HS2 under review

I would be interested to hear from people about whether HS2 should proceed, be cancelled or built from the North first, leaving open the question of improvements into London.

I voted against HS2 when Parliament made the original decision and set out then the problems I saw with high costs, possible cost escalation, and optimistic revenue forecasts. Following the Mrs May review I accepted that government and Parliament want to build it, but now there is another government review after further large cost escalation.

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190 Comments

  1. Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Built in the north first please, and the North is not Leeds but Newcastle!

    • Hope
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      The EU infrastructure HS2 project should be scrapped. We do not need a single line to cut one journey by half an hour to connect directly to Paris. Better to cut losses now and explore how to use the work done to dovetail our existing railway system.

      We need an efficient reasonably priced railway system throughout the country linking all main cities for commuters of this country.

      It would also help greatly to scrap the Climate Change Act so there is electricity to run railways, industry and domestic use and prevent blackouts like last week!

      We note the ONS has underestimated/fiddled the immigration figures for the last decade! This means Mayhab’s historic high immigration figures are even worse! The Tories have lied for ten years!

      All of this mass immigration has an impact on Health, Housing, transport, climate, etc. Your govt needs to stop lying; taking advantage of the public and do something to vastly cut immigration now, not week sometime in the distant future or more lies to con the public.

      We also read with interest (Inconvenient Death) how Grieve in opposition and in govt. was incompetent and failed to act on pledges made by your party to have a proper coroner inquest for Dr Kelly’s death. Etc ed

  2. Freeborn John
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Better to go ahead with it at this stage. The worst of all situations is to spend billions preparing to do the work and the waste it all by cancelling.

    Infrastructure is becoming very bad in this country particularly too few motorways and bad A roads. They should be the priority but finish Hs2.

    • Jack Leaver
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      John I disagree for two reasons. The first is the total cost of the project which is unknown. Already it is expected the cost will be £30 billion more than the £55.7 billion set out in the 2015 spending review. If it goes ahead, there is an unlimited liability for the tax payer. Just look at what has happened to the delays and cost overrun of Crossrail. As far as the projected completion date for Phases 1 of 2026 is concerned, I would be surprised if it can be completed on time and I very much doubt Phase 2 (2033) will go ahead because of the cost.

      The second reason is opportunity cost. Spending at least £85.7 billion on HS2 means the funds to upgrade other rail routes and infrastructure throughout the UK, especially in the North, will struggle to find much needed funding which in my opinion should be a priority.

      HS2 will not connect Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh and assuming Phase 2 could be completed by 2033, this is still 14 years before Leeds and Manchester are connected. I also call into question the need for high speed when the distances do not warrant the relatively small time savings. If there is a need for extra capacity, wouldn’t it be an idea to explore the development of double decker carriages for existing lines rather than create new lines?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        Double decker carriages on existing trackbed and bridges will require slightly lower structure and lower seating at ground level, plus almost unacceptable horizontal seating above. So, forget it.

      • jerry
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        T@Freeborn-John; Two sets of double deck trains were tried by the Southern Railway back in the late 1940s, these units ran until 1972 on the South East London and north Kent commuter lines, whilst it was possible engineer lower trains that fitted the existing UK loading gauge no further units were built because it was found that station times increased disproportionately for the extra passengers carried and as @Fred H says, the upper decks were unacceptable for many, and unbearable for all if the forced air ventilation failed.

        British Railways simply found that they could, at the time, carry the same number of passenger by increasing the number of carriages per train – it was cheaper too, even though they had to lengthen some station platforms!

    • matthu
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      You never hear of throwing good money after bad?

    • Richard Evans
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      CANCEL the HS2 project without any further delay. Time saving relative to cost is laughable and at taxpayers and environmental expense. Everybody other than career politicians, lobbyists and EU fanatics knows this. At present virtually all London/ Birmingham trains outside of peak hours are rarely full. Also there needs to be re-evaluation the existing pricing/ticketing system.

    • Richard1
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Sunk cost John. The question is not what has been spent – we can’t get that back. It’s whats due to be spent, and could we find better uses, eg better projects, reduce borrowing, or leave with taxpayers now through tax cuts.

  3. Stred
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Speed and time saving are not a benefit. If capacity is needed, rebuild the old Central Line with normal speed trains. Last week passenger on the East Coast line had to stand all the way to Edinburgh, despite having booked months before and paying £70. Re. My son.

  4. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Not so sure that a very high speed train is of any use in the UK as distances between stations are too short to really capitalise on the speed.

    Building the first section from Birmingham to London will suck more people towards the capital.
    Who would want to live in a high cost area (London) and commute to a lower cost area (Birmingham) to work ?

    Said at the time it was conceived that it would cost nearer £100 Billion, because the margin of error is always more than double the original estimate on most Government contracts, be it ships, aircraft, airports, roads, rail, why is this ?
    If I can see this, why not so called government experts ?

    It we were to have extra capacity then fine, but try and use existing routes with extra track, modern signalling, more platforms etc.

    New investment should have started in the North where the greatest benefit to train time tables would have been made.

  5. Mark
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Am in two minds on this one.

    Positives would be that, directionally, improvement to infrastructure is a Good Thing.

    Negatives – is this the right infrastructure project? Small country, does a reduction in travel time of 15 minutes Birmingham to London make any economic sense. Indeed, with modern comms technology, it might lead to a loss of productivity as people cant have as much quiet email time as before!

    Darling was quite cogent on PM yesterday…why is it being designed as the fastest train in Europe . We do not have the space the achieve those speeds.

    Railways need improving – spread the cash around a bit I reckon….

  6. Everhopeful
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    HS2 should never have been conceived of let alone implemented.
    Destructive white elephant ripping up some of the most beautiful areas of the country.
    Lots of former Tory voters live there too.
    Not only that but there once upon a time was a perfectly good rail service going all the way from Aylesbury to Brackley (change at Winslow for Oxford and Bletchley). Two stations in Brackley and then on to Banbury and Brum.
    But that was all ripped up…so obviously not necessary?
    Push me pull you govts playing nasty games with people’s lives.
    Don’t they know that we all only have one life? Even the “policy”( mayhem?) makers?

    • Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      But their lives are good, and their plans are to make them even better by formulating such policies. Why should they worry about other people’s lives? So they don’t, it seems.

  7. Dominic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    A political project inspired by pro-EU zealots. There’s no need for another tedious, expensive inquiry as to whether this project should proceed. Ditch this political project and focus on cutting taxes and liberalising the private sector

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Don’t you think that after the Grenfell Tower disaster, horse meat from Todmorden being sold as beef, the BSE outrage from feeding ruminants the remains of ruminants, the UK-specific aspects of the financial crisis, the gross inefficiency and collapse of major contracted service providers and so much more, the private sector is more than unregulated and unpoliced enough as it is?

      • Edward2
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Punish the criminals, don’t tie up the 99% of honest companies with even more regulations, rule, directives, standards, red tape and new laws.

      • dixie
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Grenfell Tower was local council property and responsibility so why complain about private sector regulation on that account?
        The EU has plenty of horsemeat scandals to go around – strange you don’t refer to any, eg the 2013 Spanghero scandal where four people were prosecuted for passing off horse as beef in Paris this year – two French nationals and two Dutch. And then more recently (ie this month), EU horsemeat scandal chapter 2 – the French burger fraud.

        In the private sector if a company is no longer viable it goes out of business, in the public sector an organisation keeps going and the perpetrators likely get promoted, move to alternative comfortable positions or pensioned off.

        • dixie
          Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Not sure what your point is on BSE, aaccording to the July 2017 EFSA report in addition to the larger UK reported BSE cases there were also reports of ‘classical’ BSE in other EU countries – France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

      • NickC
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Martin, What passes for your logic is “some regulation is beneficial, so more regulation is more beneficial”. That’s the way the EU thinks too, so no wonder you are a Remain.

        Then there are the regulations and mis-spending from your regulation-besotted EU empire which covered – airports built in the middle of nowhere, the dieselgate scandal, salmonella in EU eggs, a ‘Cartoon Forum’ in Toulouse (half a million Euros), horsemeat in French “corned beef”, the unnecessary Strasbourg parliament, the Euro financial crisis, unaccounted MEP expenses, stealing UK fish, overcharging the UK for 45 years, etc, etc.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 23, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          The regulations, whether from the European Union or from the nation are fine.

          It is the intention of frauds, criminals, that is, to break them for increased PROFIT which is the problem.

          The absence of policing and inspection through cuts means that more will be tempted to take those risks.

          By definition, this can only be a problem in the for-profit sector.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 23, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

            So first it is a problem created by Brexit and now you say it is a problem caused by cuts.
            The problem being criminal behaviour.
            Come on Martin make your mind up.

  8. John Sheridan
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    It seems as if the project would have never been started if the true cost of the project had been known. I hope the review decides that the benefits do not outweigh the costs and that the project is abandoned.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear you voted against HS2 – If only governments and people in positions of power would follow your lead (on almost everything) the country would be far better off.

    Then £ billions of tax payers money would not have been pissed down the drains on for example:- HS2, counter productive damaging and murderous wars, the climate change act, the foolish attacks on non doms, the ERM and EURO, on the idiotic & over complex taxes that are way above the Laffer point and do such economic damage, the misguided over regulation of banks, wasting years on May’s putrid W/A, the subsidies for duff so called green technology, the expensive energy policy pushing away industry from the UK, the congestion caused by poor roads, lack of airports and the foolish war on motorists, the dire, virtual state monopolies in health and education, the lack of freedom and choice for people, the lack of real democracy thank to the EU, the need for real deterrents in the criminal justice system, the need to kill the litigation culture, the need to make hiring and firing simpler, the need to be selective on the quality of immigration and have sensible levels of it, the premature pushing of electric cars, the delays to fracking killed by Ed Davey types, the importation of bio fuels ……. I could go on.

    • dennisambler
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      You are elected!!

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      When you say ‘I could go on’ you must realise you really do ‘go on’. Do you ever miss a day? Same points over and over again …. green crap, highest taxes etc. etc. Don’t you ever get bored spouting the same old stuff over and over again tu the small number of people who visit this otherwise excellent site. Have a day off. Enjoy yourself before it’s too late. When you are on your deathbed will you be thinking ‘I wish I had spent more of my time posting on John Redwood’s site’?

      • Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Mr Wilson – you don’t have to read LL’s posts, you know. It’s not compulsory. You don’t even have to visit this, Sir John’s personal blog.

        (Some of us find LL’s posts interesting, if wordy sometimes. Yours?…. mmm – not sure.)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        You do not have to read them!

      • NickC
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Mike Wilson, Straight out of the ‘I haven’t got an rational argument, so I’ll slag off Lifelogic’ handbook.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic
      Brilliant and interesting post.
      Thank you.

  10. Simon Fry
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    The costs of HS2 are bound to be significantly greater than any current proposal from the parties involved. It is a vanity project that is outdated before it has even properly commenced; it does not provide employment to the country, only to the areas that are affected by being along the proposed routes. What is the alleged economic benefit of being able to travel from London to Birmingham, and eventually the north west and north east of England in due course, in a time that is slightly quicker than currently by plane or train?
    In an era of encouraging less travel in order to conserve environmental resources the whole project is totally hypocritical. My business uses high specification video conferencing facilities to communicate between sites in the UK as well as with group companies in Germany and France.
    The money being spent on HS2 can be better spent in improving the road network, simply by repairing existing road surfaces. This would improve economics for businesses whose employees have the misfortune to have a damaged vehicle courtesy of one of the vast number of potholes that exist on A roads as well as motorways and other smaller, but regularly used, roads.

  11. GilesB
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    We need more capacity.

    It does not need to be highspeed. That was an EU requirement. It makes no sense for the distances involved

    • Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. I believe most travellers would agree that the most important things are trains that run on time, with guaranteed (clean and roomy) seating. More people would use trains if these things were addressed.

      Forget a grandiose project that would only serve a fraction of the population and make little difference to overall travelling time (door to door).

  12. oldtimer
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    The cost of the project is now so much higher than originally stated it seems to me it can no longer be justified. There appears to be a stronger argument for developing east-west links in the north.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I see the report into the hugely damaging power cuts to trains, hospitals etc. (at least no one died it seems) seem to blame a lightning strike and thus two power generators going out at almost the same time. Something entirely predictable.

    Not at all it was caused by a lack of sufficient back up of on demand power or spinning reserve (like hydro, gas or coal). This is needed to cover for any breakdown, lightning strikes, lack of wind or sun etc. Far more of it is needed due to the mad dash for so called renewables. This pushes up the true costs of renewables even higher still. Can we have a competent engineer in charge of the Department of Energy please? Not innumerate greencrap, virtue signally, nutters with arts degrees.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      We need big fines to deter/prevent the energy suppliers from cutting their costs of having such back up in place. What was the cost to the economy of the power cut to hospitals, trains, airports, industry, shops and the rest? We also need to kill all the renewable religion subsidies and all the energy market rigging.

      • Mark
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Fines are not the answer – they will only raise customer bills still further. We need BEIS, OFGEM and the Grid to be managed by people who understand the risks that are being run. That means sacking those who are prepared to put the system at risk through over-reliance on renewables and interconnectors.

        I have looked at several incidents from earlier in the year where the frequency almost dropped below the statutory minimum.

        Gridwatch 5 minute data that on 9th of May they lost 1GW from the NEMO interconnector link to Belgium – but there was some 20.7GW of CCGT operating at the time, so no blackout.

        20th June appears to be the loss of ~750MW It would take a lot of effort to pin down the actual station involved, but there was 14.9GW of CCGT at the time.

        11th July appears to have been another big CCGT trip – 1.1GW, but out of 21.5GW of CCGT operational, illustrating the advantage of inertia in containing the problem.

        If they had been operating with the levels of CCGT that we often see at a windy weekend or overnight (under 5GW), these trips would almost certainly have caused blackouts. CCGT provides the essential inertia response that allows other generation the time to ramp up to cover for losses.

        Incidentally, the fancy grid batteries only provided 165MW out of the 227MW they were contracted for according to the initial report. That was the weakest performance of all the various backup sources .

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 24, 2019 at 5:00 am | Permalink

          Fines for the directors personally perhaps!

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    All work and expenditure on HS2 should stop today while any reveiw takes place. It is doing huge harm and wasting large sums of money daily.

  15. agricola
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I would be more impressed were it created to connect Birmingham with Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham,and Newcastle on Tyne. If it is to stimulate growth thst is where it is needed.

    The altenative is an airborne bus service between the above places. I suspect much cheaper to enlarge all the regional airports. When I can travel to Alicante and back much cheaper by air than a peak rail return to London I think it would generate more business than would very expensive HS rail.

    London to Birmingham should be the last link, but my preference is for cancellation and replacement with sir travel.

  16. Newmania
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Instinct says waste of money . It immediately stinks of “grand projet”.. the logic of which is:
    Regional inequality is a problem
    Something must be done
    This is something

    Once started the Concorde syndrome ensures that it cannot be stopped.
    It is currently virtually impossible to travel form East to West along the South coast such is the inadequacy of the road link. Traffic actually has to stack in Worthing because we cannot afford ,a simple by-pass .
    If the South East was a country it would be one of the richest and most populous in the world but the infra structure is abysmal

    HS2 should be cancelled post Brexit we are going to be poorer and more in debt – there are far far more pressing needs

    • Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      And all the roundabouts. For such an important link it is appalling.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      The debacle with the by pass at Worthing has been going on for years. Same as HS2, the government compulsory purchased many lovely properties only to rent them out or sell them off cheap at a later date. The houses look a mess now and the by pass still hasn’t been built. The traffic hold ups are horrendous. Its bad enough to stop ud moving back. The money for HS2 could be better spent on existing rail routes and new road links.

    • NickC
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Newmania, The graph of GDP growth 1950 – 2018 (ONS) clearly shows that the UK was better off out of the EEC/EU. That does not have to repeat (because the EU has damaged us so much) but it is a much better indicator than your biased guess.

  17. Mark B
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Good morning – again

    HS2 Should be stopped. The economic case for such things is lost. It is part of EU rail plan which aims to connect the whole of Europe. Not a bad idea but if the EU want it they can pay for it.

    I think it is hightime we spent more money in the North of England, yes England, improving transport links there. As history has shown, from canals to rail and then motorways, better transport links lead to economic growth. For the record I live in the South of England.

    We need to crack on with Heathrow. The way is clear now so stop dilly-dallying !

  18. James1
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Of course HS2 should be cancelled. It should never have been started. It was a symbol of virtue signalling politicians who have scant regard for how taxpayers money is spent.

  19. Andy
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    HS2 needs to be built – but with three conditions.

    The first is that ALL intercity fast trains need to be taken off other lines which serve the same routes – to free up capacity for commuters on those lines. Sharing fast services with slow stopping services on the West Coast and Chiltern mainlines severely restricts capacity for commuter services on those lines.. This will not just benefit London – taking intercity services off other lines would benefit commuters around Birmingham and Manchester too.

    Secondly, at least two train companies have to be allowed to operate on the line – to guarantee competition.

    Finally, services have to be at least 90% standard class – with a price cap on standard priced tickets to guarantee it is not a rich man’s railway.

    New infrastructure is always expensive. If the Victorians had not taken the hit God knows what we would be travelling on today. HS2 must be built for our children and grandchildren’s generation – and can MPs please now get in with sorting our HS3, HS4, HS5 and so on – and building more roads too.

    Thank you.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      The Victorians had lots of cheap Labour. Irish navvies built the canals and the railways. Easy to build infrastructure when blokes work 12 hour days for tuppence an hour.

      • NickC
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        Mike Wilson, Do you get anything right? The inland canals (hence ‘navvies’) were mostly built before the Victorian era. The living standards of working people dramatically improved during Victoria’s reign. Pay went up and hours went down – typical factory hours being 57 in 1870. So not 12 hour days, and not tuppence an hour.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      And no strikes!

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      The railways were built for freight, not passengers.

  20. 'None of the above'.
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I have always had my doubts that spending a huge amount of money to reduce the journey time from Birmingham to London by half hour was not good value. I realise that there would be a knock on effect for other elements of that journey but it remains my view that the connections within the north of England itself were far more worthy of investment.
    I hope it is cancelled and the money put to better use.

  21. Sea Warrior
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I didn’t believe that the original business case, with HS2’s alleged benefits, made much sense. But now we are in the situation of the project ALREADY being likely to go way over budget. We have wasted billions, forced people out of their homes and destroyed or uprooted businesses. I hope that Boris will now show the moral courage and fiscal discipline to scrap it. Instead, let’s use the original budgeted amount, less the sunk costs, and spend that on projects (tram, bus or rail) that improve the travel experience (comfort, speed or cost) of those with commutes to work of 80 minutes or less. That would makegood political and economic sense.
    P.S. I live only about one hundred miles from London. The best commuting time (using the train) is 1 hr 40 mins, to which I would have to add a 22 minute walk to the station, and Tube journey time from Waterloo to my place of work.

  22. Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    I would have HS2 cancelled, mainly due to the ever growing costs associated with it – but we’ve already spent a huge sum on this white elephant..
    What would make sense would be to make use of whatever has been done so far to improve rail links and boost facilities where feasible…. By all means let us consider that we need such rail links that HS2 provides, but do it on a piecemeal basis by improving the infrastructure at local levels – Then at some future date link everything together…

    I’m sure commuters would rather see improvements in their journey to their own big cities than consider a regular trip from Scotland to London by allegedly super-fast luxury trains.

  23. Steve Reay
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    It should start from the borders downwards and then relocate parliament in the North, best in Hartlepool, it needs regeneration.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      hilarious.

    • steve
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Steve Reay

      Parliament in Hartlepool, interesting idea. Be a fitting place to send the monkeys, going by what happened to the last one.

    • Gary C
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      “relocate parliament in the North, best in Hartlepool, it needs regeneration.”

      While we do need somewhere to house the treacherous remainers you have to ask whether Hartlepool really do deserve them!

  24. Excalibur
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I think the sensible option would be to give pause at this pre-Brexit juncture. Cancel the project forthwith. It is too expensive. Railway requirements can be reviewed again once the Brexit bonus has been realized and we are in a position to carefully manage our own finances without foreign interference.

  25. Julie Williams
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    No good putting lipstick on a pig.
    The money would be better spent on improving existing infrastructure and rolling stock…someone has even suggested that the trains will go slower on HS2 to save money.
    Let’s face it, we can’t bring big projects in anywhere be a budget yet no-one is ever held to account.
    I don’t know anything about a northern cross county line , at least it would be innovative and provide a service where there aren’t two lines already!
    For goodness sake, make up your minds on both projects quickly and sensibly, th I had blighted enough people’s lives and possibly mental wellbeing long enough.
    I say this as a dispassionate observer.

  26. Leaver
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I think we have to support HS2.

    It’s a big deal for the north.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      You’ll see nothing before 2030 and then be totally unimpressed.

      • Andy
        Posted August 24, 2019 at 12:37 am | Permalink

        Like Brexit.

    • NickC
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Leaver, No, it isn’t a “big deal for the North”. It is a white elephant and can be seen to be so, all round the country.

  27. Andrew Barnby
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t go via Heathrow nor does it deliver passengers to a city centre outside of London. It should indeed be scrapped.

  28. Timaction
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I think that this was an EU driven project that should be abandoned as the cost/benefit analysis would suggest the money should be spent on our roads network and the number of people living here reduced!

  29. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    At 400 million a mile the costs are LUDICROUS! Scrap it and spend some of the money on better signalling, longer platforms where needed etc.

  30. jerry
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    HS2 is not needed, considering the point-to-point time savings, we are to obsessed with speed as if time on a train is lost time!

    These days with WiFi and Laptop/tablet computing it is probably more important to give passengers space to use such devices (does any TOC offer a printing service on their trains?), and more frequent services. Also of importance are new or rebuilt lines such as the trance-Pennine route, a second Brighton mainline, a new west of England route away from the troublesome seawall at Dawlish etc.

    We need to get the slower freight trains, and to a lesser extent secondary point-to-point passenger services away from the main lines, this is were the capacity problem is, any route is only as good as the slowest, longest, heaviest train running on it -types of signalling or driver-less systems do not change that.

    I have said this before, using a fraction of the money HS2 is likely to cost would allow the UK to (re)build a network of predominantly fright orientated routes and the necessary road-rail transfer yards using existing under used secondary or branch lines or the trackbed of routes closed under the Beeching era cuts.

    The media was full of cancellation doom and gloom yesterday, showing swaths of land being cleared for HS2 infrastructure, as if it would remain a wasteland without HS2, nonsense of course as developers like nothing better than a cleared area and a blank sheet of paper on the drawing board, we might criticise inner city post-war developments today but 70 years ago they were the future…

  31. Gordon Nottingham
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I cannot see ANY benefits in HS2, put the £100B? with the £39B in our coffers and spend it wisely.

  32. Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    It looked from the start to be an expensive political vanity project with informed people like you raising serious questions about pay back

    If it is cancelled the money has to stay ‘in the railways’. Known pinch points/inefficiencies, low bridges need raising/modern technology to increase capacity etc must be resolved.

    The review should not just look at HS2 in isolation it must match its benefits etc against the benefits of spending on the wider network.

    Yet again I fear the politics will outweigh the commercial business case.

  33. Know-Dice
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Those that live in the Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds areas seem to say that the East/West routes desperately need upgrading, maybe that should be a priority.

    What about all the houses from London to Birmingham that have been “blighted” by being close to the HS2 route. How will they be compensated for the stress, loss of value not to mention the fact that they in many instances have been unable to sell their homes?

    • Shirley
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Demolishing much needed housing for a new line which will have limited, and more expensive, access is folly. Improve the existing railway lines and pathetically overcrowded service.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Stuff ‘em.

  34. Alan Joyce
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    We could always have a referendum on it!

    I predict that the Review will conclude that in theory, HS2 is a good idea. In practice it will turn out to be over budget again and again. The trains will not reach anywhere near their predicted maximum speed. Joe Public will not be able to afford to travel on it. Furthermore. it is too late to cancel because £7.5 billion has already been spent on it. And what about all the house and land purchases?

    The entire HS2 ‘Y’ network will total some 330 miles. At a cost of say £100 billion, that works out at a bargain basement £303 million per mile. Or a trifling £172, 176 per yard. Or just £4,783 per inch.

    Scrap this out-of-control monstrosity NOW and spend the money on improving existing road and rail links that will improve the daily lives of most citizens of the UK.

    • James1
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Privatise the railways properly, the way it was developed in the first place. At present the track is nationalised and run by politicians and bureaucrats. The services are operated by private companies. Inevitably the two factions argue with and blame each other for any delays, shortcomings, mistakes and disappointments. Get the government out of having anything to do with running railways, they know nothing about it, as has been witnessed recently under commodore Grayling. Get (highest bidder) companies in who totally own the routes and against competition must of necessity serve the best interests of their customers by providing acceptable services.

  35. NigelE
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Cancell HS2. Use the money more sensibly.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Dear Nigel–That begs the question what is sensible. To me, never got close to understanding why go in to Euston with the obvious vast disruption and cost. Terminus should be just North of London on old Grand or Great or whatever it is Central Railway which should be re-used with bridges and tunnels already at larger clearances. Your actual businessman with his laptop is not going to find it much harder, might be easier, to get to a Terminus on or just ouside the M25 than to Euston. Not many businessmen are going to live within walking distance of Euston so intra London congestion made worse. And besides I thought and still think that the obvious original rationale for the thing was to extend HS1 for travel eg between Manchester and Madrid or Marseille eventually, and that that made a lot of sense.

  36. Woody
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It does seem somewhat London centric to try to speed up travel between north and south when many of our main ports are in northern cities, and we will need these ports more and more as we progress in trade with the world. Far more sense to speed up transport between our northern cities.

    • Gareth Warren
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Absolutely agree it should be scrapped.

      If we leave the EU I expect the economy of the north to vastly increase, better rail links to ports would be nice. The country also needs a good baseline electricity power generation so more nuclear also looks sensible.

      When a technology like hyperloop is perfected we should use it for HS2, until then it is not enough of a speed improvement.

  37. Ian Wragg
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The biggest white Elephant in history. A bottomless money pit that will only benefit contractors many of which will be foreign.
    19th century technology which will be obsolete when completed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Not however as expensive as Ed Millibands Climate Change Act (that nearly every MP voted for) or the appalling zero carbon nonsense coming out of the Parliamentary Science the Technology Committee.

      We are government by scientifically illiterate idiots who have been infected with the green religion.

  38. Alec
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    It’s a scam. Vast uncontrolled costs for miniscule benefits, except ,of course, for the insiders. All those shareholders, directors and political “consultants” get nice fat payouts whilst the rest of us foot the bill and a lot of people lose their homes and business (just like the Olympic scam). If it’s such a great idea let it be built by private capital who will have to absorb the full, actual, cost of the acheme.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      No one sensible would invest their private funds into it. It is indeed a scam against the tax payer – as so much of current government is alas. Look at the renewable energy subsidies for another appalling example.

  39. JoolsB
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I live down here in the southwest and it takes me anything from 5 1/2 to 6 hours on the train to London. We struggle just to get funding for Dawlish when it collapses into the sea. It’s all about the north with this Tory Government in a bid to get those Labour votes just as it is with Labour to keep all those Labour votes. Meanwhile the rest of England gets neglected. The Tories carry on taking the Conservative voting parts of England for granted. They do so at their peril.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Indeed the Tories are mainly a party of England yet they they kick it or tax it to death every chance they get.

      Allister Heath is good today as usual in the Telegraph. “Farage must be prepared to stand down his victorious Brexit Party.”

      I think he will do some deal but only if Boris can deliver a clean Brexit and is not stopped by Bercow and the many remoaner/traitors in the Conservative Party who want to kill Brexit and their party.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Jools, the talk is all about the North but on the ground, it’s anything but the case. Public transport is unconnected and doesn’t go into the major cities regularly, a 52-minute car journey of 34 miles, for example, on public transport takes three hours with a one hour bus to the train station which doesn’t connect to the train time so waiting around, a train only once per hour taking one hour, and a 20 minute walk to the University.

      I agree with you about awful poor train services to the South West that’s why people don’t let the train take the strain for summer holidays in your beautiful part of the Country when you can fly for less than train to the SouthWest you are losing out on holidaymakers unnecessarily.

  40. Fred H
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Labour introduced it, Cameron had the chance to stop it in its tracks (boom boom!). For such a short route, a third of miles requiring tunnelling, for so few travellers with little journey time saved – a white elephant if there was one. Indeed, other connections between towns and cities are more important, largely ignored. Cost overruns, questionable management, even honesty. We have had Project Fear – this is Project Pipedream.
    CANCEL.

    • MickN
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      And was it not another example of the idiocy of the so called “Lord Adonis”?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Spot on and do it today to save any more waste and damage being done.

  41. A.Sedgwick
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    HS2 is a joke decision to build and a no brainer to cancel. May’s decisions to continue with it and Hinkley C were early confirmation of her being unfit for any job requiring business acumen and clear thinking.

    Farage’s programme on LBC last night was devoted to this topic and comments were generally scathing. A few supported HS3: Liverpool to Hull or Scotland down. NF said it was a subject he had campaigned against with meetings along the route for some years and he is right again. Maybe he should stand for Buckingham again.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Exactly and indeed we certainly need rid of the appalling Bercow.

  42. MikeP
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    We benefit in the South-East from many rail travel operators, destinations and all with some of the most modern rolling stock in the country. The same is not true of the North. There seems to have been an unwillingness to invest to the same degree across a great swathe of the country’s industrial heartlands. HS2 should not be built until this deficiency is remedied.
    Route upgrades and new rolling stock to properly underpin the “Northern Powerhouse” should be prioritised. But that’s not to say that the WCML capacity issue will go away or can be fixed with new signalling alone, we really need a parallel high speed route between London and Birmingham too, to release capacity for more freight and slower services on the West Coast.
    I travelled past some of the early work on new depots at Old Oak Common this week. Impressive as it is, it’s providing yet more employment for the South, more connectivity for the South (in time) and all the while the services between Hull, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool are a disgrace. Get those fixed first.

  43. BJC
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I recall Chris Grayling informing the public that HS2 was needed because of issues with capacity. Fair enough, but wouldn’t it have made more sense. and attracted more support if resources had been put into areas directly affected by these issues? HS2 puts all eggs into one obscenely expensive vanity project, with no guarantee it can or will deliver the objective of removing bottlenecks miles away, whilst providing an open-ended license to print money for investors.

    For decades, successive governments have been seduced by the siren voices of global corporates whose sole focus is on acquiring an advantageous and unchallenged position to increase their profits, not the long-term needs of a competitive UK. We should dump these “lotharios” and recognise the benefits of achieving our overall goals in smaller, more effective chunks (good old Pareto!), which also offers more protection when the economy is under stress.

  44. Bob
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Cut your losses, or rather our losses.

    BTW, it looks like the WA is back on.
    Boris has 30 days to solve the imaginary Irish Border problem, although 30 minutes would have been more than adequate.

    • NickC
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Bob, Yes, it does look like the dWA is back on. And it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

      Either Boris knows it’s not just the “backstop” which is a problem, or he doesn’t. If he knows, then he is misleading Merkel and the EU. If he doesn’t, he is misleading Leaves. Either way, Boris and the Tory government are headed for catastrophe.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Indeed the totally Imaginary Irish Border Problem! The dire BBC appalling pushing the “threats violence resumptions” yet again today. On the Today programme.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        It’s more than a threat. A reportedly-loyalist was shot dead at a filling station just the other day.

        • Jiminyjim
          Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          These isolated incidents have been continuing since the Good Friday agreement was signed, nothing at all to do with Brexit

        • Mark
          Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          It’s certainly not the British government that is making any threat of violence. Those noises seem to have come from other governments who seem keen to stir the pot. Utterly shameful.

  45. StephenJ
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I understood that we were leaving the European Union?

    Why on earth would we persist with its infrastructure plans if we are no longer part of them?

    Many of the closures that took place following the Beeching report, which were in turn a result of the Labour party’s devotion to steam engines and footplatemen.

    For us in Britain where most business activity (as everywhere) takes place entirely within our borders, the important infrastructure is that between the various towns and cities. It is only the Brussels mob that regard London as the entire UK.

    So yes HS2 should be scrapped and if we really believe that steel rails are the future, we should renovate/reopen some of the interconnections that were closed in the 1960’s.

    • Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your last paragraph. As ‘capacity’ is the problem, address it in those particular places, by utilising what’s already there.
      Door-to-door journey time is more important to travellers than time spent on the train itself.

  46. Walt
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    We should spend our money on what makes a real difference, improving our railways throughout the country, not blow the budget on one grandiose and disruptive scheme that does little or nothing to relieve the problems of everyday travellers. Think daily commuters to and from London and between the big cities in the north of England; the London underground; the West Country line that is repeatedly closed by flooding east of Exeter and by proximity to the sea at Dawlish (tunnel under the Haldon hills please), etc.

  47. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I live in the North West of England and never wanted ths HS2, sill don’t and don’t know anyone who does. That so much money has already been spent with nothing tangible to show is disgraceful.

  48. Annette
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Once we have left the EU we will no longer be obligated to follow EU Directives, thus allowing a proper cost/benefit analysis of HS2/3 and other alternatives to our transport infrastructure. As seemingly with everything EU, we are being forced to implement designs from 20/30 years ago which do not necessarily meet the needs of our current & future strategies, nor assist in the growth of ‘outside London’ regional economies.

    At the time the TENs were outlined in the Treaty of Rome, the original Trans-European Network Member States were not obliged to upgrade or complete existing infrastructure. But this changed when such obligations were included in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.

    In 2011 the European Commission put forward two more proposals which significantly overhauled the operation of TEN-T. The first moved the programme from a voluntary to a compulsory basis (i.e. Member States would be forced to introduce transport network changes specified in an EU Regulation). For this, the UK Government estimates it would cost between £64 and £137 billion. The second proposal was for a Connecting Europe Facility to put the budget for TEN-T on a multi-year footing and this would obviously see a significant increase to the budget.

    However, following the European Commission’s proposals of 2011, Britain has no choice but to build the HS2 and then to bear the costs. Along with all the other Trans-European Networks, it is no longer a voluntary programme, but is obligatory.

    Vanity project, yes, but of the EU setting out its infrastructure for its developing ‘Superstate’.

  49. Lifelogic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    A long interview with Dorothy Byrne (Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4 Television) going on about impartiality on TV. She sounded tedious, patronising, totally misguided and rather dim. Rather in the Theresa May mode.

    What on earth is impartial about Channel Four? It has the same misguided agenda as the BBC, the Observer and the Guardian.

    It is very pro EU, for ever higher taxes (and ever more regulation of everything), for the dire state monopolies and lack of choice (especially in health car and education), for state subsidised housing, for open door immigration, was for the ERM/EURO, for ever more political correctness, for more employment restrictions, for being soft on crime, for trains, bikes and public transport against cars, planes, trucks, for endless climate alarmism, anti GM, anti USA, anti private landlords, anti-freedom, against democracy, against fracking, for anti male discrimination …. wrong on every single one of these issues in fact.

    Ms Byrne alas thinks that Journalists like herself know best – so the ignorant little people should shut up and listen to her and channel 4 think. Unfortunately so few Journalists know very much science, economics, engineering, maths or business – even the ones reporting on these areas. Many of them demonstrate this nearly every time they report on these things.

    People like etc ed

  50. percy openshaw
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    It must be stopped. What a colossal waste of money! Money which might be spent by those from whom it is filched in the first place – the taxpayers; or which, at least, might be spent on things we actually need. It is a vanity project. It will suck people away from the north, further congest London, fail to address the issue of capacity and knock a nugatory amount of travelling time from the journeys of passengers who now have computers anyway. Anything cooked up between an incompetent like Osborne and a fanatic like Adonis is bound to be a disaster.

  51. Edward2
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The CBI says it is a great project.
    Well if that is correct why are no CBI companies rushing in to invest ?
    Maybe Boris shoul slap a 10% tax on turnover on these big companies to help them get involved.

  52. a-tracy
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    The current trains from Euston to Warrington take 1hr 50 to 2hrs 20mins 190 miles, Warrington to Glasgow 2hrs 45 to 3hrs 15 mins 200 miles – one hour longer.

    How much faster will HS2 make Central London to Crewe than its current 1hr 40 mins (which usually involves a stop in Stafford or Milton Keynes)? Or Birmingham from London current time 1 hr 20 mins?

    Personally i’d prefer some improvements to get people to main line stations when they aren’t sited in the best places. Crewe station isn’t connected to the centre or other public transport. Warrington station isn’t connected to public transport. You can’t get from Cheshire West to Manchester, towns with over 30,000 people can’t get a train to their nearest city 17 miles away where all the test centres etc. are sited with no parking spaces but no public transport either! There is just no joined up thinking. Stoke station is no where near Hanley which killed off Stoke City Centre – taxis cost a lot of money so using trains then becomes prohibitive and people get stranded or face 2 hour journeys for a 30 minute car ride.

  53. cynic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Old technology and not cost effective.

    There are many better ways to spend money on infrastructure which will benefit the economy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the best on would be to give the money back to the tax payers they would spend it about 100 times more efficiently. Without any of the costs of collection and admin too.

  54. Lifelogic
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    We clearly have many complete idiots on the Science and Technology Committee.

    “Although ultra-low emissions vehicles generate very little emissions during use, their manufacture generates substantial emissions. In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership therefore does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation”

    https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2017/clean-growth-report-published-17-19/

    They still seem to think public transport (buses, trains) and bikes are more carbon efficient than modern cars. Often door to door (with staffing tracks etc considered) they are not at all.

    Bikes are fuelled by food which is not very efficient at all unless you eat just raw porridge or similar. Five people cycling from say London to Manchester miles is far less efficient than putting five people in a car. And they would need hotels, showers, their clothes washing and more hospitals for them after any accidents! Not to mention the huge decrease in productivity as it would take days to do the journey.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Do any of the members of this Committee have any real understanding of Science or Technology. They certainly do not seem to have.

      Why on earth is someone sensible in the Lord Peter Lilley mode not on it?

  55. Warren
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    I too believe that the HS2 project is a waste of money. It would be much more sensible to enhance our existing infrastructure, particularly those that link decrepit areas throughout the UK to the main cities.

  56. rose
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I can sympathise with George Osborne going on a bullet train in Japan and wanting that here. There is a lot about Japan I would like here. But in the meantime, I would much prefer the HS2 money to be spent in the West Country and Wales, bringing the trains and their unreliable connections up to scratch. All the talk is of the North, for obvious political reasons, but don’t forget the West Country and Wales could go Liberal as well as Socialist.

  57. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    This project should never have been signed off. There are better, cheaper ways to improve capacity countrywide and yes improvements should start in the North first.

    How much money has already been spent on this white elephant?

  58. bigneil
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    ” possible cost escalation, ” ??? – POSSIBLE??? -the govt ( BOTH parties ) is well known for starting any big project at a cost – -then up it goes – and on and on and on it goes – – and up and up it goes. So called experts plan it and give a cost – and NEVER get it right. But it doesn’t matter – after all it is only taxpayers money – and we all know what contempt govt has for the taxpayer.
    Govt policy towards the taxpayer – lie to them, take their money – ignore them, take more money. Keep lying and taking.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      “and we all know what contempt govt has for the taxpayer” surely not? Hammond, Osborne and Cameron claimed to be low tax at heart people did they not. Alas never low tax in reality with the highest and most absurd taxes for 50 years.

      Javid too claims to be a low tax person we shall see what he does but he has not said much yet other than a daft suggestion on stamp duty.

  59. Nordisch geo climber
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    No brainer! CANCEL! 200 better ways to fixe this broken country – Number 1 is repeal the CCA!

  60. NickC
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    JR, HS2 should be scrapped.

    HS2 is a bolt on answer to the wrong question. Massive problems exist in our infrastructure. The cause of those problems are many and varied. One of the main causes is a tide of immigration – more than 9m by official estimates, almost certainly much more (ONS with egg on its face). Another major problem is that we no longer work locally. That helps to create the paralysing rush-hours.

    First find out what the real problems are, then the answers tend to be obvious. Those answers are not the grandiose schemes (wheezes) and top down “reorganisations” so favoured by politicians.

  61. Original Richard
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    We do not need an ungreen (noisy and fuel inefficient, expensive-to-maintain) high speed track that will only be affordable by those travelling at the expense of the taxpayer but a new broad gauge track (Brunel’s 7ft ¼”) to provide the cheaper and higher capacity transport needed.

    Using the aircraft analogy, we need wide bodied jets and not Concordes.

  62. Shirley
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    HS2 is a huge amount of money for little benefit (20 mins saved?) The money would be better used to improve existing rail services.

    I doubt few in the North would be able to afford to use HS2 anyway. How about benefitting the many, rather than the few wealthy users of trains?

  63. Iain Moore
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    An expensive vanity project that tears up a chunk of England’s precious countryside . Scrap it. Looking at the decrepit rail infrastructure in the North of England a better return for investment could be had there than the much indulged London. The A303 upgrade in the SW of England has a better capital return than HS2 , but we are still waiting for that.

    PS With the Scottish Civil Service detailing the 7% Scottish deficit, which I presume England is bankrolling as we are also subbing Wales and Northern Ireland. I suppose that also means we are the mugs picking up the £10 billion bill for the EU which subs half of the EU , and the £14 billion bill for Aid for half the world. So I suppose it isn’t surprising things look pretty threadbare in England, for the British establishment has half the world picking our pocket.

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Spot on Iain – it seems English taxes, courtesy of a Tory Government at that, are for the benefit of the rest of the UK and world – everywhere except England. The only time England exists for them is when they want our votes.

  64. William Long
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The only justification for HS2 would be if there was a convincing business and economic case for it. From everything we have seen so far, from the House of Lords downwards, that never existed, and any glimmer of reason for it is vanishing into the indiscernable distance as the cost estimates mount.
    It is not as if the existing railway network is in apple pie order: here in the South West we get cut off almost every time a South Westerly gale coincides with a high tide. The danger of this happening was recognised as long ago as the 1930s and the building of a new route avoiding the seashore was only stopped by the outbreak of war.
    When I was in full time employment I frequently had to go to the North West (Manchester and latterly Liverpool) from London and appart from the cost, the journey by rail was not to bad. Now if I need to go there I fly which is much quicker and cheaper than any train.
    I am in little doubt that there are better ways of spending the money.

  65. Burning injustice
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    A classic of the grand projet genre: originated as a political gesture in the latter days of the Labour administration; original business case now redundant with the passage of time and improvements in communication technologies; escalating costs and timescales yet still mere estimates; has taken on a life of its own, sustained by entrenched interests and a vague feeling that any infrastructure spend is a general good.

    The choice of chairman of the review raises troubling questions as to its independence.

  66. formula57
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I found your revenues and costs analysis persuasive and so remain opposed to HS2, particularly whilst other railway and transport projects seem very much more worthwhile.

  67. Jiminyjim
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Look at the cost justification, which was the usual government nonsense, ie that billions would be saved in productivity by business people. The assumption was that they all sit on the train doing nothing. With just a modicum of common sense it would be cancelled. It’s a colossal waste of money

  68. George Brooks
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    It should definitely be CANCELLED. A complete waste of money.

    The need is to make travel easier between our major cities not spend a fortune clipping a few minutes off the journey time.

    Discussing this the other day with a good friend, who many years ago headed up Brit Rails research and development unit of 700 technicians in Derby, his advice was to add to the existing tracks so that more fast trains can run. The cost of additional land would be a fraction of the HS2 land-grab. Current tracks for reginal trains can be upgraded to fast train track for intercity services and the reginal trains can be moved on to the additional track.

    No new stations needed as existing ones can be modified and we don’t have to wait a decade or more before getting any benefit. The new track can go into several areas at the same time to relieve pressure and improve service where it is most needed.

    We get an improved service at an affordable price not a politicians icon at a ridiculous cost

  69. Raymond
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I have just been reading a summary of the debates about the cost of introducing pensions in the UK in 1908 when the cost was estimated to be £7,000,000-£11,000,000. HS2 is estimated at £60,000,000,000. Given the reliability of rail infrastructure estimates my guess would be £100,000,000,000. I would pause for thought before going ahead with it. It may be that better use can be made of tax payers money.

    I don’t know enough about HS2 to have a definitive opinion.

  70. Anonymous
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It would be far better spent on improving existing infrastructure. It could benefit the whole nation rather than just one region.

  71. Christine
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Cancel it. I regularly travel between the north and London and have never had a problem. However, try and get a local train into Manchester at rush hour and it’s standing room only.

    Spend the money on local services.

    Also the cost of buses where I live is astronomical whereas in London it’s subsidised and they get free travel passes at 60.

    Improve the internet and mobile phone signals. Where I live I can’t even get a mobile phone signal. Travelling by train from Essex last weekend the internet dropped out constantly during the journey.

  72. AndyC
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    HS2 would seem to offer very little benefit for the proposed costs. It’s sort of a nice and shiny thing to have, but I don’t really trust the financial motives of the people pushing it.

    Better regional connections would be far more useful. The link between Manchester and London is already pretty good, but connectivity between major cities such as Manchester, Leeds or Birmingham is poor. The Manchester to Sheffield line is still using chug chug Pacer trains, despite promises they would have been phased out by now.

    Oh, and double decker trains. They would add a lot of capacity to existing lines. I’m not interested in the argument about low bridges; dig under them if they can’t be raised! Other countries manage it.

    • graham1946
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Double deckers good idea – surely they could be built low, between the axles? Is there any reason why the floor of a train has to be 5ft. off the ground? Cars used to be like that too until the mini came along, many had running boards to help climb into them. A bit simplistic, but why not?

  73. BR
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    It seems reasonable to have a fast rail link but it’s not the biggest problem in connectivity. East-West is also a problem in various areas of the country (although some areas of natural beauty are not easy to do this, nor is it necessarily desirable to increase the number of people visiting).

    Whatever it may have been at first, the question now is not “Would we start this now?” but “Should we finish this now?”. That’s a much harder question, since we don’t know where they are and how much work they have left to do. Nor do we understand the reasons for the cost overrun nor what we would be obliged to pay to the firms who have the contracts for this if it were cancelled.

    Is it a case of simply saying “Project over” and we, the taxpayer, walk away with no further outlay? Or are there penalty termination clauses in the contracts? All of that must be taken into account.

    Why do governments never invite tenders based on fixed costs? Shifting the risk to the supplier is an obvious step, the current tendering system allows people to win the business with a low quote and inflate the price later. Is it not completely obvious to the village idiot how easy it is to game that approach?

  74. Pud
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The train journey time from Birmingham to London is already faster than going by road (comparing National Rail website and Google maps), so I wonder who is meant to be attracted by the faster travel time promised at vast cost by HS2?

    • Mark
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps if your “London” destination is close to Euston, and you are starting from Solihull next to Birmingham International. But if you want to get from say Wolverhampton to Dartford you would almost certainly be quicker to drive. The catchment area where the train wins is quite small, especially when you take account of the timetable.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      depends where you start journey from! For most around London it is crazy to get to Euston, making the journey stupid.

  75. BOF
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Surely, I can add nothing that has not already been said here and everywhere else.

    For goodness sake, just scrap the whole thing and use the money to improve all the other lines.

  76. The Prangwizard
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    OT But we were all told it would be new approach to Brexit with Boris. He said the EU would need to come up with something before I talk. Then he said the only backstop would have to go before he would talk and gave the impression he wouldn’t go runnng over to meet anyone.

    Now it’s back to the exact same position as with May. Germany says you Boris have come up with something before we talk. Boris says “yes, of course I will”.

    He’s weak, all bluster and no backbone. Appeasement of Germany as still our foreign policy.

    SELL OUT.

    • Shirley
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry. Whatever solution (even a miracle) that Boris comes up with will be rejected, because the EU do not want a solution to the backstop. They WANT the backstop so they can continue to control the UK, for ever and ever and ever. Amen.

      I hope Boris goes for a WTO exit.

      • rose
        Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        He also has to keep talking to the Franco-German Axis to avoid trouble in Parliament with remain Conservative MPs. They can’t bring him or his policy down while he is thus engaged.

    • Frankh
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Don’t know how Boris can say there will be no border from UK side in NI. If we go to WTO rules we’ll be obliged to put a border

  77. BR
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    P.S. The upcoming driverless cars tech should be in the frame here in any decision. Perhaps the land that has been reserved for HS2 can instead be used to build the world’s first driverless motorway – BUT… for freight only at this time.

    This allows a degree of testing without people being at risk, only goods. It also allows government to recoup the costs by charging businesses to use the system – government should be providing the driverless ‘freight pods’ as well, to avoid a minestrone of different systems of software and hardware trying to work in the same place.

    A gradual move towards allowing other systems in and eventually pods with people in them once the tech is proven would help smooth the way from where we are now to a gradually-implemented and tested driverless future.

    Given the (highly desirable) tech on the horizon, trains seem rather akin to investing in horse-drawn carriages.

  78. Richard1
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Cancel please. £100bn in all must mean £7-8bn or so pa for the next 12-15 years (the time will overrun as well as the costs). Far better to spend on road improvements, rail improvements where needed, Port improvements (excellent article on the need to become less dependent on Dover-Calais by Ambrose Evans Pritchard in the Telegraph today). Maybe even a trial super modern hyper loop railway in the north. All could be done within this budget. It will free up significant sums for the budget and be a vote winner to announce its cancellation.

  79. BW
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    I didn’t agree with HS2 but the question now is how much in compensation to all those firms geared up for it and all those homes blighted for years will it cost. Probably more than building it.

  80. Yossarion
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    There are what looks like gallows on the A350 at Chippenham, this is a gantry that was erected for the now canceled over head lines into Bristol, it would be nice if those ares that have had to watch the rest of England have by passes built and electrification of their railways have their roads and railways upgraded before they get another round of funding.
    We had new trains recently, well no we got the old stock repainted that was introduced in the late eighties for Reading to Paddington work.

  81. J. Stow
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Re HS2. Senseless project from the start. Needs to be stopped now. No point throwing good money after bad. And surely what is really needed is a good link from Liverpool to Hull which also has the added advantage of one port to another.

  82. Tony Sharp
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    This si an EU led integrationist project which has nothing to do with UK rail needs. Cancel forthwith and outright. A lot of money can be recouped from the land purchased and resold. If such sums are available for what is essentially a vanity project, why is the excuse of ‘no money’ used to deny small local electrifcations and infrastructural segments in the local rail systems? The Welsh Borders – Wirral line into Liverpool which disconnects at Bidston, the refusal to electrify the freigth line into Mersey Docks which would double as a new commuter line (Beechinged) in that area, the inability to reinstate (Beechinged) two ‘curves’ to connect Southport/Preston/ Manchester/ Liverpool efficiently through Burscough. There are many others all over the North and they are modest and massively cost effective as proven by major passenger increases with similar minor works.

  83. Ian!
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    HS2 was dead before it was announced. Old, last century technology that solved nothing.

    The real situation is not the once in a while journey, but the every day commute. As you are aware Sir John as you have mentioned it before, Wokingham to Waterloo is dire on a good day. I would guess the majority of commuters through out the UK suffer the same.

    Some would suggest a driverless future is the answer or even more electric cars. Even here there has to be a pause for thought, electricity where is it going to come from? Trains, cars, homes, places of work all have a massive demand for it. Batteries where do you find enough nickel to meet demand. No nickel equals no batteries. For the May Government (2050) future it required the UK to consume twice as much nickel that is know to exist on this planet leaving nothing for anyone else. Strange woman

    Suggesting a future, without thinking of the ‘fuel/energy’ resource identifies these romantic projects as ego trips.

    There are answers but they are not headline grabbing enough to feed the egos of the Political Class. Along with the situation of ducking what really needs to be done and yes it is a bit more expensive. Clusters/webs of mini Thorium power generators are needed. Our roads need to have charging cabling imbedded i.e. the main carriageways. It works and it will reduce the uncertainty of nickel dependency. Railways need to move to ‘maglev’ they are expensive to implement but considerable cheaper to run and maintain.

    As always do you spend the money up front, to ensure an effective cheaper future. Or as now just chuck money at it because it will keep the critics quiet knowing that it will get more expensive as time goes by?

  84. Stuart Farmer
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I live close to Toton sidings where the station is to be built.
    During the Thatcher era, our MP was Angela Knight.
    I went to a number of public meetings, and Angela said that the Conservatives where earmarking Toton as a freight hub to get lorries off the road. Em – never happened.

    I listened to all the select committee broadcasts on TV about HS2. All the mandatory requirements for good connectivity have been ignored.

    It will take far longer with HS2 to get to/from Nottingham or Derby toLondon, even if they build the extension to the existing tram. (Takes about 42 mins if you are lucky just from Toton to Nottingham)

    The travelling HS2 promotional events exercise had a group of “experts” to answer questions. All the extra costs for altering the busy A52 road and cost of disruption is to be paid for out of local taxation. Other compensation payments are also to be paid from local taxation.

    Businesses are currently (from my understanding at public meetings at the local council office) wanting to, or already planning to leave the area.

    HS2 will only provide limited benefit to a few that can afford it- and will just increase migration of jobs for London’s benefit.

    I wax employed in the IT sector, and many of our clients were in manufacturing. is a Manufacturing no more.

    Angela Knight (ex Conservative MP) was informed that the only freight going to other way as exports would be fresh air.

    Seems to me that current obsession with HS2 is very expensive hot air.

  85. kzb
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The real purpose of HS2 growing London’s commuter zone and putting up property prices in that area.
    Stop this insane way of looking at the economy. The best use of c. £80bn would be to build tube systems in our major cities outside London.

  86. Treacle
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Out there in the country no one wants it. Politicians love enormous white-elephant vanity projects, and this is one. Yesterday on Radio 4 Alastair Darling set out all the reasons why it must be scrapped. We simply don’t need trains that travel at 400 kph and stop virtually nowhere. What we do need are improvements to our existing rail infrastructure.

  87. Fred H
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    There are very good reasons to direct studies on many towns and cities, intention being to determine what road, rail, underground, short tram systems etc would reduce existing and forecast logjams in transport. Then, once a preferred development is chosen, it should be studied to identify how best to link to other towns/cities surrounding it. Most likely a hub located outside the chosen location.

    Other road bypasses, rail stations needing track crossovers (such as succesful at Reading), longer platforms, revised and weather-proofing of equipment, even more motorway access links to A roads to ease on/off traffic – all worthwhile.

  88. lojolondon
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    HS2 is a very bad idea – there is no justification for it. Instead of the current, more realistic budget of £85 Billion, we should spend £1 Billion on super-fast broadband for everywhere, and put £84 Billion towards other useful things, like NHS, police, border agency and paying down the deficit.

  89. tim
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    SMOKE SCREEN, BREXIT BETRAYAL BORRIS

  90. ferdinand
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Compared with other countries with High Speed trains we are a small landmass. We cannot travel at high speed for long so much of the advantage over slower trains disappears. Then on cost grounds there are much more advantageous rail developments then a fast London to Birmingham

  91. The Prangwizard
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I was in favour of a high speed train service intially but went off the whole thing when it was obvious that first costs were calculated on a ‘finger in the air’ basis, and they are now clearly out of control and, unlike our host who went into party loyalty mode claiming to believe the outcome of the last review I stuck the belief it was a nonsense and a stitchup, and part of am EU programme zi suspect. I had no pressure to contend with of course.

    We should not reset on the basis that these ridiculous sums are acceptable and should be wholly redirected elsewhere but I know nothing of the state of the railways in ‘the north’ and so don’t know if HS whatever ought to be built there.

    In fairness generally though whenever I see trains and stations on TV it’s clear there has been massive improvements in both.

    Is it possible with modern systems to run more local trains to run on main lines between certain through trains and the building of new small stations or simple platform halts in sidings. Maybe this is happening but not on the main line I live near. The trains do seem quieter and quicker since electrification though. It’s not a national system and maybe that is an inhibiter.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted August 22, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      PS. Just remembered that freight trains run on the main line track from time to time so there is room between main line trains for other services and there’s a town half way between two of the cities served. There must be many people who commute from it to one or the other places.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 23, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        more freight should be carried after late evening when passenger services tail off. They are forced to use main lines fitting in between timetabled expresses.
        Track work has to be scheduled more carefully, with greater allowance made for snags.

  92. ASW
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Cancel please. Thin end of a trillion pound wedge as there will be calls for HS3 etc.

  93. Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Virtually everything is London-centric and the HS2 would be better revamped targeting links in the North and middle of the country. To scrap it entirely would squash what little regard the North has for London. But it’s ridiculously expensive as it is, and I hold little trust it would “work effectively”. Boosting links between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the N of England with Midlands, would be a boost that would, for once, ignore London principally.

  94. Mark
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    It is quite clear that HS2 should be cancelled forthwith. Much of the spending at this stage has been on the acquisition of land, and so can be recouped by selling it off again. Large sums have been wasted on consultants’ fees and salaries at HS2 Ltd. which can’t be recouped, and there will be destruction of value arising from demolition. There may also be contract cancellation penalties: these should be carefully scrutinised to see that they are justified on a quantum meruit basis, and where they are not, those who agreed the contracts on behalf of HS2 should be sanctioned. In egregious cases, there might even be grounds to set aside the contract terms as being negotiated ultra vires.

    Reasonable links in the North are clearly important, and while a fast East-West link is desirable, it appears that much of the rail problem is concerned with inadequate commuter provision, particularly into Leeds. The M62 is one of the more heavily loaded motorways with large quantities of truck traffic. Improving transport links in the North is not just about rail, but also about road. It is also about thinking about the future of automated vehicles.

  95. Gareth Warren
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I do wonder if we are looking at the wrong technology, while something like the proposed hyperloop or bullet trains are good for passengers they are not cheap for heavy goods.

    But a canal system would be, slow but low maintenance, it could give Britain the same benefits to industry the Rhine does to Germany. A system designed for special barges could propel them a relatively fast speeds with little maintenance needed, it could also double as a system to transfer reserviors in times of water need.

  96. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    We need shuttle buses between the major London stations. The tube is unendurable. If you live anywhere in the South and want to go anywhere north of London, transfer between stations is a right drag. Black cabs are a rip off.

  97. Andrew S
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I think HS2 should be scrapped and use funds to improve existing throughput, signalling, and track improvements, buy more trains and preferably UK built.
    This will produce greater improvements much faster, and stimulate associated industries and technology development.
    There may be cases for some new line or re-laying old lines where justified and feasible.
    The concern would be who would be decision makers on exactly what steps to take. Network rail; I have no confidence whatsoever in that body. Civil Service; also no confidence whatsoever and they have no idea what they are doing.
    It would best be private sector initiative driven.
    MPs; with rare exception they have no idea what needs doing and entirely do things for the wrong reason aka HS2.

  98. cornishstu
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    The cost both in monetary terms and environmental impact outweighs the benefits big time in my book. The money could be spent elsewhere to the benefit of the majority of the country as opposed to enabling a few to arrive at their destination a little quicker.

  99. Andrew Bodman
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    150,000 people stand on trains into London during the morning three hour peak every weekday. 85% of rail passengers travelling into London do so on local and regional trains from the east and south east regions. What use is an intercity service providing additional capacity from the north west? It will help approximately 4% of these standing passengers at best. What about the other 96%?

    I acknowledge that there are similar overcrowding problems (but on a smaller scale) on trains into major cities such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. HS2 will be of almost no help to them.

    The case for HS2 has been built on numerous falsehoods. The business case assumes that people do not work on trains.

    HS2 Ltd have not carried out a comprehensive and detailed construction cost estimate. A consultant by the name of Michael Byng has done so, using a recognised methodology. He estimates the construction cost of HS2 (phases 1, 2a and 2b) to be more than £100bn, although this excludes the cost of the trains, property compensation and Sir John Armitt’s £43bn connectivity package.

    To encourage additional travel flies in the face of current “green” thinking. HS2’s own forecasts suggests that it will not become green for at least 120 years.

    I would suggest that the North London Line is busier (measured on a trains per track basis) than the West Coast Main Line. Some of the freight trains using this route could more readily use the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route if a small number of relatively low cost improvements were made to the latter. This would also free up more capacity on the West Coast Main Line.

    More seating capacity could be provided on many regional and commuter trains by using more carriages and by having trains with greater capacity for passengers than those currently used.

    The most recent business case for HS2 phase one was published in 2013. We have now reached the point where the costs exceed the claimed (optimistic) benefits. So the project does not offer value for taxpayers’ money.

    HS2 is facing more than one legal challenge and the Serious Fraud Office is also investigating.

    The HS2 project should be stopped while the current review takes place, to avoid the destruction of more properties and numerous woodlands including ancient woodlands. The only work done so far is preparatory such as clearance. Construction has not yet started.

    It would be better to cancel HS2 and invest money into enhancing capacity on overcrowded commuter train routes. I would like to see significantly improved rail capacity between Manchester and Leeds for both passengers and freight, and a speeding up of work on the East West Rail programme (Cambridge to Oxford).

  100. Philip Stephens
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    The question politicians ought to be asking themselves is this: Is HS2 worth doing for three times the price in double the time? Unless the answer is a resounding yes, abandon it. These enormous projects rarely run to budget and are invariably delivered late.

  101. Jonathon Salt
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I could never work out why an eastern end a western route were required for the Northern leg. The most sensible change I saw mooted had the eastern leg only built to North of Sheffield and then it splitting into two at the top of the peak district to run to Manchester and Leeds. Probably saving around £20 billion of the current £86 billion estimate.
    Mind you I still doubt it would prove worthwhile on a genuine cost/ benefit basis

  102. Richard
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Cancel HS2 today please, to minimise sunk costs. The supposed business case for HS2 has more holes in it than a swiss cheese.

    Capacity: “Then HS2 became all about capacity, with ministers claiming existing railways were “full”. But the line into Euston is one of London’s least overcrowded. If tackling overcrowding were the real priority, then other, more congested routes would get the investment first.
    Building an expensive new railway would also be the last resort. It is far more cost-effective to improve the capacity of existing infrastructure by running longer trains, improving signalling and using flexible pricing to smooth out demand.” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/28/hs2-over-budget-unpopular-unjustified-stop-pouring-billions/ Capacity could also be boosted by abolishing first class on certain busy routes.

  103. Posted August 22, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    As I write, the HS2 contractors, despite the “review” continue their wholesale destruction of the land that they have grabbed using Schedule 16 powers.
    They describe their actions as “Temporary” on “Enabling Works”
    In my case its the total destruction of an Ancient Woodland called Poors Piece plus the removal and burning of hedges dating from before the Enclosure Act plus the surrounding 25o acres in a cynical act of scorched earth
    All this despite the fact they have no agreed plan for what they want to build. In my case they are under an obligation imposed by both the House of Commons & House of Lords Select Commitees. And undertakings made to myself and Buckinghamshire County Council. They are destroying the land before they have even submitted plans for approval
    The UK has not the slightest need for elitist inter city rail services, it does however have a crying need for low cost high capacity public transport
    Scrap HS2 and use the money to sort out commuter services, mostly north of Birmingham and use the change to take a fibre optic to every wired telephone in the UK

  104. Stred
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Anyone noticed that the amount wasted on HS2 is around the same as we will be paying to the EU of Boris accepts the WA with a backstop tweak?

  105. Glenn Haldane
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I have always felt that railways were a fine transportation system for the nineteenth century. Their combination of high carrying capacity and inflexible routing make them good for commuters, in large urban areas generally and where there are predictable volumes of heavy goods to be moved on predictable routes. For general transport they are pretty useless. That is why people exploit the autonomy and flexibility of cars, vans and lorries. I always disapprove of politically sanctioned big boys’ trainsets.

    What we actually need is a very large programme for building new roads and improving existing ones. A fraction of the budget for HS2 would transform our transport infrastructure.

  106. Richard416
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    The money would be better spent on improvements to the existing railway. What we need is longer trains and more running lines where trains can pass one another, more train paths. Since nationalisation, British Rail invested progressively in fixed-formation trains and phased out engines and coaches. It may have been a good idea at the time but today it means we have a fleet of short trains which are frequently full up and we can’t make them any longer. BR also removed a lot of passing loops and additional running lines which has made timing a freight train between passenger trains more critical.

  107. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    There is a relatively simple way out of this: complete the London to Birmingham section and tell the HS2 company that unless this is completed within x years and £y billion, the remainder of the project will be cancelled. There would be no cancellation costs because the HS2 would be in breach of contract if it overran.

    After completion of the London to Birmingham section of HS2, the remaining sections should be delayed, with HS3 and northern powerhouse railways receiving priority.

    All of us should remember that there is only so much money that we can spend on railway infrastructure in any one year, which means we have to prioritise. And don’t forget that Crossrail has incurred a cost overrun and a two year time overrun.

  108. Andy
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    They should have restored the old Great Central Main Line which should never have been closed. And money needs to be spent to update the Newcastle to Manchester lines to reduce travel time. The Newcastle to Manchester Airport route badly needs more rolling stock.

  109. BillM
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    HS2 is proving too difficult and far too expensive to proceed. Given that the plan is to open Free Ports in the North of England, money should be spend on upgrading the inter-city railways between these ports and the major cities of the North to create a web of rail links and thus a super infrastructure to promote more business and more jobs.

  110. Marcus
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Why spend so much on HS2 when instead we can improve a lot of what we’ve got. For instance why do I need a train that gets me up the country faster by forty minutes than at present? In fact how many times in any one year do I have to travel up north or from north to south- not many. The whole thing is a smoke screen to keep our minds from dwelling on something much more immediate coming down the tracks

  111. Iain Gill
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I would rather see the money used to improve current routes.

    Like Middlesborough/Sunderland/Newcastle route.

  112. Edwardm
    Posted August 22, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    HS2 is far too expensive, not cost effective, concentrates too much resource on one project in one part of the country, of use to a limited number of people.
    It is also in a fantasy world of spiralling cost. The current project should be scrapped.
    The capital could be better put to use on transport infrastructure projects around the country, provided they are cost effective, and so provide more benefit to more people.

    Wear and cost of maintenance increases by the third or fourth power with speed. Is there any real need to travel at 200 mph (or whatever the claimed speed), surely about 130 to 140 mph would be fast enough between London and Birmingham. The cost of laying the track would be cheaper too. And why not re-use the old Central Line route.

    An important question is, what has the £6B spent so far been spent on. That is 60,000 man-years (at 100k salary), so what is there to show for it? Surely we could have built the railway line already for that sum and the number of man years it purchases.
    We need an inquiry into how this money has been spent. How has it been wasted ? Have consultants been paid too much for producing too little ?

    Other countries in Europe have much more transport infrastructure than we do (roads, rail, tunnels, bridges etc). How can they afford it and not us? Why do these projects cost so much more in the UK ? What is going on?

  113. Mac
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Cancel asap. Costs for high-speed cannot be kept under control. Learn from the debacle in Holland. There is a high speed track but no trains. The order for trains went so bad that the whole lot were cancelled. The first delivery of trains failed safety tests and are still in a siding in Rotterdam.
    Surely better to upgrade existing track and improve usage.

  114. Chris Tarbitten
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Cancel and spend this vast amount of money on improving the existing network that has suffered from under investment and poor management for decades. HS2 is a white elephant and a political vanity project all for the sake of a few minutes on the London to Birmingham journey.

  115. Anthony Pollock
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Probably best to cancel HS2 and extend the old central line instead since the costs will be over £100 million for the first phase. Additional investment should be prioritised in the North connecting Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and onto Hull with connections north to Carlisle and Newcastle. The current route from London to Birmingham should be scrapped.

  116. Baines
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    1. I wonder how many respondents actually use the Euston/Birmingham or Marylebone/Birmingham line (relatively new)? From personal observation and direct knowledge from others known to me the trains are always fullish and often standing room only.
    2. Why so full? a . Encouragement of leisure travel and b. most people don’t like participating in meetings by videos links ( I usually don’t bother you never get a word in edgeways) but like like ‘a day out’ at a meeting.
    3. Think office work done on train is overstated. Unless you are in first class you have no confidentiality; I am amazed by how many sensitive HR matters I have heard being discussed in standard class
    4. Don’t follow the logic for HS3 which will also cause disruption. Most business people prefer to go by car so they can make multiple visits and make confidential phone calls. Are we aiming to facilitate easy commutingLeeds/Manchester?

    In short too easy to offer sound bites without analysis of what exactly is sought in a particular location. One thing for sure; we cannot encourage more air flights. Germany and France of course have long since completed high speed train networks. That might mean they are a bad idea!

  117. alastair harris
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    There is surely an argument for improving the existing infrastructure
    I also think there may be a case for a new line between Liverpool and hull, via Leeds.
    It would also make sense to improve the links between rail, road and air.
    And surely top of the list would be improving the M6, which still resembles a car park, despite the toll relief road.

  118. alastair harris
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Rail still sparks the imagination but there is a question mark over its use. Franchise issues apart, the successes are freight and commuting. The Edinburgh to London sleeper might have a romantic attachment but it can’t compete with air.
    Taking freight off the motorways (or at least pricing it out by taxing the externalities) AND offering a compelling rail alternative would solve many problems quickly!

  119. Stephen O
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    It is hard to believe that the vast funds required to complete HS2 could not be better spend. The Northern Powerhouse project needs improved transport links between Northern Cities, not with London. I understood the economic theory underlying the Northern Powerhouse project (the Economics of agglomeration) is based on the observation that when economic activity is concentrated higher economic growth results. One element of this was bringing more workers within commuting distance (time and cost of travel being more important than actual mileage) of each vacancy or more vacancies within range of each worker, helping ensure a better match of skills to jobs. HS2 will reduce travel time from Manchester to London, but not by enough to make it a viable commuting route. Given the expense of building HS2 season ticket fares are also likely to be too high for commuting. Improving journey times for the occasional business traveller is too small a gain for such a cost. The 1 hour journey time for the Birmingham-Leeds HS2 stretch, also means it is too slow for commuting.

    In short the northern end of HS2 linking Birmingham to Manchester together with HS3 should be the priority for spending on High Speed rail with the Birmingham-London stretch of HS2 postponed or cancelled. However the Government should also consider whether alternatives to high speed rail for reducing travel times between Northern Cities and the Midlands, such as improved roads or better local rail infrastructure will deliver greater improvements, per pound spent, to transport links within the Northern Powerhouse zone.

    I think the government needs to follow through on the Northern Powerhouse concept and part of that is ensure that it maximises the impact of the money it commits. A change to its HS2 plans should be made to boost the Northern Powerhouse project not to undermine it.

    The Government should also be working on other projects to cover other parts of the UK, identifying where it can act as a catalyst for improved growth. As well as improving transport infrastructure, a free-market minded Government can also set up free ports, encourage universities in targeted locations to develop their links with business, their R&D capabilities and also generate news and interest in an area to promote its development.

    The Government should also look at where high speed rail might be relatively cheap to construct and the benefits from building these lines.

  120. PETER BURDFIELD
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    If the government is going to deliver a Northern powerhouse ,it cannot be achieved without the infrastructure that comes with HS2
    By all means have a review to ascertain the true costs and stick to it
    This is the only case where I believe that private profit companies should be kept out and should be financed by the government

  121. Geoffrey Berg
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    HS2 is going to cost every man , woman and child in the country over £1,000 each (or alternatively everybody in work over £2,000 each) which is actually more than theEU exiting bill. What use is that for your money if you live in the South East, South West, East Midlands, let alone Scotland and Wales? As it will only save about one hour in journey time from Manchester, that is negligible if you don’t live in the absolute centre of Manchester and useless if like most Mancunians you don’t travel often or ever to London by train. So I am sure most people in Manchester (as everywhere else) would prefer 1p in the £ off Income Tax which would cost less than this white elephant, so typical of government. Alternatively we could fund Jeremy Hunt’s proposal to reduce Corporation Tax to 12p in the £ which unlike HS2 would undoubtedly see some and possibly an overall return for the money in terms of economic growth.

  122. mart
    Posted August 23, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    We can’t get back the money already spent.

    But we can avoid spending new.

    I instinctively disbelieved the project was worth it, as I had NEVER heard the idea suggested before that point.

    It struck me as a vanity project – and still does.

    Spend money on other things, and ensure that ONLY British companies are used, if it’s public money.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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