Twenty years on – Failing to learn the Eurostar lessons

Twenty years ago, on 14th November 1994, Eurostar began services from Waterloo to Paris and Brussels using the new Channel Tunnel.

It didn’t do what the promoters expected.  But instead of learning from the experience, the promoters of HS2 are planning to repeat the same mistakes.

Also in November 1994, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill was introduced to Parliament, subsequently getting Royal Assent in December 1996. This was an entirely new railway, with a clear market for travel between London and Paris, which in 1994 had reached 4 million passengers by air a year.

According to the French Air Transport Directorate, “Since 8 February 1919, when the first passenger air service in the world was launched by the Farman Company (Paris-London in 2:37), the traffic on this line has kept growing”: it seemed clear to the promoters of the Bill that a convenient fast train service could capture the market.  And it did: by 2007, the Eurostar had 80% of the market, with around 20% flying.

But the promoters of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link were massively overoptimistic about the actual numbers of passengers, with the figures needing to be revised downwards three times: Eurostar only just reaching 10 million passengers in 2013.

LCR forecasts versus actual numbers upto 2004

The promoters failed to take into account one off events and the alternative  to London-Paris journeys that would come apparently from no-where. As a 2006 Parlimentary report said:

5. A further reason for the lower than expected passenger revenues is the success of the low-cost airlines in competing with Eurostar on price, and their much larger range of destinations. These events illustrate the difficulty of accurately forecasting revenues on novel major projects. The Link is moreover the only high speed railway in the country and the first new railway line for a hundred years, so there is no recent national experience with which to compare it.[5]

The market for travel between Paris London was there.  The market changed.  The market was sensitive to fares, and the market was sensitive to unexpected disruption from the alternative destinations which were now affordable.

There is now a high speed railway in the UK, and HS2 will not be the first new railway for 100 years.  But the promoters of HS2 refuse to learn the lessons from HS1.

Earlier this week, Adonis told the House of Lords Economics Affairs Committee that HS2 should have been built first, claiming “that HS1 was between three cites London, Brussels and Paris that did not have substantial traffic” – but the 4 million passengers between London and Paris in 1994 did not include travel to Brussels.

Also this week, the Commons Public Accounts Committee and the Lords Economic Affairs Committee were both told, that the HS2 business cases had not taken any account of fare changes, assuming that these would be the same as conventional trains.  But in the HS1 case a major problem was that fares on the alternative means of travel did not stay constant.

One might argue that the advent of low-cost airlines was a ‘black swan’ event, and made a disruptive change.  And again, the promoters of HS2 refuse to analyse what might happen with the advent of increased digital technologies.  Tthis week, the Commons Public Accounts Committee and the Lords Economic Affairs Committee were both told that increased rollout of super fast broadband hadn’t been taken into account by HS2, but if they did, it would mean more travel not less.

Twenty years ago, Britain did something new and innovative.

It didn’t do what the promoters expected.  But instead of learning from the experience, the promoters of HS2 are planning to repeat the same mistakes.

 

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30 comments on “Twenty years on – Failing to learn the Eurostar lessons
  1. I am sure the majority in uk equate Eurostar with Eurotunnel and who would try to explain the difference? Eurostar depends on in-fill slots through the Channel Tunnel in between the scheduled RoRo services for lorries, busses and cars, for which the tunnel was built. The established 3-4 runs per hour in each direction pose no great constaint, but try fitting in all the other routes that are claimed possible.
    In the discussions here, it would appear we are all singing from the same hymn sheet:
    One declares:
    “In the spirit of cynical disbelief espoused by STOPHS2 I say; follow the money!”
    Another:
    “If former railway land surrounding city stations is flogged off for development … (reinstatement)…becomes so much more difficult and costly”.
    These are exactly what STOP has been arguing about from the outset.
    Firstly, it is impossible to follow the money with the govt committing to so many contracts of unrestricted value to make it impossible to reverse the unrelenting process – “no turning back”. Everyone knows that past govts lacked foresight by selling off or destroying valuable infrastructure. Considering that the current coalition has made only three good decisions to benefit the country, there can be little belief in their decision to spend vast sums on their chemin de peur.
    As for those good decisions, three of them were U-turns, so what are we left with?

    • I have long considered that the Channel Tunnel was mishandled by successive British governments- ever since the Victorians!(We shall never know how Sir Edward Watkin’s nineteenth century project would have fared had it not been aborted in its early stages…)

      The Wilson government planned for the Chunnel- and for Maplin offshore airport; a sort of Boris Island Mk One, some ten miles north,on the Essex side- and Concorde…itself an engineering triumph if one forgets the total development costs written off by the government and the exhaust, noise and ‘boom’ effect at supersonic speeds which limited its operating areas.

      Mrs Thatcher’s goovernment were dubious. She would have much preferred a straight “drive through” crossing, but eventually conceded that for both technical and cost reasons, that the twin track rail tunnel was the only practical possibility.

      Attempts to build and then operate the Channel link as a quasi private enterprise did not make things easier.
      Rather than embracing the whole Chunnel project as a piece of essential infracture to link the two capitals,our government preferred to be seen to remain at arms length- at least until it needed to be rescued financially.(twice!)
      Furthermore, if the operator of the Tunnel also itself runs ‘Le Shuttle’, is not it inevitable that when it comes to pricing and available slots for Eurostar and for any expansion of international freight, these through rail services are at a disadvantage?
      A strategic international RAIL link to Europe and beyond is reduced to become merely an underground car ferry!

  2. As mentioned elsewhere, £50bn.plus spent on HS2 does not sensible.The (originally over-egged) HS1 is not a great success, (remember it was sold to a Canadian pension fund at a substantial @£2bn.loss), it does however provide an unique service, whereas there are already excellent rail connections to Birmingham, Leeds & Manchester.
    UK Inter-City journey times compare favourably with Europe, UK has already 125mph i.e.high speed trains. General sceptibility will remain unless MPA reports are released, and independent scrutiny happens.

  3. So it’s a different Peter Davidson, let him speak.
    HS2 got through as MPs were whipped or, in the case of the Conservatives, told to keep away. A majority of the population (55%) opposed, compared to 400 odd MPs representing 0.015% of the population. There should be a national transport plan, that’s common sense. Any “Govt” should listen to IEA, IOD, PAC etc., and should never be allowed to approve expenditure of this magnitude without independent scrutiny.

    • @John
      So now you just try to dodge the original question?

      Go back to the core theme of my original comment – the one you appear unwilling to respond to?

      You’ve admitted that Eurostar’s service (from/to London St. Pancras) is successful because it’s convenient but failed to acknowledge the process through which that convenience emerged; namely the construction of a world class rail line now hosting Eurostar’s growing fleet of High Speed trains.

      The point I am making here is; provide a level playing field between short haul air and high speed rail and guess what – High Speed Rail wins the commercial battle!

      Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to vote with their patronage? An outcome symbolised by Eurostar’s continued growth, both in terms of passenger numbers and their developing portfolio of destinations

      My challenge remains unanswered – why should London be the sole (UK based) beneficiary of this virtuous circle of enhanced connectivity?

  4. Could Peter Davidson Consultancy be any connection with you? If so, that would explain your attempts to rubbish objectors to HS2.

    • errrrr……..“what Peter Davidson consultancy” might that be?

      Think very carefully before you compile your response – I seem to recall some nonsense along these lines about a year ago?

      Does the legal term “defamation of character” ring any bells for you (STOPHS2 is legally responsible to ensure such information does NOT appear on their website)? Penny (as site moderator) was obliged to clarify this position and my input into the debate.

      So instead of retreating into a surreal world of conspiracy theories, perhaps you’d like to respond to my perfectly reasonable comment?

      If you honestly believe posting factual information a means of challenging certain preconceived viewpoints constitutes “attempts to rubbish objectors to HS2”, perhaps the arguments advanced by this campaign site are not so robust as some might believe?

      • Peter and Davidson are both common names, so not surprisingly there is more than one Peter Davidson in the UK. Peter Davidson Consultancy is based in Hertfordshire, the Peter Davidson who posts here is from near Manchester.

        What might be more relevant is whether anyone commenting in favour of HS2 on this website really does believe in “transparency in public decision making” and/or “greater accountability of all elected representatives, government and public bodies“. Because if they do believe in those things, they should be putting the HS2 vested interests, HS2 Ltd and the HS2 decision making process under scrutiny rather than attacking the supporters of the grassroots campaign which opposes HS2.

    • Definitely a different Peter Davidson. Although “our” PD does describe himself as a “Professional Facilitator” which I find rather intriguing.

      That’s not defamatory Penny since it is a provable fact – ie true.

      As an aside it is interesting that our PD suggests that his reputation might be damaged if people thought he was linked with HS2 in some way. I know the majority of people think HS2 is a bad idea ( source : YouGov survey ) but I didn’t think it was so bad that association with the project could be considered to harm someone’s reputation.

  5. Although much over-stated originally, there is demand for the unique Eurostar service, it is a convenient way to access Paris & Brussels, compared to cheap flights. Compare that with many existing, and likely cheaper ways, to get to Birmingham and onwards.If HS2 is ever built, even the first stage is unlikely to be open until 2027, the capacity issue, if it exists, is current. Long distance business travel be it car, train or air has plateaued, and appears to be declining probably due to technology. We need a national transport plan, not just a political rush to push HS2.

    • @John
      You might want to review your comments with a more critical eye?
      1. I am struggling to comprehend your claim of “a political rush to push HS2” when in more or less the same breath you berate the project because “even the first stage is unlikely to be open until 2027”

      Those two statements don’t equate?

      2. You state that the Eurostar service “is a convenient way to access Paris & Brussels, compared to cheap flights” whilst deliberately ignoring the infrastructure, ie. HS1, which has facilitated that very same convenience?

      The hardware (HS1) and software (Eurostar’s service that operates on it) are inexorably interwoven.

      Much of Eurostar’s recent growth, and indeed the future demand upon which the rationale supporting the very substantial investments I have referred to, is predicated on the existence of HS1 – without it Eurostar’s service would not be growing at all – in fact it would more than likely be in a state of atrophy if HS1 had not been constructed.

      I support the principles underpinning HS2 but I do have one major problem with HS2 in its current format, namely it’s lack of direct linkage to HS1. That flaw needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

      HS2 connected to HS1 can (in my opinion) provide the necessary hardware for huge growth in rail based traffic over the next fifty years and beyond. That’s essentially why I want HS2 to proceed. You claim that long distance travel by train has plateaued but that’s not strictly true is it. Yes, growth in long distance rail travel is lower than other sectors but it’s still growing and a major element of the rationale supporting HS2 is the signficant capacity on existing networks it will free up for shorter distance rail based travel, which continues to grow rapidly, despite wild and unsubstantiated claims made in these columns about the potential of communications technology.

      • Hi Peter

        Well I have to agree with your analysis ‘in principle’

        Is HS2, as proposed being rushed through?

        The second reading of the hybrid bill was forced through parliament via the ‘three line whip’, across all three major political parties.

        Voting members had to vote in favour or resign their ministerial position, or abstain.

        Meanwhile numerous FOI requests had been blocked and a veto was slapped upon the RED/AMBER status of the MPA report. And, irrespective of the foregoing, the ‘hybrid bill’ as it stood and still stands is not yet fit for purpose. Some 40% of the route remains not properly assessed in the SAE, and numerous additional provisions are pending – The Euston triple U-turn rebuild has hit the buffers and cannot therefore be incorporated and nor has the ‘Higgins Crew extension’.

        So that second reading was rushed and forced through, irresponsibly and probably illegally.

        ‘In principal’, therefore I agree that claims regarding the perceived slow delivery of HS2 seem contradictory to this.

        But It seems that this state of affairs is not so much a contradiction of perspectives but a pure and simple irony: – if you start with a bad idea, you have to rush it through (before anybody notices.) But then, the real Pandora’s box opens and things get slow, expensive, wasteful and complicated, trying to salvage it, and there in lies the source of that contradiction……..As you say, ‘it does not equate’

        And, whom do we have to blame?

        Ladies and gentleman, I give you Adonis, Cameron/Osborn, a vested interest KPMG/Clegg and a spineless Miliband led opposition.

        A beleaguered outgoing labour administration, still licking their wounds over their failed Heathrow expansion ambitions, task’s him [Adonis] with setting the HS2 trap…and they bought it hook, line and sinker.

        A bitter and vindictive repost that had more to do with vanity than utility.

        This is the man who has recently gone on record claiming that your HS1 should not yet have been built because, there was hitherto no London/Paris/Brussels service to improve, but in adding to existing train paths to Birmingham and beyond, HS2 should have been built first!

        HS2, lest we should forget is his brainchild!

        I agree that HS1 is getting incrementally better, and I agree that it would achieve this more quickly if it were to be linked directly to current and future North/South infrastructure, but HS2 cannot ever deliver on that objective because it is a badly conceived and overpriced scheme being rushed through…

        Better solutions are being ignored due to political vanity and incompetence.

        In the 70’s BR had working tilting train prototypes, but politicians cancelled the project….Now we have Italian tilting trains..

        My ‘ire’ is with how completely wrong we do every thing in this country, HS2 will be next in our portfolio!!!

        • The second reading of the hybrid bill was forced through parliament via the ‘three line whip’, across all three major political parties.

          Voting members had to vote in favour or resign their ministerial position, or abstain.

          @Clive Medcraft
          Firstly your comments are in general irrelevant to the debate I have raised because my questions are focused specifically on the long-term viability (or otherwise) of High Speed Rail services, not the Parliamentary mechanics of enabling legislation required to facilitate the construction of High Speed Rail lines themselves

          However, I will just respond by saying that you should not be surprised about the procedures involved in managing legislative programs – that is how the UK’s Parliamentary democracy functions.

          Parties advise, in advance of the election, a summary of their policy proposals in order that voters can make an informed choice in the privacy of the polling booth – it’s called a manifesto?

          The Conservatives included a clear commitment to High Speed Rail in their manifesto – so did virtually every other party (including UKIP) before the last election – you (and all other voters) could therefore exercise an informed choice – if you didn’t want HS2, you could have voted Green in May 2010

          Next May you will have a choice to either renew or reject the currently established democratic mandate HS2 enjoys.

          “Whipping” is simply an administrative device employed by all organised political parties to manage their Parliamentary business – why you are surprised about this is a surprise to me – presumably you had no previous knowledge of these processes and how they work (and have worked in the past, for possibly three centuries or more)?

          I won’t comment on the rest of your remarks – I’ve heard them all before (many, many times)

          • peter

            Firstly I did vote green in the last election.

            Secondly, there is a difference between ‘being surprised’ and being utterly hacked off!!!

            I am well aware of the archaic machinations of the politics of the UK thank you very much, which is why I also know that voting ‘green’ on any issue is an utter waste of time.

            As you have been only too keen to point out, HS2 ‘enjoys’ cross party support ‘between all 3’ major parties, so your suggestion that anybody against HS2 should voting as a possible means to an end [is] irrelevant.

            As for the debate on the future of High Speed rail.

            What HS1/Eurostar shows us, is that it will be very expensive to build and will not achieve the predicted volume of uptake. Probably, by about 2045 when enough people working in London but unable to afford to live there, begin outbidding the locals in the Leeds and Manchester property market, HS2 use will begin to grow as a commuter line into London. At that point I expect the tax payer subsidised foreign franchise operator of the time to go cap in hand to some ‘hard headed’ investors to finance some replacement rolling stock, a sound investment in an established going concern paid for and subsidised by the state.

            If this is good, then erm…….it’s good I guess!

            And if turning Leeds and Manchester into dormitories for the future fat cats of the London financial sector is what is meant by ‘the future northern power house’ and that’s what the people want, then OK HS2 is good.

  6. “The financial burden of this new investment in rolling stock accrues directly to Eurostar shareholders, not the UK taxpayer!”

    One of which still happens to be the UK government with a 40% holding. Yes it is trying to offload it but at present it still has a 40% shareholding and presumably if the investment has accrued directly from the shareholders it seems likely that the UK taxpayer funded whatever a 40% share equated to.

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  8. In the spirit of cynical disbelief espoused by STOPHS2 I say; follow the money!

    Yesterday Eurostar publicly unveiled (at St Pancras, where else – the centre of the universe as far as High Speed Rail in the UK is concerned) one of the ten new Siemens built e320 train sets ordered four years ago. Nine of the ten have been delivered and are currently on test, the last one will follow shortly.

    The cost of this new rolling stock is approx £700million – a contract price that also includes complete refurbishment of the existing Class 373 Eurostar rolling stock. The financial burden of this new investment in rolling stock accrues directly to Eurostar shareholders, not the UK taxpayer!

    Simultaneously Eurostar announced a contract for a further seven e320 train sets, presumably for delivery in approx three/four years time?
    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/news/europe/single-view/view/eurostar-orders-seven-more-e320s.html

    What does this enormous (well over a £billion in total) private investment say about Eurostar’s long term confidence (the cost of this new rolling stock will be amortised over a twenty five year timescale?) in a transport future in which long distance high speed rail travel forms an integral feature?

    STOPHS2 are very keen to highlight the financial burden placed on taxpayers (current and future generations) by HS2 and claim (erroneously in my opinion) that this indicates a fundamental lack of faith in the future demand/market for High Speed Rail – how many times have I heard the cry “if it’s such a good idea why doesn’t a private company stump up the cost” or words to that effect!

    Do the authors have any comment on Eurostar’s commercial strategy – are they utterly wrong about the future demand for High Speed Rail or are you going to move the goalposts (again!) to justify your selectively edited blind adherence to a position of outright hostility?

    Don’t suppose Joe, Penny and gang at StopHS2 would care to enlighten interested readers here?

    • Even by your standards this is a rather ridiculous post.

      Eurostar invest £ 700 million in trains. That is in fact quite a small sum compared to the £ 7 billion pounds that would be spent on rolling stock on HS2, or the £ 50 billion that is expected to be spent on the whole project.

      • Oh so predictable sidestepping of inconvenient question – maybe you (or more appropriately Joe, Penny or anyone from Stop HS2) would you’d like to answer it?

        Why are Eurostar (a private standalone enterprise) committing to spend very large sums of money on rolling stock – Eurostar don’t have the money available immediately from their own resources so they are obliged to go to a City (of London) based finance house to arrange a lending facility.

        In order to get to where we are now it means some hard headed commercial analysis has been undertaken, in order to justify the lending facility I’ve referred to.

        The central point here being that future demand forecasts (that this rolling stock will serve) must be robust – otherwise Eurostar would receive a big fat NO from any financial institution.

        Not quite sure why I have to spell out these blindingly obvious financial realities – now, would you care to answer the question rather than just duck it (again)?

        • My response is predictable because, guess what, it is not only true but absolutely obvious.

          The investment that is now being made in these 10 trainsets is small compared to the cost of HS2 or indeed the trainsets that would be required on HS2.

          I am not sure whether the purpose of your comment is to try to imply that a current or future profit for Eurostar “proves” that HS2 is a financially sound investment — simply by virtue that both fall into the category of “high speed rail”. It certainly does not. Happy to explain to you why it does not if you aren’t too sure.

          • The investment that is now being made in these 10 trainsets is small compared to the cost of HS2 or indeed the trainsets that would be required on HS2.

            @kingsnewclothes – that comparison is irrelevant to the point I have raised – I am not making any direct reference to the costs of High Speed Rail infrastructure.

            Please explain to me how demonstrable commercial certainty in the robust nature of growing long term demand for High Speed Rail services, evidenced in the form of significant financial backing by an institution that will undoubtedly demand a fair return on its capital outlay (ie. lending of the funds referred to, approx £1 billion +), does not infer confidence in a High Speed Rail future, I don’t know what does?

            Responses here predictably focus on the costs of constructing HS2 but transport infrastructure investment (in the UK) falls within the public domain. Car makers invest billions in plant and equipment to manufacture automobiles – presumably because they have confidence in continued public investment in the infrastructure their products require to operate?

            I haven’t noticed a surfeit of commentaries, amongst STOPHS2 columns, critical of continued huge public investment in road transport infrastructure?

            • I know you are not making any direct reference to the cost of HS2 — that would be very silly of you — but you are trying to imply that the fact that bankers might back investment in 10 Eurostar trainsets for a handful of short haul routes that could make a contribution ( and crucially into a company that is controllled by the French government ) means that HS2 must be a great project.

              That is a complete non-sequitur and you know it.

              The fundamental difference is that the government’s own figures show incremental fare revenues less the costs of operating HS2 cover only 22 % of the costs of construction of HS2 and that is only after factoring in the £ 8 bn of “savings” from cuts to existing services.

              No private business would invest on that commercial basis and just because ( in the UK ) transport infrastructure is funded by government does not mean the taxpayer should just stump up £ 50 billion because a few local Manchester politicians would like them to.

        • Let’s consider the performance of Eurostar so far.

          Services started 20 years ago and in the early years passenger forecasts were massively overestimated — something which is often the case with new rail projects and is feared in connection with HS2. As a result London & Continental Railways ran up £ 3 BILLION of losses and had to bailed out in 2010 when passenger numbers were 9.5 m per annum.

          Passenger numbers in 2013 were 6 % higher at 10.1 m. Not bad but 2 % YOY growth is hardly stellar.

          In 2013 Eurostar made a Profit before Tax of £ 56.3 m up from £ 56.2 m in the previous year. Far from a disaster but again hardly stellar growth and not a large return on the assets employed of £ 852 m plus £75 m of Bank Loans.

          The UK infrastructure costs for 2013 were £ 67 m which I guess could be considered (indirectly) as a contribution to HS1. That’s a lot of money to me or you but would still take well over 200 years to cover the cost of HS1.

          The bottom line is that Eurostar ( with the benefit of serving what are arguably the 2 most important cities in Europe ) is now, after 20 years, doing OK. But that is all you can say. For the bankers sake ( I never thought I would here myself say that ) I hope that the passenger estimations on the Amsterdam service are more robust than the original ones from L&C.

          • It’s probably also worth saying that up to 1,200 of Eurostar’s customers on 2 trains going to Paris and Brussels last Thursday evening may not be too enamoured with their experience.

            One national daily reported that a power supply failure in Northern France at about 7 pm caused them to be stuck in their trains in the cold and dark for many hours. The two trains reaching their destinations something like 9 hours late.

            No doubt this is an “exceptional” occurrence ( although I am surprised that the 2013 directors’ report of Eurostar shows a drop in punctuality to 90 % ) but it does highlight the risk of putting the lion’s share of our North – South traffic onto one line (HS2) with a single point of failure.

          • @kingsnewclothes
            You appear to have begrudgingly conceded the basis of my original claim, ie. that Eurostar is now an established (and growing) feature on the transport landscape

            Unsurprisingly, you haven’t made any comment regarding a potential link between this commercial success and the advent of HS1, which we should recall only came into full operation during November 2007

            Regarding the future development of Eurostar services, we’ll have to wait and see won’t we – the principal point here being that once a fully fledged High Speed Rail line is put in place, evidence shows that passengers vote with their custom

            I will continue to advocate the same argument; that HS2 could (in the right circumstances) extend this very same long-term success story to other UK cities and Regions?

            • I still can’t really understand what point you are trying to make.

              Is a £ 50 m annual profit on Eurostar a commercial success ? Arguably – but only if we ignore the huge write offs up to now.

              Will there be a profit of £ 50 m arising from the incremental cash flows flowing from the HS2 project ? Possibly – but only if we take into account the “savings” from cuts to the existing services – which tends to fly in the face of the argument that HS2 is about capacity.

              If there was an annual profit of £ 50 m “from HS2” would that be a good return on a £ 50 bn taxpayer investment ? Not on your nelly. Since it would take that poor old taxpayer 1000 years to get their money back. Even you can’t think that is a good return.

              People might take a 2 to 2.5 hour train journey to Paris or Brussels from London but once you add an extra hour from Birmingham or Manchester ( even if a link between HS1 and HS2 were ever to be built ) then the 4 hour mass market limit cuts in at a field just south of Paris or Brussels.

    • Peter

      A £700 million contribution from the shareholders!….Big deal!

      When are they going to cough up the £16 billion that had to be parked on the national debt, when the state was forced to intervene to prevent the whole project from going insolvent?

      And, whilst on the subject of private sector investment, it now transpires that HS2 Ltd cannot attract the eye-watering funding for the ‘flag ship’ Euston station rebuild, such is the enthusiasm for high speed rail related spending!

      And Why?

      A £7 billion price tag might have something to do with it………. JUST FOR A STATION!!!!!

      High speed rail in the UK is just too expensive.

      Higgins knows that his remit to salvage the project is undeliverable and has declared that he is poised to walk. A face saving exercise since he pledged to find cost savings but failed and is now set to preside over yet another calamitous U-turn over Euston despite his public backing of Osborne’s, now shelved ‘level deck’ scheme.

      The one and only credible legacy he looks set to leave is the removal of the ‘vital’ HS1/HS2 link – proof if ever it were needed that the only way to improve the white elephant is to start at the tail and cut………then keep on cutting until it’s all gone.

      • ” 7 BILLION…JUST FOR A STATION!!!!”
        “…is too expensive”

        Why is this?

        Could it be to do with the reluctance of U.K. governments and planning authorities to foresee future needs?

        If former railway land surrounding city stations is flogged off for development, then if the need to rebuild and restore – or expand- rail services to meet greater demand in terms of numbers wanting to travel and expecting decent modern facilities;becomes so much more difficult and costly.

        Consider, for example, the case of Marylebone.
        Slated for closure thirty years ago, it is now busier than at any time in its history, yet so much land has been sold off that expansion -more platforms, more trains, space to park them off peak, more lines into the access ‘throat’ through the tunnels- all these have required shuffling and expensive re-arranging because so much had been sold off and a new depot has had to be squeezed in beside the tracks at Wembley as there is no remaining land beside the terminus,

        St. Pancras is a magnificent restored survival -but at the cost of pushing back the Midland services nearly a quarter of a mile with limited space for further expansion- and the fast ‘Javelin ‘ services to the Kent coast tacked on to the far side beyond the over dominent shopping arcades.
        The goods station site beside St. Pancras is now occupied by the British Library and the triangular King’s Cross Lands site of the former gasworks has also been sold for development,

        Well, at least St Pancras avoided demolition, but some twenty five years ago, when High Speed services were being considered, a wholly new purpose built station in that space between St Pancras and Kings Cross was planned ,but then
        dismissed as “Too Expensive”…Too expensive to connect Continental services directly with future hs lines to the rest of the UK?
        More expensive than knocking down houses and businesses and schools in Camden and then trying to find space to relocate?

        (And many people consider that Euston -with or without HS2- is overdue for a complete makeover or even a total rebuild!)

      • @Clive Medcraft

        Please answer the question put – not the issue exercising your (seemingly considerable) ire?

        I’ve asked about the business rationale underpinning Eurostar’s decision (funded by a lending facility from a hard headed financial institution?) to commit in excess of £1billion to the purchase of new high speed rolling stock.

        If there is (as STOPHS2 appear to contend) no significant demand for these services, why does Eurostar (and their financial backers) hold a diametrically opposite position – they can’t both be correct?

        Please focus on that question and that question alone!

        • Anyone can do it…..

          I buy a ‘private sector funded’ car and pay road excise duty to permit me to use a state funded transport corridor called ‘a road.’

          In the case of ‘private sector funded’ rolling stock on HS1, they buy a car (rolling stock) and use state funded rail infrastructure……not the same as the eye-watering state investment in that infrastructure, and no private takers for that!…..but from the car (rolling stock) financiers point of view….a ‘no brainer’

          Peter, I agree…….but SO WHAT?

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