Taking the speed out of High Speed II


           The Commons Environmental Audit Committee is not reknown for its sense of humour. So when they said in their recent Report into HS2 that they would like “the government” to “examine the scope for requiring a reduced maximum speed for the trains until electricity generation has been sufficiently decarbonised” they were definitely not joking.

           A High Speed train that goes slow? Now there’s a novel idea. The government, after all, could say it has recently switched its case for HS2 away from speed towards “capacity”, so agreeing to put some speed limits on the new trains would not upset that aim too much.  So why has the Committee reached this conclusion?

                We are told that trains travelling at 225 mph use three times as much energy as a train travelling at 125 mph. We know from using our cars on motorways that cruising at 70 mph  uses more fuel than cruising at 50mph, but we of course are stopped from doing anything like  current train speeds. That’s partly a safety judgement, and partly an environmental one.

           It’s no good saying these are electric trains, so that makes them just fine for environmentalists worried about CO2. A lot of our electricity is still generated from fossil fuels that emit substantial CO2. The more fast trains we run, the more CO2 we will let out into the atmosphere. The Committee also worried about the impact of the new train route on ancient woodland, but did not press on the question of the environmental impact of this railway on urban areas, especially in London. That too could be quite considerable.

            People who had not thought through their CO2 accounting rashly assumed trains would be better than cars and planes from the environmental point of view. They had also failed to consider carefully the impact of a new line and the carbon cost of the construction.  The CO2 output of the finished railway  all depends on how many passengers use the trains, how much energy people use up getting to and from stations, how heavy the trains are and how fast they go. Trains like cars and planes require energy to drive them, and much energy to build them. CO2 accounting is not a simple case of trains good everything else bad.

           Nor is the safety case as overwhelming as some believe. Trains travelling at very high speeds are dangerous. As a result the lines have to be completely isolated from any external intervention by people, plants  or animals, to avoid items on the line and to avoid any clash with pedestrians, cycles, children playing and anyone else who would be at risk. Motorway carriageways  too are segregated from cycles, children playing,and  traffic coming in the oppposite direction so they like railway lines are a lot safer than general roads. The speed limit placed on cars at 70mph, allied to rubber tyres with grip and steering systems to avoid collisions means cars have a better chance of keeping safe if a motorway is disrupted somehow. Trains are more likely to plough to disaster at high speed if a train track gets disrupted, as can happen at level crossings or through unplanned access to the tracks by others. Speed limits help reduce accidents on roads, we are told. The same must be true for trains.




  1. arschloch
    April 8, 2014

    What is this obsession with speed for anyway? Billions will be spent so we can get from London to Brum twenty minutes quicker. Thousands have been spent ensuring Mrs Miller can get into Westminster fifteen minutes earlier than had she lived in Basingstoke. With twelve weeks holiday you would think MPs would be the last sort of people to bother themselves with life in the fast lane.

    1. Hope
      April 8, 2014

      But the lords can clock in and out much quicker to save time to do whatever they want with the rest of the day!

      HS2 report still kept secret despite bold statements from Cameron about transparency being a tool to hold politician to account. Perhaps that is why he wants a state regulated press, referendum block legislation. Like his bold statements after the expense scandal, you cannot trust him. Self- governance of MPs where personal interest for directorships, windmill scams and expenses rule the day, particularly in the Tory party.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      April 8, 2014

      arschloch–The idea was, or certainly should have been, not to worry so much about businessmen getting to Brum (I ask you–as if there were any difficulty doing that) but to get goods from Manchester to Madrid in one go and obviously as quickly as possible. Irrationality abounds. The two HS lines should join up. If some genius has worked out that Camden is cluttered, the answer is that there is no reason for the new (combined) line to go all the way in to London: these so-hard-pressed businessmen are going to have to get on to the bottom of HS2 (by car tube bus or taxi) in any event and I see no big difference if they have to go somewhere just North of London to do that. Being against the EU is not the same as being against Europe, far from it, and getting North Britain’s goods quickly to Europe can hardly be argued with. The environmental over-reactors are not going to un-invent speed. If, unbelievably, there is to be no join, then, again to my mind obviously, we should revive the Great Central Railway which has the correct larger European Gauge at bridges and tunnels and would be very considerably cheaper with no disruption at Camden or anywhere else–not to mention that it would be slower which would, we now hear, be good (Joke–the best way to slow HS2 down would be not to build it).

      1. Mark
        April 8, 2014

        If speed is the issue, there’s an airport with two runways at Ringway.

    3. Lifelogic
      April 8, 2014

      Having got to Birmingham twenty minutes more quickly what would one do with the 20 extra minutes in Birmingham it does not sound that exciting to me?

      Anyway due to the high speed will not additional security checks ( for terrorists) not use up the 20 mins anyway?

  2. Mark B
    April 8, 2014

    John Redwood MP wrote;

    ” . . . they would like “the government” to “examine the scope for requiring a reduced maximum speed for the trains until electricity generation has been sufficiently decarbonised” . . . .”

    I am slowly losing the will to live !

    Oh, and forgot to mention the effects of the weather. ie snow and leaves on the line. Can’t be robbing them of their excuses now can we ?

    1. Hope
      April 8, 2014

      When we have bad weather the trains will stop in tandem with windmills, as they cannot produce any electric, so the politicians can claim the country came to a grinding halt as they planned to save CO 2 emissions for the EU.

  3. Narrow shoulders
    April 8, 2014

    This article should have been the one posted last Tuesday on 1 April.

    If carbon is the new benchmark for everythng we will soon be unable to do anything that requires energy. Far beter to encourage less global consumption (higher tariffs on 3rd world imports, less foreign aid).

    If the case for HS2 is genuinely capacity, transforming current lines to run with double decker carriages will solve that issue with far less disruption and deliver it incrementally and more speedily

    1. acorn
      April 8, 2014

      If we want a value for money train on this route, that can carry 1000 passengers, then I think we would be better off just buying Alstom Euroduplex (double decker) train sets. Change the loading gauge to match a few main routes down to the Channel Tunnel. These things will cruise at 200 mph and will average about 20 to 30 kWh per km; depending how fast you want it to accelerate out of a station up to cruising speed, and if you fit it with energy recovery braking.

      BTW for steady speeds, train power requirements go up, near enough, by the cube of the speed.

  4. Mike Stallard
    April 8, 2014

    What are trains for?
    I keep asking this.
    I love them.
    I love canals too.
    And horse transport.
    And rowing boats.
    And I walk a lot.

    They are, like the EU, out of date technology. They belong firmly in the 20th century.

    1. Anonymous
      April 8, 2014


      We now have information from a place denied its railway. Plymouth Chamber of Commerce reckons £50 million of trade lost to its city in two months (out of season.)

      Rail passenger numbers are at record levels nearly everywhere so your theory seems to be wrong.

      1. Mark
        April 8, 2014

        Plymouth doesn’t exactly have the best road connections (which were also disrupted by flooding), but even so I suspect that many more visitors arrive by road than by train.

        1. Anonymous
          April 9, 2014

          Road connection to Plymouth is by 70mph dual carriageway from the M5 at Exeter.

          Not bad but by the same measure the rail connections aren’t the best either.

          If you want to convert the narrow rail route into a road route instead you get yourself a B road.

      2. Anonymous
        April 8, 2014

        PS – If you want your house to increase in value there is nothing better than to have a railway station built nearby.

  5. Richard1
    April 8, 2014

    I kick myself I didn’t think of this one for your competition for April Fools Day ‘news’ the other day, but as think we noted often what could have passed as a joke is now reality. The obvious absurdities which result from the modern form of environmentalism, anti CO2 hysteria, should cause us to question the whole thing.

    Energy and global warming policies are now a major political issue. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, UKIP, despite being replete with bufoons, is the party talking the most sense on these issues.

    1. ian wragg
      April 8, 2014

      I think the Buffoons are littered amongst the 3 main parties. Are you trying to say that Millipede, Balls, Davey etc etc are sane beings. Me thinks your barking up the wrong tree.
      Plus of course there’s the idiots that supports HS2.

    2. Robert Taggart
      April 9, 2014

      Thinking of another Crusade ? ‘Dickie 1’ !

  6. Roy Grainger
    April 8, 2014

    I was recently on a high speed train in China which was not limited in speed – presumably they have decarbonised all their electricity production then ?

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    April 8, 2014

    As a businessman I don’t know why you are even addressing the issue. Of course it is ridiculous . It is a business venture and only a business venture which takes the profit in the doing and not about future returns.It is a showy piece of engineering to keep up with the EU.

  8. Mac
    April 8, 2014

    By the time the first passengers are patiently waiting to board the first HS2 train, listening to the announcement, “We apologise for the late departure of…….” another announcement may well be made, from somewhere way over there in Asia, of a major breakthrough in ‘environmentally friendly’ teleportation.

  9. lifelogic
    April 8, 2014

    Trains travelling at very high speeds are indeed dangerous, as you say and very vulnerable to terrorism or vehicles etc. falling onto the tracks.

    The main problem with trains from a co2 point of view (if you are still concerned about co2 harmless plant & crop food) are that:

    energy use goes up hugely with speed.

    HStrains have fewer stops so people have more distance to travel to get on and off the trains – often done by car or taxis in a double length return journey at both ends.

    People mainly want to travel at certain times in certain directions so the returns and off peak trains are inevitably largely empty.

    There are large losses in the generation and transfers of electricity to the train.

    The energy used building the track and the destruction of many properties in the process (which then need rebuilding somewhere else) is huge. The stations and staff need to run and maintain use a lot of energy too.

    Slower trains with more stops make rather more sense you can speed them up with quicker and simpler ticketing and charging systems. Coaches mainly travelling on motorways are actually very efficient when kept fairly full. People can work or do things on train no so speed is not very important.

    The plans are mainly just a ruse for extensive property development along the route and compulsory purchase of others properties.

    1. lifelogic
      April 8, 2014

      At least they have cancelled the HS1-HS2 link but this does make the whole project even less sensible. Cut taxes, improve the roads, remove the anti-car traffic lights and other road blocking islands and environmental zones that force people to drive further and cause additional congestion.

      I see Camden have now lowered all speed limits to 20MPH so all the push bikes overtake you. Even some of the joggers nearly overtake you.

      1. stred
        April 8, 2014

        Perhaps the Committee read JR’s blog last year, when it was pointed out that the proposed250mph HS2 was even faster than the continental TGVs and therefore would use much more electricity, which will still be mainly carbon fuelled. Also that the idea in the first place was to extend HS1 and to start at Euston would require a link- now abandoned.

        Of course the DECC vision is that after a few years of building windfarms in the sea, burning trees and getting EDF to put up nukes for 4 times the price in other countries, the train could go supersonic and it wouldn’t matter, as we could all get out of our electric cars.

        If you were coming from Paris, would you rather get off at St Pancras and lug cases to Euston? Or stay on the train and go slower up a widened track on the existing line to the North, with branches to the Midlands, Manchester, York , Leeds and Edinburgh. All built in less time and a fraction of the cost. TGVs have to slow down near cities and use lines alongside normal trains all over the EU.

        Network Rail will say it is more practical to build a completely new line through the Cotwolds because it gives more capacity and saves delays due to construction. However, this could be overcome by putting a dual gauge alongside and using longer, linked and double deck trains. After all, they are allowing for years of work for special tunnelling and cuttings, all in order to overcome environmental objections.

        1. Mark
          April 8, 2014

          Before the Chunnel I used to weekend in Paris by air – about 3 1/2 hours from central London to central Paris (near Étoile), of which 50 mins was the tube to LHR. Eurostar is probably much the same journey time, so anywhere much further North would be a longer journey by train.

      2. Hope
        April 8, 2014

        Yes, but it provides the EU infrastructure of connecting every major city in Europe by train, the cost and stupidity of it is irrelevant.

      3. Leslie Singleton
        April 8, 2014

        lifelogic–The trouble with your apparent pleasure at removing the link is that it is the only part worth doing

        1. Lifelogic
          April 8, 2014

          I tend to agree, but would they cheat me on the value of my properties? I suspect they would, they already blighted them without compensation and prevented me selling any. I have had no correspondence from them following the cancellation – why the hell not?

    2. Lifelogic
      April 8, 2014

      Listening to Dave Julia Singo head of the met office, in a typically pathetically wet BBC interview on “the life scientific” just now one rather despairs.

      She had no sensible answers to the lack of recent warming nor any sensible explanation as to why they think they cannot predict next month accurately but they can in 50 years (beyond silly semantics). When today weather clearly affects tomorrows and anyway a volcano, changed sun activity, meteor or invention in 2030 might change everything instantly.

      She even accused Nigel Lawson of sexism for saying:- “It is just this Julia Slingo woman, who made this absurd statement, but their own official statement makes it clear there is no proven link ….”

      What on earth is sexist about saying ” this Slingo woman” as opposed to “this Singo man. It is the logic of what the Slingo is saying that is relevant not their gender.

      Could we please replace her with a sensible Prof Richard Lindzen type, of either gender just the best candidate.


      1. Richard1
        April 8, 2014

        Thanks for pointing it out, I will listen to that. I hope the BBC will give Nigel Lawson a right of reply, they have given airtime to a number of people having a go at him recently. eg is this Commons Committee above which wants to slow down HS2 due to global warming the same one as compared Lawson and other sceptics of AGW to the Monster Raving Loony party?

      2. Lifelogic
        April 8, 2014

        Apparently a short term weather forecast is a “Prediction”
        A long range 50 year one is completely different it is a “Projection”. They are clearly completely different and one can do the long one but not the short (easier) one!

        This even without knowing about future volcanoes, suns output, invention to come and countless other future events.

        I am glad she has made that clear!

        Alsoshe say “what sceptics (realists) forget is that a scientist is always sceptical” I do not think I forget that at all.

      3. Lifelogic
        April 8, 2014

        Also she says “the weather will always do what the weather wants to do” surely no sensible scientist thinks the weather “wants” to do anything!

        1. margaret brandreth-j
          April 8, 2014

          Scientist also use personification and other literary devices.Philosophical insight uses many literary devices which become scientific pursuit.

    3. Anonymous
      April 8, 2014

      No, Lifelogic.

      High speed trains are NOT dangerous. They are the safest form of transport next to airliners, which travel even faster.

      All transport runs ’empty’ or under loaded for much of the time. Lorries, taxis, aeroplanes, ships. Include private cars too if their purpose is to drop off/pick up friends and relatives or to go shopping – at some point the car is driven minus the passenger or load.

      What on earth makes you think that trains are the only mode of transport affected by this ?

  10. Colin
    April 8, 2014

    So it’s not going to be high speed after all, and it’s not going to save us from the carbon monster, and meanwhile it will destroy ancient woodland, ruin rural landscapes and spoil people’s amenity in hitherto Conservative heartlands.

    Remind me, why are we doing this?

    1. Lifelogic
      April 8, 2014

      If you want high speed with low energy use you need to run them down long evacuated tubes. Or perhaps fly them high up in the atmosphere. Jet aeroplanes perhaps – they seem to work well and do not need a track either just two strips of tarmac?

  11. The PrangWizard
    April 8, 2014

    The words ‘lunatics’ and ‘asylum’ come to mind. And of course more sections of motorway are subject to maximum speeds of 60mph, that’s far too high. What about requiring a man with a red flag to precede every car on every road? Or how about replacing cars with a horse and trap? I expect some lunatic will wish to put a maximum speed on aircraft next. The anti-progressives are taking us back to the Dark Ages faster – I hope that word has not been banned – than you may think. But lets go further, ban cars and trains completely and force everyone to have a bicycle, made with wood of course from sustainable forests. (You will need a permit to use one and prior consent will be required from your local Green Party official before you can go anywhere – one on every street.)

  12. Ex-expat Colin
    April 8, 2014

    The Safety Case contains a piece on the cost of life. Where catastrophe of a low probability arises then that cost has to be recognised. Where the tax payer is concerned pretty much anything goes anyway. Ok, if you don’t take on a risk, life gets awkward to say the least. Personally, anything like that on rails is a no go.

    If the MSM give us the line that this system is better than anything we have and has a bonus of low CO2 then the argument is lost and the VIs continue on. That would be a line pushed 24/7 and globally by the likes of the BBC.

    Amusingly the GWPF has written to Gove clanging a bell about the propaganda dealt out in History classes regarding the climate change BS. I wonder?

    Channel 4 on Blackdeath/Cross Rail have it that the population immediately prior to the plague were weakened by crop failure due to rain and more rain…it was Climate Change they said. My history lessons revealed none of that…just peasants that nobody really cared much about and continued up until the end of WW2.

    1. Ex-expat Colin
      April 8, 2014

      Correction…its not a letter its a GWPF report.

      Hopefully Gove will act and that will be difficult for him. Cameron congratulating Gove on education reforms….oh dear.

  13. alan jutson
    April 8, 2014

    I did check the date when I first heard this.

    No it was not April 1st.

    Oh dear, how stupid they all now look.

    The big Mantra, High speed saves time is no longer the prime reason to build, it would seem.
    May as well add a few stations along the line, that will slow it down and perhaps collect some more passengers on the way, who may help to pay for it
    Hold on a second, do we not have a route like that already !!

    But hey ho, your argument about the 7o mph speed limit on motorways is going to be quashed by EU regulations soon, and on the same grounds of pollution.
    It would seem that 60 is better for air quality than 70, although trucks which are the highest polluters will not be affected, as they are only allowed to do 56 mph now.

    Has anyone done a study comparing how much pollution is caused by more traffic past a fixed point at a slower speed (the reason given for variable speed cameras) against the present situation.
    Should we now never widen a motorway to ease congestion, because the increased traffic flow will cause more pollution ?

    Really does make you wonder if we are making progress at all given some of the modern eco thinking.

  14. John Eustace
    April 8, 2014

    I can remember when the first Royal Commission on the Environment was chaired at the end of the seventies by Professor Sir Hugh Ford from Imperial College.
    When as students we asked how he could justify keeping driving his beloved Rolls Royce he replied with detailed calculations showing that it’s very long life made it much more energy efficient than buying a series of Ford Escorts that would fall apart after 100,000 miles.

  15. oldtimer
    April 8, 2014

    There is much muddled thinking that misinforms public discussion of these and related issues, all with their roots in the CAGW/global warming/climate change/climate disruption hypotheses (they are all, it seems, interchangeable with each other depending on time/place/speaker/writer).

    We also have the re-emergence of Malthusian thinking to consider, namely that the world cannot support the expected growth of world population to c10 billion in the years ahead. Anyone who is really worried about this should regard more CO2 in the atmosphere as part of the solution, not part of the problem. For CO2 promotes plant growth, as satellite reading over the past thirty years have revealed. Indeed if atmospheric CO2 dropped to c150ppm then it is judged impossible for plant life to flourish or even survive.

    It is clear that as societies become wealthier, they produce smaller families; the two child family is becoming the norm in most parts of the world and expected growth will flatten out as Hans Rosling has so convincingly demonstrated.

  16. John E
    April 8, 2014

    An aside on the rubber train wheels idea.
    The production of tyres uses a lot of energy. I worked at Fort Dunlop as a graduate trainee and we had what was then an innovative combined heat and power installation – basically our spare heat kept a whole estate of tower blocks and houses across the M6 heated. Big extruders, big presses using superheated steam, etc. Also a lot of water. And to my knowledge no one has yet found a way to recycle more than a token amount of used tyres – they end up in vast land fill dumps, and when they catch fire they release noxious gases and often can’t be extinguished.

    1. alan jutson
      April 8, 2014

      John E

      Likewise Battersea Power Station.

      When I was an apprentice we visited Battersea in the 1960’s (when it was up and running) the steam and cooling water provided hot water and heat to over 2000 houses on the opposite side of the Thames.

      Thus more than 50 years later people think recycling is a great new idea, because they can tax it !!!!.

      Our parents could tell them a thing or to about re-cycling.
      In the second World war, no need to have any laws or regulations, people did it simply because it was logical, made sense and saved money.

  17. Iain Gill
    April 8, 2014

    If capacity is the problem then there should be no need to go above 125 mph.
    I doubt the investment case for electrification really stacks up either.
    What do the numbers look like if you just put a simple new 125 mph straight track in between London and Birmingham and use diesel 125 trains on it?
    Rather like the way the soyuz spacecraft has proven to be a better bet than the fancy American Apollo and Shuttles long term there is a lot to be said for taking the simple easily proven approach.

    1. John E
      April 8, 2014

      Exactly. The Inter City 125 trains were designed originally when the APT project was abandoned. They gave the job to the people who knew what they were doing and they very quickly came up with a practical solution that has stood the test of time.

      Always beware of grand projects and politicians looking to leave a legacy. I am certain the money being used for HS2 could deliver much greater benefits if the project was scaled back as you say and the rest of the money spent on other capital projects.

      HS2 is a solution looking for a problem. We should be saying we think we can afford to spend £xm – what is the most we can get for it.

  18. English Pensioner
    April 8, 2014

    The problem with rail (and air) within a small country like ours is getting to and from the stations. Most of us don’t live close to a station, nor is our destination usually near a station. As a result, it is invariably easier, and often cheaper to travel by car. Station parking costs don’t help – £6.50 a day at our local station (so I’m told, I haven’t been there for a couple of years) – even with present petrol prices that gets me about 40 miles on my way.
    If the case for this new line is capacity, why can’t the Chiltern line be upgraded? Some years ago, the passing loops at the stations were removed; surely these could be replaced and additional fast through trains run to provide the extra capacity. A lot cheaper, and it would serve more people.

  19. JimS
    April 8, 2014

    You left out the extra cost of tunnels added for ‘environmental’ reasons.
    A high speed train running in a tunnel requires 60% more energy than one on open line.
    I can’t think that adding more stations to the route does anything good to energy consumption or average speeds either.

  20. brian
    April 8, 2014

    Any excuse to knock HS2. I’m expecting calls for aeroplanes to be limited to 250 mph.

    1. Robert Taggart
      April 9, 2014

      Would that be so bad ?
      Manchester – London would still be an hour quicker than HS2 !

  21. Alan Wheatley
    April 8, 2014

    We are told the need for HS2 is one of providing capacity to meet future demand, and the most effective way to provide capacity is with a new line. And, if we are going to build a new line then it might as well be a high-speed one, just like everyone else is doing. So, quite rightly, HS2 earned itself the sobriquet of a “vanity project”.

    The cost of HS2 is over and above rail spend already planned for improving the current network, and experts have described ways in which capacity could be increased further without HS2.

    But the big, underlying question is the prediction of future demand. Prediction is only as good as the model, and from what I could discover the model used is far from certain.

    The HS2 timescale is so long, and technology change so rapid these days, that I think there must be serious doubts about any claim as to passenger demand over the HS2 lifetime.

    There is also the issue of linking demand to population growth. If demand is justified by population growth on current trends then the capacity problem would be better resolved by reducing the demand rather than increasing the provision.

    If CO2 is your priority, then no train is better than even a slow one!

    1. English Pensioner
      April 8, 2014

      Computer models predicting future outcomes don’t have a good track record.
      The other day, John was commenting on the failure of the Treasury’s taxation model in predicting the effect of various taxes. The various climate change models don’t seem much better. What is always missing from all models is the human reaction to events outside the control of those running the models, such as, in this case, a major railway accident.

  22. Brian Tomkinson
    April 8, 2014

    You support a party and government determined to pursue this nonsense. You have the right ideas but they come to nought and I don’t see that changing with Cameron in charge.

  23. Kenneth
    April 8, 2014

    We must avoid some of the mistakes that have been made with subsidised buses. If I had a £ for every bus I have seen driving past with just one or two passengers then I’d be very rich.

    These buses use up a lot of energy and often carry nothing more than air.

    The prospect of slow high speed near-empty trains travelling less than half full, polluting the atmosphere does not fill me with joy

    1. Lifelogic
      April 8, 2014

      Indeed average occupation depot to depot can be a low as 6. Then they stop every few yards and block the road. Often taking very indirect routes too.

      Passengers get the wrong impression of occupancy as they (by definition) tend to see the full ones. No passengers are on the empty ones.

  24. rick hamilton
    April 8, 2014

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Heaven knows how the UK is supposed to compete in the world when government is packed with technophobes and eco-lunatic wimps and losers.

    Even when they do get close to approving something reasonably advanced they hobble the project with some utterly stupid limitation. Dragging suitcases along Euston Road from HS1 to HS2 is hardly a great advance in linking the country with Europe.

    Meanwhile the Japanese are getting on with building a 500kph maglev line from Tokyo to Nagoya, even though there is already a perfectly good 270kph Shinkansen ( HS line ). But the existing one was built 50 years ago, so that isn’t good enough any more. No wonder trains built in the UK will be made by Hitachi, not far from where George Stephenson started the whole industry.

  25. bigneil
    April 8, 2014

    As this country seems to be infested with brain deads who like putting things across train lines, purely to cause a crash, what would be the outcome of a train full of people at 200+mph hitting a lump of concrete and derailing? How do other countries cope – or is it only this island that has the loons? We never hear of the Japanese or French having this sort of trouble. Or can someone prove me wrong and shed some light on this.

    1. Ex-expat Colin
      April 8, 2014

      Thats all in the Safety Case(s) and the taxpayer pays the cost of life, whatever that figure is now. Its said to be an inherent risk of travel and cars are far less risky…or something similar. Either way if you die or are injured its your (relatives) problem long term.

      Spain had a problem not so long ago with a loony driver speeding. Other countries likely won’t be reported in the usual ‘in your face’ style (person left out ed) !

      1. Ex-expat Colin
        April 8, 2014

        Mr Redwood….I do agree with you on the major issues that you put forward. I do like to see that and the responses bad/good.

        I also know you have a website submission policy..I think I have respected that generally.

        However your (person left out ed) ! insertion puzzles me a bit. I was referring to the behavior of the media. The persons name/demise they mentioned is something they informed me/us of that actually is of little interest. Its also at a time when the press needs to shut up, but for all the reasons there are simply won’t. And I personally don’t like that family’s influence on us despite some apparently good global work.

  26. behindthefrogs
    April 8, 2014

    Perhaps we should similarly slow down the planes flying between our cities. Lets reduce them to 70 mph to reduce the fuel used. A little dangerous I realize as many of them will fall out of the air.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 8, 2014

      They use less fuel high up & at higher speeds. Perhaps we need runways in the sky at 30,000 ft, it might make more sense than HS2!

  27. Atlas
    April 8, 2014

    My eyeballs rolled when I read of the speed reduction proposal. Couple this to all the ins and outs of the Maria Miller affair and you despair of the political class.

  28. Martin
    April 8, 2014

    Sounds like more do-nothing stuff from Westminster.

    M4 widening vetoed by Maidenhead Conservatives.
    Heathrow third runway blocked by Putney Conservatives.
    HS2 blocked by which constituency Conservatives?

    Tricky thing transport

    1. Robert Taggart
      April 9, 2014

      You forgot UKIPpers !

  29. Edward2
    April 8, 2014

    And its not just trains that must go slow for carbon and health and safety reasons.
    In Birmingham the council is going ahead with a 20 mph maximum on most city roads despite a consultation exercise which showed a large majority against.
    Before this many of the city’s dual carriageways were reduced to 30mph by the council down from a realistic 40 and 50 mph limits.
    Reducing Birmingham’s carbon footprint has been the mantra behind these backward steps.
    Despite no proof of any reduction in CO2 other than more dodgy computer models.
    I believe the increased congestion now being created will actually increase CO2 emissions and reduce air quality.

    1. Tad Davison
      April 8, 2014

      Cambridge is blighted by the same woolly thinking Edward. We’d got a Lib Dem council. Nuff said.


  30. Roy Grainger
    April 8, 2014

    I recently went to Manchester from London for a day on business travelling during rush hour in the morning and evening. The train took a little over 2hrs each way and was less than 50% full. This is a very good service and I see no need to improve it at all. However, it was very expensive which I assume will not be remedied by HS2.

  31. Roy Grainger
    April 8, 2014

    John – Off topic but I would be interested to hear your views on Special Advisors (SpAds) who seem to be accountable to no-one at all, least of all the taxpayers who fund them – they are neither elected officials (who can be removed at the ballot box) nor civil servants who are bound by codes of conduct and who can ultimately be fired if they break the rules. This is obviously prompted by Maria Miller’s SpAd who (in my view) threatened Daily Telegraph journalists in an attempt to cover up Miller’s expenses transgressions. The previous Labour government also used some particularly unpleasant examples. Which independent body could we complain to about a SpAd ? How could we get one removed ?

    Reply SPADs are civil servants governed by special civil service rules that recognise their need to help with some political things for their Ministers. They are the bridge between the civil service and the party machine when supporting the Minister in his or her role. Complaints can be to the Permanent Secretary of the Department.

  32. Dennis
    April 8, 2014

    Mr Redwood has considered many things re HS trains including,

    “Trains like cars and planes require energy to drive them, and much energy to build them.”

    He and all MPs & economists etc. have never thought of what the source of this energy is and therefore never have thought of what this means.

  33. Vanessa
    April 8, 2014

    And the more stations which are called for the less “high-speed” it will be. It takes SO long to reach its High-Speed and SO long to slow down and stop at stations (using huge amounts of fuel and therefore CO2) it is hardly worth having with all the other trains which run from London to the north.

    We do not have enough land mass to make this worthwhile. Now in France or Germany speed is a different issue altogether!

  34. Tad Davison
    April 8, 2014

    I can’t help but make the comparison between HS2 and Concorde. The super-sonic airliner carried relatively few passengers at inflated prices which only the very wealthy could afford, where a wide-bodied jet like a Boeing 747 carries many more, and is said to be 16 times more fuel efficient.

    Concorde’s tax-payer funded development had to be written off, but the 747’s development was born by the private company. The only practical advantage of the SST was to get people from one place to another (in this case 3,000 miles) that much quicker. A convincing case still has to be made by HS2’s supporters, whether shaving a few minutes off a 100 mile journey is worth the massive expense. If the government really wants to spend our money on capital projects, there are many more deserving ones to choose from.

    As the additional capacity HS2 might provide in relieving other parts of the rail network now forms part of the equation, I wonder if instead, we might be able to run more trains more frequently on existing track with better train control, and, (as other contributors rightly say) would it not be better to re-open the Great Central Railway – the track bed of which is still largely in place.

    And if the Chinese were to build HS2, and lease it back to us, is that not another form of PFI that this government has so roundly condemned?

    Tad Davison


    1. alan jutson
      April 9, 2014


      I rather like your comparison between Concord and 747 Jumbo’s

      They built six, I think Concords, but thousands of 747’s which carried many millions of people around the World at a sensible cost.

      Yes Concord was a flagship product and perhaps the icing on the cake for a select few, but the 747 was the bread and butter workhorse for the masses.

  35. uanime5
    April 8, 2014

    I’m surprised they didn’t also recommend that trains should be limited to 125 mph to reduce energy demand (once the coal and nuclear plants close in 2020 the UK will probably have to import a lot of energy from France).

  36. Kenneth R Moore
    April 8, 2014

    ‘We are told that trains travelling at 225 mph use three times as much energy as a train travelling at 125 mph’

    Who told us this – air resistance increases as a function of the cube of a vehicles velocity but as the frontal area of a train is relatively small compared to it’s size, (the nose is extremely well streamlined too) air resistance is relatively low. Mechanical friction dominates which has a more or less LINEAR relationship with velocity.

    More energy is needed to accelerate a train to higher speeds but much of this should be recoverable when the train is braked if the technolgy is good enough?

  37. Big John
    April 9, 2014

    When are the government going to stop stealing my money to subsidise this crap ?

    If people want to use a train, they should pay the full economic cost.

    If there was an economic case for hs2, it wouldn’t need public funding.

    The whole carbon thing is BS.

    As a matter of interest, at what point can I start suing the government (As well as Utility, Local Council & BBC) to return all the c02 taxes I have paid so far ?

    I am keeping a record as I think this is worse than the PPI mess, hopefully the government (If they are looking after the public interest), will counter sue, the people feeding them this BS (Even if some of them are/were MP’s).

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    April 9, 2014

    That’s odd. The main reason that the extra capacity is needed is because of the large speed differential.

    As for the dangers from vandalism, I can remember someone being killed on the Glasgow to Largs railway line when a concrete block was laid across the track. I can also remember a fatality when someone dropped a large brick from a bridge over the top of the M3. In neither case was the travel speed in excess of 70 mph. Now at 225 mph ………………………

    Let’s go from the sublime to the ridiculous and take a trip down memory lane.

    When a railway is unfenced, accidents can happen at any speed. I can recall at study funded by the European Union’s Africa Development Fund. It was into whether Fund money should be used to rehabilitate the Kampala to Malaba railway line, which the state railway company had allowed to fall into disrepair. We were taken as VIPs in the railway inspection cab with seats high up. Going through Kampala, the railway was completely unfenced. Pedestrians had to look out and cross where they could. As ill luck would have it a boy of about 10 was cajoling his cow herd across the line and the cab driver didn’t brake in time. Most of the herd made it safely across, and the boy took evasive action, but one cow disappeared under the wheels of the inspection cab. “Nyama choma” murmered our regional manager, which means ‘roast meat’.

  39. DennisA
    April 9, 2014

    Living in West Wales, I have to drive a minimum 25 miles, just to get to my nearest railway station. HS2 is another vanity project, but even my local MP, (Lib-Dem) is in favour, well, following the party (HS2) line.

  40. Robert Taggart
    April 9, 2014

    NO2 HS2 – just think off all the energy that will save !

  41. Kevin The Tog
    April 9, 2014

    To Leslie Singleton: No, the idea of HS2 was not, is not and never will be to get goods anywhere. it is not and never will be designed to move freight of any type, only passengers. The Freight argument is just another of the myths/ red herrings dreamt up by the PR for the pro-Hs2 camp – yes, surprise, surprise, heavily funded by tax payer money.

    To Kenneth R Moore: Why not ask the people who know: Please refer to
    1 Transport Policy Statement 09/03, High Speed Rail Table 1, Institute of Mechanical Engineers. This statement is fact not supposition.

    To Anonymous: passenger increase has stabilised after a lot of growth. However, HS2 will not solve capacity on a) the lines with the least capacity (the South West and others) and b) the WCML is not lacking capacity – see the real numbers for this and c) there are far simpler, far more cost-effective alternatives – take a look at the 51M Group for more info; unfortunately politicians don’t listen to logic, only to their own greed for power.
    Additionally, you say: If you want your house to increase in value there is nothing better than to have a railway station built nearby. The opposite also applies: If you want your house to decrease in value by massive amounts, entirely outside your control, there is nothing worse than having a railway line built near you. There are nearly 240,000 homes within 1 kilometre of the phase one line to B’ham and yet less than 2% will receive proper compensation. It is legalised stealing to deprive people of the value of their homes without proper compensation. No-one should be forced to pay twice for HS2: firstly through taxes, secondly through loss of their home’s value, often as much as 20%

    Everyone: if you want to avoid govt. spin and to seek out the facts, look at the HS2 Action Alliance website, which has masses of information. They’ve been around since 2010 and they are led by a rail transport expert. Don’t take my word for it, take a look and make up your own minds. Afterwards, if you agree, email your MP and ask them to do the same.

  42. lojolondon
    April 15, 2014

    Dear John,

    Thanks for this interesting information – seeing as that the new £70Billion train will run no faster than the current trains (thus taking longer than the current trains if they didn’t bother to stop) – I have penned a new name for the whole ridiculous white elephant –


    1. lojolondon
      April 15, 2014

      PS – I think I have mentioned before that the £70Billion is just for the track, the budget actually EXCLUDES these amazing fast trains!!

Comments are closed.