HS2 on the Brink


We have commented adversely on HS2 before. Cutting 2 out of 3 of Coventry’s fast trains to London and Birmingham as proposed by HS2 cannot be compensated by any amount of tinkering. Now it’s been admitted that the costs would be vastly more than HS2 claimed, the government has rightly commissioned a review that promises to examine every option from carrying on and spending more than it’s worth, to scrapping it totally.

Unfortunately the “independent” review was carried out by the original chair of HS2 so he could hardly criticise the bad decisions made during his tenure. The government declined to publish the review before the election but leaked details include a recommendation to go ahead despite the ludicrous cost. Boris Johnson let slip during the election campaign that it would be built.

The problem is that people in HS2/DfT who made bad decisions in the early stages cannot afford to admit they got it wrong. It will take courage to change the personnel and start again on an integrated railway worth building.

We could have agreed with the EU a derogation of the rules for interoperability that dictated continental “fat” trains and a disastrously segregated railway, due to our uniquely small loading gauge, but since we’re leaving EU anyway the government can blame EU for the mess that HS2 is in and start again with a sensible plan.

Fortunately there is an “oven-ready” plan to get everything that HS2 promised (and largely failed), and much more, with less cost and less destruction.

Colin Elliff, a retired rail engineer, treated CovSoc members to his alternative proposals a couple of years ago. See www.highspeeduk.com  It may be that Colin’s time has come after 10 years of campaigning against the painfully inept HS2. Coventry hopes so.

5 thoughts on “HS2 on the Brink

  1. Well I don’t agree with this. The trains are overcrowded, Too many cars are causing pollution severe enough to damage all our health. Transport is an essential part of a healthy economy. HS2 may cause less trains to go through Coventry in the short term but the trend to needing more high speed transport options to connect the north Midlands and south is obvious. It may cost a lot of money. Doing nothing and allowing all other transport options to be overcrowded and choke us with pollution will cost everyone more in the long run


  2. Why did no one investigate the better proposal for a HS link suggestion by cov soc . with facebook & Skype & whatever ingenious ways being developed to communicate without leaving your home who needs to travel at these speeds and at what will be far to expensive ticket costs. The prices will rise on everything produced, to cover these


  3. An article of empty rhetoric, hand waving bluster, and almost no facts, data or evidence. What (you say) “decisions were got wrong” and what (you say) should they have done instead..? Instead of just telling us what the problems are, why not benefit readers with your sage wisdom of how it should have been done better (cheaper, less homes demolished, less emissions, etc. etc.)

    We may be loosing some direct services to London, but the capacity freed on the WCML means we gain more trains to New Street and other local destination etc. where one suspects most of us live and work.

    Mr Elliff’s plans are far from “oven ready” (not even costed, let alone consulted on, safeguarded, debated, amended, funded or anything else,) and were examined by Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament during passage of the HS2 Phase 1 Bill and were dismissed. Quite why people think one man on his kitchen table can do a better job of planning a mass transit system than the massed ranks of experts at Network Rail, Arup, Atkins, Jacobs, BB, et al and the millions of man hours of work they have expended working up the designs begs credibility.

    HS2 is happening; moaning about it has made little difference over the last ten years and “one more heave” of moaning is not going to see it cancelled.

    Politically, Mr Johnson needs to show he’s built “something” in time for the next election and HS2 is an easy win for him as it’s already under construction and will be well on the way by GE 2024. Anything “new” dreamt up today will still be computer renders at GE2024 as it takes years to get schemes to the point where the digger roll into action.


  4. David, all the facts, data and evidence you seek are on the high speed uk website if you care to look.
    The first error of HS2 is to be designed, in HS2’s own words, as “a largely segregated railway” with “fat” trains that can’t go into existing city-centre stations. The second is to route it via Old Oak Common which is actually south of Euston, not on the way to Birmingham as shown on HS2’s “map”, requiring lots more tunnel than is necessary. HS2 has four times the length of tunnel as HSUK, and tunnels make up 25% of the cost. HS2 has only got as far as it has because parliament was consistently lied to about the benefits and the costs.
    Construction hasn’t started, only destructive preparatory works, the contractors are refusing to price the work on the onerous conditions set by HS2, the costs are already 3 times the original budget though the scope has been cut, the completion date has been put back by some years, the benefits are now less than the costs, and construction can’t start without government permission. HS2 is dying and should be killed off so we can get on with things actually worth building like 4-tracking Rugby-Birmingham and electrification of Hull-Leeds. Lord Berkeley’s report this week reveals a lot of the chicanery of HS2. See https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A8e9c8f87-2650-4aa0-8e0f-0eaf6e709640


  5. The link to http://www.highspeeduk.com doesn’t work. Lord Berkeley’s report is something to take more seriously.

    “(HS2’s) stated aim of providing better North South links is just as likely to attract more jobs from the regions to London than the other way round. “


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