What’s wrong for Wales with HS2?

There’s no reason for politicians concerned with Wales and Welsh issue to support HS2.

Earlier this year, Philip Hammond announced that the railway would not be electrified to Swansea, only to Cardiff. Trains beyond there would have to be specially designed bi-mode trains capable of running under both electric and diesel power. The money spent on HS2 in England could have been used to benefit Wales travellers directly.

This decision has been widely condemned in Wales. Business leaders and politicians think that a full electrification is needed for Wales to fulfill its economic potential.

The Welsh Green party says the hybrid trains will “waste millions”. They will weigh more, leading to extra running costs, needing more electricity. They described the decision as “This decision is clearly illogical and wasteful, both for the economy and the environment.”

There won’t be indirect benefits for Welsh travellers either. There will be no easy access to the HS2 trains. There is no direct connection at Birmingham New Street. And it seems unlikely, that there will be convenient interchange in Manchester or Crewe either.

Even if the railway lines in Wales were electrified, they couldn’t use the hybrid trains that would run from the WCML onto the HS2 tracks. The join between HS2 and the WCML is in the wrong place: somewhere near Lichfield to the north of Birmingham.

Even for travellers changing onto a WCML train at Birmingham, its likely that the services will be slower then existing services, as has been shown by the Taxpayer’s Alliance.

There’s always the hope for a HS3 train, duplicating the Great Western Line (of course, this is a high speed line already, if you use the European definition of high speed). But when would that be built? HS2 – if it goes ahead – will only reach Manchester in the 2030s, and the logical thing to do next would be to extend the line to Scotland. If that takes until the 2040s to be built, it seems unlikely that HS3 would open to passengers much before 2050.

No, there’s no advantage for Wales with HS2. There’s no reason for them to support a railway which is designed to connect four English cities, in a “network” the Welsh can’t connect to. There’s no reason for them to support the HS2 railway investment, when the plans that would support their region, and their economy are being scaled back and cancelled.

There’s a lot wrong with HS2 for the Welsh.

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26 comments to “What’s wrong for Wales with HS2?”
  1. Last time I walked past the giant hole in the ground at TCR the map on the wall only goes east to west. I’ll still be on the Met. line tube for my commute. And as far as I’m aware, the funding was decided before the country was bankrupt. Doubt it would be made again in this financial environment.
    Motor ways- I’m missing your point, should we build more of them? I’m too young to remember what it was like before the network was built.

    • Funding for Crossrail comes from a variety of sources…including The Canary Wharf Group, BAA, TFL , Network Rail and supplementary business rates as well as DFT.

      Point I was making about motorways is that you enjoy the benefit now, but they were in someones backyard at the time of construction…..no doubt had the internet been around we would have had various protest groups posting.

      And I bet you wouldnt complain if your own commute had improvements which cut your journey time, improvements which may well mean impacting on someone elses business or home …

  2. Gary, thats not true. If you look at the route it has a massive impact on Ruislip/ Greenford for example. Hardly countryside. (I know someone who will loose their house there). Denham, Wendover Central London, all will be impacted. The perception put out by Pro Hs2 types is of a ‘True blue’ Tory Heartland with Golf courses and vast gardens,hunting shooting fishing Toffs who greedily covet every square inch. Nimbys who shudder at the thought of the tiniest change spoiling their view of their giant bay windows overlooking their private lake…..

    Truth of the matter is that a lot of working ordinary people will be blighted by this scheme. A lot of farm land and working countryside will be bisected by the route.Some Businesses will close, jobs will be lost. This is not a trivial matter. Somehow they are seen as ‘selfish’ for opposing it. Like it or not, it is an argument that has to be had.

    Personally I think that 40 billion should be spent on sweating the assets we already have, For everyone – North South, East and West. I don’t believe that a city to city link is the answer put forward by Hs2. 110,000 extra people in London will not help manufacturing in the North. And I don’t think it is a ‘Green’. In Hammonds own words 70% of travelers predicted on Hs2 are ‘Leisure’. Is 40 Billion worth paying so that people can have a day trip in London? Lets go beyond the ‘Nimby’ argument -it will end up in circles.

      • And absolutely none in Calvert. Which is probably why it was decided to give us the 24 hr-but definitely-working-at-night-arc lit- depot as well ….. Look at map 13 and pity us. We know what we are in for if this goes ahead, and believe me there is no-one here who would wish it on ANYONE ELSE’S BACKYARD.

    • couldnt agree more
      first some people try and turn this into a north v south issue and then a toffs v working people one when it is neither of those.
      It is about getting the maximum benefit from any spending of the taxes derived from people struggling to make ends meet so lets keep to the point

      • first some people try and turn this into a north v south issue and then a toffs v working people one..

        Hardly surprising though is it? I started watching that recent HS2 debate on ITV. The first opening salvo against HS2 was by some bloke in the audience who basically said, “I’ve got a rather nice swanky pad in the country, and I don’t want to have a railway near it, so would you mind binning HS2 please”? No arguments about the economics at all. His house is more important than any number of jobs, and that’s the end of it. I switched off after that to be honest.

        • Every time I see I post like this it reminds me how bankrupt the arguments of the ‘pro-HS2’ camp are – is the best reason for building HS2 really only that it will upset some mythical Lord Fondleby-Smyth living in his palace somewhere in the Chilterns?

          I also saw the ITV debate and so if you’d stayed watching you might have seen a number of speakers pointing out the lack of business case for HS2, the way that HS2 offers nothing at all for the environment, the fact that alternatives exist for dealing with any capacity problems that may occur – the same arguments that are presented on this site and others. And Mr Hammond’s contribution was to play his nimby argument, as that is the only one he has.

          • Lord Fondleby-Smyth wasn’t mythical. He was on at the start of the program, and what he said was “I’ve got got a nice big house, and I don’t want a railway near it”. And when we add in “a pear tree”, “some fish”, “some birds”, “footpath noise blight” and the various other nonsense which has been put forward as a reason to not have a new railway built, then I think we can see where all the bankrupt arguments are really coming from.

            The point about arguments like these is that every so often the mask slips, and we see the true reason why all these protests groups have sprung up along the route. The government can’t win. They can’t possibly produce a business case that will satisfy people who have an ulterior motive in not wanting it built. All they can do is look at what is needed for the country going forward based on projections and trends, the most of important of which is rising passenger numbers. And what say you? “Oh the internet will stop that”. They can’t win can they? Anything they say will be rubbished by people who do not want it built for nothing but selfish reasons. That’s why I didn’t watch the rest of the program.

            • the first speaker on the debate was a farmer named Davies whose farm would be badly affected and his brother lived nearby and would lose his bungalow.
              HS2 supporters have to convince him and many many others that their losses are in the national interest

    • Just like Crossrail eh Stuart?…….I somehow cant see anyone complaining once its up and running, and passengers can get right into the centre of London without having to use the tube…….

      And of course our Motorway network has cut through Englands green and pleasant land, but I bet you dont think about what was there before when you are in your car……

      • Actually, lots of people do complain about roads, rail and other infrastructure after they are built. However, it seems to be very difficult to get government to listed once the scheme is in operation. Obviously, impossible to say re Crossrail specifically as it hasn’t been finished. Rarely, do people ask for the infrastructure to be removed as that would be unrealistic or practically impossible

    • Excellent post Stuart well said, I think you just about summed up the ridiculousness of the nimby card.

      • Why is it ridiculous ? You wouldnt even be interested if the line was proposed down the East side of the country ?

        • So lets say there was a proposal for a giant open cast coal mine near the lake district- or some other AONB. This would employ lots of jobs in the area and fund a gap in energy provision. What you are saying is that nobody in
          the south east would be bothered with the debate? No one would oppose the scheme? Im sure the environmental movement up and down the country would be outraged. How near any scheme is someone classed as a NIMBY?
          Is it in meters or Km.? What is the distance for this figure?

          • In which case, isnt the term Not In Anyones Back Yard?…..Nuclear Power Plants usually generate this type of protest, of which there is one near the Lakes at Sellafield

          • How near any scheme is someone classed as a NIMBY? Is it in meters or Km.? What is the distance for this figure?

            You could probably calculate an answer by looking at where all the anti-HS2 campaign groups are located. If you were to plot them on a map, you’d find that the statistical “line of best fit” pretty much hugs the HS2 route.

            Hope this helps.

  3. So there will be no easy access to HS2 for Wales …..unless I m mistaken, the proposed Old Oak Common station is an interchange for Great Western, Crossrail and HS2 ???

    The GWL/SWML is being electrified as far as Cardiff……one of the specs for the new IEP agilty trains ( which will replace the current HSTs) is for an electric power unit at one end and a diesel at the other ( in other words, a hybrid). These will be built in the North East, providing around 500 jobs. They are designed to reduce the journey time from Swansea to London by about 20 minutes once the OHLE is built from Cardiff onwards.

    As for North Wales, Virgin are planning to increase capacity with an twin set voyager , one half of which will be released from its current duties once the 11 car pendolinos are up and running. Once HS2 is built, North Wales would be one of the beneficiaries of the capacity released on the WCML.

    Its is somewhat ironic that the Welsh would complain about rail service when one was introduced from Wrexham to London by WSMR a few years ago, it has now been withdrawn as the number of passengers using it was below expectations.

    • Journey time on today’s railway, from Cardiff to Birmingham on a direct train is 2 hours. Journey time from Cardiff to Birmingham using IEP and HS2, changing at Old Oak Common would be approximately 3hrs. It’s difficult to see where the advantage would be.

      The new IEPs will be assembled in the at the new Hitachi plant in the North East (having been built in Japan) – creating 500 new jobs. In 2009, when Hitachi was bidding for the contract to supply the trains, they promised 2,500 “skilled engineering jobs”.

      The Wrexham and Shropshire ran over Chiltern tracks between Coventry and London. The trains provided a direct service from North Wales to London without impacting traffic on the West Coast Mainline.

      It is fairly universally held that the Wrexham and Shropshire ceased because of the Track Access rules which prevented it setting down or picking up at Wolverhampton and Coventry, and because its owners (Deutsche Bahn) had no wish to compete with themselves (Deutsche Bahn also control CrossCountry, Arriva and Chiltern Railways).

      • Journey time Cardiff to Birmingham will still be 2 hours when HS2 is built, there will still be direct trains between both. The point I was making was that it was being inferred that South Wales has no access to HS2. However, there is at Old Oak Common should passengers wish to do so…

        Final assembly plants are not unusual, Airbus do that in Toulouse. Boeing also do similar at Everett. Regardless of what went on previous, its 500 jobs more than today.

        It was a clause in the Virgin franchise that prevented the West Midlands pick/set down scenario, none the less, Wrexham and Shropshire knew this when they started ( as an open access operator ). Passenger forecasts and business plan were based on that , the numbers simply did not materialise. It was actually quicker to travel from Wrexham to Chester and change for the London service than it was to travel direct to Marylebone via the Chilterns.

        • In your first paragraph, you say that HS2 will not change anything for Cardiff. In this context, Cardiff is representative of most of the population of Wales.

          In your second paragraph, you give a recent example of promised jobs not materialising.

          In your third paragraph, you give a recent example of passenger forecasts being over-estimated, and business plans built on those forecasts being flawed.

          • HS2 does not go anywhere near Wales , just as it doesnt go anywhere near Norwich which will still have the same journey time as today, improvements not withstanding. And of course once the GWML is electrified, Cardiff passengers willl have a quicker journey than they do today.

            The jobs ” promised ” I dont know about ….by all means post a link, but the fact remains that 500 jobs are being created.

            Forecasts are never right, they are either under or over estimated. No one predicted the level of growth for rail travel today 20 years ago…..the stopHS2 strapline is no business case, but as of yet, no one has proved that there isnt.

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