Tuesday, 5 November 2013

HS2 - Too ambitious for England?

I'm watching the current debate on HS2 with a little laughter. The thing is, the time for huge capital projects such as HS2 has long since passed in this country. Sure we can build an Olympic Park, but a railway line from London to the North? Really?

The thing is the planning process in this country ties projects like this up in knots for years which means costs spiral out of control, far beyond even the wildest current estimates which are already fantastical. The truth is that HS2 will not provide the billions in benefits that its supporters say it will. It will be, as with other European high speed lines, a vehicle for the upper middle class to enjoy, far from the reach of the majority.

Of course despite the cost, despite the lack of benefits, the high speed white elephant will be built, because it has to be built.

Its an elitist project, decreed by the home of the undemocratic elite, the EU. They demand that all EU states build interconnected high speed elitist rail links to all the major cities of the EU. There is no benefit to the masses, there is no sense in spending the billions in compensation ploughing a furrow through the London suburbs and the mainly middle-class Chilterns beyond. Politics demands it be built, against all common sense.

You can tell its a political project decreed by the EU because of all the political posturing in Westminster. All sides know the thing is out of their control: they are being told to build it. The previous Labour government started the ball rolling and if it were just a Labour project, the coalition would have canned it and gained huge support in their middle-class heartland. Instead they press on, because they have to. Labour are now distancing themselves from the project so they can take pot-shots at the government despite knowing full well that if they win the next election they would have to do exactly the same as the coalition are doing right now.

The various future governments are tied into pissing billions away on a project nobody (but the elite) needs, that nobody (in England) wants and that no-one (in England) will benefit from nor can afford. If ever there was the definition of a political project, this is it.


    HS2 does not address the fundamental engineering problem dictating network capacity: Victorian era train brakes are lousy compared with rubber on tarmac car brakes.
    Instead of building old technology HS2 we should spend the money on upgrading our existing lines so that they are compatible with modern frictionless brakes.
    This would double the capacity of the whole UK network by reducing the emergency stopping distance between trains.
    We would also be creating a world beating transport internet that exploited the increased capacity to carry battery powered vehicles long distances on freight trains.
    For details visit www.cheshire-innovation.com/Transport%20internet.htm

  2. The problem with upgrading existing trackwork is the disruption to existing services which are already stretched to capacity and beyond.
    The problem is our London-centric network has no backups. Thanks to the historical fact that many separate companies set up the rail network, there is very little interoperation. For instance if the West coast main line was closed, then the East Coast main line couldn't take up the slack thanks to the lack of decent East-West links.

    I just think this scale of engineering is sadly beyond us these days. We inherited a poorly structured and sized network and it would take several billions more than HS2 and decades to upgrade the existing network.


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