HS2 Questions

Examining the issues around the proposed High Speed 2 route

A letter to Boris Johnson

with 3 comments

Boris Johnson Esq., Mayor of London

Dear Mr Johnson

I was very interested to read in the Uxbridge Gazette that on your visit to Ruislip last Wednesday you said you would try to block High Speed Two (HS2). As Chairman of AGAHST (Action groups Against High Speed Two), which represents 75 organisations from Camden to Lichfield, I was very encouraged by this comment.

In essence our argument is that HS2 represents very poor use of resources, which could be invested in much more effective transport infrastructure projects. There are many problems with the HS2 proposal. The £44bn claimed benefits are overstated by £25bn because of the erroneous assumption that time is unproductive on trains and because an out of date model and wrong income figures are used. The demand forecast still looks ambitious, as the overall long distance domestic travel market is saturated and the drivers for rail growth since 1995 will have run their course. Technically, the expectation of 18+ train paths / hour is not feasible (says the UIC). Environmentally, 87% of journeys (according to HS2 Ltd) will be new journeys or transfers from lower carbon modes of travel and the line cuts through an AONB, SSSI, ancient woodlands and some of the most tranquil countryside around London. Finally, the complete rebuild of Euston will cause chaos for 8 years.

However, there are rail alternatives that can be implemented more quickly, at less risk (in line with demand), that leave trains less crowded than on HS2 and at a much lower cost, freeing funding for other projects. In fact it is possible to double standard class capacity on the WCML, ECML and MML before starting on infrastructure projects on identified pinch points. The only urgent infrastructure project is grade separation at Ledbury junction, which for £243m would relieve congestion for Milton Keynes and Northampton commuters far more quickly than HS2. Meanwhile the introduction of in-cab signaling will enable trains to run at 140mph not 125mph.

Proof of the pudding is HS1, which is running at one third of forecast demand, has cost taxpayers billions, and has left commuters up in arms over the regular service cut backs and overcrowding: “Passengers in Kent have seen their service transformed into the worst they have ever known” said Andrew Gilligan in the Daily Telegraph.

Jerry Marshall


Written by hs2questions

May 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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3 Responses

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  1. Still quite incredible that even after the scale of the WCRM debacle, some apparently serious observers are suggesting that the answer to north-south rail capacity is to pile ven more trains onto the line (passenger trains obviously, there are no paths for freight in this world view – that’s what the M6 is for, right?!). How DfT’s consultants must regret must regret submitting that tiny foolscap of 11 A4 pages marked RP2.
    Of course if I were a regular WCML traveller – a commuter from Berkhamsted or Tring for example – the thing I’d think most mornings as I wait for my train is…this railway needs less operational flexibility. So let’s build a flyover boys! Then when the doors get stuck on the train in front, or a passenger pulls the cord, or someone twocks the signalling cable I can gaze longingly out of the window at the fast tracks, sealed off where half a dozen flat junctions used to be. Hmmm. Still there’s a flyover at Ledburn now. Quite the landmark.

    Actually you’d need two flyovers at Ledburn, and whether 125 mile/h turnouts are possible is a moot point – they were installed there in 2003 and ripped out again the same year after failing to cope with the traffic pounding over them. Still £2.8bn later…oops, make that £9.6bn and four years late AND with the promised grade separation, resignalling at Stafford, power supply upgrade (more trains you say? Running on bionic duckweed I hope!) all deferred. Still let’s have another go. Call it a blip eh?!

    In any case all’s well that ends well as Shakespeare said. £9.6bn later and Nuneaton still has no IC service off peak, there are no trains from Watford to Manchester and a mere 13 hour gap in the middle of the day for intrepid travellers from Wolverhampton to Milton Keynes. So one flyover and a load more paths please! Surely that won’t do any harm to catenary, track wear, wheel wear, subgrade formation, ballast, subsoil, cuttings, tunnels? The WCML is only 170ish years old…

    Good job ORR don’t agree, and slapped a JPIP on Network Rail barely three months after WCRM ended amid growing concern over access to maintain the tracks and repeated catenary failures; failures which continue today, albeit not at the rate seen on the East Coast Main Line. Faced with requests for additional services to Blackpool, Huddersfield and Cumbria, ORR has ordered a recast of the WCML timetable to assess if any slots can be found. It’s not looking promising. If only we had that flyover and those 3 min headways like they have on the Shinkansen eh?!


    May 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

  2. See new post on Lord Adonis for a response.
    You’re not Lord Adonis are you Krafty?!


    May 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm

  3. funginix reviews Magnificent Stuff! Must say i’m impressed. funginix


    October 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

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