I can see the Great Central 100 metres from my front window and walk along it several times a week. They planned to reopen it about 30 years ago but didn`t... it just had a negative effect on property prices (they agreed to buy our house at about 80% of its value) and it has left a permanent dent in values ever since. The venture company dissolved and so did our agreements. Still, it`s a nice walk to nowhere in particular!
Well it’s helped keep me busy for the last couple of years. We’re working as normal on it this week but am expecting a decision at the end of the week and some guidance for how we move forward, whether we stop all together for a period, carry on with our current work which is nearly done or some other combination.
My hunch is that it will proceeed to Manchester, but the Leeds leg will either be canned, or redesigned to a slower speed.
The north desperately needs rail investment, and HS2 can be part of the answer. Whether it’s the right answer to to the problem, or even if the problem has been identified correctly, I don’t know. It has been misold from the start - if it was ‘just’ a normal rail line, or medium speed at 150mph, sold to the country as a means to improve capacity, I can see it being record more favourably. However it’s become massively politicised, and used as a tool by the Cameron government and subsequent administrations.
The project is poorly understood, HS2 have done a poor job actually explaining the project. Do you know that apart from building the Y shape link, it is proposed to have high speed services to Liverpool and the northeast? Eventually I believe Scotland? Probably not. The new trains are proposed to use the existing network until joining the new tracks near York, Warrington and Crewe. Would Boris Johnson want to say to those areas so recently promised major investment and convinced to vote Tory in the north that they are no longer getting the promised investment? Areas like Couny Durham, Teeside, Sheffield?
As one of my colleague said today, he couldn’t give a crap about arming in London 15minutes quicker, he just wants to arrive on time, reliably. But it can be argued that HS2 will help with this, by taking express intercity trains into a dedicated tracks, rather mixing it will all other traffic in the WCML which is at capacity.
It would be a terrible betrayal of Yorkshire if the Manchester line is high-speed and Leeds not.
And yes, the north needs much more investment on rail, particularly in trans-Pennine links.
Not just infrastructure, no-one should be running Pacers still.
Democratic dissent is not disloyalty, it is a positive civic duty
Thanks, TomB. Always interesting to hear from the inside.
It is a case of mis-selling. The original proposal featured high speed (sexy, cutting edge stuff). When getting between Birmingham and London ten minutes more quickly was ridiculed, it suddenly morphed into a case for increased capacity. Such changes of business case lead, understandably to widespread distrust.
I agree with the former: this was always in the case, although the time saving between Birmingham and London got a lot of attention. Have you got a source for that morphing, please, Stephen?
Yes, an integrated transport plan would have a lot of higher speed connections although not necessarily High Speed.
I was talking about the politics with a very senior rail manager last night. We agreed very quickly that there's little electoral advantage in improving rail infrastructure in the north as the payback is far too long... more than six general elections away. But there's a lot in promising it.
A Review of High Speed 2Dissenting Report by Lord Tony Berkeley House of Lords
Wolmar today. Updated but unchanged views. His last paragraph:
"The problem for Johnson is that improvements to those regional suburban rail systems will take time as well as money, and his best chance of winning some credit with those (Northern) voters may well lie in rapid and extensive investment in buses. If that sounds rather unexciting, he should bear in mind that it may play better than promising a new railway that will not fully connect with the north until 2040."
That's the same point about party political effects as in #166 above.
The environmental impacts are too great, the devastation of large numbers of mature trees is too high a price to pay. The existing rail infrastructure should be updated and old abandoned line bought back into use where possible.
Destruction of trees is never a problem when it is suggested that we should build more roads.
Rail infrastructure lasts a _very_ long time and the cost needs to be looked at from that perspective.
1.6K Roadsport SV
And the land used by railways is small compared to alternatives. In Germany per kilometre of length it's about 3.5 ha for new rail and about 9 for motorways. And the original TGV line from Paris to Lyon used less land than CDG airport.
Jonathan (typing on a very high speed train)