morning to get to work in a northern city by 9.30. Every time I do it they are well over half empty.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Well I use East Coast a lot. I went to London twice a week in June and July and having not travelled for a bit I was amazed. I often return on the 20:05 but used the 19:33. It was nowhere near busy – in First Class I reckon they had no more than 24 people spread over 3 carriages. Standard Class was busier, but hardly full. This was common throughout 10 weeks. The really busy trains are those departing from 17:00. Going down I invariably use those leaving just before 9 or thereafter and again they were not full, far from it.

      I just do not think the maths add up for HS2. Why the Government doesn’t look at using the old Central Mainline is a mystery.

  21. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Their will be a virtual referendum on HS2 and the EU on Thursday 22nd May 2014.

    I know what I’ll be voting – no to EU, no to HS2 and yes to grammar schools and border controls.

  22. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    You have it exactly right on commuter trains. As we gradually move to lighter trains there is an opportunity to buy British. The Germans are very good at making heavy trains.

    For longer distance travel, the railways should think of first class as being business class and make it easier to work on trains. Putting first class carriages at the end of trains so that second class passengers don’t walk through them would be a start. Making them a computer friendly environment would be good. A modest price reduction is possible. At the moment, the gap between second class prices and business prices is high. And how about one or two first class only trains? All of this is off message for HS2 fanatics.

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      For roads, the absolute top priority must be widening the M6, from the point where M6 toll joins the untolled M6 coming out of Birmingham, all the way up through Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. At the moment, there is enough congestion to render daytime lane closure and maintenance impossible.

  23. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    One of the huge benefits of HS2 is claimed to be the time savings which were quantified in financial terms. But these savings can’t be used to pay off the HS2 debt, which is why no commercial organisation would consider the project. The value of these time savings can’t be added to their balance sheet!
    But if the government considers time savings are important, perhaps they should start to place values on all the hold-ups on major transport routes, both rail and road. I suspect that they would find that there could be far greater savings at considerably lower costs by carrying out relatively minor improvements.
    I just wonder, for example, what was the cost of the time, extra fuel and meals incurred by those held up on the M25 as a result of the lorry accident blocking both carriageways for about 12 hours a couple of days ago. Finding more effective solutions to dealing with incidents like this could probably produce good returns for relatively small expenditure.

  24. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Road vehicles that do not need a driver will be the future and will be the norm even before HS2 is complete and will increase the capacity of existing roads immensely. It will probably totally revolutionize transport and even how we view vehicle ownership and how we load them. Other modes of transport faster and cheaper are on the drawing board. Rail is too costly and will not be the most efficient way eventually to move people and goods about. I see the use of them declining over time and will be replaced as they replaced canals.

  25. Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    You say that HS2 is meant to spread business out of London, implying that there is plenty of outward capacity at peak times to cope with people doing the ‘spreading’. But isn’t it the case that, were this spreading to happen, more business people from the North/Midlands would still want to travel to London than would business people going the other way? For example, if a meeting involved more people from London than from elsewhere, it would take place in London. If a meeting involved three people from London, Bristol and Manchester, it would take place in London. If a meeting involving a Londoner and a Mancunian only took up half a day, I imagine a Mancunian would enjoy idling away the rest of it in London more than would a Londoner in Manchester. Outsiders often know their way around London, whereas Londoners probably don’t reciprocate. And many business-to-business services, especially new ones, are not based in London anyway.

    I conclude that HS2, if built, would simply imitate current journey patterns, even if it had the indirect effect of encouraging business to locate at points north. Would that be a desirable outcome? Would it still make HS2 worth the cost?

  26. Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Has anybody set the HS2 in its context? Has anyone worked out what size the cities that the line will serve will be, what other forms of communication might be in place (e.g. local airports), what might happen if Scotland goes independent, what kind of development we might see in northern ports (e.g. Hull and Liverpool) and so on.

    We seem to be discussing HS2 as it it were to be opened tomorrow but, of course, even if it were started now other factors also change. So how does HS2 fit into the totality of Britain’s future according to various scenarios?

    For myself, I hope that improved broadband will cut down the need for offices to be places where people meet face to face every day of the week. Virtual meetings would cut commuting and the need to travel. Some offices could open two days a week and others on another two days a week – in the same way that Singapore allows cars into the city on alternative depending on their registration numbers.

  27. Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I feel that running more trains or longer trains during rush hour would be the most effective way to reduce overcrowding at peak times.

    Regarding the roads I’d recommend examining why traffic queues build up in some areas, rather than just widening roads. For example if there’s long traffic queues due to people having to drive through a city then it would be better to build a bypass to split the traffic into people who want to go into this city and people who want to travel around this city.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      The problem with your first solution is that train companies would need to have many very expensive spare trains which they only use for a few hours each day.
      your other solution is something we invented back in the fifties…the by pass.
      In other revelations from Uni….the Sun comes out at dawn and the Moon comes out at night.

      • Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        Firstly the extra carriages could be attached to other trains.

        Secondly most carriages on trains are only used for a few hours each day (peak time).

        Thirdly I know what a bypass is, that’s why I was recommending that we build them instead of road widening.

        Fourthly just because you can’t see the sun and the moon don’t mean they’ve disappeared.

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          There is a limit to how long trains can be due to station platform length and train engine power to pull.
          These spare carriages would have to be moved to the peak need area several times a day and you need many spare engine units to do this.
          Glad you approve of by passes and investment in reducing road congestion and therefore pollution.
          You put it forward as if it was a new invention of yours.
          Its because of the disproportionate spending on rail that so few are built.
          Thanks for yet another statement of the obvious stated as if only you know about these things.

  28. Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Who could disagree with your logic, John? Only the Cabinet, I guess. Have they, in their wisdom, actually commissioned a survey into passenger capacity on the East and West Coast Lines? If the Standard Class is 75 % empty now, why would they think that HS2 would fill the train?

    A high speed rail network to the Continent makes sense because of the distances involved but the proposed HS2 to the North of England is a White Elephant of Mammoth proportions and it will be nothing but a burden on the British tax payer for decades to come.

  29. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    if we are talking roads then the A1 north of Leeds up to Edinburgh needs turning into a motorway.

  30. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Money should first of all be concentrated on all local avenues and roads. Keeping easy communication locally , with smart well tarmacked roads creates appeal. Who wants to build a business in a run down, unsightly area. Then expand from there.

  31. Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Personally I think we need both HS2 and a lot of investment in other transport infrastructure. Successive governments have ignored this issue and allowed the overall transport network to deteriorate. We still have no joined up transport strategy nationwide but numerous rail, air and freight policies. This government, like most before it, has decided we do not need a roads strategy despite it being the primary transport mode.

    I expect the furore caused by HS2 is part of the reason governments shy away from making these big decisions. See also airport expansion for a similar lack of leadership.

  32. Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    UKIP will do well out of HS2.

  33. Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Well, whenever I have travelled on the WCML (generally on a Virgin Class 221 Voyager) from Chester to Euston the train has been quite full (around 80% of seats occupied). I travel during the day, off peak.

  34. Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Governments seem to be so atrocious at understanding the purpose of infrastructure projects, never mind managing them and seeing them completed on time and to budget. And so they look for projects that are “eye-catching”, rather than ones that is going to benefit the nation.

    A number of small projects, like the ones you mention, would be so much more beneficial, would be completed much sooner and would make far better use of the tax payers’ money, than one large project. They might not be eye-catching, but they could be spread across the country and would, I have no doubt, be popular.

  35. Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Clegg wants the A14 upgraded and turned into a toll road.

    Why should the residents of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire have to pay to use the major roads they travel frequently, when nobody else in the Country does?

    Will all motorway improvements have to become toll routes because of the money being spent on HS2?

  36. Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I’d be wary of reading too much into one or two journeys. I use the East Coast line a lot and it is often very busy. If population continues to go up at the current rate we’ll have problems.

    That said I agree that commuter lines into London Leeds and elsewhere are under a lot more stress. As are our motorways.

    I can’t believe there aren’t cheaper ways to boost capacity both on commuter routes and long distance. For example, do we really need a new higher speed route given the minor gains and the fact this is a small country. Are there ways to lengthen trains and add parallel tracks alongside existing ones for much of the routes. This will obviously be tougher coming into cities but out in open countryside it could remove bottlenecks of local trains blocking higher speed long distance ones.

    Also, is Birmingham really an issue. There are multiple routes going from London to Birmingham already (and this competition means that journeys are way cheaper than those to the north on the east coast)

  37. Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I am a regular user of the WCML up to Scotland and I also use it down South towards London as well sometimes. I have traveled at various times of day though normally in line with rush hour.

    All I can say is that the mainline routes apart from maybe Milton Keynes towards London are seldom if ever anywhere near capacity. I haven’t counted seats but rarely do you see a carriage more than half full.

    You rightly state the issue of motorway bottlenecks – consider this, if intra regional travel was better and more joined up perhaps more people would use the train than the car thus freeing up bits of road.

    Rather than speeding up mainline artery routes look the corners of the UK with clustered towns and cities like:

    Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds
    Necastle, Middlesborough and Sundanderland
    Cardiff, the valleys, Swansea and NewportB
    Bristol, Bath, Trowbridge

    Join areas like this with light rail up to improve commuting and over time I am sure you will see better results than a Ferrari on a track only used by the few that can afford the fares.

    Getting from London to Manchester an hour quicker than it currently takes will not make a lot of difference in itself so HS2 really is barking up the wrong tree.

  38. Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Evidently decisions on transport capacity are taken by people who never drive on the M6. If they did, they would realise the urgent need for a new motorway to serve the east of Manchester.

  39. Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Only one post, by Edward2, has mentioned population.

    Capacity problem and most everythiong else, solved by a reduced population – where are the user friendly policies for this? Should have started in the 1960s when the problems of our massive population size were realised.

  40. Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    The new roads should not be toll roads if paid for from Govt funding.


    – Cut back trees (leaf fall and danger of trees on line) Savings will be made in the cost of Sanditing, delays, fuel and wheel damage

    – Better interface with Park & Ride in minor cities

    – More passing loops to allow faster express services around local services

    – Get rid of level crossings on lines over 70mph

    SCRAP HS2 – the money can be spent so much better on other things (especially power generation) and be a real boon for Britain rather than a millstone around her neck.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      PS – The extra passing loops also allow space to get broken down trains out of the way thus reducing the knock-on of failed trains delaying others.

      Standardised couplings on all trains would have been a good idea with rescue locos at strategic positions common to all companies.

  41. Posted November 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Yo Redwood,

    The problem with the railways can be summed up by a visit to the toilets at York Station – filthy, blocked, disgusting and broken.
    Nobody seems to take responsibility, billions of pounds invested in the network but none seems to be prioritised for areas that really matter to the quality of experience of passengers. For all it’s faults, I seem to remember the same toilets were in much better condition when BR was in charge.

    Reply Network Rail is a public sector owned track and station provider just like BR. East Coast mainline is a nationalised rail company.

    • Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Mr Redwood thanks for your reply – it’s useful to be able to send network rail a letter of complaint for all the good it will do. No doubt the manager concerned will still receive a generous payment from the public purse, pension, car perks etc. regardless of the quality of service provided for the public.

      I acknowledge that the train station is still under public ownership but note that the condition of the facilities is noticeably worse than it was 30 years ago, despite there being more money available for the railways.

  42. Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Yo Redwood

    Thoughts on HS2..

    -The costs will double and double with the timescales..
    – Classic example of Westminster ‘Group-think’ mentality. Credit to J Redwood for not running with the pack on this.
    – Reports have deliberately overstated the costs/ disruption of upgrading existing services
    by the vested interests
    – Cronies of the key decision makers or their advisors making a fast buck
    – Cameron’s thinks it’s good PR and a useful smokescreen for other failed policies (old problem of style over substance)

  43. Posted November 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know whether you are aware of the latest developments on the M6 Toll. Macquarie have (deconsolidated the M6 toll group in their latest accounts and no longer include losses on the road – contributor speculates on what might happen next ed)Latest half year report here:

  44. Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing you were travelling north in the morning. Had you been travelling in the opposite direction, it would be a bit like the Great Western trains from Reading to London. Absolutely no chance of a seat, and you would be very lucky to get the recommended minimum 0.44m^2 of floor space to stand in.

    Reply Not apparently what the figures say for the long distance runs.

  45. Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    The rail connection between Glasgow and Edinburgh is good but the road connection is poor. There is no direct rail connection to any of the Scottish airports. The road connection between central Scotland and Inverness is also poor. Both roads require to be upgraded to 3 lane motorway standard. The road from Glasgow to the North of England is much improved however so that one can get out of Scotland quickly if need be.

    The proliferation of traffic lights has caused serious problems of congestion and pollution in all cities, and some junctions are now recording far higher levels of poisonous fume emissions than before. Traffic lights must be reduced in number as they add to the transport bill, inconvenience and stress of driving. We are never consulted locally about traffic lights. They just appear like toadstools overnight.

  46. Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Dr Beeching closed so many lines in his report which are still there in a ghost capacity. The cuttings still exist with bridges etc. Why doesn’t the government do some research into some of these lines ?

    There is one which is virtually where HS2 is supposed to go so there would be no need to destroy people’s homes, businesses and farms.

    Or does that not please the EU demands?

  47. Posted November 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    The priority for transport infrastructure should be the corridors linking ALL our major urban areas together – in ‘geographical’ order…
    Glasgow / Clydeside, Edinburgh / Lothian, Newcastle / Tyneside, Middlesbrough / Teeside, Leeds / Western Riding, Sheffield / Hallamshire, Manchester / Selnecia (!), Liverpool / Merseyside, Birmingham / Black Country, Cardiff / The Valleys, Bristol / Severnside and last but never least – Lundun / Home Counties.
    All these areas should have at least a three lane Motorway and a double track electrified railway between them. All have Airports, but, some require investment in facilities never mind capacity. Some have Seaports, these still have a role to play and should be improved accordingly.

  • 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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