Getting infrastructure done

The government wishes to crank up the scale and pace of new infrastructure investment in the UK. Many agree we need better railway links, more road capacity, more schools, hospitals and houses given the rising population, faster broadband and more water and electricity supply.

The government inherits a very expensive large railway project. The costs has spiralled before much work has been done on the ground. The eventual completion of the project linking northern cities to the southern and Midlands sections will not be complete until 2040. That is in five full Parliaments time. Who knows what our needs will then be, what technology will then be available for personal transport, and what the size of the population will then be.

HS2 is a reminder of what is wrong with UK infrastructure procurement. It takes far too long. It is highly contentious with the public. It is ruinously expensive. The governments that back it and take the flak in the early stages for it do not enjoy the benefits of its completion.

The Taxpayers Alliance has now drawn up a schedule of many transport projects we could afford if we cancelled the big line. Some of these are ready to go, and some are very popular in their localities. They are all much smaller than HS2 but taken together could provide a lot of improvement.

In order to speed up infrastructure investment there are some rules the government could adopt that would make it easier. Backing schemes that are strongly supported in an area would assist. Offering compensation as part of the plan to those who will be inconvenienced or adversely affected by the development would be a great help in speeding projects and reducing opposition. If someone’s house is close to a planned new rail line they should be offered enough money to be able to move if they don’t like the noise.

It is easier to put in broadband, water and power investments than to put in new roads or railway lines, as they have much less impact on people. They are much needed and can attract wholly or mainly private finance to pay for them. The government needs to expedite permissions and licences.

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  1. formula57
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Is it too cynical to suppose that somewhere in Whitehall a civil servant is recording that amongst the considerable benefits of HS2 are that “It takes far too long. It is highly contentious with the public. It is ruinously expensive. The governments that back it and take the flak in the early stages for it do not enjoy the benefits of its completion”?

    The Government must show courage and vision by cancelling HS2. Surely the people’s Blue Boris will not let the people down on this matter.

    • Ian@Barkham
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Lobbying of simple minded MP’S stops sensibilities coming into the discussion.

      Lobbying in Parliament is a big business in it’s own right and from my knowledge it appears to be funded primarily by foreign interests

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        We’ve had ten years of Tory government, and never have the roads been in such poor repair in my memory.

        I think that this says what we need to know about the Tory attitude to the importance of infrastructure.

        • Otto
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink


        • NickC
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

          Martin, The government is responsible for motorways and major trunk roads. All the rest are the responsibility of the local authorities. Do you ever get anything right?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

            Yes, I’m writing about major roads and motorways.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          Councils repair potholes.
          They have decided to give it a low priority.

          • dixie
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 4:34 am | Permalink

            For example, Wokingham decided to give their highest priority to themselves and spend humongous amounts of money on Wokingham town commercial and residential development, leaving the borough at large with potholes, bad transport and civic infrastructures.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            I was also writing about the major routes maintained by the Government, which are equally neglected.

            Yes, the Tories have drastically cut central funding for local authorities, which means that road repairs will have to be funded by what is still essentially a Poll Tax, the Council Tax.

            Raising these is politically impossible for many councils, and they are rightly expected to prioritise, say, protecting girls in care from organised abuse.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            Yes it is about priorities in local council spending.
            They think road repair is a low priority.

            My local council has recently spent many millions on its own offices and millions on IT systems which work badly and millions on a new equality and diversity department.
            Plus they sacked their last Chief Executive paying him half a million to go and the new one gets a half a million salary.
            As you say, priorities.

    • Hope
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Haewei is a disaster. What an appalling decision. If Mayhab agreed it you know it is wrong. Perhaps a civil service plot to put a wedge between US and U.K. To help Brexit fail.

      Johnson’s decisions are awful so far: continue abuse of honour system three days in office, servitude plan to put UK in vassalage against his own criticisms of telling the EU to go whistle and now Haewei! IDS says it beggars belief, he is right. We have Baroness Morgan and govt claiming U.K. needs to diversify from “high risk” Haewei! Why take the high risk! Idiocy to say the least.

      HS2 needs to scraped and money used for northern rail connection and rverse Beecham cuts.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Hope. Exactly what my husband and myself were saying last night. What a dreadful decision virtually snubbing the US in favour of the Chinese deal. What do our politicians think they are doing when we could have a great relationship with the US and quite frankly I would rather that than with the EU who are all proving by their hostile actions that they are not and never have been our friends. Boris is a real disappointment already and if this is the way it’s going to go then I can’t see me ever bothering to vote again. It looks very much like we will give in to EU demands over fishing too. What a load of wimps.

      • Hope
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        China will not allow companies from the West into its technology infrastructure, yet somehow it is okay for the other way around!

        Cannot Johnson see this will come to haunt him and his govt when there is no reason to allow the “high risk” in the first place.

        Could we now be told if arch remainer Sidwell is behind this decision after his decision to sack minister Williamson last year?

      • BJC
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        Hope: We have a situation where the government have been complicit in making “smart” motorways become death traps. They’re not meeting the specification agreed leaving users in deadly danger when they break down, yet no-one is being held responsible for the unilateral changes that have been introduced. If something as glaringly obvious as the specification of a motorway isn’t monitored to ensure compliance, what guarantee is there that the far less-obvious Huawei 5G infrastructure is going to fare any better? It’s akin to Grenfell and HS2…..nothing checked, nothing controlled, nothing reported. Quite frankly, it’s an abomination.

      • UK Qanon
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        Hope – May’s administration was in cahoots with the Obama adminstration who SOLD the USA to CHINA. Ask yourself why did May resign. Do your research people it is all available.
        HS2, cancel immediately. When governments are involved in spending other peoples money, billions are wasted .
        We have seen it time and time again and it looks as if Boris is following the same agenda. I am praying common sense will prevail however that sixth sense is very lacking amongst the majority.

        • Mitchel
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          They thought that China would forever be a grateful, obedient manufacturing colony of the west,churning out cheap tat at minimum cost.

          Whoever thought that clearly had never picked up a Chinese history book.

    • glen cullen
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      You are correct that the first visible decision from a post brexit government that the people can see, would be to show courage and vision by cancelling HS2. It would indicate a no nonsense let get thing done approach

    • Bob
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Even the billions that have already been wasted would have paid for some useful improvements to the current creaking infrastructure. Govt might consider that time spent getting to and from existing rail termini and parking capacity thereat.

  2. formula57
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    While no doubt true that “It is easier to put in broadband…” the strong commitment to widespread availability in the near future of superfast broadband repeatedly uttered by May the Quisling has not been fulfilled. Doing so would seem more relevant to citizens’ lives than reaching Birmingham an alleged twenty minutes sooner.

    • Hope
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      JR, how about our currency weight and measures to the heart of infrastructure? When we joined the EEC without consent we had our whole currency changed, not just a fifty pence piece. We had decimalisation. Could we change back? Same with weights and measures. I want to return to the system we gave the world like the US, not just an isolated small section of the world.

      Australia and New Zealand also opposed to Haewei, not just the US as MSM are focusing on.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        I have read,but not verified,that Australia is not quite so anti Huawei as is made out in public.It will be interesting to see what they actually do following our decision.

      • villaking
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Hope – I assume this is a joke about putting currency weight and measures at the heart of infrastructure?! I see some quite outlandish British Empire and all that views on here but please tell me there isn’t really someone advocating a return to pounds, shillings and pence? And the “isolated small section of the world” that uses metric is actually all of the world apart from the US, Liberia and Myanmar!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        SI units (Système Internationale) are the standard for science and for technology the world over, and ever more important.

        You lost.

        Get over it.

        • NickC
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          Martin, You need to have a word with your favourite the EU empire, and also the Americans. The EU uses metric, not SI, and the USA mostly uses “customary units” – neither metric nor SI – for technology and societal purposes.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            I wasn’t writing about social and low tech matters, was I?

            The UK still serves beer in pints and quite right too, for instance.

    • L Jones
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Broadband – yes. But there are still many parts of the country where there is no mobile phone signal. Shouldn’t this be addressed as a priority?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      We haven’t even got reliable broadband in our street yet. We are paying for supposedly super fast broadband and yet the whole thing keeps dropping out all the time. It’s a sham.

  3. agricola
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Prioritise according to need. Obtain shopping lists from local authorities, interest groups etc. Judge against their impact on the improvement of local lives and their enhancement of local wealth and long term job creation.Where building or civil engineering are involved ensure it is a 24/7 operation. Neutralise Nimby and protest groups. Change the whole planning culture from negative to can do and 20% overkill. I use the overkill phrase in relation to transport projects because on completion they attract usage, frequently greater than that envisaged.

    Move ministeries to north of the Liverpool/ Hull line. Awaking with the Trough of Bowland on yor doorstep would be infinitely more attractive than Brixton. If Health was moved it might rapidly impact on the North of England, as would Transport. The movers and shakers would recognise the need in their area of competance.

    Excessive population is behind much of this infrastructure need so aim via taxation and immigration to put the trend into longterm reverse.

  4. formula57
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Cranking up scale and pace might draw lessons from the speedy construction of Huoshenshan Hospital, the makeshift hospital for treating patients infected with the novel coronavirus, now underway in Wuhan.

    A thousand-bed hospital built in six days, due to open next Monday! And similarly, Leishenshan Hospital due to open two days later with 1,300 beds.

  5. Andy
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    The government inherits HS2 from itself. The Tories have been in power for a decade. The country is in a mess because of your party!

    If schools and hospitals haven’t been built it is because you haven’t built them. If broadband hasn’t been installed it is because the Tories have not done it.

    Many of the same people are still in Cabinet. This is not a fresh start. It is more of the same uselessness.

    The fact is that there are not many shovel ready projects with which to bribe your temporary new friends in the north. And many of your own constituents in the south will resent paying more tax to try to appease unappeasable whinging northerners.

    And the reason why big projects take so long in this country is because MPs are too gutless to take a hard decision and to stick with it. They’ve built parts of HS2 already. Billions has been spent. Parts of Euston have been knocked down. Scrapping it now would genuinely be bonkers as it will only be reinstated by tbt next Labour government – and the cost will be even higher. In the meantime we’ll have missed out on years of better trains.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      The next Labour government ? Ha ha ha.

    • agricola
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Pray tell us, apart from your good self, what colour of government will achieve this utopia you envisage. You exceed your imaginary and maligned northerners in your constant negative whinging. Where is the positive vision.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      This is becoming disturbing, I agree with Andy again (though much of the UK mess has accumulated from short term/quick win policy thinking over three quarters of a century).

      Although there is an opportunity to escape the narrow ‘thinking’ of Osborne and Hammond, and the backdrop of the Maastricht citeria, it is the Tories that have been in power for 10 years. It is the Tories that have not asked fundamental questions about health, it is the Tories that have not got on with HS2 (continued failing to leverage the cities to benefit the whole) etc. It is the Tories that have had 10 years to enable the growth of civil engineering competence and resources (if there is a constraint). It is the Tories that left ‘recovery’ to monetary policy and wealth inequality creating low interest and, at best, undirected QE. Etc. Being the best of a very bad bunch (or being saved by Farage) does not clear the Tories of the lack of delivery of the past decade including the tardy performance on Hs2 – why did it take until Mr Thurston was in place (2017) to start to get on top of things? Of course local and regional projects can be quicker (and allow the regions to be played off against one another in political games) but the govt is now expected to lead nationally as well and it needs to deliver this national project (together with the project learning form the future recognised by the NAO). Delayed/no HS2 confirms no national view, no learning, more competence decay.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Andy, The HS2 programme originally began under the Labour government in 2009, our local comedian slated “former Labour leader Ed Miliband over his comments regarding HS2. Mr Bishop said that Miliband had the ‘opportunity as leader of the Labour Party to stop this.” Lord Adonis was fully on-board and was on tv all the time selling the project to us. “The official price tag for HS2 was set out in the 2015 budget and came in at just under £56bn. However, the government estimate for the project has since almost doubled with the latest figure rising to £106bn – according to an official review leaked to the Financial Times in January 2020” see BBC report on HS2 “A mixture of management issues, tricky soil conditions and unrealistic land valuation has caused the cost of HS2 to spiral. Former executive Doug Thornton told BBC Panorama in December 2018 that initial estimates for acquiring property and land were “enormously wrong”
      Last year, a freedom of information request revealed that property costs are forecast to reach £5bn, compared to the original £1.1bn estimate. The comedian paid £2.25m for his home and was compensated £6.8m just eight years later that is London inflation in an area that doesn’t increase in price like London!

      Also Andy do you not remember that Labour left the Country on its knees, “there is no money left”, with warnings from the EU, IMF etc. that the debt and deficit had to be reduced, our credit rating dropped? You have a selective memory, as always the Tories have to fix the “Bust”.

      However, where I do agree with you is that politicians need to make tough decisions and stand by them, long term decisions that affect spending for more than two parliaments should have cross-party agreement so that political buck-passing as you’re doing can’t carry on.

      • villaking
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Tories have to “fix the bust”? debt to GDP ratio is far higher now than in 2010!

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

          from UK public spending “In the Great Recession the deficit ballooned, to 6.9 percent of GDP in 2010. Since then the deficit has steadily declined, to less than one percent GDP in 2017. At the end of March 2019 the “current budget deficit” was a surplus of 0.9 percent of GDP.”

      • Andy
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Careful – you’ll make a habit of it. Actually if you read carefully you will see I am far from a raging lefty.

        I like big infrastructure projects because they boost the economy – not for a few weeks but for decades and more. HS2 is not your railway. It is not my railway. It is my children’s and grandchildren’s railway. They will be using it in 2100 and beyond. No forecast can accurately predict what our economy will look like then – but it will have paid for itself several times over by the time it is eventually obsolete hundreds of years from now.

        The reason why costs on these projects always overrun is because politicians do not stop tinkering. Hs2 probably would have cost £36bn if it had been approved and built in 2009. But there are inquiries, and delays. And then it is cancelled. And then it is reinstated. And then it is tweaked. And approved. And then unapproved. And then reapproved. And there is an investing. And an inquiry. And a new government which does it all again. All this politicking massively increases the price and timescale. Stop interfering. Let them build the bloody thing and then it’s done.

        And approve HS3, Crossrail 2 and other schemes without delay. We need this stuff built. We cannot keep relying on Victorian infrastructure when the rest of the developed world has long since moved on.

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          I like big infrastructure projects too, there are many that I believe are required as a priority over this project, I personally feel the London to Birmingham service is good and fast as it is.
          I would like a metro/tube system in major towns like Birmingham and Manchester especially to connect train stations and the airports.
          I would have started HS2 from Glasgow to Crewe via Manchester Airport fast.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      A Labour government introduced HS2. Granted, a weak Tory one rubber stamped it joining the voices ‘ they all have one, so should we’. Cost estimates are now triple – where have we heard that before? One third of the first phase is via tunnel, and will be electrified, alright in principle but another added compexity. If promises are proved correct, a big IF, some business people might get to Birmingham 15 to 20 minutes quicker than now….but only from Euston central London. WOW. an impressive use of north of £100bn ?

      • Caterpillar
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Fred H

        It is disingenuous to compare the full Y-network cost (spread over a delayed /extended delivery schedule) to one aspect of the first phase only.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

          If you think the latest wild estimate is for the whole network, rolling-stock, house and land compensation, electrification and signalling is the top cost. No more oh dear additions, then … we’ll hold you to that.

    • acorn
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Andy, there are some questions I would like answered by this government concerning HS2. By world standards the price per km is ridiculous. Plus, the EU norm is circa 18% of the cost per km is spent on buying rights-of-way over land and financing relocation costs where there is no alternative. You can halve that to 9% in China. I would like to know what that percentage is for HS2; then we could find out who is screwing whom on this project.

      But But But! Fiscal policy wise; if the £106 billion is being spent wholly inside the UK domestic economy; that is, none of it is ending up in the “foreign currency reserves” accounts of foreign governments; it can be considered a government fiscal injection into UK households, raising, if somewhat skewed, households’ spending power.

      Trump is currently running a 5% budget deficit in the US ($1,100 billion) with all sorts of tax cuts on top of previous Presidents’ tax cuts. The FED’s monetary policy thinking, will be to raise interest rates to counteract its anticipation of future inflation. Inflation caused by those tax cuts when, likely, there will be no inflation due to the spare capacity available in the economy.

      Alas; it is not ideologically possible for a laissez faire, neo-liberal Conservative government, to run a 5% budget deficit in the UK; like Trump, to build needed national infrastructure; and, create demand side household spending power. Even if they had the first idea how to scope projects for there socio-economic value added.

    • steve
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink


      “…. unappeasable whinging northerners.”

      That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.

      What’s up Andy, run out of pensioners ?

    • NickC
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Andy, This is what you’re suffering from:
      Escalation of commitment is a human behaviour pattern in which an individual or group facing increasingly negative outcomes from a decision, action, or investment nevertheless continues the behaviour instead of altering course.” (Wiki). Poor you!

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Indeed but politicians do so like “Grand Projects” (to pin their names to) rather than lots of more minor ones that could improve thousands of things, in thousands of place, cost far less and give a better return. Then of course the vested interests hire lobbyists and pay politicians so be “consultants”. There are not other sensible explanations for this project or indeed for all the renewable subsidies.

    With driverless cars on the way, electric cars or clean hydrogen, gas or fuel cell cars we need more roads, more parking, far less road congestion, more tunnels & underpasses, overpasses, bridges, better junctions and wider motorways. Over 90% of journeys are made by road and even train journeys are often partly made partly by road (at one or even both ends often two ways). I do not think I know anyone who is in favour of HS2 even train enthusiasts and certainly not anyone concerned for the environment. The cost/benefit ration is dire. Indeed is it a positive at all given all the damage it will do to businesses, the environment and to people’s lives and homes during the construction?

    • Nig l
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Nonsense on the renewable subsidies, it has driven investment in the technology and the output cost down.

      Agree totally about vanity projects and what is needed re electric cars etc. The big proven investment case is super fast broadband. With vodafone already having experimentally transmitted a hologram, the need for face to face meetings is decreasing and one day will be almost obsolete. I have two friends who now do not commute every day because they can home work effectively. City traders for instance could already trade from home instead of vast Canary Wharf monoliths.

      Get super fast broadband on the trains turning them into mobile offices and that so called 30 minute saving will be irrelevant.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        One should fund R&D to get to something that is cost effective and works and only then roll it out into mass production. Pushing things out prematurely before they really work or are remotely cost effective (using taxes taken off people who would have used them far better or rigging the energy market) is a very, very silly thing to do indeed.

        You end up with lots of duff technology all over the place. Not even any significant C02 saving is being made (even if you believe in the C02 religion).

        • dixie
          Posted January 31, 2020 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

          In the real world nothing is rolled out only when it is perfect. Whether it is cars, phones, computers, aircraft, or anything, products get rolled out and improved incrementally

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        I just heard Boris saying he want to ban the mining of old biofuels (coal) worldwide! Sure how on earth is he going to do that in say China (and why anyway)?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Why not burn the coal we have here at Drax and bury (or build with) the wood they import to burn at Drax with a net saving in C02 plus saving load of transportation costs!

          Oh sorry is that against the “old biofuels” evils new “biofuels” get you to heaven religion?

          Damian Green on Politics Live just now every freight train takes 600 lorries off the road!

          Sure mate but that is must be a very big train and then you need 600 lorries at each end to do the end connections and loading and unloading often as a double (or worse) journey one full one empty. Unless it is perhaps a coal mine going to a power station.

          Is this man another dopey PPE chap or is he just making it up? Seems like they are idiotically going ahead with HS2 to me!

      • glen cullen
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        I’d perfer just a seat on a train and one that was on time and thats cheaper than a car journey….not really bothered if its got broadband, nor if there are lots of new shops at stations etc

        Scrape HS2 and improve the local commuter train service

      • NickC
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Nig 1, Nonsense, “renewables” such as Wind and Solar need rolling, near 100%, back-up, because Wind and Solar (in the UK) are intermittent. The cost of that back-up construction is not included in the cost of either. Thus intermittents can never be cheaper to build than their back-ups, however much investment is made in them.

    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      @LL; “With driverless cars on the way, electric cars or clean hydrogen, gas or fuel cell cars we need more roads, more parking, far less road congestion…”

      Anyone else spot the oxymoron there, we tried that, Mr Life, in the 1960s and ’70s…

      The USA has 12 lane freeways, they can suffer conic congestion.

      Changing the means of propulsion will not change driving habits, that is why anyone with a clue are re-examining PT, from trams, trolley-buses to standard rail transit schemes and have been since the 1970s, I assume you have never heard of US schemes such as BART in California, or MARC in Maryland?

      PS, talking of rail, you have still not told me of that car or bus that can carry 1000 passengers in a single journey…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        How often do you have 1000 people who want to go from exactly A to exactly B at exactly the same time anyway?

        The simple answer (if you do need this occasionally) is 13 double decker buses or 100 mini buses or perhaps 200 cars . Far more flexible at each end too and on the routes available to them. In a few years cars and perhaps even buses may not even need the drivers.

        • jerry
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          @LL; Every morning in the London areas, what do you think all those Brighton to London trains, stopping only at East Croydon and perhaps Gatwick are all about…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        A train is basically a few coaches that are very limited and constrained to one or two routes by a restrictive track systems and stations.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          And the passengers have to travel to a station from their starting point then travel to their end point by some other form of transport.
          These extra journeys are not included in the wonderful green-ness of the train.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            Exactly. Plus you cannot do drop offs or pick ups on route or change you mind part way or carry that much with you.

          • jerry
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; For that matter the environmental costs of cars are not taken into consideration when debating the benefits of the motor car, especially so called eco-friendly EVs.

          • jerry
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; You are simply wrong when you suggest people do not include getting to/from a railway station, that is why many (not just those with a green agenda) talk of wanting an integrated transport system with local buses serving railway stations timed with the arrival/departure of trains.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            Jerry when the eco benefits of train journeys are boasted about, they compare the train journey to the car journey taken by one person.
            But they never include the eco effect of the journeys to the starting point station nor the journey from the end point station to the final destination.
            Mind you I like trains.

          • jerry
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

            @LL; “[you can’t] carry that much with you

            You do talk utter bilge water at time, parents used to take full sized prams on the train, people used to take bicycles, the latter with or without having to pay a supplement. Of course back in those days not only were there guards on every train but a ‘guards vans’ to put bulky items in.

            Then what about all those who travel on the trains serving airports or holiday resorts here in the UK, full suitcases for their week or two in the sun…

            Freddie Laker, remember Laker Airways, back in the mid to late 1970s, even sponsored adapted trains that had extra storage capacity for such luggage.

          • jerry
            Posted January 31, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; I note you did not reply to a single word I wrote in my reply to you regarding integrated PT systems…

        • jerry
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          @LL; Thanks for confirming you know nothing about railways other than perhaps what you learnt reading the books of one Wilbert Vere Awdry to your children! 🙄

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      There is no future for driverless cars with the state of our roads. They may work in a totally controlled environment but it will be impossible for them to negotiate the endless number and variety of hazards human drivers are forced to negotiate. They will thus further divide the country into zones. People will be killed who wouldn’t be otherwise, as we are seeing with ‘smart’ motorways. Who was the marketeer who thought up such a stupid name?

      Those who pursue the idea are of the same mindset as those who wish to force HS2 on us – technology for technology’s sake and never mind the cost.

  7. agricola
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Here is a radical thought for you. We have a large and growing elderly population that will prove increasingly expensive to care for.

    Consider setting up care communities in healthier parts of Europe. Those that can afford to do it themselves have been benefitting from better climate, cheaper living costs and medical facilities for many past years. Properly constructed facilities with all the services could be the answer for those that fancied a bit of dolce vita in their retirement. It would be cheaper than doing it in London or Liverpool and the benefit to those volunteering would be markedly better than remaining where they are. Other northern nations do this so it is not revolutionary.

    • BeebTax
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      I’d like to reserve a place, please.

    • Frances Truscott
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I live on the coast. They are trying to build lots of new 5 bed houses where there are no jobs or potential for commuting. What they should have proposed is a retirement village with its own medical and sports facilities. Also the program about elderly living showed benefits from communal living and having pets. Sticking people in lonely rabbit hutches is an awful idea.
      Not sure people would want to live in the sun though away from all English and social contacts.

      • agricola
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Participation would be voluntary, no compulsion. About 1 million Brits live in the warmer areas of Europe already. Why not include the Caribean. It just requires a bit of thought and discussion with our continental neighbours.

    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      @agricola; That sounds like another idea that would keep the UK tied to the EU’s coattails…

      But if the idea has merit, why limit it to Europe, why not set up such communities and facilities in say the warmer states of the USA (perhaps even Australia), plenty of land, a common language (sorts of…) and as the NHS would in effect carry the cost of the medical care facilities within these communities and their residents no US medical insurance problems.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        Jerry. Put me down for a place in the US. You can keep Europe.

    • Brigham
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Many years ago I was a medical rep. One year we had our annual conferance in Cyprus
      Apparently it was half the cost of having it in a hotel in England, ansd this included the air fare for chartering an aeroplane. I think this could be looked into when we are thinking about the elderly. I must declare an interest. I am 85.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Sweden has a convalescence home in Tenerife. It is far cheaper than equivalent in Sweden. It comes with its own church and sports centre.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Seventeen million of you voted to remove that right from all of our people.

      What is the matter with you?

      Sure, if you’re relatively rich then you can still do it, but that’s that.

      • jerry
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        @MiC; Wrong again, people retired to many of the western-block EU27 countries well before the right to free movement you cite, I knew people who moved to southern Europe back in the 1960s before the UK was even a member of the EEC.

        What Brexit has done, as you admit in your final sentence, is to stop those without the financial means from moving to the EU27 -or the UK- and then free loading off either their hosts or the UK tax payer.

      • steve
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink


        “Seventeen million of you voted to remove that right from all of our people.”

        As was our right to do so.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

          And that is why you did it – spite towards those who had better lives than you did, or who were younger and could look forward to that.

          • Fred H
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            infamy infamy – you’ve got it in for me….

      • Edward2
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        There is nothing to stop people living abroad.
        The EU and UK are both agreed on that.
        Before the EU existed people bought property, lived, worked and retired in Europe.

      • NickC
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Millions of holidays were taken abroad by British people before 1 Jan 1973 (UK entry to EEC). There were over 4 million in 1971 alone. The only limit to the numbers was wealth and technology, not your EU empire. If you want to go and live and work abroad you need the permission of the natives. That right has been restored by leaving the EU.

    • Andy
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Why would Spain want a bunch of elderly Brits sent there?

      Spain is keen for young Spaniards to have opportunities around Europe – including in the UK. In its wisdom the Tory Brexit government has told foreigners – particularly young ones who would expect to earn less money – that they are not welcome here.

      Spain, in return, should make it clear that elderly Britons should stay in the UK.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Carefully avoiding the main driver for Spanish youth wanting to leave is a 14% unemployment rate and dreadful EU/Euro created austerity.
        That is why the want to escape to the UK.

    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    ‘working and indeed waking moment’

  9. Javelin
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Boris’ decision to chose a Chinese tech firm for the UK 5G infrastructure comes across as extremely foolish AT BEST.

    I can only think he has bought into the globalist propaganda that the petrodollar is not long for this world. After witnessing the early medieval Chinese hygene practices reflecting their culture on the ground cause a global pandemic even a fool would realise the fauxness of globalism.

    What is it about some politicans who completely lose their sense and political
    instinct when they become Prime Minister.

    Boris the clown is back. Trust me the whole country thinks this.

    • Hope
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      You are spot on. He is weak and easily led. From his personal life to professional life. He is not to be trusted. The servitude plan starts Friday, it is Mayhabs servitude plan which he is lying to say it is a new deal! We can read and we know when we are being lied to. Change parliamentary Act as a priority and sack Boris.
      Rolf Norfolk has a good article in Con Woman today- life beyond EU which compliments this blog..

    • hefner
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Is that Boris the clown with his ‘faux nez’?

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      For a more measured view,google “Did the US just concede defeat in China Tech War?” by David P Goldman in the Asia Times,26/1/20- a writer and media outlet I have found to be ahead of the pack when it comes to objective analysis on east-west matters.

      The comments from Steve Mnuchin about the UK’s choice are much more nuanced (and positive for the UK)than the neo-con,nut-job commentators the UK media seem to want to promote.

      Now wait for China to produce an effective competitor to Boeing/Airbus in civil aviation-they are working hard at it(it’s part of their China 2025 programme)and since last year have been collaborating with the Russians.Then the game really will be over for the USA.

    • dixie
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 4:59 am | Permalink

      Government is certainly involved in approval but Boris didn’t choose Huawei, the operators did – BT (EE), Vodaphone, Three, O2. These operators already have Huawei equipment, they have had for some time making choices on commercial and operation grounds.

      So the questions to ask are why hasn’t Huawei’s presence in these networks ever been questioned before and why did these “UK” operators chose to use foreign equipment rather than UK systems when they were available.

  10. Ian@Barkham
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    It does show how out of touch the Westminster bubble is when they start believing vanity projects, HS2, have a bearing on growing societies wealth. When a much easier project, but less visible, 1gig broadband will impact on the prosperity on all, virtually overnight.

    Even there as a result of lobbying, broadband expansion has been left as a US project in the UK. With all the real benefits going to the US.

    The UK is now trapped into handing its future to US or Chinese by virtue of the spying on UK citizens these States deploy, how bizarre. It comes down to good lobbying by foreign entities able to distort the democratic principles of the Country. Having a good sounding UK name does not make something a UK controlled entity.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Dominic Raab yesterday:- “GCHQ have confirmed categorically that how we construct our 5G and full fibre public telecoms networks has “nothing” to do with how we will share classified data,”……”Intelligence sharing will not be put at risk or would ever be put at risk by this government.”

    Really? So GCHQ think it has “nothing at all” to do with 5G and the digital fibre network do they?

    • tonyb
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink


      i wonder if the sharing of our personal information whether for govt purposes such as Car tax or passports or by banks, on demand tv, smart phones, shopping sites we use or web sites we subscribe to etc will fall into the ‘classified data’ or ‘public network’ realm?

      In other words, the govt may be able to keep its secrets but will the rest of us be susceptible to hacking?

    • hefner
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      There was a joke by John Crace in the Guardian that most internal communications within the Government are still basically at a 3G level. Could this really be a joke?

    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Johnson aligning himself with the EU in recent days. Huawei will become part of our communications infrastructure. Yes, read that again. Understand, there are no private companies in China. If they don’t belong to China’s Marxist State then they bow to its domination and express loyalty to it and carry out its wishes

    This decision is a huge snub to Trump and our US allies and a greasy cosying up to Merkel. It is Johnson expressing his liberal virtue in rejecting Trump. Unfortunately, it is the British population who will pay the price when the next British government begins to work with Huawei that will destroy our privacy and lead to appalling monitoring

    I never voted Tory at the last election because I know that what we are seeing is a sham of a party without regard for the party’s most sacred of values.

    • Hope
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Nor did I. It has been clear for many years there is no conservatism in the Tory party. Closest thing was Brexit Party.

      Miliband was derided as “Red Ed” and a threat to the country, yet he could have lost his seat if the Tory party came to an accommodation with the Brexit party! Threat my arse. Mayhab implemented his policies and stated in parlaiment she would build on them!

      Johnson was lucky with Corbyn leading the opposition. Next normal leader will be the Tory party downfall with a host of evidence from poor decisions. Starting with snubbing our greatest allies and security partners.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      Here here.

      This is also a statement by the government and the Tory Party that they see our future with the EU.

  13. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Whose bright idea was it in the first place?

  14. ian terry
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The money being wasted on HS2 would be better invested in the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen gas to fuel industry, homes and all types of vehicles. It would satisfy the green lobby as the only produces water as a by product. Other countries are investing in hydrogen as a more than credible alternative solution to electric for all elements of their energy requirements.

  15. Ian Wilson
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Planning and approval take years (i.e Heathrow runway – what happened to the Hub by the way?) but actual building is beset by interminable delay (i.e. Crossrail).

    Perhaps we could learn from Victorian builders. I believe the Crystal Palace came in on time and under budget. On the mighty Forth bridge work was a month behind plan when they tried to join the two halves of the first suspended span and cooler autumn temperatures prevented inserting the bolts. Ingenuity prevailed and they wrapped naphtha soaked rags around the steelwork and ignited it to achieve expansion. yes, ONLY a month behind schedule!

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 4:21 am | Permalink

      Where these projects you mentioned State or private ventures ?

  16. Bryan Harris
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    HS2 is also very indicative of how government and local authorities go about acquiring approval for a project.

    1. Costs are underestimated, deliberately it seems, to get initial approval.

    2. Ongoing reviews ignore reality.

    There needs to be better processes in place, with responsibility being taken for mismanaged projects and costly over-runs.

  17. Everhopeful
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Might it not be better to make sure that the ticket machines at stations are working and that we can all see a Dr when necessary and that “Smart” ( what’s the death toll now?)motorways are discontinued…..
    BEFORE churning up yet more of the countryside and causing ever increasing misery and chaos?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Of course it would be.

  18. George Brooks
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    HS2 is a ‘Grayling’ monument is it not? That says a lot, as he was certainly accident prone.

    Quite a large amount of the early spiralling costs of these huge projects come from land purchases and the attached litigation which is a ‘bean feast’ for the legal profession. In France for example if the government wants to put a railway across your land you are paid the going rate for the area needed. There is no option to contest or negotiate.

    There are many more projects that could be undertaken that would benefit millions of commuters instead of a small number of intercity travellers so HS2 must be canned

    Reply Mr Grayling inherited the project and sought to put a cap on its costs.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      reply to reply … ‘Mr Grayling inherited the project and sought to put a cap on its costs.’
      Pity he failed miserably.

    • Hope
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      EU infrastructure project nodded through at our great expense! Cameron has no excuse JR does he!

    • Mark
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      The land can be re-sold. It is not a sunk cost. Gravy train fees of course are not recoverable.

  19. Iain Gill
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    new build properties are still being built with copper phone lines. most of the cost of installing faster broadband is digging up the ground to replace copper with fibre optic lines. really all new build should be installed with fibre optice lines, this would be easy and cheap to mandate.

    if you keep installing new copper lines the end day of improving things just keeps moving further into the future.

  20. Frances Truscott
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Natural resources are finite. The southeast is massively overpopulated and short of water which cannot be conjured up. Rubbish disposal is also finite.
    So don’t blithely accept ongoing population rise. Stop paying people to have more than one child per adult with benefits and “free” health and education.

  21. Kevin
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Forgive me if my mind is currently focused on a different high-speed journey for this country. Jacob Rees-Mogg reportedly warned two years ago, that, in spite of the People’s Vote, the outcome of the transition period being negotiated with the EU by the Government would be that this island, for the first time since the eleventh century, “accepted rules imposed by a foreign power without having any say over them”. As of 1st February 2020, this acceptance will be embodied in Article 127 of the Conservative Party’s Withdrawal Agreement.

    Downing Street is apparently satisfied that it takes on average two years for significant new rules to pass through the EU. This seems a surprisingly lackadaisical attitude, given the experiences that the Government has already had with the passage through the UK legislature of the Cooper-Letwin Act (which you described as “lightning legislation”), and the Benn Act. (Of the latter, you wrote that its passage “trampled over” the normal debating time that would be allotted to legislation of such significance.) Surely, the Government’s approach to risk in this area should be based on the assumption that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and on the understanding that two years is only an average.

  22. jerry
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    “The government inherits a very expensive large railway project. The costs has spiralled before much work has been done on the ground. “

    Good, that means it is easy and cost efficient to fully cancel…

    “If someone’s house is close to a planned new rail line they should be offered enough money to be able to move if they don’t like the noise.”

    Well that’s an open investigation, I wonder what HMT will say…

    I would also point out that some of these rail projects make use of disused but maintained or at the very least retained trackbeds, would the same rules apply, if so why, few people get that sort of compensation package when a smaller road is chosen for widening to become the replacement major trunk road.

    Such compensation packages should be calculated with regards to how long someone has lived at the location, after all it is often known locally that there is an option for such schemes well before any formal planning announcement, the last thing needed is inflated compensation costs due to ‘compensation tourism’ – this has been know to happen with both domestic and commercial properties.

  23. hefner
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    In ‘my’ little village ‘community’ in South of France, we have three British couples, three German ones, two Dutch ones, one of Danes. We happen to meet from time to time usually at one of the three cafe terraces, usually speaking English but careful to switch to French as soon as some locals arrive nearby.
    The problem with your idea is that practically all of these non-French people have spent some time and quite a bit of their own money refurbishing old village houses and some larger properties, giving work to local tradespeople. This appears to have been welcome by the locals, particularly the mayor as it has helped him show that the village population was rather stable and that services (mobile post-office in particular) should be kept.

    I would agree that this is my very limited experience, however I am not sure that ‘setting up’ from scratch ‘a care community’ of British retirees, possibly of Brexiter inclination (quick, bring the garlic, vampires around) would be so welcomed when thinking of discussions under the chestnut trees these last few years, most of us (French and newer additions) being rather amazed at what was happening in Britain.

    Agricola, do you see what you are advocating? Exporting your oldies when the Government is keen on attracting bright young people?

    • Fred H
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      and does your little village community find yourselves discussing how flights ‘home’ are priced? I hear the main conversation of groups of expats in Spain is just that!

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Fred H. Indeed when we lived there it was alarming how many ex pats came back to Blighty for operations on the NHS.

        • hefner
          Posted January 31, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          Any citizen of EU (EU27 from tonight) retired in France can transfer their pension rights and benefit from French Securite Sociale, after filling form S1 (Inscription en vue de beneficier de la couverture d’assurance-maladie). This can be done by all members of family moving to France with slightly different conditions for non-retirees (have to justify employment, education or training).
          Securite Sociale covers/reimburses between 70 and 80% of medical expenses. People are welcome to take a ‘mutuelle’ cover to get additional reimbursement, usually up to 95% of expenses reimbursed, 100% in case of cancer. And these ‘mutuelles’ (with just a bit of web searching and comparing tariffs) can be 10 to 40% cheaper than the British equivalent (e.g., BUPA), which obviously covers different things and are exactly comparable.

          So who needs to go back to Britain for operations on the NHS?

          • hefner
            Posted January 31, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, NOT exactly comparable.

  24. Mark B
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Tax payers money is being used to fund what should be private investment. It is also being used to subsidise those same projects even when they are privately owned. Why is government funding water and electricity ? These are private business and should be made to raise the capital for such schemes.

    We sold these business off so that the Tax payer would not be conned. What we have now, is socialised risk and privatised profits. What a con !

    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      @Mark B; The “tax payer” pays either way, either via slightly higher taxes (assuming that savings are not made elsewhere) or by way of far higher utility bills or fares etc. due to the fact HMG can always borrow money far cheaper and on better terms than any private company can, because the lenders risks are a lot less.

  25. Keith Alan
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The UK government has an awful record on infrastructure. It has frittered hundreds of billions of pounds on illegal wars, foreign aid to prop up ghastly regimes and membership of the EU yet we still don’t even have a complete dual carriageway along the south coast of England. Many places are a nightmare to travel to unless you leave at 2am. There have been schemes to improve the situation for as much as 30 years that have never been started. I can name dozens of places where improvements could be made for less than the price of a single murder drone used in Afghanistan. We are decades past the time where the money should have been used on Britain first, second and third. Spend our money here or don’t tax (steal) it in the first place.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink


    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      @Keith Alan; “There have been schemes to improve the situation for as much as 30 years”

      If you are still talking about the south coast of England, make that at least 70 years in some locations, if not pre-WW2…

      This was not the fault of the UK government though, but the local NIMBY element, often with friends at the golf club or other high places within local, even national, govt, to this day.

  26. RAF
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Has Prime Minister Johnson fallen at the first hurdle with his endorsement of Huawei? Considered to be too much of a risk to be allowed anywhere near the core of the 5G system and near military and other sensitive sites, Huawei is nevertheless allocated 35% of the deal.
    If there is any doubt about a company’s reliability, especially with regards to security, then that company should be excluded from the tendering process.
    Listening to ministers attempting to explain away their decision by focusing on the exclusions to make the case for Huawei has been risible. As an example, Nick Ferrari this morning interviewed Baroness Morgan of Cotes, formerly MP Nick Morgan, on his LBC programme. Well rehearsed in her answers she managed successfully to waffle around Ferrari’s analogy of Huawei being a friend whom you invite into your home but bar them from the study where the family silver is kept.
    Business as usual from the ‘New Tory’ government; perhaps expecting anything other than continuity from much the same cast was an expectation too far. With bigger fish to fry e.g. Brexit negotiations and HS2, will we see a ‘more of the same’ abject performance or will Johnson surprise us with something approaching radical to raise our spirits?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      I tend to think it is a mistake (but he is in rather a difficult postion over it). Employing Carney in a new green capacity was idiotic too. Let us hope he does at the very least cancel HS2!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        We will see what they are really made of in the March Budget. Is Javid (under Boris) a real Conservative or another tax borrow and piss down the drain socialist just like the last six (at least) Chancellors!

        I suspect the latter. Otherwise why on earth are they still dithering over HS2? Why have they not undone all the damage done by Osborne and Hammond yet – nor ever indicated they will do?

    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      @RAF; “perhaps expecting anything other than continuity from much the same cast was an expectation too far.”

      Indeed, bar the sensible announcement about Northern Rail today, almost all the announcements this govt has made since the GE has been akin to watching a Monty Python skit – Ministry’s of silly announcements!

      Can someone -metaphorically- knock some heads together please, preferably before 4th April…

    • dixie
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      Huawei have been in the UK public networks for some time but no-one’s chosen to make a fuss of it before.

      Instead you have all turned your faces away and ignored the dismantling and disposal of UK technology companies by witless policiticans, disloyal civil servants and the city of greed.

      Why haven’t any of the operator executive been questioned by the media demanding to know why they chose to deal with that supplier?

      • Fred H
        Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        you must have missed it, BT have been taking some years to phase all Huawei kit out of its infrastructure.

  27. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    All that infrastructure – paid for by the UK worker/taxpayer – and benefitted by the mass of immigrants who haven’t – and probably won’t – pay anything toward it.

  28. James Freeman
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    HS2 is costing taxpayers a fortune and will take four times as long to build as the Victorians, who were privately funded and had to dig the routes by hand.

    The main differences between the two builds is now construction projects have to navigate through a library of regulations. Secondly they are managed by a publicly funded monopoly, so there are no incentives for project teams to manage costs or maximise economic benefits. Even when HS2 has gone three times over budget and will now cost more going forward than we will get back, it still has massive political support.

    We need reduce the impact of overbearing regulations impacting infrastructure projects with a less prescriptive approach. There need to be a better balance between jeopardy, risk and reward for those owning the projects.

  29. Alan Jutson
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Government projects always take too long to come to fruition, always seem to cost more than estimated, rarely deliver the benefit originally outlined, so why !

    Why should it take 25 years to build a single railway line between London and the North, why should the cost be 300% above original estimates (with even more costs to follow) after only 5 years.
    Why it is alleged (BBC programme) have people and businesses en route been cheated out of proper compensation, many having had to move out without any prepayment at all.
    Why has it now been found that much of the route is through unsuitable/unstable land.

    The reason, total and utter incompetence from concept, to design, to contract tendering, to management and implementation

    A Clown could see that this was always just a huge vanity project, totally unsuited to the UK’s needs. and only now after £Billions have been spent on it, is that fact beginning to be realised.

    Have the trains been designed yet, has the signalling system been agreed, will the trains understand the signals.
    The reason I ask, is that it has been alleged that Crossway appears to have this problem in so far as there are too many types of different signalling systems en route, that the train cannot cope, all this and we are already past the completion date on that project again with millions overspent and years of delays. !
    I am also given to understand that because Crossway has taken so long to build, it has been alleged that much of the original electrics installed, now needs to be replaced because it is so many years out of date, and well into its original shelf life.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Cross rail not Crossway, predictive text strikes again.

    • Will Judge
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Hello Alan,
      I have some professional experience of private-sector infrastructure delivery. In 2003 much of the London Underground was handed over to consortium of construction companies and lenders called Metronet which was funded to renew most of the rolling-stock, railway, signalling and stations over a 30 year period. Three years later they went bust, having over-spent massively and burnt through all their shareholders’ equity. So spare me the platitudes about government infrastructure delivery if you would: if it was easy, there would be lots of private sector bidders for these projects. But there aren’t.

  30. miami.mode
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Much talk of Northern being stripped of their franchise, but on numerous routes where they compete with other operators they are often less than half the competitor’s price, albeit stopping at many more stations and therefore slower. Are some of their problems down to Network Rail or the infrastructure in general?

    Booking earlier enough will get you from Nottingham to Leeds for £8, and Leeds to Carlisle for £13 traversing the wonderful Yorkshire Dales and crossing the iconic Ribblehead viaduct.

    If they are nationalised we will see if the cheaper prices are maintained.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      “If they are nationalised we will see if the cheaper prices are maintained”

      Well perhaps cheaper for the user, but it will be far more expensive for the taxpayer and motorists who will end up subsidising the train users (who are only about 6% of travel). They already do quite often to much as 20p per passenger mile and despite this the tickets can still cost a fortune.

    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      @miami.mode; If it was a Network Rail issue all other TOCs serving the same locations would similarly be affected, after all they use the same tracks, same signalling…

  31. NickC
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Getting a Chinese state business (Huawei) to help install our new wireless network is not the way to get infrastructure done.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Well, they managed to build a fifty-five kilometre road bridge over the sea for one-tenth of the expected cost of HS2, so maybe it is?

      This now-excuse-for-a-country hasn’t even got one connecting the seventh largest economy to the largest.

      Because it would have to rely on the private sector, with all their demands for guaranteed profits.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        HS2 is s state funded project.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 30, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          So was the foot-and-mouth cleanup operation.

          It cost around £100,000 per farm in the UK, contracted out to the private sector.

          In the Netherlands, using direct labour, it cost £600 per farm.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

            You are comparing apples and oranges.
            Very different problem in Holland.

      • NickC
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        Martin, At least we now do have an excuse for a country, rather than being a subjugated province of your EU empire. The problem is that we have lost the ability to fend for ourselves over the last 47 years. It will take decades to recover.

      • jerry
        Posted January 30, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        @MiC; “[China built] a fifty-five kilometre road bridge over the sea for one-tenth of the expected cost of HS2”

        Stop trying to compare apples with pears, or are you seriously suggesting that the UK should become a command economy, with the workforce directed by central govt to work when and where. Also how much compensation, for land and buildings, did the PRC have to pay to those affected by the building of that bridge…

  32. GilesB
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    The Department for Transport should be renamed the Department for Immobility.

    And it should be based in the City with the worst transport links. Aberdeen? Aberystwyth.

    All MPs should have to do all travel, work-related or private, by public transport, bicycle or walking. Taxis and Ubers are not public transport.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Taxis are actually far worse than private cars. This as they need a professional driver and spend much of their time with no passengers (going to collect people or returning empty). So often two journeys are made for one useful one. Why then are some allowed to use bus lanes when in environmental and efficiancy terms they are at least twice as inefficient as private cars?

      Indeed what is the point of largely empty bus lanes at all they just restrict overall road space. The real reason for them is to mug motorist who put a tyre in them of course!

    • jerry
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      @GilesB; Regulated Taxis are public transport, legally they can not refuse a fare without very good reason – Uber is not a Taxi service, they are private hire.

    • miami.mode
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      GB, very noticeable that if government, or indeed the opposition, ever have any sort of awayday, such as Cabinet elsewhere other than in Downing St, they always seem to select a location that is readily accessible by train direct from London. Never anywhere such as Grimsby or Wrexham.

      It’s no wonder MPs often have a different view of transport than the general travelling public.

  33. Yossarion
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I thought your Government was trying to stop population growth and therefore the need for to much more of England’s Green and Pleasant getting concreted over killing of habitat for the wildlife and cutting down woodland whilst it appears Scotland’s population had only gone up by a few hundred thousand since the mid seventies.

  34. Bob
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Turning the hard shoulder of motorways into running lanes and putting lives at risk is the governments idea of infrastructure on the cheap. Life has now become cheap in Britain.

    Further evidenced by the leniency applied to violent crime and murder in the judicial system.

  35. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Something needs to be done about our dire railway system before investing in something new and expensive like HS2. The last time I travelled by rail there was nowhere to put my large suitcase, my seat was taken by another person who refused to move and so I had to stand for an hour before they vacated my seat. Other passengers helped with my suitcase because there sure as hell wasn’t anybody employed by the railway to help. All in all a very stressful way to travel and I will take my car next time.

  36. Derek Henry
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    The Taxpayers Alliance has now drawn up a schedule of many transport projects we could afford if we cancelled the big line.

    The Sophie choice arguement thinking we are in the gold standard and using the Euro.

    We could afford the big line and all the other projects if there are

    a) skills

    b real resources

    To complete the job.

    Finding the £’s to do the job is never an issue.

    I do not know why we keep pretending it is ?

    Ideology ? Politics ?

    It is definitely not because the monopoly issuer of the £ can’t create the £’ s. They never had a problem creating £’ s for war or trident or bailing out the banks. It seems they only have problems creating the £’ s when it is for public purpose ?

    Acting like we are still on the gold standard or use the Euro will make a pigs ear out of brexit.

  37. glen cullen
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Watching the EU parliament debate today

    Its very clear….No FTA without a complete level playing field i.e follow the EU rules or else

    Can’t understand why we are paying £39bn+ and not leaving under WTO

    • Draggi
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Because you have no alternative now- and that’s the truth of it- you’re in a mess- in the quagmire and In case you don’t know it yet the quagmire is the ‘level playing field’

  38. Straight up
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    In 1968, I travelled to London by rail or road from South Yorkshire as fast as I wished to travel. So too from Sheffield, South Yorkshire to Manchester,Lancashire, Leeds, York and Leeds to Manchester.
    I did not travel as fast as I wished from South Yorkshire to Dover, Plymouth. Norwich,and anywhere in Scotland.
    Generally speaking the main problem in 1968 was travelling diagonally. It still is.Travelling diagonally.
    Reason. WE LOOK AT MAPS up and down YES!!!!!!!

  39. steve
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    HS2 should be scrapped, the money spent on eliminating homelessness, and on fisheries protection.

  40. MeSET
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Is it true a journalist of long standing and awards has “stepped down” for quoting Shakespeare in/on a tweet and accused of racism? Ok that’s far enough. Take away the broadcasting licence from the TV company!
    If they don’t like Shakespeare in its present form they are sure as hell are not going to like the Shakespeare as was writ, which is something high well beyond their imagination and language accomplishment. ‘is meteor aside metre hit solid Earth, tight sank in delveless deep mete o’re goal…
    in my humble opinion.

    • Bob
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      “Ok that’s far enough. “

      It’s gone too far already and it won’t end well unless some common sense returns.

  41. Stan
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Watching that great negotiator David Davis tonight on BBC Newsnight he comes across as being so knowledgeable perhaps Boris should put him in charge of negotiations again? D’ya think?

  42. glen cullen
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    It just seems like common sense

    To cancel HS2
    To cancel Huawei 5g
    To cancel any EU negotiations and move to WTO

    Why can’t the government see this?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Why indeed?

  43. alastair harris
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    HS2 was surely an Osborne vanity project. About time it was put out of its misery.

  44. DavidJ
    Posted January 30, 2020 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    HS2 must be cancelled; it is far more expensive that similar projects in other parts of the world and is taking far too long to complete. On top of that it surely must have a very low rate of return on the investment and is likely to suffer from limited use given the current examples of extortionate rail fares compared with other countries.

    It would have been far more acceptable if it’s speed were to have been limited to that of the TGV which is perfectly reasonable for a journey of only 140 miles.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Probably a negative rate of return in fact doing far more harm than good even before the huge cost is considered.

  45. percy openshaw
    Posted January 30, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John, please do all you can to stop this stupid HS2 project. I am surprised and disappointed that Johnson should be preparing to roll over in this way. He garnered support by airing doubts about it from which doubts he is now falling away. Together with the appalling short termism of letting a state sponsored Chinese company involve itself with aspects of our security, this will badly tarnish the Johnson premiership from the start.

  46. Isambard Brexit
    Posted January 31, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Why should we not plan for the future ?
    Why not plan long term for a national rail network ?
    Why not assume HS2 is the first part of this network ?

  • About John Redwood

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

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