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.