Lib-Dems propose zero cost HS2 bike lane in their Manifesto

It is generally accepted that political parties produce manifestos in the run up to elections because they want voters to take them seriously. Well that is how it is meant to work, but it’s questionable whether or not anyone told whoever wrote the manifesto for the Liberal Democrats. It’s not quite the Monster Raving Loony Party, who want to build HS2 to the Falkland Islands as the current proposal is neither expensive enough or daft enough, but it is getting there.

The manifesto reads:

“Support options for a new intercity cycleway along the HS2 route within the overall budget of the project.”

Artists impression of Liberal Democrat HS2 bike lane proposal

Artists impression of Liberal Democrat HS2 bike lane proposal

Now that may sound like a laudable aim, but we’re just not sure it has been completely thought through.

While a cycle path might give something back to communities blighted by HS2, there is a big question, with the noise of a train going past every 100 seconds at 250mph, who the hell is going to want to use it? Also, it is quite likely that a 250mph train is going to cause, shall we say, a bit of a draught, not something that really works well with a nice bike ride in the country.

Of course the worst part of the statement is the idea that this could be provided “Within the overall budget of the project”, i.e. that it would cost nothing. Whilst Sir David Higgins has come into HS2 Ltd and found a way to cut bits off without reducing the cost of the project, we are not so sure he could add new bits without the cost moving upwards.

This pledge does make you wonder about the people who wrote the manifesto and their grip on reality, in their belief that 351 miles of tarmac, and of course the extra land required to put it on would cost nothing, to say nothing of what exactly is meant to happen when HS2 goes into tunnels.

The other mention of HS2 is of course a nice bit of spin for north of the border, that they will:

“Proceed with HS2, as the first stage of a high-speed rail network to Scotland.”

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5 comments on “Lib-Dems propose zero cost HS2 bike lane in their Manifesto
  1. Getting the route wrong is not the reason to keep progrssing the very poor rail scheme not serving commuters and longer distance travellers

    Railways are not viable without fare box income. HS2 does not have the fare box demand needed. Route could have been a variation of Route 2.5 which the Buckinghamshire County Council have a map for as preferred alternative route. How did HS2 and the counties default to a poor rail proposition. Great Central Line is and was not an option. Aarhus Convention articles were not complied with for some facilities IMD at Calvert and HS2 National Grid power links at Quainton and UK knows that now the people do also.

    HS2 is failing to rectify its violations of the Aarhus Articles 6, 7, 17 and 19. There was not the public participation in decision making but only look and listen to what HS2 did without the competence assessed on local roads and habitate destruction. The public consultation in 2011 did not reveal the land takes and footprints.

  2. Well that’s all very interesting “JW” but your constant implication that the coming of HS2 is in any way comparable with the coming of the railways in the first place is very misleading. When the railways arrived in the first place they revolutionised travel. Few would claim that knocking 30 minutes off the journey from Birmingham to London would have anything like the same impact.

    As for the number of trains running, the plan is ( or at least was for 18 per hour each way ). Whether there are 18 or 12 or something in between is not particularly relevant to determining whether or not the service is a success. That will be down to how many incremental passengers use the service. Just moving traffic from the WCML, MML and ECLML does not constitute success. It is simply a substitution. I am genuinely sceptical on this since journey times are relatively short in this country in the first place.

    But it is refreshing to see that you recognise the flaws in the current proposals. Yes it could have been routed in a less damaging way — extreme was the word you used. Yes it should have had more stations so that more people can benefit.

    Maybe if we get a different government, even if they are in favour of high speed rail in principle, there will be a sensible re-evaluation of the options — particularly in the light of the tough spending choices ahead. I suggest the vested corporate and council interests don’t give up on their marketing spend just yet.

  3. Excellent! Well done the Lib. Dems!

    At last an integrated transport agenda with no hint of smelly diesels spewing out those polluting particulates.

    But seriously, your mention of “the noise of a train going past every past every 100 seconds at 250 mph…” suggests that :-

    1.You expect that, despite all the campaigning, the line will be built.

    2. That it will operate right up to the full maximum design speed limit for the line.

    3. and that the demand will justify running the greatest number of trains that can be operated up to the limits of the line’s capacity !!!

    Well, if that is what you anticipate ,then the scheme will surely be seen to be justified.

    …and all this from a source that seeks to slow down, if not to stop the whole thing dead in (or perhaps “off) its tracks.

    • Your slightly juvenile comments are revealing more clearly your true colours JW.

      I think the good folk at StopHS2 probably do think that it is likely that the line will ( eventually ) be built. But it isn’t certain and so the campaigning will continue. The impact on tens of thousands of people and the huge £ 50 bn cost when we know about the crisis in funding the NHS, Social Care, Deference etc etc etc dictate that it will.

      There will also be campaigning for fair compensation for those effected. Why should anyone lose out when this is supposed to be a project that will produce endless bounty for the country ? That’s a subject you appear still to be unwilling to comment on.

      As for the Lib Dems, I’m afraid the idea of cyclists being hit every 100 seconds ( the original plan was 18 trains each hour each way you know ) by noise and the air from a train passing at 200 mph + sums up how out of touch they have become ( just like Mr Argent in Leicestershire who doesn’t know the difference between the old costings and the new costings at 2011 prices ).

      The Lib Dems are an irrelevant force and their leader has made them such. Clegg’s previous views that we should join the Euro and that it was OK to do the biggest political about face on tuition fees were just as wrong as his view that HS2 will make any significant dent in the North-South divide.

      • Thankyou for your prompt response, ‘KNC’
        I trust I have not ruffled any feathers; I would hope that both of us have skins sufficiently thick to enable us to differ without rancour.

        Having attended a number of meetings and both the gatherings at Stoneleigh and at Stafford I have heard many things against the scheme and met some of those who will be genuinely be affected if it does indeed go ahead.

        I have also listened to suggestions as to how it can be blocked; such as challenge by Judicial Review, by Members of Parliament voting it down, by any and all delaying tactics and by talking up the negative environmental effects and ,above all, the cost involved, including anything even remotely connected,,,all in the hope that the Government would eventually tire of the project and baulk at the escalating expense. This is the policy This is tactics.

        Despite all the confident assertions expressed at these gatherings, contracts continue to be let, more staff are appointed .. and now there seems to be a grudging acceptance that ,while people are still opposed to the Hs line, -especially if it is going anywhere near them,- that it will be built, and now the campaigners are quite rightly,attempting to lessen the impact of both construction and of the line and of its subsequent operation by lobbying for longer, preferably bored, tunnels, for example.

        One problem we have today is the long timescale involved in planning and bringing to completion any major piece of infrastructure, as compared to a century or more ago, when, for example the Met, railway was built through the Chilterns, through
        Amersham and the Missendens, the cutting through the chalk to Chesham or the ‘Joint’ line cutting through the scarp, down to Princes Risborough, and now part of the much valued Chiltern Mainline route.

        Just read the newspaper reports from the 1880s when the railway reached Rickmansworth, before being extended towards Wendover and Aylesbury.
        The correspondant could see no rhyme or reason for this expensive folly and his expressions have some similarity to those we have heard more recently.*

        But it was completed, up and running in a fraction of the time we take today, and within two decades it became part of a greater network which reached to the shores of the Humber and to Manchester and beyond, a 24 hour railway for people and goods.

        It must have looked pretty raw in the early days…Doubtless the Chiltern Society, had it existed then, would have weighed in pretty heavily against!

        But in a few years, it blended into the landscape and became just another part of the accepted scene.

        You imply that I have no interest in or regard for, those needing to be compensated. I would suggest that they should receive something comparable to that given to anyone living in the path of a Motorway extension or bypass either ,of which I suggest would, by their mere scale and continuous noise,and pollution, create a greater nuisannce than an electric railway, fast or slow.

        You seem to confuse the line’s projected maximum capacity and the frequency by which one train could follow another, with the actual likely level in service,at least in the early years.

        I repeat, that if anything like that number were actually to be run, then the service would be seen to have been justified by the demand!

        If as I would expect ,the initial frequency of trains on the line is far less, at least to begin with, then any disturbance must be far less.

        Nobody is going to run 500 seater trains, still less 1000 double unit trains, departing empty every four minutes.

        As regards speed, I understand that 200mph is the designed speed for the latest generation of Hs trains in France and Germany.

        My real regret is that the plan to rebuild and upgrade the Great Central route (part of which survives as Chiltern, but which is dismantled north of Calvert), was dismissed too hastily, twenty years ago.

        Had it been resurrected, ( far less disruptive than attempting to rebuild older routes in constant daily use,while still running services) , then a far less extreme, yet still fast (150mph?) modern route could have been achieved, with the possibility of restoring rail services to some of the towns en route, and connecting with the West Coast near Rugby, beyond the congested southern section of that line.

        I fear it’s too late now to return to that, so we are left with HS2. Perhaps it serves us right for saying NO and not supporting that alternative.

        * As quoted in ‘Rails to Metro-Land’ pp 43,44, by Clive Foxall, 2005 ,ISBN 0 9529184 5 5

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