HS 2

I voted against HS 2 when Parliament was asked to make  decision on going ahead with the project. I had read the business case, which was as thin as it was stretched. Returns were poor on a modest planned spend. How much worse they now look given the huge cost overrun.

The original case placed emphasis on shorter journey times by allowing the trains to travel at speeds which cars and coaches are banned from trying for green and safety reasons. When people objected that those on business could work on a train lowering the costs travel time the government switched the defence of the project to needing more capacity.

It was never clear we needed extra  north-south capacity . The shortages were on prime commuter routes at peak hours. This ceased to be true after covid lockdowns led to much more home working.

It would be a good idea to pause additional contracts to build more. The  railways need to come up with a new business model now commuting is no longer so big. Railway  capacity where needed can be increased with digital signalling.

I read now that the government has been considering cancelling the part to Manchester and have called this Project Redwood. They have also rightly made clear this idea is not named after me and cutting the Manchester leg is  not an idea I have ever put to them about this railway project.

 

 

 

 

 

119 Comments

  1. Mark B
    September 19, 2023

    Good morning.

    I agree. We need to find a point in which we can stop pouring money down this drain. This of cap spending per annum.

    We also need to start looking at how these projects are created and funded. Anything that is not defence related should be put to a national referendum.

    1. Ian B
      September 19, 2023

      @Mark B +1 – and who has ownership and continuous taxpayer subsidy. If it was viable it wouldn’t need the taxpayer to keep coughing up

      1. MFD
        September 19, 2023

        Well said Ian, we must shake off the malaise caused by the Eu trying to punish us for daring to break their project which was part of the progression to WORLD governance that must be destroyed by us.
        We are stronger than this, but a lot of our MP’s are substandard. Sir John is one of the few with the intelligence to think independently. Most af the rest are sheep being driven by world bullies.
        I would follow a leader who is prepared to ignore them and do whats best for our great country.

    2. Peter Wood
      September 19, 2023

      It does seem somewhat bizarre that we leave our most difficult, national spending decisions in the hands of the least financially competent body of our nation.
      In similar vein, the leader of the opposition appears to be seeking electoral failure out of an almost certain success; all he had to do was walk around and smile and continue to say nothing.
      Where or where are the great and competent statesmen for our nation.

      1. a-tracy
        September 19, 2023

        Birmingham Council – claim they had £1bn in central government cuts over the past decade. How true is that?
        If you listen to the opposition, this government has cut everything. So where did the money they saved go?

      2. Lifelogic
        September 19, 2023

        Plus huge UK banks like RBS and Natwest get led by people like Sir Fred the Shred and Dame Allison Rose. A law and a history graduate respectively.

  2. Will
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 was always an EU inspired vanity project with zero justification in the UK. The billions wasted should have been used to complete main line electrification and signalling upgrades, and introducing more cross-country links and metropolitan Metro systems as on Tyneside.
    That no allegedly Conservative government has had the guts to put it out of its misery is a disgraceful waste of money. Even now, cancellation could be achieved with significant cost recovery from land and other asset disposals.

    1. Hope
      September 19, 2023

      I thought HS2 was part of the EU infrastructure project was to link all EU cities. The fact it only made one rail journey from London to Birmingham 30 minutes quicker at huge expense to the UK taxpayer did not matter to the Uni party. A bit like EU Horizon project where Sunak has agree to pay EU €2.6 billion each year to promote EU competition and growth and to develop EU weapons. The EU decide if it will allocate any of our UK taxes back to UK! What idiot/traitor could think this was good for our country like Sunak? Why not ring fence the money and allocate to UK researchers ourselves? Please explain JR.
      How about giving away our fishing waters to the EU and then link all rights to energy. To make sure the EU has a strangle hold on the UK the govt then increases the amount of inter connectors between EU and UK, when France had already threatened to cut off Jersey from electric!! What idiot/traitor would do that? Why would an independent country not seek to provide food and energy security for their own country?
      What country would allow another supranational body to take control of its military through PESCO or award another country in that supra national body the contract to build its war ships? What country would act against its national interest to stop making steel and be beholden to its enemies to import the same from coal fired power stations? Same for gas energy, same coal imports from Russia when having three hundred years of supply itself.
      At what point would an MP resign when the facts are so overwhelming that their views are serving no purpose and their party are acting against everything they believe in? Like Soubry, Allen, Wollaston and others did over Brexit? Other MPs openly worked with Labour to stop the public mandate. The PM of the day wanted to work with the leader of opposition to stop Brexit.
      I wonder why our public spending and taxes are at historic highs and services so dire?

  3. Everhopeful
    September 19, 2023

    But it’s Zero Carbon!
    Innit?

    1. MFD
      September 19, 2023

      No its not and never will be!

      1. Everhopeful
        September 19, 2023

        Didn’t the “Innit” rather expose my utter cynicism, disbelief and horror?

        The total madness really terrifies me.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 19, 2023

      No it ain’t remotely zero carbon. Though a bit more CO2 is a net positive anyway.

  4. Everhopeful
    September 19, 2023

    Assuming the main idea was green virtue signalling.
    Fancy destroying some of the most beautiful areas of the country just for that!
    Very revealing.
    Quite revolting.

    1. MFD
      September 19, 2023

      I agree with that Everhopeful.

  5. David Bunney
    September 19, 2023

    John, we do need large ‘grand projet’ style government infrastructure projects to have a financial and social business case and payback. We need the plan to be integrated with broader policies that assist the regions, the public and business growth as a whole. This project was about narrowing the perception of distance between metropolitan London and the most northerly areas to replicate France’s TGV expansion era under President Chirac. The idea of HS2 being that you might be able to get more businesses to relocate in the north if the white colar workers that travel about more quickly and freely and equally people might commute from the north to jobs in the south. Good communications and easy, cheap and fast travel are very important if you have other reasons to locate and expand. In the UK and much of the west we have a de-growth, stagnation and deindustrialisation policy of reducing use of primary energy through Net Zero and thus reducing the ability to do work of any kind, reducing economic output, reducing wealth creation and eroding what you have as a country. Companies are not looking to setup new industial bases or even offices in the North or anywhere else. Everyone is tightening their belt and either going bust or moving to China and India where they don’t implement Net Zero! Similarly in the UK we cannot deliver large projects like HS2, Hinkley Point nuclear power because the bureaucracy, the heavy regulation and hundreds of different contracted companies and layers upon layers of bureaucracy and sub-contracting creates for inefficiency, rework and wastage as well and ultimately failure.
    Most of the UK requires a reduction in regulation and making skilled UK labour and cheap, reliable fossil fuel energy available to drive economic growth. If workers or indeed goods need to be moved about by rail or roads then we have the imputus to build. Equally if it is a reginoal dispartity in industrial development then good communications will encourage relocation to where land is cheap (if the workers can relocate or commute there also).

    We don’t just need a rethink of HS2 we need a clear out of the system of government and even corporate layers that focus on carbon emissions, DEI and brining in more and more crippling and stifling regulations such as 20mph speed limits everywhere, or ULEZ nonsense or laws about whether your cat is allowed to stay out at night!
    I say we need a clean sweep of much of parliament, the civil service and clear the mentality of lefty nonsense invading the corporate world also. The private sector should be about making the best product that consumers want to buy and not make it because it is mandated by government and all the competition is taxed and banned. That public-private collusion against the interests of the public is where we are landing and it was tried in the 1930s in Germany, Italy and Spain at much cost of freedom and human life.

  6. DOM
    September 19, 2023

    You did right to vote against this reckless use of taxpayers money but what is the true reason behind HS2? Is it simply vested interest, the EU or some form of political hubris?

    Shaving ten minutes of a train journey does not justify such huge expenditure. And the levelling up argument is total crap.

    I note the US National Debt has now passed $33tr. It was $6tr in 2006. It’s a matter of when not if the US collapses. I don’t believe we will escape the destructive turmoil

    1. DOM
      September 19, 2023

      ‘off’

    2. Ian B
      September 19, 2023

      @DOM 10mins is a perverse theory, all the time saved is lost and more in getting to the station in West London, to be dumped somewhere outside of Birmingham.

      1. miami.mode
        September 19, 2023

        Not quite outside of Birmingham, Ian, but just a 15 minute or so walk to Birmingham New St to join the rest of the rail network

      2. Lifelogic
        September 19, 2023

        Far more than the ten minutes will be wasted at each end.

    3. Everhopeful
      September 19, 2023

      As far as I can make out it is all about “Zero Emissions”.
      Ooky accounting naturally cos it’s chucking out much in the making.
      It is meant to take the U.K. to bl**dy Net Zero more quickly!!
      But I reckon that was prob Johnson’s reason for rushing ahead with it.
      HS2 Ltd think they can achieve net-zero Scope 2 emissions by 2025.
      Whatever that is when it’s at home!

      Bring back coal and steam and ( sorry JR) British Rail pre Beeching ( that was another “good idea”).

    4. David Andrews
      September 19, 2023

      It came across to me as a vanity project for the Cameron Conservatives before they got elected.

    5. a-tracy
      September 19, 2023

      What’s the EU27 combined national debt compared to the US 50 states?

      1. a-tracy
        September 19, 2023

        Europa – EUR area 20 12,260,559 –
        EU 13,272,709, so is that 13 trillion euros (14 trillion dollars/27)?
        Compared to USA $33 trn/50
        With the UK at £2.3 trn on our own or nearly $3 trn.

        ‘The highest ratios of government debt to GDP at the end of the fourth quarter of 2022 were recorded in Greece (171.3%), Italy (144.4%), Portugal (113.9%), Spain (113.2%), France (111.6%) and Belgium (105.1%), and the lowest in Estonia (18.4%), Bulgaria (22.9%) and Luxembourg (24.6%)’.
        So the Eastern Europe members debt to gdp distort the %s.

    6. Christine
      September 19, 2023

      Very true regarding the US debt. I read it now equates to nearly $100k for every man, woman, and child living in the US. This is why the BRICS nations are moving away from it being their reserve currency and when all those dollars they are sitting on return to the US there will be a collapse. In the last 10 years, China and Japan have massively reduced their holding of US debt but interestingly the UK has increased ours by $400 billion There will be a great reset taking the savings from the little people via the CBDCs because the maximum holding will only be £10k. Of course, the global billionaires will have protected their assets.

  7. Javelin
    September 19, 2023

    Spot on John.

    HS2 is a waste of tax payers money.

  8. Lifelogic
    September 19, 2023

    Truss’s speech broadly quite correct. Very clever of Sunak, from his evil perspective, to evict Truss in a coup by his supporters and then to put all the blame for the economic mess, that Sunak largely created, onto Truss/Kwasi and her 40 odd days.

    46% of GDP spent (largely wasted) by the state plus endless red tape and the net zero lunacy yet this moronic government expect “growth”. Abysmal public services too.

    1. Kayla Tomlinson
      September 19, 2023

      You put your finger on it–completely

    2. IanT
      September 19, 2023

      I hope that Andrew Bailey eventually receives full credit for his role in helping to undermine the Truss government. He should be fired but has an assured tenancy of eight years at the BoE. I fully understand ‘Bank Independance’ but it is lunacy to continue with a Govoner so clearly incompetant. Unfortunately, is seems much the same applies to our Civil Service Mandarins. Jobs for life for the old boys, provided of course, they hold the ‘correct’ views…

      1. Lifelogic
        September 19, 2023

        Alas the “correct” views all seem to be totally deluded and moronic under Sunak’s Government and all recent governments:- ever more government, ever more red tape, ever more taxation, ever more rigged markets, ever more expensive & intermittent energy, ever more blocked roads, wars on landlords, drivers, small business, lots of QE currency debasement – and ever more low skilled and often criminal immigration (to depress wage levels and increase crime), then we have the net harm vaccines that seems have harmed or killed 100,000+ (so far) in the UK.

        The good news is excess all cause deaths in the UK this week are only slightly up (0.4%), but the bad new is that after the higher than normal deaths of the past three years (deaths brought forwards) they should probably be circa 8% down on normal. So we still in reality have very significant excess deaths. Deaths in low vaccination level countries are generally well below normal.

    3. Atlas
      September 19, 2023

      Too true. HS2 was an EU project – and is a fantastic waste of resources.

      1. Mickey Taking
        September 19, 2023

        yes but BRITISH resources being wasted!

  9. Everhopeful
    September 19, 2023

    Let us hope that digital signalling is not like my internet access nor like the engineers who are in total denial about the problem when the entire area is experiencing similar…constantly.

  10. MPC
    September 19, 2023

    It must be so frustrating for those working in government charged with writing business cases for far more modest projects and programmes than HS2 (and Net Zero). They have to observe the HMT Green Book on option appraisals requiring a return on investment. Sunak and Hunt are effectively saying either we know best when it comes to certain big cost items or, more likely, they just don’t care about applying rigour to matters affecting the welfare of the nation and its citizens.

  11. Sakara Gold
    September 19, 2023

    Like it or not, HS2 is with us. Delaying any part of it now will save no money, merely defer additional costs and indeed, add £ billions to the final bill.

    If Hunt wants to save a few quid for an election tax giveaway he can freeze Civil Service, MP’s and QUANGOcrat pension increases. The size of the government sector has now reached about 23% of the total UK workforce.

    1. Everhopeful
      September 19, 2023

      I can not see how it is safe or sensible to built a train underpinned by a quasi religious belief.
      A train should be designed with the first aim being safety not mumbo jumbo.

      I do not have a good feeling about any of it.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 19, 2023

      It is not remotely with us at all 2030 (even it it is on time it will not be) and who wants to go from Old Oak Common to just outside Birmingham anyway at vast expense and high speed with end connections it will be quicker and more convenience and cheaper and greener to drive. You too are falling for the sunk cost fallacy. What keeps it going is surely corruption, vested interests, moronic stupidity and the embarrassment if they cancelled and admitted what a disaster it was.

      Other complete disasters test and trace, net zero, the net harm vaccines, the Windsor framework, the appalling energy bill, the lock downs, the open door to illegal and even legal migrants… what have they get right in 13 years?

    3. Lifelogic
      September 19, 2023

      Not with us until 2030 and then only a useless part of it. The sunk cost fallacy.

    4. a-tracy
      September 19, 2023

      The government sector is much bigger than that disguised as ‘private’ such as housing associations, outsourcers and consultants.

  12. Bloke
    September 19, 2023

    For several years now virtually everything the ‘Conservatives’ have touched turned to dust. Voters reject errant wasters.

  13. Ian+wragg
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 is a government vanity project promulgated by the EU. The fact that it doesn’t connect to HS1 makes a nonesense of its existence.
    There is absolutely no business case now many work from home and following the waves of strikes by the Marxist unions.
    No one except government officials will be able to afford to travel on it. It will be the equivalent of Moscows Zil lanes.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 19, 2023

      +1

  14. Rod Evans
    September 19, 2023

    With the interconnected digital world becoming ever more automated and with AI developments moving along threatening the traditional ‘safe white collar’ jobs. The question being asked increasingly is what purpose does a high speed short distance train journey serve?
    The travel onto the final destination after stepping of the train in London, is now so slow by taxi or so uncomfortable if the tube is the chosen option, any few minutes gained from Birmingham is lost just stuck in no go London traffic.
    Who exactly, are the target customers for HS2?

    1. Ian B
      September 19, 2023

      @Rod Evans +1 exactly NO GO London kills any creditability of this wishful thinking vanity project

  15. Roy Grainger
    September 19, 2023

    Continuing HS2 is a classic example of the sunk cost fallacy.

    Reading your posts every day it strikes me how hard it would be for an outside observer to tell whether the current government were members of your own party or the opposition party, but that the latter was more likely.

    1. Mickey Taking
      September 19, 2023

      or a team of Russians hell-bent on undermining everything British.
      And aren’t they good at it!

    2. Bill B.
      September 19, 2023

      SJR IS the opposition, Roy. That’s the reason for following him IMO.

  16. Lifelogic
    September 19, 2023

    King faces criticism after he forces FOUR ministers to fly 400 miles to his private Scottish mansion for a taxpayer-funded meeting… about carbon emissions!

    Ask about meddling in politics did he not say “I am not that stupid” he clearly is very stupid with his facile deluded views on climate alarmism, quack medicine, organic farming, meddling in politics, slave reparations and his general gross hypocrisy. How many month to save the World is it this time? How many heated large palaces do you run? What is you annual private jet and helicopter bill £1m +? Informed doubtless by his two duff A levels in French and History.

    1. Hope
      September 19, 2023

      LL,
      William jetting off to NewYork as UN discusses similar nonsense, a coincidence? Little people should be censored, smeared, pay their taxes and kept quiet. They know best.

      1. Everhopeful
        September 19, 2023

        And according to NF the latest edict is that we will be allowed only one flight per three years!

    2. Richard1
      September 19, 2023

      There is a long tradition of ministers travelling to see the sovereign and not the other way round. In 1908 Asquith had to go all the way to Biarritz to be appointed PM by Edward VII. It would have been lese-majeste for it to have been otherwise. It may seem wasteful but it emphasises the important principle that ministers are temporary servants of the crown. In theory this helps stopping them get too big for their boots, although this clearly hasn’t worked in all cases.

      1. Hope
        September 19, 2023

        We saw from his spider letters he is a left wing dope. I would put as much credibility for his climate rot as I would for marriage or religious advice- nil. Presumably he has heard of FaceTime, zoom etc and could have saved time, money and alleged carbon nonsense that he is so concerned about! Idiot.

  17. majorfrustration
    September 19, 2023

    If Government or the Civil Service want to do something they will always lie about the time it takes the amount it will cost and the benefits it will provide.

    1. graham1946
      September 19, 2023

      If they didn’t the Treasury would never put up the money. Imagine if, at the beginning it was stated that it would cost north of 100 billion and take forever to build, would it have got the go ahead? Surely even stupid MP’s would have balked at it, so it had to be lies in order to conform to their precious EU diktat

  18. David Cooper
    September 19, 2023

    Whenever we see the word “capacity” uttered by a Minister in promotion of a grand project, run a mile. We saw it time and again in support of wind turbines, ignoring the more relevant factor “output”. In the context of HS2, the more relevant factor is “bums on seats”. If the cost of HS2 travel is prohibitive when compared with the current main line, commuters will vote with their bums.
    Then we need to bring in the logistics of having those seats occupied. Once a commuter from e.g. Telford or Shrewsbury realises that the HS2 connection is not at New Street but at Curzon Street, ten minutes away at best via taxi, shuttle or Shanks’ pony pending the invention of teleportation, he will save his time and money and stay put on the current main line which may not stop at all past Coventry.

    1. graham1946
      September 19, 2023

      And of course, being ‘high speed’, it necessarily cannot have many stops, so hardly anyone on the route will benefit, just the big nobs from the capital or Birmingham. Commuters will not use it. A complete waste of money for the sake of complying with their Brussels masters.

      1. margaret
        September 19, 2023

        At least we will be able to get on the train for PMS question time in the morning and heckle from he gallery.

  19. Narrow Shoulders
    September 19, 2023

    In order to cancel HS2 we need to come up with ideas for how to utilise the sunk cost. Given that the Thames Valley elevated section is not even half finished that is not going to be possible.

    Just mothballing it can not be the answer. The Thames Valley Section could give extra motorway capacity bypassing the M25 but it needs to be finished.

    Other stretches could surely be repurposed as roads.

    1. graham1946
      September 19, 2023

      Roads? I doubt it with the war on motorists. More likely what they are doing to our prime agricultural land, build on it to accommodate incomers.

    2. David Cooper
      September 19, 2023

      There would be some scope to repurpose the track bed as a long distance footpath, along the same lines as the Coast to Coast. It could be called the White Elephant Way.

      1. Dave Andrews
        September 19, 2023

        I like it.

      2. Mickey Taking
        September 20, 2023

        The track bed is being laid in concrete – so we could have e-bikes on the route (like Boris bikes only battery ones).
        Hired at a reasonable fee – leave at the far terminus, could be a best seller.
        or, make it a car transporter, drive on the car carrier, drive off 100 miles later, make it cheaper than petrol – say £15 e.w.

    3. iain gill
      September 19, 2023

      you could save a lot of money just by completing it, but not bothering with any electrification, run diesel 125 trains on the line.

      1. Mickey Taking
        September 19, 2023

        Diesel? – half the world will go apoplectic!

        1. iain gill
          September 19, 2023

          that’s a side benefit

          1. Mickey Taking
            September 20, 2023

            ha ha!

  20. Dave Andrews
    September 19, 2023

    I suggest the government sells off HS2. Let the executive then raise the funds privately to complete the project and pay for the assets already purchased. Then HS2 PLC can run the service with no subsidy from the taxpayer – don’t tell me ticket sales won’t cover running costs and interest on loans.

  21. Barbara Fairweather
    September 19, 2023

    The reason for HS2 was the EU and we had to comply with TENS
    Trans European Network
    This was to join all the capitals of Europe up with high speed trains
    We could have abandoned this when we left

  22. agricola
    September 19, 2023

    End it at the current cost of about £50m. Then decide who is going to restore the countryside and at what cost. Finally we want an analysis of the decision making process that led us to where we are, the initial cost analysis and who was responsible. Finally what was the value analysis and who was responsible. From outside it looks like the greatest financial burdon any government has layed on its taxpayers to effectively no benefit and an eyesore of unbelievable size.
    Alternatively run it to a conclusion and price its use to run full for the next 50 years. Considering that taxpayers have paid for it they should get it for free for its first five years.

    1. Mickey Taking
      September 19, 2023

      do you mean £50billlion? In fact the cost is nearer £100bn committed already.

  23. Kayla Tomlinson
    September 19, 2023

    You put your finger on it–completely

  24. Ian B
    September 19, 2023

    What is assumed is if you live in London(and only London) you have a need to go to Birmingham. If you live in Wokingham, you could get to Birmingham by car before you could get to the HS2 Station in London. That hypothesis plays out to the majority of the UK population

  25. James Morley
    September 19, 2023

    I don’t think that railways have ever met the expected returns of investors, public or otherwise. There is no point in shaving a few minutes off journey times given the persistent disruption to passenger’s caused by endemic industrial action. Spend the money improving passenger services by developing a driverless railway system that is less vulnerable to industrial action and cheaper to operate and safer. The UK invented railways and yet 200 years later there is little or no UK innovation of note.

    James Morley

  26. Peter Parsons
    September 19, 2023

    An article which shows a lack of understanding of the problem and a lack of understanding of the solutions. The West Coast main line is at capacity and has been for quite some time.

    The town in the north that I grew up in had 1 train an hour back in the 70s. It still only has 1 train an hour 50 years later. Nothing to do with passenger demand, but entirely down to line capacity and to the problems created by running long distance inter-city services on the same lines as the local stopping services.

    No amount of digital signalling technology will fix that, but HS2 will. HS2 is designed to take those long distance inter-city trains off the current lines and free up that capacity so that villages, towns and cities in the north are able to have the sort of service frequency that those of us living in London and the South East think of as normal.

  27. Bryan Harris
    September 19, 2023

    It appears that HS2 is important to HMG for one main reason, as it was due to be a part of the connecting high speed service that links into the EU network.

    Why we should be still going ahead with this project after BREXIT is a question for the PM. It seems though that for some in positions of power that we never left the EU and must always be ready to comply with EU ideology and needs.

    The other aspect of this, the cost, which is huge, shows how willing HMG is to pour our taxes down any drain, while extracting ever more pernicious taxes.

    Why do they do this we ask? Along with other economic decisions HS2 robs the UK of what wealth is available, diverted to provide little in return, while greatly lowering our future prospects.

    It is doubtful if HS2 will ever be completed, because it is such a cash-cow to those on the receiving end.

  28. a-tracy
    September 19, 2023

    I thought HS2 was part of the European rail network and required different tracks so that European trains could run straight through the UK up to Scotland. (and there was even talk to include Northern Ireland.) The passenger trains were just a fop to the voters and would be only operational at peak time to allow the European freight trains fast access to significant Cities to move their goods.

    The non-joining up of tracks HS1 to HS2 was probably to appease the unions to be figured out and connect quietly; without the connection, there seems little point. But when you see how UK unions can bring us all to a standstill, perhaps foreign rail competition might keep things moving.

    1. hefner
      September 19, 2023

      The UK rail network is on a 1435 mm (4ft 8 1/2in) gauge (the so-called standard or Stephenson gauge) like 60% of the world train network (railroadrails.com, ‘How much do you know about railway track gauge?’, 01/08/2020).

      1. a-tracy
        September 20, 2023

        Hefner, are European trains able to travel now straight through the channel tunnel onto HS1 and then straight up the current UK train network on the gauge we have, or are they different tracks? They don’t want to have to transfer freight and passengers to failing UK service operators. It was as a lady said above part of the Trans European Network so that high-speed trains could just speed through the UK to key points to facilitate their exports.

        I always feel like I’m onto something when you dive in with your little ‘how much do you know’ statements.

      2. Mickey Taking
        September 20, 2023

        how relevant are the 60% countries to UK? As pointed out the gauge is what matters, even old steam engines and carriages how to be gauge tested to run on the 4’8.5″ now!

    2. acorn
      September 19, 2023

      The Track Gauge is the same as the near continent, the Loading Gauge of HS2 is the Euro Standard “GC”; same as HS1 and the Channel Tunnel. GC gauge trains don’t fit in most of the UK’s legacy rail network’s tunnels and bridges. Hence, they have to be modified to fit legacy station platform height for a starter, for when they leave the HS2 loading gauge tracks. So, an off the shelf standard high speed train set from Hitachi/Alstom at £28 million, ends up with some costing £40 million per train set.

      1. a-tracy
        September 20, 2023

        Quite, so isn’t that why HS2 is required, but it is daft if it doesn’t link up precisely with HS1 as planned.

  29. Mickey Taking
    September 19, 2023

    Every argument in support has now failed.
    Capital cost eye-watering.
    Running cost will not be met by ticket pricing, else passenger numbers will fall away.
    The new terminus outside London central has reduced attractiveness.
    The northern lines would have been better first.
    Conclusion – cancel now.

  30. Original Richard
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 needs to be stopped no matter how much has been spent because the maintenance costs to keep it running will be astronomical and only those travelling at taxpayers’ expense will be able to use it.

    HS2 should have been built as cheap high capacity travel not high speed. So Jumbo travel not Concorde.

    Better still the 19th century technology of expensive and inflexible steel wheels on a steel track should have been ditched for rubber wheels on a tarmac surface.

  31. Niels Bjergstrom
    September 19, 2023

    Allow me to briefly reiterate a suggestion I first voiced when the HS2 plans were originally made public: You do not solve the problems of the 21st century by implementing 19th century technology. Instead of constructing a railway, use the land and already built infrastructure to construct a road for electric autonomous HGVs, that can roll on and off to travel between normal road destinations and be charged inductively while travelling on the dedicated new roadway. If required, it can of course also be used for buses. A project like that will allow UK companies to gain a global competitive advantage in an evolving field while at the same time developing some infrastructure of actual use.

  32. NickC
    September 19, 2023

    Cancel the dam thing and put us out of its misery. HS2, like Net Zero, is a project conceived on a whim, depending on faked figures and censorship, promoted by the impractical, and financed by the magic money tree.

  33. Michael Saxton
    September 19, 2023

    Whether energy, health, defence, environment or transport government and their advisors seldom seem competent and capable of making the correct decisions? The correct decisions must be made, not for the the vested interests, or those obsessed with an issue, but for the public good, to improve people’s lives, underpinned by sound technical and economic principles. And for the long term way beyond election cycles. When one considers the cost and disruption to people, towns and villages thus far, it’s truly appalling and totally unacceptable. Yet again Sir John you’ve been proved right in voting against this project.

  34. agricola
    September 19, 2023

    Here is a thought. The worst and most fatal of road accidents are between heavy trucks and anything they hit. Re-engineer the rail path as a dedicate truck only motorway between Birmingham and London. It only needs to be two lanes in each direction and might reduce the fatalities on our existing motorways and A roads. My only question is , are the tunnels wide enough to take a dual carriageway.

    1. Mickey Taking
      September 19, 2023

      answer – no. nor height of trucks.

  35. Richard1
    September 19, 2023

    Of course hs2 should be stopped. We may be £10bn or more in the hole on it by now but that’s sunk cost. Save the rest. If possible stop the whole thing and sell off the land with accelerated planning permission. Very dispiriting to read that it is Tory MPs who are urging Sunak to continue with this white elephant project, which will be obsolete by the time it actually works in mid-century. It’s a C21st Offer’s Dyke.

  36. George Sheard
    September 19, 2023

    John
    If the canal builders though the same we would have been delivering coal and wood and many other products by horse and cart
    The Bridge water canal had the same problems it went over budget along with other canals, the industrial revolution would not have happened without the over budget canals, people are not looking far enough into the future it’s the delays that are putting up the costs
    No one is saying anthing about the massive over budget and delays on the new underground line and stations in london
    Get on and build HS2 this will save money the longer the delays the higher the cost.
    We waste billions of pound every year that have no benefits to the UK.
    we could put more goods onto the railways and take hundreds of lorrys off the roads
    No one is saying anthing about the BOE selling bonds off below there value loosing billions of pounds, and then buying them back at more than there true value costing every one in the country hardship.
    Thank you

    1. Mickey Taking
      September 19, 2023

      correct. A lot of wealthy people lost a lot of money gambling on railways.
      Now a lot of taxpayers are losing a lot of money on sunken old tech railways to nowhere.

  37. Christine
    September 19, 2023

    Too often a business case is skewed to meet the desired outcome. I’ve seen this so often working for government departments.

    HS2 never had the backing of the public and wasn’t a vote winner, so you have to ask who was championing it and why. As always follow the money.

  38. oldwulf
    September 19, 2023

    Sir

    For many, many years, London has been attracting workers away from the remainder of the UK.
    As part of the levelling up process this migration of workers should be halted and ideally should be reversed. In order to achieve this, if phase 1 of HS2 goes ahead, maybe it should be one-way… out of London and not into London.

    Phase 2 of HS2, north of Birmingham: According to the Independent, “After years of setbacks, controversy and spiralling costs, phase two of the long-awaited HS2 rail project appears to be under threat.

    The Independent has exclusively revealed that prime minister Rishi Sunak is considering ditching plans for the leg from Birmingham to Manchester.”

    Then there was HS3. The 2019 Conservative Manifesto promised “we will build Northern Powerhouse first between Leeds and Manchester and then focus on Liverpool, Tees Valley, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle.” I believe HS3 has been shelved although as recently as February of this year the “Chancellor declares vision for HS3, HS4 and HS5 despite cost concerns on HS2”.
    https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/chancellor-declares-vision-for-hs3-hs4-and-hs5-despite-cost-concerns-on-hs2-08-02-2023/

    London already has major advantages such as the tube and HS1 (which was opened in 2007). Also, I read in the media that the number of charging stations in Westminster alone, dwarf the number in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

    Levelling up has always been a myth.

  39. R.Grange
    September 19, 2023

    The Office for Road and Rail says an estimated 389 million journeys were made in Great Britain in the first quarter of 2023, 88% of the 443 million journeys in the same quarter 4 years ago (pre-lockdowns). The number has been increasing each quarter since 2022. It seems unlikely that it will settle at a number much below where it was before lockdowns, so let’s not exaggerate the change in rail use.

  40. Alan Paul Joyce
    September 19, 2023

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    I’m afraid the politicians in charge of the country have not got the stomach to cancel HS2. That would be to make a decision. It would involve a total loss of face. It would be humiliating for them. An admission of failure. Just imagine the headlines. Instead, it will serve as a monument, a reminder of how badly the country has been governed in recent times.

    Thus, they will keep throwing more taxpayers money at this £100 billion government folly until its absolute, inevitable and bitter end – rather like this wretched ‘Conservative’ government.

  41. Barbara
    September 19, 2023

    Indeed, Sir John, I remember your posts on the railways at the time, and very good and informative they were too.

  42. XY
    September 19, 2023

    Let’s remember the original thinking behind HS2 was Osborne seeing a need to spend on infrastructure projects in the economic climate of the times. That is long past.

    All the people in the HS2 company do is to award contracts to engineering firms and receive digital files as “models” (either 2D or 3D formats) which they are supposed to use to build a “digital twin” (for future use in maintenance of the railway). In practice they are hopeless – they have employed engineers when they needed IT people (“it’s an engineering project after all”, sigh) and the resulting lack of expertise in the IT sector, along with fierce political in-fighting, paralyses any progress or makes it produce rubbish.

    Their outsourcing of work to IT consultancies is similarly ill-informed to the point that they had one major consultancy produce a system which looked just like the old one… and was built on a sunset technology! For those not familiar with the terminology, sunset means it’s about to be moved out of being used/usable – in this case if a vendor stops supporting an underlying product then a company cannot continue to use anything built using it (not for long anyway), since there will be no support when problems arise from the vendor.

    Of course, that happens all the time, but what does NOT happen is that someone builds a NEW system on something that is about to move out of support. The consultancy failed badly, but the HS2 staff looking after the work failed badly too.

    It’s probably time to wrap HS2 up now – any perceived need for infrastructure spending is gone, it’s way over time/budget and the changes to commuting make it obsolete before completion. Unless it can be used for freight it will be, at best, a white elephant on completion.

  43. Geoffrey Berg
    September 19, 2023

    We are now told HS2 will cost around 100 billion pounds which is around £1500 in tax for each man, woman and child in this country to reduce rail travel time from Manchester and Birmingham to London by a matter of minutes each journey which would probably be dwarfed by traffic delays and disruption in London anyhow.
    When put that way I don’t know how John Redwood could possibly justify such expenditure to his Wokingham constituents or for that matter any M.P.(including Sunak in North Yorkshire or Hunt in Surrey) not on the doorstep of a HS2 station could. Even for the few M.P.s with HS2 stations for most of their constituents £1500 per person is a ridiculous amount of money so a small number of people can save some minutes on some expensive journeys.
    I saw the M.P for Cheadle on the southern fringe of Greater Manchester was yesterday vocal in support of HS2. However it would not help her constituents as they get on the train to London at its nearest stop in Stockport. Yet as HS2 will not stop at Stockport so by the time her constituents travel to and wait for a connection in Manchester HS2 wouldn’t save her constituents any appreciable time compared to the present system.
    Coincidentally I happened yesterday to organise transport for a few of us from Greater Manchester who want to go to an evening event next week in Edgbaston, Birmingham. As by the time we get back to Greater Manchester from this Birmingham suburb public transport would have stopped running, car share was the only sensible option now as it would have been even if HS2 were running between Manchester and Birmingham.
    HS2 is just financially crazy – most people would far rather have 1p (or nearly 1p) in the £ less Income Tax to pay!

  44. The Prangwizard
    September 19, 2023

    Do you mean work on the existing pathway should carry on but no new contracts for elsewhere, or present work should stop? What are additional contracts.

  45. Mark J
    September 19, 2023

    Money seemed to be no object where HS2 was concerned.

    Yet many communities up and down the country would love to be reconnected to the national rail network yet again. As per usual, the money can never be found to implement these re-openings. Yet when it comes to a new road scheme, or HS2, the money can be.

    In the local area, there is a strong case for reopening Bourne End to High Wycombe line, will the money ever be forthcoming for this? Highly unlikely!

    The ‘reconnecting communities’ scheme under Boris Johnson’s reign now seems to have fallen flat, with spending reigned in by Jeremy Hunt.

    We also seem to become a nation of endless publicly paid for consultations, with little to show for them.

  46. margaret
    September 19, 2023

    Will the HS2 aid in levelling up?

  47. Keith from Leeds
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 sums up the problem with our MPs. Totally London-centric, with no proper evaluation of the cost. Exactly like Net Zero. The Chancellor bleats that there is no money for Tax cuts. But shouldn’t his job be to question every spending decision ruthlessly and cut spending to make room for tax cuts? A tough Chancellor would have stopped HS2 in its tracks within a short period of accepting the office, as he would also cut the incredibly wasteful spending all over the Government. Twenty years of running a deficit budget and no MP, with the exception of Sir John, seems to have worked out that the Government is spending too much year by year!
    What does Jeremy Hunt do all day, just snooze peacefully in his office while taxpayer’s money is squandered all over the place?

  48. Mickey Taking
    September 19, 2023

    Old style signalling, high-speed waiting for freight trains to cross tracks, suburban trains serving every station at short intervals, no bypass tracks to allow fast direct transport to terminus etc.
    Unreliable drivers who think the world owes them top pay, get automation in to replace.

    Other forms of transport or teleworking will take over.

  49. Derek
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 – the ultimate of British white elephants. A solution now looking for a problem and finding none and in the course of chasing a rainbow has wasted £Billions of tax payers money. Why?
    But did anyone get to have say on how their money was being blown on yet another politican’s worthless vanity project? Nope.
    My! Does this country need proper democracy right now for the current application ain’t working for us is it?

  50. Donna
    September 19, 2023

    And here we go: Britain could rejoin the EU as an Associate Member. Just as I’ve been predicting in these comment pages for the past 9 months or so.

    The Establishment REFUSED to implement the democratic Will of the British people by forcing us into a BRINO situation and is now doing its utmost to reverse it.
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2023/09/19/britain-rejoin-eu-associate-member-france-single-market/

    1. Derek
      September 20, 2023

      The main reason why we desperately need our own Constituion or Bill of Rights. We, the people, require protection from those who would dominate, dictate and control us.

  51. Mactheknife
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 is, and always was a white elephant.
    In my area we were to be affected and had numerous consultations with the Consultants and government departments. I too pointed out that the justification and economics were pie in the sky (I put it a little more blunt than that to them). I’m not an economist but have a masters in business, and I could see the figures were there to suit the desired outcome i.e. the project go-ahead.
    In my area they had not even done a basic survey of the route. Within meters of my house they had it going through a canal (which they didn’t know was there), across two ponds and a river (which they also didn’t know were there), through an old heavily toxic industrial site containing cancer causing chemicals, into a new station site where its traffic chaos all day long let alone adding yet more chaos, and finally a construction laydown yard for track materials that was actually someones back garden.
    You couldn’t make this clownery up !

  52. Iain gill
    September 19, 2023

    I see that the FCA are showing everyone openly how poor their service is, with their claim that they can find no evidence banks are shutting politicians bank accounts down. I have first hand experience with how useless they are when there is no spotlight on them. I guess there arms of the state are banking on continual inaction from the government, and assume labour will win the next election and they can abuse the incompetence of another set of politicians.

    1. Derek
      September 20, 2023

      Along with the multitude of white elephants goes these white washes by supposedly independent investigators. How can self-regulatos be ‘independent’? Let’s have police/fraud squad officers investigate not these jobs-for-the-boys QUANGO committees.

  53. Ed M
    September 19, 2023

    HS2 seems complete waste of money. Agreed.

    On the other hand, Gove’s plan to use government money – WISELY – to help develop Cambridge as Europe’s Silicon Valley seems a good plan (don’t agree 100% with him but I agree with the gist of what he is proposing). Perhaps, in the future, to have an iconic-looking, red, double-decker, high speed train from King’s Cross to Cambridge via Stansted. And should be mainly UNDERGROUND (underground tunnelling is now becoming MUCH CHEAPER).

    Btw, the US government appears to have played a crucial role in the development of Silicon Valley, California. Silicon Valley did NOT spring up purely, 100% because of private enterprise. A place that wants to attract private enterprise always requires some government spending – like helping to create the structure and providing the fertiliser and the impetus for private enterprise to take over and then do the vast majority of work (and investment). The place must be a DESTINATION. Somewhere were people want to travel to because it’s got great, high-paid, highly skilled jobs and an interesting, cultural place to live too.

    But some government initiative is required. This is a CAPITALIST argument. Raw Capitalism alone is too focused on the short-term and the interests of one’s own company not the interests of other private companies in general (and that’s fine for private companies but not if you’re trying to help attract private companies to a particular area – such as Cambridge).

    And travel is important as people want to work somewhere ‘cool’ (like Berlin – so many people do NOT want to work in Frankfurt – or Birmingham – as they find it BORING – just as families love moving to London. Not just because of the jobs but because it is a COOL place to live / to go out after work / explore at the weekends / great schools etc etc). London and Berlin are DESTINATIONS. Frankfurt is only a destination in the sense that it does have good jobs but so many people don’t want to live there. And Birmingham (HS2) is even far less of a destination than Frankfurt (it doesn’t have the jobs of Frankfurt nor the culture of Berlin / London – or Cambridge). That’s just how it is.

    And people in business want a ‘cool’ and quick way to arrive at their destination. So high speed rail, with red, iconic-looking, double decker trains would be ideal for Cambridge (and for Stansted and developing the airport).

  54. Ed M
    September 19, 2023

    Also, surely there are lessons to be learned from other countries and their construction costs. Take train tunnelling:

    New York: $1.5 – $2.5B per mile
    Other parts of United States and Australia: $600 – $900M per mile
    Europe $250 – $500M per mile
    China $100 – $200M per mile

    So China is x 13 times cheaper than NY!
    China is 5 x cheaper than the rest of America (and Australia)

    By Chinese standards, an underground tunnel from King’s Cross, London to Cambridge could cost as low as $5B or £4B.

    We need various government ministers in place to focus on how to greatly reduce all these costs. Not just a case of saving vast amounts of money but also how to invest for the future so we have the economy we want in the future.

    1. Ed M
      September 19, 2023

      Btw, my proposals are a lot more reasonable than Boris Johnson going on about building more bridges / tunnels to France / Ireland etc. Much, much cheaper with a clear goal of helping to develop Cambridge as Europe’s Silicon Valley (and there is already so much in Cambridge to support this anyway) – which would in turn help develop Stansted and, further down the line, Oxford – and also make London an even more interesting destination as you could get from London to Cambridge in 15 minutes on a high speed train!

  55. Lindsay+McDougall
    September 19, 2023

    Given that there has been a 20% to 25% fall in the demand for rail travel, it is doubtful if the additional capacity is needed. Indeed, it is possible that even if the entire capital cost of HS2 is written off, the line will still make a loss. The best of a bad job is to complete Old Oak Common to Crewe, with the extensions to Manchester and Euston to follow if justified.

    We must hope that diversion of some passenger traffic to HS2 will make room for a lot more freight to be carried on the West Coast Main Line. Rail freight would need to be attractively priced, probably subsidised, in order to realise an environmental gain.

    Regarding the possible extension to Manchester, we need to think through any synergy with east-west railway lines in the north. For example, how much pent up demand for rail travel is there in the Liverpool – Manchester – Bradford/Leeds – Hull corridor? Would an interchange station south of Manchester between HS2 and a high speed Liverpool to Hull line be useful?

    1. KB
      September 19, 2023

      I’ve never understood why shaving a few minutes off the Manchester-Leeds train travel time is thought to be so economically advantageous.
      It’d be city centre to city centre. Whereas the real problem is INTRA-city transport in these urban areas. The populations primarily are employed on business parks situated near M-way junctions, not city centres.

      1. Ed M
        September 20, 2023

        The North of England is a HUGE problem economically. HS2 seems like a real lousy way of trying to deal with this problem.
        One of the only few ways of trying to revive the economy of the North of England is to try and revive heavy industry up there – not industry that is obsolete but industry that still brings in loads to the economy of other countries: car industry, ship building industry, wind-farm manufacturing industry and so on (and focusing on more high tech industry in the Cambridge area).
        But the only way to do that is to increase the economy overall. And we can’t do that by just focusing on the financial sector anymore (which has now reached its limit more-a-less – at least compared to the potential of the high tech industry in this country) but to focus on building up Cambridge as the Silicon Valley of Europe / Asia and beyond.
        And then from there, try and revive the North of England. But not by building trains that is quite useful but not worth the £100 Billion or something that HS2 would cost.
        Whilst also trying to do something about why so many Brits don’t want to work / don’t enjoy working anymore (which is ultimately a cultural issue and for which we need the help of the churches, the arts, media and education to change / inspire) which is related to why there is so much immigration that is unsustainable.
        And we can only achieve that but attracting higher quality MPs into Parliament. MPs who have like some proper business experience (i.e. actually done a business plan, set up their own company, employed people who are highly skilled, exported a high quality brand abroad, proper leadership!). Until that happens, it’s going to be same old, same old.

        1. Ed M
          September 20, 2023

          To think Boris Johnson – who wanted to build a bridge / tunnel to France and / or Ireland – was our Prime Minister. Etc ed The guy was completed unqualified to be PM (although brilliantly qualified to write witty articles for the Spectator).

          Until the Tory Party figures out how to attract higher quality MPs into Parliament, then we’re just going to have the same problems again and again and again. I don’t know what the solution is. But from a business-minded / pragmatic perspective, the first question at the next Tory Conference should be: HOW DO WE ATTRACT HIGHER QUALITY MPS INTO THE PARTY / INTO PARLIAMENT?

          Reply. There are MP s who have had successful business and legal careers and MP s with good qualifications. The problem is related to the pressure of wrong headed establishment thinking on everything from economic forecasting to how you carbon account as I have been pointing out.

          1. Ed M
            September 21, 2023

            Lawyers are just good at research and coming up with good arguments (and play a vital role in our economy / life overall – and who make good money and good luck to them). But being a leader in business, whose actually done a business plan, started up his own company, lead various people with various different high skills, created a high quality brand, and exported abroad – is quite different.

            We need the best leading our country. I am NOT saying it is easy to find these people. But we’ve got to do something. We just can’t afford to have mediocre people (Johnson, May, Truss etc) leading our party and country.

          2. Ed M
            September 21, 2023

            Also, we obviously can’t have a dictator in this country to sort things out (things aren’t quite bad enough and there are obviously lots of cons about having a dictator although some pros too).

            But the nearest we can have to a (benign) dictator is a robust leader with strong business experience and success! We desperately need such a person now as there are so many structural problems with our economy, society and culture overall at the moment.

            ‘Lawyers’ and people such as Johnson, Truss and May are just not going to cut it in government.

  56. TonyP
    September 19, 2023

    We need to know the cost if contracts are cancelled. I fear the construction companies have huge cancellation clauses in the contracts.

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