HS2 arithmetic


              I have now received a detailed reply to my letter to the Secretary of State for Transport about HS2.

              We seem to be in agreement about current use of the line. I have long argued that there is low demand for long distance travel from London in the morning peak and back into London later in the day. The Secretary of State now confirms this, saying ” You mention outbound trips north of London in the morning peak. At present the attractiveness of commuting on long distance services out of London is relatively low”…. This seems to me to be important, as part of the case for HS2 is to spread business activity out of London.

             We are also in agreement that capacity is too small for shorter distance commuting into London, both on the lines northwards and on other lines into London as from the west via Paddington which will not benefit from HS2. The Secretary of State draws attention to other plans to deal with capacity shortages for these lines.

            The Secretary of State argues that commuters into Euston already face insufficient capacity and many have to stand. He agrees that lengthening trains can help, and is continuing with the plans to do this. The recent existing railway upgrade has increased the numbers of trains using the West coast mainline as well.  He says that an additional 36% capacity could be bought for £20bn by making further improvements to the present railway, which he thinks is not enough.

           He agrees that the forecasts for  passenger use of HS1 were too optimistic. He lays the blame for these mistakes on the fact that it was “an entirely new international service” and on the impact of low cost air travel as a competitor. In contrast he thinks that if anything the forecasts for passenger demand for HS2 are likely to prove low.

             This where our agreement runs out. The forecasts for passenger demand for HS2 rely heavily on people who would otherwise have used existing railways using HS2 instead. This is likely to lead to a fares war, which is not assumed in the forecasts for revenue and use in the HS2 prospectus. HS2 produces a huge increase in capacity, which will prove very difficult to fill in its early years.

            Currently without HS2 I have been offered a £12.50 fare to travel to Manchester Standard class, on a good range of pre booked trains on future days . Imagine what might happen to fares if there is  a very large increase in capacity. The Department has to understand that HS2 is very vulnerable to mainline price competition from  trains, just as HS1 is vulnerable to cheap airline competition. 

              Conscious that there need to be economic benefits from HS2 in the northern areas it serves, he has set up a Taskforce to work out what economic advantages a new line could bring. Other critics have said that the assessment of economic benefits attributes very large gains to relatively few extra rail journeys to there major cities.

               On Wednesday I headed west to the Forest of Dean to give an evening talk on the EU and current UK politics. My outbound train to Bristol was pretty full. The train from Bristol to Gloucester was just two carriages long, with standing room only for part of the journey. The long train to take me back at 10.30 from Bristol was practically empty. The railways have great trouble in matching capacity to demand. It seemed odd that there could not be an extra carriage on the short commuter train, and odd there were so many carriages on the late train with all the wasted cost and fuel that implied. Some say it’s to do with the need for more carriages in the morning, yet they seemed to be running fairly empty trains in both directions!

              It is also interesting when the main capacity shortfall is clearly commuting seats into London in the morning peak and out of London in the evening peak, that the answer is thought to be a new railway line to the north of the capital, but improving the existing lines to the east, south and west.


  1. livelogic
    November 16, 2013

    “HS2 is very vulnerable to mainline price competition from trains, just as HS1 is vulnerable to cheap airline competition.”

    Indeed it is hugely vulnerable to competition from more flexible & versartile door to door cars, minibuses and coaches too. The idea, as they suggest, of many business travellers paying £600 for a London to Manchester ticket is somewhat optimistic in the extreme. The extra capacity will cut fair just as the channel tunnel did to ferry crossing fairs their projection were equally daft as I recall when I decided no to invest for my free crossings.

    The project is also very vulnerable to terrorism (and the unions). Will they have half hour security checks for liquids, shoes, belts etc. like planes? Will luggage be opened. In which case the short time saves will be more than lost. Or will they just take the risk?

    Why on earth is anyone numerate and honest in favour of this nonsense how can they be? Even a cursory look reveals it to be a bonkers waste of money? It is however just slightly better than using tax payers money to bribe people to cover their fields in pointless photo-voltaics and wind farms.

    More trains, in a small country England make little sense. Extra roads, underpasses, overpasses, less road blocking and fewer red lights, bridges at Blackwall, and new runways at Gatwick and Heathrow are what is needed (and a 15 minute HS shuttle train between the two airports to create a hub). That is where demand it, that and lower taxes for cars so transport competition is on a level basis with the over subsidised trains.

    1. lifelogic
      November 16, 2013

      I see that our scientifically and logically illiterate PM has been say that we should keep cutting “carbon” emissions (he means co2 tree and plant food but Carbon sounds dirtier) even if there is only a 60 percent chance the are causing climate change.

      Why? It is clearly a half witted waste of resources that could be far better spend to save lives now this winter perhaps?

      He also absurdly compared the action to prevent global warming to house insurance saying it was the right think to do “even if you are less certain than the scientists”.

      What an absurd & irrational comparison – anyway the sensible scientists are not remotely certain anyway. They do not even know the suns output for the next 100 years, the volcanic activity or countless other things how can they be certain unless they are charlatans, priest or Chris Huhne types?

      Sensible numerate real scientists such as Prof Freeman Dyson, Prof Richard Lindzen types all think catastrophic climate changes is a gross exaggeration. Adapt (if and when needed) and spend the money on things we know will save lives NOW such as clean water, basic medical services, birth control. This is a far better strategy that will save far, far more lives and save them now.

      The science anyway clearly shows that wind, PV, bikes and the likes save no significant co2 anyway after you take all the factors, construction and back up needed into full account.

      All the evidence anyway suggest a little more c02 and a little hotter is better for precipitation, crop growth and human life in general. People dying of winter cold is a bigger problem. It is also likely to reduce extreme weather events.

      Also it has not even been getting hotter for 15 years despite the c02 increases. Save the money now Cameron, wait and see and get your self a new working compass. One about 180 degree out on your current broken one especially on the issues of EU, the quack catastrophic warming religion and on the size of the tax borrow and waste suffocating state sector.

      Climate is a complex chaotic system anyone who tells you they can predict it in 100 years is a charlatan. Ask them to tell you what is will be for the next six Wednesdays first a rather simpler problem and see how they get on!

      1. lifelogic
        November 16, 2013

        Anyway Mr Cameron buying insurance is usually a mugs game on balance. This as you have pay far more in they you are ever likely to claim and even then you will probably have an argument with the insurer or even an expensive, risky legal action.

        You have all the insurance premium tax to pay, all those expensive insurance staff, building, advertising overheads, company profits and all those fraudulent claims to cover. Far better to self insure in general when it is legal.

        It only really makes sense if you are for some reason a high risk (that is not picked up by the insurance for some reason) or you are perhaps one of the many fraudulent claimers.

        Also saves hugely on paper work, your time and admin.

        1. Denis Cooper
          November 16, 2013

          It would be a strange form of house insurance which required you to wreck your house now just in case the uncontrollable actions of your neighbours caused it to be wrecked it later.

          On Question Time last week Nigel Lawson put up a good show and at one point he clearly bested the loquacious Ed Davey even in the eyes of the carefully selected audience; but he just mentioned once, almost in passing, the crucial practical point that nothing we in the UK can do to further reduce the rate at which we are emitting carbon dioxide into the air can possibly make the slightest difference when others, and especially of course the Chinese, are hugely increasing the rate of their emissions.

          There are some interesting data here, which should be impressed on the minds of all those in the UK who haven’t woken up to the reality that as a country we do not, and as a simple arithmetic certainty we cannot, have a significant role in averting whatever changes may or may not arise from emissions of carbon dioxide:


          Estimated for 2012, UK emissions equalled 490,000 tonnes a year, just 1.4% of the total world emissions of 34,500,000 tonnes a year; while the estimate for China was 9,860,000 tonnes a year, twenty times greater than the estimate for the UK; and the estimates for China have steadily increased from 7,031,916 tonnes a year in 2008 to 9,860,000 a year in 2012, an increase of 2,828,084 tonnes a year over a period of four years, averaging out at an annual increase in the Chinese rate of emission of 707,000 tonnes a year; and just that ANNUAL INCREASE in the rate at which China is emitting carbon dioxide is itself much greater than the ANNUAL EMISSIONS of the UK, which have already dropped from an estimated 522,856 tonnes a year in 2008 to the present estimated 490,000 tonnes a year; and all of that drop in our emissions, obtained at significant economic cost, was counteracted by the Chinese in just over two weeks.

          Ed Davey may be able to defend himself by saying that he is not a scientist, but that does not excuse him from his apparent inability to apply simple arithmetic to the known data; which would tell him that if he achieved what seems to be his ambition of shutting down the whole UK economy and doing everything else needed to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide to zero, then within about eight months the Chinese alone would have restored the flow of carbon dioxide into the air, and would then continue to increase it, not to mention the other countries which are doing the same.

          Whether or not the theory that emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will lead to potentially catastrophic climate changes is correct or not, the practical reality is that nothing we could do in the UK would make any perceptible difference; closing down swathes of our economy and transferring innumerable jobs abroad to less foolish countries may seem a worthwhile gesture to the politicians in our three main parties, but simple arithmetic shows that it would be an utterly futile gesture.

        2. matthu
          November 16, 2013

          But Mr cameron would have you believe that insuring your house is the ‘right’ thing to do (regardless of the size of the premium).

          Saving for a pension is also the ‘right’ thing to do (regardless of the annuity you can expect when you retire).

          HS2 is the ‘right’ thing to do (regardless of the ultimate number of people who use the train to commute northwards, and regardless of the return on investment).

          Creating green jobs is the ‘right’ thing to do (regardless of the number of ordinary jobs you destroy in the process).

          Similarly, not avoiding taxation is the ‘right’ thing to do.
          Allowing gay marriage is the ‘right’ thing to do.
          Remaining a member of the EU is the ‘right’ thing to do.

          I love principled politicians: no need to debate anything. You simply decide whether they share your principles or not.

          1. lifelogic
            November 18, 2013

            Indeed Cameron, just like the BBC is simply wrong on all the significant issues.

        3. Denis Cooper
          November 17, 2013

          James Forsyth has picked up on this:


          “The global warming question is back on the political agenda with David Cameron likening cutting greenhouse gas emissions to house insurance. His argument is that if there’s a risk that they may be harmful, you want to guard against it … ”

          “From 1990 to 2008, the EU cut its emissions by about 270 million metric tons of CO2. But it turns out that the increase in imports from China alone implied an almost equal volume of extra emissions outside the EU. Essentially, the EU had simply shipped part of its emissions offshore.”

        4. Denis Cooper
          November 18, 2013

          Comment missed for moderation here, putting the UK’s mere 1.4% of total global emissions of CO2 into that wider context and pointing out that whatever we do here to further reduce our CO2 emissions can only have an imperceptible effect on climate change.

      2. alan jutson
        November 16, 2013


        I see reported today that Japan is scrapping its Co2 targets, and cutting back on so called green taxes.

        I wonder how many more will go the same way ?

        reply Indeed, as Australia has also just done. The US and China never signed up ion the first place, so that just leaves the EU.

        1. Bob
          November 16, 2013

          as Australia has also just done. The US and China never signed up ion the first place, so that just leaves the EU.

          So if the EU has to save the planet alone, that means we will have to close down all our power stations, so there will be no energy to power our electric trains or cars and we’ll all need to use horse drawn vehicles.

          That doesn’t sound so bad. At least manure will be plentiful (not that it’s in short supply under the present administration).

        2. lifelogic
          November 16, 2013

          Good, the religion is simply not defensible. The sooner Cameron, the other parties and the BBC start to back track on the exaggerated and damaging drivel they have been pushing for years the better for all. Stop the wasting of billions of tax payers money, the job exporting and the freezing pensioners now please.

          Send a signal by sacking Ed Davey then remove all the green drivel in the school GCSE and A level science books and exam syllabuses.

        3. Hope
          November 16, 2013

          JR, so why did your party agree to Labour’s spending plan in opposition, why did they agree to the energy policy and gold plate it, why did they vote for the Climate Change Act etc. HS2 is an EU project started to be implemented by Labour and carried on by the Tories. It is the same story with a host of other policies including all those relating to the EU. No point saying it is the problem with coalition. This is just a convenient excuse for Cameron to change your party. There is absolutely no difference between Miliband Old Labour and Cameron New Labour.

          This week we read how the EU is changing the budgets of Italy and Spain. Do their populations know their governments have no sovergnty to object to it. And yet Cameron still does not want to love the EU under any circumstance. When he had the chance to change the Lisbon Treaty he chose not to, this is after all the warnings he gave about it regarding national identity and sovereignty. Clearly he is not to be trusted on anything.

        4. Timaction
          November 16, 2013

          …………………. so that just leaves the EU”.

          Exactly. Yet another of the many reasons to leave the unelected dictatorship aka The EU
          I see that some in the EU are now calling for a collective and joint armed forces…. to save money of course. On and on they stealthily go.

      3. lojolondon
        November 16, 2013

        What if, as seems to be the case – there is a 0% that CO2 emissions are affecting the earth’s temperature?
        And what if there is a 100% chance that global warming hasn’t happened and isn’t happening?
        Betting against the forces of nature is a total waste – like taking out ‘insurance’ against gravity reversing and everything getting flung out into space. When it turns out that is not going to happen, can you get back the premiums? I am talking about the £17 Billion per annum that Ed Miliband wasted in committing our country to a poorer future with worse economic prospects for our people? How will he make our country competitive against the far east and the USA, with cheap taxes and transport?
        Time to think again – I know the BBC will tear him apart if he speaks the truth about anything, from ‘global warming’ to the truth about the middle east, to local Islamist treatment of women. But that is exactly why the BBC is so bad for our country, and why we should stop paying for them.

        1. lifelogic
          November 16, 2013

          Indeed, perhaps we need to take some multi-cover insurance out against the various hells as forecast by the other older religions too.

      4. Bazman
        November 16, 2013

        More Rigsby ranting.
        Sensible numerate real scientists such as Prof Freeman Dyson, Prof Richard Lindzen types all think catastrophic climate changes is a gross exaggeration.
        As pointed out to you before they are all dubious for a number of financial and scientific reasons. You are quoting sciences whilst telling us in a simplistic none scientific way that CO2 is merely ‘plant food’ which it is not any more than oxygen is ‘human food’. Every gas in high concentrations can have detrimental effect on life and we are not buying your simplistic propaganda mixed in with childish pseudo science any more than we are buying you NHS based on insurance companies that as you say are so untrustworthy.
        Are you telling us that putting unlimited amount of CO2 into the atmosphere will have no detrimental effects as it is so chaotic this cannot be predicted, but no detrimental effects can be predicted? Fatalistic out look for fools and setbacks in Japan to maybe reduce these emission does not change this fact. A fact not your fact or my fact, but a fact.

      5. uanime5
        November 16, 2013

        I see that our scientifically and logically illiterate PM has been say that we should keep cutting “carbon” emissions (he means co2 tree and plant food but Carbon sounds dirtier) even if there is only a 60 percent chance the are causing climate change.

        Your attempts to pretend that CO2 is harmless by calling it a plant food isn’t fooling anyone. CO2 is toxic to humans and scientists are 95% sure that it is causing climate change.

        What an absurd & irrational comparison – anyway the sensible scientists are not remotely certain anyway./cite>

        Yet again you’ve failed to provide any evidence to back up this claim because you don’t have any evidence.

        Sensible numerate real scientists such as Prof Freeman Dyson, Prof Richard Lindzen types all think catastrophic climate changes is a gross exaggeration.

        Yet both have failed to provide any scientific evidence that can be peer reviewed because they don’t have any evidence to back up their claims; unlike the real scientists who have proven that climate change is being caused by man made CO2.

        Adapt (if and when needed) and spend the money on things we know will save lives NOW such as clean water, basic medical services, birth control. This is a far better strategy that will save far, far more lives and save them now.

        Care to explain why this isn’t working in Africa. Make sure you explain how people are mean to adapt when all their soil is too dry to grow food.

        The science anyway clearly shows that wind, PV, bikes and the likes save no significant co2 anyway after you take all the factors, construction and back up needed into full account.

        Science has shown the exact opposite. You just ignored the evidence because it didn’t fit with your ideology.

        All the evidence anyway suggest a little more c02 and a little hotter is better for precipitation, crop growth and human life in general.

        Yet again you’ve confused your own delusions with science. Real evidence has shown that in Africa hotter means more droughts, less crop growth, and worse conditions for human life.

        Also it has not even been getting hotter for 15 years despite the c02 increases.

        Again you’ve ignored real evidence in favour of your own wishful thinking. The average global temperature has increased over the last 15 years.

        Climate is a complex chaotic system anyone who tells you they can predict it in 100 years is a charlatan.

        Just because it’s too complex for you to understand doesn’t mean that scientist can’t predict what’s likely to happen in 100 years time.

        Ask them to tell you what is will be for the next six Wednesdays first a rather simpler problem and see how they get on!

        Yet again you’ve shown how little you understand about this issue by confusing weather and climate.

        1. Edward2
          November 18, 2013

          We are now having to measure the temperature rise you are boasting about, to a tenth of a decimal point of one degree centigrade, globally per decade, for you to be able to claim global warming is happening.

          Even scientists who have their names in the latest report call the level of rise being measured since 2000 statistically insignificant, which it plainly is, and this is why your religious movement has shifted the argument to extreme weather recently as your original plan of attack on western industrialisation and democracy is failing.
          First “catastrophic” is dropped then “global warming” is dropped and now “climate change” is being dropped in favour of the new religion climate disruption.
          And one or two millimetres of sea level rise per decade now being measured. Compared to the doomsday predictions of several meters rise by the IPCC and Al Gore just a few years ago, these current figures released by them are an embarrassment.
          And still snow and ice on the mountains in Al Gore’s film I note.

      6. Richard1
        November 17, 2013

        Poor, brilliant, Nigel Lawson was rather overwhelmed on this issue on Question Time. He had some excellent points but is much better these days in writing or in prepared speech. Ed davey, with the BBC chosen audience and 2 fellow leftists on the panel, was able to say without challenge: global warming is happening because the last 3 decades have shown an increase (irrelevant as it would be true if temperatures the last 15 years had been flat); sea levels are rising (they have been by c 3 mm pa since the end of the last ice age and show no signs of acceleration); weather events are getting more extreme ( not according to the statistics, not according even to the IPCC). It is extraordinary that the cabinet minister with prime responsibility for promoting the policy of forcing expensive energy can get away with this guff.

        1. uanime5
          November 17, 2013

          irrelevant as it would be true if temperatures the last 15 years had been flat

          The scientific evidence has shown that the average global temperature has risen over the past 15 years.

          sea levels are rising (they have been by c 3 mm pa since the end of the last ice age and show no signs of acceleration)

          Either provide a source or admit you made this up. Make sure you explain how you know what height the sea was at when the last ice age ended.

          weather events are getting more extreme ( not according to the statistics, not according even to the IPCC)

          According to the IPCC weather is getting more extreme, which is why their recent report mentioned this.

          1. Richard1
            November 18, 2013

            You are in denial of accepted facts. There has been no statistically significant global warming since 1997. This is acknowledged even by bodies such as the Met Office. Talking about the rise in decadal average is a statistical obfuscation.

            I am surprised you are ignorant of the approx sea level rise since the last ice. I have not made it up, it is a well known fact. You can check it for yourself from many sources, but I will find a source and post it. Recent evidence is that sea level rise the last 10 years has been at a lower rate than the average for recent millennia.

            The IPCC report states that there is no strong evidence of an increase either in frequency or intensity of extreme weather events over the last 100 years.

            It is you, and other alarmists (such as the head of Greenpeace today) who are making up facts.

          2. Edward2
            November 18, 2013

            Thanks for your excellent response to Uni. It proves just who the real deniers are now.
            Still no answer from Uni to my repeated requests why the islands in Al Gore’s film are still not under water, as predicted.

          3. Bazman
            November 19, 2013

            Maybe you could explain the most basic question. Of why putting unlimited amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere is going to prove to be or is benign? Religious fatalism of a self correcting world that corrects itself in favour of mankind and if it does not then so be it?

    2. Bazman
      November 16, 2013

      Many of these points you are making have been disassembled before without any reply is this some sort of propaganda you are writing? As for unions you are against them for not accepting what they are given unlike any other parts of society? Does not seem to be a factor in your ideas for more air travel in the UK why on trains? The shortcoming of roads such as freight capacity and commuting over distance has still not been answered as has the large numbers of commuters put on the roads by rail cuts. Rail travel is popular despite its expense and grow every year. Why is this?
      HS2 may well be an elitist fantasy with interestingly a number of hobbyist railway enthusiast whose only expertise lies in making impressive model railways and you should applaud this amateur right wing views that trumps and harrumphs true expertise and scientific facts as much of what you write is the same and believe that a country run by an elite who know their place is a good thing. You see how this thoughts have come back to bit you.
      Here is a question for you Rigsby.
      which is better? A petrol powered brick cutter of an a electric one. Assuming mains supply is available? Which it would be via generator.
      If it were possible to power a car by electricity and an electric motor from a battery source the same size as a fuel tank containing the same amount of energy or a hypothetical unlimited length of wire or a petrol/diesel engine which would be the better drive ignoring absurd green facts?

      1. lojolondon
        November 16, 2013

        Bazman, I guess you never heard about the death of the electric car? Merkel has vetoed the CO2 targets for the motor industry for Europe, so BMW, Merc, VW no longer have to make those heavy, hated, uneconomical, dull cars to hit those targets until 2025.
        So they will all stop the electric programmes for another 7 years. By which time we will have denounced all the greenie charlatans, be fracking like crazy for shale gas, pulled down all the windmills, reverse tax on air and vehicle travel, and be living with an economy that grows 5-10% every year.
        It is not a pipe dream, similar things are happening in Australia and Canada, all we need is a proper conservative government like they have.

        1. APL
          November 16, 2013

          lojolondon: “no longer have to make those heavy, hated, uneconomical, dull cars to hit those targets until 2025.”

          But guess what, anyone buying a merc, bmw or vw will have to pay for the wasted cost of the ‘green’ schemes that will have been rolled into the cost of the vehicles.

          Note: not the electric vehicles as they were heavily subsidised to make them affordable in the first place.

          Utter waste of resources – caused by government.

        2. Edward2
          November 16, 2013

          You fail to tell us how you will achieve your low carbon world Baz.
          How will you gain global agreement now USA China Australia Japan others have dropped out.
          I’m all in favour of “reduce reuse recycle” and a low pollution environment but making the UK poorer by trying on our own to reduce the tiny percentage of total global CO2 is just pathetic gesture politics.

        3. Bazman
          November 16, 2013

          Should a battery be invented that can store, be charged instantly and weigh the same would this be a better alternative to petrol lojo? Was the question.
          Unfortunately for you lojo you are inventing your own, reality manufacturers back electric vehicles and sales are up across the world. In the UK new registrations under the government’s £5,000 grant scheme were at 1,149, the highest number since it started in 2011
          Poncey expensive short journey middle class car in my opinion, but In the same vain should the electric milk float be reintroduced you as a conservative would no doubt be telling us how marvellous it is.
          Fracking like crazy may well be the case if it proves to be viable. However this may not be the magic bullet you fantasise about and green charlatans as you call them often want like myself cheap clean sources of fuel. Fracking is neither.

          1. stred
            November 18, 2013

            The sales in the UK of electric cars are a result of the £5k subsidy. The facts about electric car performance are given in the DECC adopted book Sustainable Energy.. p 122.

            Whether plug in electric vehicles work depends on the greenhouse gas conversion factor. In the UK this is 580 g CO2/kWh. The figure in the car chapter is taken as 500.

            The figures for cars depend on the design. The Prius hybrid in the UK gives 104g/km. The Lexus ‘urban tractor’ shown 192 g. The G Wiz plug in car gives 105 g (p127) Some conventional cars beat electrics,such as the Polo blue motion at 99 g. My old Picasso emitting 130g or less on a trip and worth a third of the subsidy beats the Lexus.

            In Denmark, the wind leaders, they would have to use 881 g/KWh to work out the uselessness of electric cars, giving 1.76 x the UK. In France it is 83 and therefore 6x better.

        4. uanime5
          November 16, 2013

          You seem to have ignored that Germany has already exceeded it’s CO2 reduction targets, unlike the UK.

          Your claims that the economy can grow at 5-10% by following you plan is laughable. Even the US with all it’s cheap energy, shale gas, low taxes, and huge stimulus isn’t growing that fast.

          1. Edward2
            November 17, 2013

            Germany meeting a target is just gesture politics and it will make no significant difference to global CO2 levels as I suspect you really know Uni
            You again fail to tell us how there can be sufficient reduction in global CO2 levelsvto meet your requirements when China India Australia and now Japan are not involved?
            PS USA growing strongly different to the failing EU model.

          2. Bazman
            November 17, 2013

            His argument is based on putting Britian on a third world economic basis with no public spending on anything and no wage or employment legislation. How this would produce the conditions for investment such as infrastructure is not considered as it is right wing fantasy based on the economics of simpletons. He believes he is outside this system and society even though he is not. No reply lojo at such an assault on you integrity and creditability tells us all we nee to know of you and your ilk. Yes it is personal as all politics are. You need to rant along with livdogic or whatever way he spells his name in each post. Harrumph!! That one.

          3. uanime5
            November 17, 2013


            1) You seem to be under the mistaken impression that China, India, Australia, and Japan won’t try to reduce their CO2 emissions. Australia has large amounts of uranium so they will probably start focusing on nuclear power rather than coal, China and India will have to stop using coal due to the high levels of pollution, and unless Japan wants to be dependent on fuel from other countries they’ll have to develop green technology.

            2) Care to tell use just how much the US is growing by each year. I bet it’s much less than the 5-10% lojolondon claimed the UK could grow by.


          4. Edward2
            November 18, 2013

            Failing to answer my original question as usual Uni
            Looked at the original IPCC report and watched Al Gores film recently?
            Still no reply on those issues from you despite several requests I note.

          5. Edward2
            November 18, 2013

            USA is growing strongly and a lot better than your socialist Utopia the EU which even the UK is beating.
            Unemployment falling in USA and UK as well I notice.
            Still stuck at 12% average unemployment levels in the EU with some nations having levels not seen since the Thirties depression.
            No protest from you about this terrible human suffering. Presumably you feel it is a price worth paying to achieve your socialist United States of Europe dream.

          6. Lindsay McDougall
            November 22, 2013

            You know perfectly well that Germany makes lots of heavy motor cars with high emissions, and used its substantial influence with the EU to avoid being required to lower these emissions. Can we not count on your for even a milligram of intellectual honesty?

      2. lifelogic
        November 16, 2013

        Bazman you ask.

        Rail travel is popular despite its expense and grow every year. Why is this?

        Because it is there already built (so we might as well use it) and hugely subsidised (by tax payers) while roads/cars are hugely over taxed.

        Cars go door to door directly, carry things, store things, can drop of on route, change routes at the last minute, can take seven people and despite the fiscal subsidy bias are still far cheaper.

        Also they can travel late at night and on Christmas day too.

        Your other questions are not specific enough to answer without writing a book on them but in general generating electrical energy then storing it in an expensive, bulky and heavy battery is not a good plan for high energy uses.

        1. Bazman
          November 18, 2013

          Because it is there already built (so we might as well use it) and is hugely subsidised. You seriously think this is the reason what rail travel is popular. Which is better an electric motor or a petrol one? A petrol powered brick cutter or an electric one? You do not have to write a book on specific question such as that? Even cordless tools are now quite good. In all cases the power source depends on application not ranting.

  2. Javelin
    November 16, 2013

    If you want investment build more houses not railways !! That will keep house prices down and give more money to everybody to spend to keep the economy moving.

    I come across more deserving projects every day / for example there are only two roads into Portsmouth – if one blocks the other grid locks. Imagine a City with only two roads. I live in Elmbridge in Surrey and travelling down the A3 they have the new hind head tunnel – now there is a great investment that has cut millions of wasted hours out.

    The department for transport should publish all the schemes on their “needs to be done list”

    1. Bob
      November 16, 2013


      That will keep house prices down…

      News flash, the chancellor doesn’t want lower house prices.

      The three old establishment parties all support the project, one young party doesn’t.
      Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice.

    2. lifelogic
      November 16, 2013

      Also if you build them in the right place people may not have to travel so much anyway or they can work from home in a new home office and skype.

  3. Mike Stallard
    November 16, 2013

    John, you are completely right. You are also someone who uses the railways a lot in 4/4 2013. You watch, you listen, you are in touch. So your views, in a sane world, ought to be taken very seriously. As should those of our own elected representatives who are, I assume, doing their very best for their constituents.

    But, you see, a brief glance at the EU Website shows that decisions are being initiated and discussed way above your – and the parliament’s – head. I won’t give all the references because that is rude. But DG MOVE and TEN_T are a good place to start for anyone who wants to research this murky place. You can see the thought process taking place on, for instance, quieter trains. Or the integrated rail system.

    The decision, I would guess – and who knows? – has been taken literally years ago. Now it needs defending. And that seems to be – what a world of smoke and mirrors! – how we are governed.

    My question is this: Why does’t anyone admit it?

    Reply I regularly point out big areas where policy is driven by the EU – e.g. electricity plant closures, renewable high cost energy, migration from the rest of the EU, court judgements – these are all cases where Brussels rules. It is still the case that the UK can cancel HS2 if it wishes, despite the TENs lines on maps.

    1. Hope
      November 16, 2013

      And that is why there is no difference between Cameron and Miliband despite all the yada yada banter and PM question time bore. In short a poly archy of self-interest. They are both quite happy to implement EU policy pretending it is there own. Only party to offer a real change is UKIP, it literally is.

  4. Andyvan
    November 16, 2013

    HS2 is an absolutely typical government response to a problem. Spend enormous amounts of borrowed money in the wrong place, at the wrong time creating a gigantic white elephant and the original problem unsolved.
    However HS2 is not really about solving a problem. It’s about funneling tax payers money to favoured companies who will return the generosity to selected political supporters of the project. See if I’m wrong in ten years if it gets built. Just have a look at who is on the board of directors and you’ll see lots of MP’s names listed and even more on the list of “consultants”.

    Reply I don’t thin k the world works like this anymore. MPs do not usually get put onto Boards because they are MPs, and if they do get onto Boards they would have to be extremely careful not to help their company with government contracts, and declare everything they do to avoid conflicts of interest and to be seen to be avoiding them.

    1. Hope
      November 16, 2013

      Like former ministers selling off state owned companies and then years later they appear on the board of directors? Or give contracts to companies and then later get jobs with the company? Or perhaps act as security advisor to countries after leaving office? There needs to be a root and branch overhaul of parliament both for serving MPs and after leaving as such. No more second jobs, lobbying, employing family members at taxpayers’ expense, or second homes. The time has come for change. Now which party has the courage to act and implement?

    2. ian wragg
      November 16, 2013

      You must be joking John, When MP’s fet voted out and in some cases stay in they work for the companies within their remit. Look at the climate change scam and the advisors to companies etc .
      EU Commissioners who have flown the flag for the soviet entity and Gordon Brown with his foreign aid and monetary incompetence advising all and sundry.
      As for Bliar what can I say.

    3. Mark
      November 16, 2013

      Look at the biographies here:


      It’s the ex-Civil Servants who seem to be the majority of board members and senior executives – not an MP or Lord in sight. Clearly we need to stop this less visible revolving door.

      Hit a glass ceiling in Whitehall? No problem, invent a highly paid quango.

      1. stred
        November 17, 2013

        This line up explains a lot. The chief was responsible for motorway development when they decided to put gantries everywhere and speed cameras, which are still not working after many years, while building no new motorways. No 2 was responsible for Network Rail and is in the EU rail planning scheme, the others have been working on other highly expensive projects, while the last team member was with the Treasury, up to his neck in the disastrous public investment decisions under Labour. No wonder they feel confident to ignore the obvious truth about this insane investment’.

        1. stred
          November 17, 2013

          Perhaps some MP should be able to ask Mr McNaughton why HS2 had to be designed to run at 250mph straight through the Chilterns, rather than 186mph and follow the motorways, as HS1 did,after it had to be redesigned.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    November 16, 2013

    No doubt the reply you received had as its conclusion a determination to proceed with this colossal waste of taxpayers’ money; after all they wheeled out Heseltine this week to tell you and us just that.

  6. N ick
    November 16, 2013

    5:30 pm on a Friday, London to Brum. About 30% occupancy.

    There is no demand. It’s a myth.

    So when you asking for the figures, care to add on what you promised to get elected?

    How much does the state owe for its pensions?

    Or is the minster going to tell you its not the way it works when you ask for numbers?

  7. Bert Young
    November 16, 2013

    You are right to feature this idiotic project . The logistics and costings are flawed ; the Secretary of State for Transport’s reply was tongue in cheek – a virtual admission to the mistake in pursuing it . If the Conservatives wish to offer the electorate “goodies” before the next election , this is one they should ditch .

  8. Neil Craig
    November 16, 2013

    I have previously here estimated that if HS2 were to make a 10% return on capital investment each ticket would cost £300 before running costs ere added. Since the normal railways are heavily subsidised ticket price competition would be entirely dependent on subsidy on both sides which is Alice in Wonderland economics.

    The misallocation of rolling stock would be greatly alleviated by automated rail. Currently the bottleneck is not carriages but availability of a fixed number of drivers working mainly during the working day.

    One thing the government could do is to find out why British public construction projects cost 8 times what they do elsewhere in the world and fix it. My assumption is that it is government regulatory parasitism. This seems to be why European rail is both better and cheaper.

  9. Normandee
    November 16, 2013

    Whichever direction you come at this discussion we always end up at the same point, there appears to be insufficient reason of the same value as the cost of the project. Which leads to the only alternative that it is a political / vanity project. No desperate need for it can be established, other than Camerons need to fawn to Europe again. When are you and your “eurosceptic” colleagues going to write to the 1922 Committee and start the process of getting rid of this man, or is party loyalty still the priority.

  10. Acorn
    November 16, 2013

    ONS Geography do three good interactive charts at http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/Info.do?page=analysisandguidance/analysisarticles/commuting-from-the-annual-population-survey.htm .

    You can deduce that not many people commute from London to Birmingham for their work. But a million commute into the City of London and Westminster from London mainly.

  11. Bob
    November 16, 2013

    Mr Redwoood
    Do you know why your party has expunged it’s internet history prior to the 2010 election?

    Reply I have not been told but I guess to get people to concentrate on current messages. All parties and many commentators think differently now to say 2007 when they did not foresee the boom/bust collapse. UKIP for example, was pro High Speed trains last time, but is allowed to change its mind this time.

    1. alan jutson
      November 16, 2013


      I understand that there is talk of the Labour party doing the same.

      Clearing the decks ready for an election is my guess.

      Too many past memories and speeches on record to attack !!!

    2. Leslie Singleton
      November 16, 2013

      Comment on Reply–My memory is that earlier support for HS2 was not for this HS2 which is clearly bonkers. When I first heard about HS2 I took it as an absolute given that we were talking about a new line connecting to HS1 (at Ashstead or suchlike though that is secondary) over a new (road and) rail bridge across the Thames and then on the Scotland. Without such a distance (London to Birmingham is pathetic) a HS line makes no sense. It is as obvious as obvious can be that infinitely more people are going to pile in to London and out again each day than the other way round. In any event such few people going the other way end up in a Parkway not Birmingham.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        November 18, 2013

        Postcript–I think I might have meant Ashford

    3. Bob
      November 16, 2013

      UKIP for example, was pro High Speed trains last time, but is allowed to change its mind this time.

      But you don’t need to delete history just because you changed your mind. If new situations arise that justify your decision, then what’s wrong with that?

      Complete the following well known saying:
      When the facts change, I…

      1. David Price
        November 17, 2013

        So why have past manifestos been disappeared from the UKIP website?

        From the UKIP 2010 Manefesto;

        “· Invest in three new 200mph plus high-speed rail lines including a new line between London and Newcastle with a spur to Manchester, a London-Bristol-Exeter line and a linking route via Birmingham.”

        What was the original justification for that railway investment and what has changes?

        Or my favourite;

        · Oppose a sixth Heathrow Airport terminal and third runway and the expansion of Gatwick and Stansted in favour of a major new Hong Kong-style Thames Estuary airport with motorway connections and a high-speed rail service to London, the UK and the Continent.

        .. in otherwords demolish the Thames Valley economy in favour of East London & thereabouts, don’t add to the economy just transfer it to where you may get more votes. At it’s heart UKIP is no different and no better than the established parties.

        1. Bob
          November 18, 2013

          @David Price

          Manifestos always change, for all parties to meet changing situations, economic and cultural pressures and new challenges. They’re not cast in stone, nor should they be.

          The issue with the removal of Tory internet history prior to the 2010 election relates to a file called “robot.txt”, which requires all of the website’s material to be removed from the web archives. Why the need for such drastic cleansing of history David?
          Will they be asking the press to delete all Tory related content from their archives prior to the last election?

          The Internet Archive was unavailable for comment. But a fortnight after Computer Weekly started asking its San Francisco HQ for an explanation, the Conservative speeches have begun reappearing on its site.

          CW had asked the Internet Archive to explain how the historic record of the lead party in the coalition that holds power in the UK could simply be erased.

          The Conservative Party’s robot blocker forced the Internet Archive to remove the entire record of speeches and news it had collected, in 1,158 snapshots it took of the Conservative website since 8 May 1999.

          1. David Price
            November 18, 2013

            I have no idea what the CP is up to, I don’t much care.

            My point is in my last sentance – by demonstration UKIP acts no differently from any other of the parties, and they have removed controversial material from their website just like the rest.

            I suggest many people are angry at Cameron & Co because they invested too much hope in an incoming Conservative government that the coalition for whatever reasons has failed to deliver.

            UKIP cheerleaders however are making exactly the same mistake with UKIP and Farage, putting both on a pedestal and making claims they can’t possibly deliver. Meanwhile blinkered idealogues like Lifelogic, self declared forever safe in his overseas domicile, make abusive comments about those people who are still loyal to the Conservative Party, for whatever reason. Hasn’t it occured to any of you that Farage & Co are more unpalatable for many people than Cameron & co?

            If the end goal of UKIP supporters is to get the UK out of the EU then your (plural UKIP supporters) persistent abuse of MP’s who are EUsceptics and over the top promises and claims need to be re-considered. Do you really want to get out of the EU or is it just spiteful vengence (“a couple of years of Milliband government is worth it”) on the Conservative Party and it’s destruction that you all seek really.

            I’ll continue to believe it is the latter until the UKIP leadership grow up, grow a pair, show some leadership and strive to colaborate with the eurosceptics already in parliament.

          2. Bob
            November 20, 2013

            @David Price

            …abusive comments about those people who are still loyal to the Conservative Party…

            I deduce from your various posts that loyalty to the Tory Party is a strong motivation with you.
            Most of the ukip supporters I know put country first.

            BTW, there is a difference between expunging material from the internet archive and revising manifestos.

          3. David Price
            November 20, 2013


            Loyalty to the Conservative Party is not a strong motivation to me at all.

            The issue is the actions of UKIP and it’s supporters and whether these are aligned to the objective of winning support for the stated main goals.

            I do put the country first which is why I question what UKIP is really up to, based on what it actually does, and whether it will achieve what it claims to be.

    4. matthu
      November 16, 2013

      The fact that Labour and Conservatives have done it in concert suggests that in the lead-up to the EU MEP elections next year they don’t want you you be able to look up what they were saying at the time of the Lisbon Treaty.

      All the assurances we were given …

  12. Edward2
    November 16, 2013

    HS2’s success depends on getting customers to pay more than than existing first class ticket prices to gain some improvement in journey time.
    This assumes other rail companies won’t respond with greatly reduced first class fares for a comfortable but a slightly longer journey.

  13. Bill Courtney
    November 16, 2013

    The HS2 solution reflects a narrow “train line mentality”. Instead we should be thinking laterally to solve our network capacity problems.
    How about radically improving train braking systems so that more trains can travel safely on our existing lines?
    This relatively cheap and potentially world beating solution is discussed at http://www.cheshire-innovation.com/Transport%20internet.htm

    1. Neil craig
      November 17, 2013

      Checked it out and it looks good to me. Without going for the braking capacity of “a formula one car” how many times could it practically increase the capacity of present railways?

  14. Terry
    November 16, 2013

    Surely to improve capacity into London will be a disincentive for companies to re-locate up t’North? And why, given the dire straits of our finances, would we want to commit to such a massive project that will take another 20+ years to complete and bare fruit?

    It will be of no benefit to the inter-city workers of today and for many years into the future. And who is to know what the business requirements will be in 2030?
    I fear this is but another walk down Ego Street for some members of the Cabinet with the taxpayer, again, footing the bill. Getting the Country back on its feet is not borrowing more to fund white elephants. Pretend it is all your own money, for once.

  15. cosmic
    November 16, 2013

    “Conscious that there need to be economic benefits from HS2 in the northern areas it serves, he has set up a Taskforce to work out what economic advantages a new line could bring.”

    This sounds like scrambling round to come up with reasons to build it after the decision has been taken – post facto justification.

    I would have thought the time to assess the economic advantages to northern areas would be before the decision was taken, and these assessments would inform the decision as to whether or not it was a sensible investment and should be proceeded with.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      November 17, 2013

      Exactly right! Cosmic, you have made my point for me.

  16. Vanessa
    November 16, 2013

    The government seems to think that because people are standing on trains now that capacity will be a growing need for ever into the future. Do they have any idea that (like the climate) need and capacity change ! There is a chance that our population will start to decrease and therefore these huge sums being spent on stupid illogical great big white elephants will have been wasted, (my money again – wasted).
    Do you ever look beyond the 5 years of parliament ?
    Do you ever look into the future of this country and what is best for us ?
    Are you so short-sighted that you think there will be no consequences after your term?
    Are you so stupid that you think the rest of us do not ask these questions?

  17. Leslie Singleton
    November 16, 2013

    No comment on what’s would be wrong with the Great Central absolutely same like usual.

    Reply I have not been able to check it all out, but was told by someone that crucial parts of the route through or near cities are no longer available. It would be good to hear from those who know and support this project how easy it would b e to secure all the land needed for a continuous way.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      November 16, 2013

      Reply to Reply–I was under the impression from something that seemed reasonably authoritative that whilst it is true and no surprise that some sections have been built over, it is not that big a deal to circumvent these or knock them down (everything has its price) along with some straightening work. A figure of £6 billion in total was mentioned, not very likely to increase as the work is elementary, and of course the overall work would be much quicker. How could it not solve any capacity problem, assuming there is one? Also, I understand (meaning again that I read it somewhere) that, unlike with HS2, connexion to HS1 is easy, which is very relevant given that Great Central has the larger European loading gauge and this is not the case for HS2 (“Manchester to Milan”). This latter alone makes HS2 incredible as a sensible proposition. I do not live anywhere near the Cotswolds BTW.

    2. stred
      November 17, 2013

      It would, presumably, be possible to build bypasses around blocked urban parts on the Grand Central Line and use it as a freight line to reduce congestion on passenger lines.

  18. Denis Cooper
    November 16, 2013

    If the government had £50 billion plus to spare it could make better use of it by cutting business taxes in those areas of the country which are lagging behind, so encouraging more private investment where it is most needed.

    That’s if the EU would permit that, which is open to question.

  19. Iain Gill
    November 16, 2013

    It’s harder to add and remove carriages on some trains than you might think.

    The rail industry has been trying to minimise the number of times trains have to be coupled or uncoupled, as it’s a dangerous operation for the staff involved.

    Some of the mainline train sets, although they were originally designed with control wires, which could be coupled and uncoupled with the carriages this proved problematic and unreliable. So the control wires from the drivers cab to the engine at the rear of the set or motor at the rear of the set is a straight one piece wire with no connectors and no way to uncouple the carriages in the normal way. Certainly most of the East Coast sets are like this.

    Reply Then fix them!

    1. Iain Gill
      November 17, 2013

      I know what you mean, but…

      This is where theoretical politicians running trains differs from hard-nosed born and bred railwaymen doing it.

      When given a goal of reducing accidents on the railway there are few ways of really doing it. The easiest ways are reducing the highest risk events. That’s why there is a drive to remove as many level crossings as possible. And that’s also why there is a desire to reduce the number of couplings and uncouplings and much as possible.

      I suppose in brutal terms the cost of risk of injury to the railway worker doing the coupling/uncoupling, multiplied by the percentage chance of it happening with each event, needs to be compared and contrasted with the benefit of being able to flex the length of trains more. This has probably been done and results in where we are today.

      Which is not an excuse for running one and two carriage sets that are continually over crowded.

      Also if after months of expensive commissioning of the controls running from the drivers cab to the engine at the other end of a long set it proves problematic and unreliable to keep the joins between carriages… then it becomes a trade off between reliability and ability to flex the number of carriages. Mostly the end conclusion of this dilemma is to improve reliability and run continuous control wires from one end of the set to the other. It’s not a simple “fix it” scenario, it’s a balance between the pros and cons of different ways of connecting the driver to the engine at the other end.

      These detailed decisions really need to be in the hands of the practioners.

      1. Iain Gill
        November 19, 2013

        And of course the politicians and regulator measure and monitor closely reliability and safety incidents, they do not really monitor flexing of train length. The delivery people adapt to the metrics they are being measured on…

    2. Normandee
      November 18, 2013

      As someone who has worked with the Railway Industry I can tell you this is an ignorant response.

  20. Normandee
    November 16, 2013

    I suppose I should be happy you haven’t deleted me again, but you still only reply to the easy questions. So once again, a one eyed man with a cataract looking in the wrong direction can see that Cameron is the problem, when are you and your fellow sceptics going to write to the 1922 committee and start the process of ridding us of this traitor Cameron?

    Reply Who would you prefer as Leader? Conservative MPs have confidence in Mr C.

    1. Normandee
      November 17, 2013

      Unbelievable ! he wants everything you are campaigning against. You do realise this destroys any credibility you have as a eurosceptic, waning as it was. If you are pro Cameron you are pro Europe they are inseperable. Why don’t you just tell the truth, scarred by past failures you are too frightened to stick your neck out any further than necessary.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      November 17, 2013

      Comment on Reply…………which is one of the reasons the electorate doesn’t have much faith in Conservative MPs in the mass these days.

  21. forthurst
    November 16, 2013

    The City of London is the great magnet drawing in commuters from every direction; why should it be otherwise with the deep hostility to manufacturing expressed by politicians with their save-the-planet (only in Europe) energy costs and reams of red tape and Union bosses who still can only be obliged to co-operate with managements by a realistic threat of closure, and on the other hand, the deep enfatuation of politicians with banksters whose activities despite wrecking the world economy has never been properly scrutinised in this country and whose banks are so vital to us apparently that the real economy has to be hamstrung to try to make them healthy, despite the banksters taking out huge sums in ‘earnings’ whilst not actually creating any added value whatsoever. In the circumtances, the idea that building HS2 will nevertheless forge a sea change in the fortunes of England outside of London is preposterous.

  22. Anonymous
    November 16, 2013

    All transport systems (freight and passenger) run empty for a significant amount of time. Especially container ships going back to China.

    50% of taxi and motorcycle courier journeys are empty (as I know when I’ve worked them.)

  23. Gilliana
    November 16, 2013

    I agree with you that it is likely to be difficult to find the passengers to fill HS2, leaving aside the question of fares.
    They talk of running 18 trains per day in each direction, and each 400m train will have 1,100 seats. According to my calculations this would mean nearly 20,000 seat per hour on offer. Even if to start with they only run 14 per hour, this still would give more than 15,000 seats. How on earth are they going to fill even a small proportion of these?

    1. Alan Wheatley
      November 17, 2013

      As I understand it, the economic case for HS2 needs there to be 18 trains an hour, presumably to give the required fare income, and presumably on the assumption that the seats are sufficiently filled.

      But no operator worldwide has managed to run high speed trains more frequently than 16/hr, as the Select Committee heard when taking evidence. So this aspect of HS2 is novel, pioneering and risky.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      November 17, 2013

      Gilliana–That should be no problem (I don’t think) especially one reads a fare is only going to be a mere £600

    3. stred
      November 17, 2013

      The Emperor has no clothes comes to mind.

  24. Normandee
    November 16, 2013

    Jumaa Kater Saleh,
    lets see if you can get angry over this ?

  25. Chris S
    November 17, 2013

    IF we are going to spend £40-75bn on transport infrastructure surely the right thing to do is to spend it on the projects that will benefit the people who have to pay for it the most. By this I mean the population of the UK.

    HS2 would surely fail at the first hurdle under this revolutionary way of looking at things.

    The Government should invite the public to propose what transport projects they would like to see built, take the most popular 100 or so, analyse them in terms of cost/benefit and draw up a list in order of best bang for bucks. They could even ask the public to vote for them in order of preference ????

    If the agreed budget is £50bn. they can then agree to go ahead with £40bn worth and when fixed price contracts are signed for these to be built within budget, they can select some more on the same basis until the agreed budget is spent.

    We would then have an infrastructure program that will be the most cost effective, benefit the most people possible and cannot go over budget.

    Perhaps this is just too simple for ministers and civil servans to understand ?

    The real reasons they won’t do it are that they will be giving up control, and, of course, most of the schemes chosen by the public will be new roads and improvements to existing ones which the anti-road Civil Servants in the Dept of Transport just won’t want to see built.

  26. Richard1
    November 17, 2013

    It is clear there is no coherent case for HS2. lord Heseltine spoke in its favour the other day. He said we should ignore ‘the guys with sliderules’. He means we should not attempt rationale analysis just make a grand political gesture. That would be fine if the UK had c. 25% tax/GDP, low debt and a budget surplus. But we don’t. We have high debt, and rising sharply as we also run a substantial budget deficit. Also we are at tax saturation. So we can’t afford grand gestures which make politicians feel good but which do not stand up to rigorous economic and financial scrutiny.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      November 17, 2013

      Richard–Friend Cameron blew it again a few weeks ago when he failed to jump on Labour’s prevarication and immediately say, Right I am not willing to proceed on this basis and HS2 is toast. He would have made a lot of people happy and saved a humongous amount of more borrowing. Must be mad to continue at least till deficits are turned in to surpluses and we have made significant inroads in to debt. The attempts at upbeat announcements about the deficit having been reduced by peanuts are painful.

  27. Mark
    November 17, 2013

    There is some key data on the degree of rail commuter overcrowding in this publication:


    Delve into the detail, and it is clear that Euston, King’s Cross and St. Pancras have low levels of crowding and relatively limited commuter traffic. Crossrail should reduce the problems into Paddington, and also Liverpool Street. There appears to be some demand for additional short haul commuter traffic into other major cities that could probably be solved with quite limited investment. The idea that we need HS2 for capacity reasons has gone away with the PiXCs.

    Reply Very useful, and bears out my mini surveys – In the three hours 6am to 9am there are between 120,000 and 150,000 seats an hour to leave London, and under 35,000 passengers an hour!

    1. Mark
      November 17, 2013

      This chart shows just how insignificant rail is in our overall transport picture:


      It may be growing fast from a small base, but it is the roads that have the real capacity – and they have been neglected for too long, so we now have falling average speeds


      and reduced reliability of journey times


      There’s a map on p 5 of the last link that offers clues as to where road investment might be useful – much of it in the North and the Midlands, as well as into East Anglia and the South West. It is roads, not rail, that will help with economic regeneration.

      1. Alan Wheatley
        November 17, 2013

        In rural areas average speeds are falling because of the introduction of lower speed limits. These lower limits are not needed. For instance, the DfT argue that lower limits are needed through villages because of the needs of villagers on foot. But my experience is of lots of cars travelling at unnecessarily slow speed with not a villager in sight!

        The DfT are institutionally anti car and pro rail. No wonder they are seeking out excuses to reduce the speed of cars while arguing the case for higher speeds by rail.

        1. Edward2
          November 17, 2013

          Indeed Alan, near me roads that have been at one safe limit for decades have recently been reduced to a new much lower limit.
          For example a dual carriageway which once was 70 is now 50 and a main route into Birmingham has been reduced from 40 to a very unsuitable 30 limit for a dual carriageway which is ignored by nearly all commuter traffic.
          The Council is also asking for 20 limits on all side roads and all country roads to be reduced from 60 to a maximum of 40.

          Its not about road safety as they claim, but examples of our local Council leaders anti car attitudes in action

      2. Leslie Singleton
        November 17, 2013

        Mark–Economic Regeneration?? I thought HS2 was about accommodating the desires of the millions of people (I don’t think) who cannot restrain their urges to leave London (having had to get there first unless they live there) for a Parkway outside Birmingham each day. Are they really going to send freight to Euston??? How very odd. I remember when there was a freight depot (look right as you leave the Station and see a spur running in to a lovely old (real) Arch) at Liverpool Street but that closed yonks ago.

  28. Lindsay McDougall
    November 19, 2013

    “The Secretary of State argues that commuters into Euston already face insufficient capacity and many have to stand. He agrees that lengthening trains can help, and is continuing with the plans to do this. The recent existing railway upgrade has increased the numbers of trains using the West coast mainline as well. He says that an additional 36% capacity could be bought for £20bn by making further improvements to the present railway, which he thinks is not enough.”

    If immigration and population growth are limited, and the prejudice against increasing highway capacity and air capacity is removed, then an additional 36% capacity will be enough. It is so long since our real wealth per capita increased that people have forgotten the golden rule – when incomes increase, the demand for car ownership goes up.

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