Opponents of HS2 at the TSC yesterday

Anyone who watched the Transport Select Committee evidence session on HS2 yesterday, will have seen the wide range of views of people opposed to HS2.  The witnesses included people from academia, business, politics, and campaigners.

Eight different people, representing a variety of organisations – or just as private individuals – with eight different views of the problems with HS2.

A wide range of points were made by the different witnesses.   Alternative railway schemes were suggested, and there was agreement that modal shift  to rail could be a good thing.

We’re waiting for the transcript to come out, but in the meantime, if you have a couple of hours to spare, you can watch the whole debate on the Parliament website.

PS the witnesses were Jerry Marshall, Chairman, AGAHST (Action Groups Against High Speed Two), David Bayliss, Trustee, RAC Foundation, Bruce Weston, Director, HS2 Action Alliance, Simon Wolfson, Councillor Martin Tett, Leader, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chris Stokes, John Tomaney, Henry Daysh Professor of Regional Development, Newcastle University, 51M, and Councillor Sue Vincent, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, London Borough of Camden.

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48 comments to “Opponents of HS2 at the TSC yesterday”
  1. modal shift – any extra capacity created on roads and air will be quickly filled up again in the never ending quest for ‘growth/progress’ which is destroying the planet. people love their cars, the convenience of it, door to door. reduced travel times just make them want to get into their cars more. hey lets go somewhere! theres some space on the roads today.
    Good you say – more economic growth if people travel more. but the plan is spiralling into ever increasing energy consumption.
    lets go local, reduce the number of tescos, have small local businesses and farmers selling locally. lets have high speed internet and huge investment in video conferencing – a much better use of money.much green and could help save the planet!

    • lets go local, reduce the number of tescos, have small local businesses and farmers selling locally.

      Well, that’s fine and dandy if you live in somewhere like say, the Chilterns, where it’s perpetually the 1950s and life is like one long episode of “Camberwick Green”, but millions of people in the UK live in “Cities”. And in order to feed their families, these unfortunate city-dwellers can’t just pop down to the local farm shop every day for some locally sourced brie and some organic foie gras. They rely on “supermarkets” full of mass produced goods which can’t be supplied in the required volumes locally and have to bought in from afar. By train, some of it.

      and huge investment in video conferencing

      Everyone with internet access, even bog-standard ADSL links, can do video conferencing and eveything else you need for work, right now. Faster internet access may let people download episodes of “Midsomer Murders” a bit quicker, but it’s going to do nowt for rail passenger numbers.

    • all very well but apparently 70% of rail travel is non-business. so unless we can invent the technology to transport people via the internet i dont see how it will help. especially since the population is expected to grow substantially also.

      and of course all people who travel do so for a reason and usually spend money and create economic development through this travel. the effects on tourism could be severe if people are unable to travel.

      we should definitely try to reduce travel where we can such as more local shops, no out of town development etc and of course broadband and other such technologies. also we should encourage more people to travel within this beautiful country and spend their money here. so you might have high speed rail but people would be going hundreds of miles in an efficient electric train rather then by long haul flight.

      i am genuinely sympathetic to anyone who will be directly affected by hs2 without corresponding benefit. but you cant just wish it away by saying that people will travel less in future or make statements that you cant provide supporting evidence for only hearsay and possibility. this was very apparent in these hearings.

    • Well said. Sadly everything in our economy and that of the EU is all geared around growth.
      15% more next year. 15 % more sales, X% more profit, growth in consumption = more tax revenue, = more for the Government to spend, therefore the Civil Service jobs are protected.
      It is of course unsustainable. Do you realise in the UK (excluding the EU bureaucracy) we have more politicians, and civil servants controlling us than they have in the United States of America. The USA has 500% more population and about 5,000 times our land mass.
      Hence our politicians have to find something to do in order to justify their existence. Hence projects such as HS2. It’s not about a high speed network is about keeping legions of politicians and civil servants occupied. Just look at this consultation. Teresa Villiers the Minister for transport said in the debate yesterday HS2 is all agreed, err sorry I though the consultation was still happening….why were £ x millions wasted on a consultation??

  2. Does anyone think that in 50 years time we will be travelling as much we currently do to get to meetings or to go to the office.
    I remember 40 years ago when they said most goods would be moved in containers by rail. What happened to that idea?
    The rail system is so badly organised that it is quicker to use the overcrowded roads.
    Why are we not investing in technology that will allow people to communicate at high speed without leaving home.
    Most of us in rural areas struggle to get a decent mobile signal let alone high speed broadband.
    When we are able to run the current railway system properly and we have good high speed communication which covers all of the country, we might be able to see the real merits of high speed rail.(if there are any)

  3. Yes it says it all the MPs went abroad and came back brainwashed by the people who want to take our money. They were clever in the way the questions were asked and it was obvious that they had no intention of listening to a word that was said.You prohs2 folk can sneer but you could be so much in debt if this goes ahead .I realy do not think you realise the negative impact this could have in the future.There are under 500 people signed up for hs2 and 45000 + all the paper signatures against.If we were voting in an election who would win .If there is any justice in this would common sense should prevail.

    • petitions arent elections though are they ? and the parties that won the election had hs2 on their manifesto and it even had the backing of labour also so if you had voted for them and they had got in then they would also be planning hs2. dont you think it is funny that all three parties agree with hs2 doesnt that tell you something ?

      honestly because they dont agree with you then you say oh they must be brainwashed ! are you sure it isnt the other way round ?

      • The important word here is had, the Labour party is reviewing all of its policies, and I think, come the Labour party conference they will come out against it.
        Due to the collation govt at the moment, the Lib-Dems are no longer in opposition, they are in government, and despite their differences, the Lib-Dems and Conservatives have to be a united government.
        So to “all three parties support HS2”, I would say that only two of them, do, and they both make up the government.

        About brainwashing, there is so much rubbish being spouted around about HS2, and HSR in general, that is sadly probably true.

        • @Luke: The important word here is had, the Labour party is reviewing all of its policies, and I think, come the Labour party conference they will come out against it.

          That’s strange @Luke because quite recently, Ed Milliband reiterated his strong support for Labour’s HS2 policy, whilst simultaneously slapping down Maria Eagles, his Transport spokesperson (in public at least) who had been playing a rather disingenuous beauty contest game with some of the heartland Conservative constituencies impacted upon by HS2.

          Everyone (with a modicum of knowledge about how politics works in the UK) knows that this was mere show on her part and that come the next election, every single one of these (14?) constituencies will return a Conservative MP. The retetion of FPTP has guaranteed that outcome (more fool those who voted against AV in May’s referendum – at least it would have provided some options for disgruntled elements in some more marginal constituencies)

      • No Nick If you think i have been brainwashed you are saying that the majority, as i said 46,000 + have been and only 400+ are not.I would much rather not be worrying, that the government is trying to put my country into more debt for something i believe is a huge folly that will screw things up badly for my family in the future.There are better things to do in life i find it hard to understand why you can’t see it.The only good thing that this has done for me is that i have had to learn to use a computer.I have gone though all the data from news papers and items for and against and come to my own conclusions in an educated manner how about you?

        • it is always an indication that someone is losing the debate when they start accusing people of things. I am not brainwashed as you say and i have looked at all the facts. we need railway capacity as people are still travelling. the problem wont go away. if you dont have the rail capacity you are forcing potential to use cars or planes it is as simple as that.

          it seems funny that the people who gave anti hs2 evidence in westminster all agree that capacity is a problem that needs addressing. and funnily enough most people against hs2 live near the proposed route which is a very valid reason for opposing it. so i guess it is coincidence that you dont support hs2 which goes near you but you suggest upgrading another route somewhere else which would cause immense disruption to thousands of passengers. and of course would affect people all along the line.

          after all the section of hs2 from paddington to beyond heathrow is upgrading an existing line as it is adding extra tracks along an existing railway ! and look at the reaction there. and of course if the government goes off rail because of protests that wont stop the congestion issues. so we could go back to the old 20th century thinking of more roads and runways.

          i think you should also be aware of who some of your fellow protestors are. the RAC foundation for example wants roads roads and more roads. others dont want to send any freight by rail. these options are unsustainable and far worse for the environment then an electric railway including hs2 !!.

      • No, you are spinning a yarn yet again Nick. The Conservatives did not have HS2 in their manifesto. They had a High Speed Rail network .

        The two phrases are used interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing.

        Do you understand the difference? It’s potentially up to 95 mph ! ……. and I suspect quite a few £ billions as well as a significant environmental impact.

        • I dont know how you can accuse me of spinning a yarn when you are so much better at it then I am !

          to quote you “The Conservatives did not have HS2 in their manifesto. They had a High Speed Rail network ”
          now that is what i call semantics. HS2 is the network they were referring to ! what did you think they meant by that ?

          this is why hs2 critics got such a pasting in the hearings because it was evident that the supporting evidence to back your claims up was severely lacking

  4. Having watched all two hours of the hearing, I confess to being shocked at just what a pasting the HS2 critics got from the committee, who had certainly done their research on the flaws of the so-called alternatives. I also suspect that Messrs Weston and Marshall won’t have been too happy at the way Lord Wolfson veered off into an almost monomanial enthusiasm for road building. Certainly not the ‘alternative’ message that the Green movement would want to hear.

    On the flip side, some good points were raised. I am a passionate supporter of high speed rail because it has proven benefits in many other countries, but the cost of HS2 is pretty wildly out of kilter with most other examples. That needs to be explained – taking, say, £10bn out of the £32bn ought to be possible (and if it isn’t…well, why?)

    Second, there is clearly a risk of the ‘north-south divide’ issue being overplayed. The chap from Newcastle University was pretty forthright on the limits of that argument, although it is interesting that he said the German example had appeared to reconcile the transport network benefits pretty well. He also raised the prospect of a trans-Pennine high speed railway; something that would exist already if Britain were Germany. Hopefully after HS2, such a concept will no longer seem quite so fantastical.

    • Looking at the detailed costings for HS2, much of the cost is in the first few miles out of London and to a lesser extent near Birmingham. Plotting out the cost estimates along the route proposed should show this. On the continent, because their main-line stations and approaches are naturally already built to ‘continental’ loading gauge, they can choose to start their high speed lines in the suburbs or beyond, bringing the costs down substantially. Equally as their networks develop, they are only paying for fill-in or add-on pieces which again are much cheaper.

    • @NickK

      Exactly – you’ve hit the nail on the head!

      The principles underpinning High Speed Rail in general, the routing of HS2, the attempts to mitigate environmental impact; these are all sound. Of course a relatively small (some few thousands) group of individuals residing in very close proximity to the proposed line of route will be negatively impacted, some (a few hundreds) very severely. These people should be sympathetically treated and generously compensated.

      However, the single biggest issue surrounding the entire HS2 debate should be its overall cost, not whether the idea of investing in HS2 is the right decision. Frankly, Jerry Marshall just sounded ridiculous during the hearing. The nearest equivalent character I am reminded of is the Mad Captain in Black Adder who boldly claims that opinion is divided on the matter; everyone else thinks one thing but I beg to differ – if the topic wasn’t so serious, it would make for great comedy!

      Public scrutiny of the HS2 process should be focussed almost exclusively on this issue. Why does it cost so damn much to build a new high speed line, compared with equivalent projects on the other side of La Manche. Land prices might have something to do with it but five times as much, something is not right here and if the Select Committee wants to really do its job, it should be insisting on a high level of transparency in the entire design, planning, procurement, tendering and contract award process, to ensure good value for money.

      There are other improvements I would make to the overall scheme, such as the timescales involved (the only really sensible comment made by Wolfson) and the issue of stations should also be looked at. Building a Parkway type station somewhere where the line is in closest proximity to Oxford as possible does not mean that all trains have to stop there but a few of them could and this would vastly increase the perceived value of the line to those most deeply impacted by its construction.

    • I think the questionning was searching and the answers were sound and to the point
      If I were pro HS2 I would be seeking concrete guarantees that. if it was built at all, it would be built north of Birmingham

      • It’s the job of a Select Committee to ask searching questions. I hope they ask search questions about , the demand projections , the supposed benefits , moentary value of time saved and agglomeration. Maybe they will find out what that piece of nonsense is about.

  5. I thought the most telling thing about this was when the committee said that they’d been abroad to speak to various people and had not heard one single bad word about their investment in high speed rail, with all the countries they went to planning more HSR routes.

    It is truly amazing how some people who live along the proposed HS2 route with access to Google have decided that the UK doesn’t need this and we should be alone in not taking part in the HSR revolution. The lack of ambition some people have for this country is truly depressing, all driven by their sense of self interest.

    And as for Simon (I move goods about by road) Wolfson’s argument, which was essentially that no money should be spent on any public transport system at all because the roads are always a far more deserving cause – I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a ridiculous argument and I’ve have no idea why the TSC are even speaking to people like that.

    • Rich – how naive are you? So these MP’s clearly didn’t go to Holland then where they are going bankrupt. Perhaps they should have saved their fare and just visited HS1 at home and seen what a farce it is. What a waste of tax payers money to go abroad and talk to pro HS 2 people just to prove their pro HS 2 case! Hilarious! Can’t believe you pro HS 2 suckers believe this hype

      • the big problem with the dutch line was that it was unused for over a year as the new european signalling system didnt work but they could have used the previous iteration instead.

        also as the thalys are basically french other sncf work on their own trains took precedence over fitting the tgv trains used with the new signalling. also the domestic high speed sets were delayed and i am not sure if they are in service. the delays werent anything to do with the high speed per se and nor in the long term will there likely be any problems with passenger numbers. look at paris-brussels for example. and if you have ever driven from france into belgium and the netherlands you will have note the very congested roads.

        on HS1 the high speed domestic trains carried nearly 7 million passengers in its first year of operation and 7% of these were former car commuters. eurostar carried nearly 10 million and both new eurostar and deutsche bahn services will be starting in 2013. and the wider economic benefits of hs1 are huge.

        delays and cost increases can happen anywhere with any project. they arent necessarily a reason for not implementing them elsewhere. if we take the limehouse road link at £300 million for example. do we say that we cant build any more roads ? or if a new public building like the scottish assembly goes way over budget do we say we cant have any more new large buildings ? No we don’t we just try to learn from mistakes.

      • Missy – how naive I must be for listening to the feedback from the TSC who have actually spoken to people who have implemented HSR and have found it to be wholly positive. What a sucker I must be for not listening instead to some people who live along the proposed HS2 route. Bit strange that you find it hilarious they went abroad to research this, as one of the list of gripes from the anti camp is that the whole thing hasn’t been “thought through” enough. Paul Maynard pointed out that they didn’t think HS1 comparisons were valid, which you no doubt saw in the video.

        I know you’re angry that they didn’t hear what you were hoping they’d hear, but that’s they way it is.

    • So Rich is that the killer argument for you . Other countries have got it , they seem to like it so we must have it to .

      Just who did the MPs speak to .. Deutsche Bahn, Siemens, Angela Merkel or a commuter on the much heralded Frankfurt to Cologne route where the journey time takes between 1 and 10 minutes less than the EXISTING journey time from Euston to Birmingham .

      Germany is 3 times the size of England . France and Spain are 4 times the size of England . That’s why our journey times are already quickly than most continental ones .

      So you see the case for an expensive solution that doesn’t help the environment ( Phillip Hammond – broadly carbon neutral ) isn’t really anything like as strong as you guys make out .

      I’d be a bit more sympathetic if there was actually a chance that we might make the trains ourselves — but a combination of the previous government and the current one have just about put paid to that possibility.

  6. NIMBYs at “stophs2” when the consultation is finished are you planning the location to build your tree house and dig your tunnels. If so please remember to get you planning permission.
    Hs2 is investment in the railway infrastructure and we need it.

    • Morris you are so narrow minded. Go read some real documents. It might improve your use of the English language.

      • Missy – My English language what has that got to do with an investment that is needed. If we dont get Hs2, so what are we going to do with out it. Dont complain when existing network is full, yes you NIMBYs

        Missy please go back to school I, your Maths needs to be improved as well

        • Haha – always love the hypocrisy of those who point out errors in spelling, grammar and language.

          If that is all that is left, then it looks like you have hit the buffers.

          How do you know whether it is the writers first language or they are not dyslexic?

          I would worry more about the holes in your argument first before you focus on the way it is written.

      • Ah Missy , leave Morris alone. I really enjoy his belligerent little contributions. I have a very clear image of him hunched over a keyboard with jaw set, fists clenched and steam coming out of his ears.

        My favourite game is to see which he says most ” get facts right ” , ” NIMBY ” or ” back yard ” .

        As regards English ……. is it SSE or BSL ?

        • yes i aswer who HS2 would affect me but you dont not, so please aswer the question how will hs2 effect yourself? or do you have something to hide

          • I live quite close but obviously not as close as you . I have friends who live in Burton Green and Ladroke , the line would cause a disaster to those villages . There is no excuse for not bothering to find a route that doesn’t plough through communites like these.

            But even that isn’t my main issue now .. it’s the fact that the “Economic Case” is blatant nonsense and as a point of principle I really dislike it when I know that people are lying to me. If there were even half the benefits that have been claimed the Government would have put that evidence forward in the Consultation papers , but nothing , just the nonsense about “Agglomeration” to limp up the BCR to 2.000 .

            Either you can’t see that or just don’t care.

            By the way SSE or BSL ?

            • Again you have not aswered the question but just stated that you have friends, i think we all have these. Yes, i too dont like it when people are lying to me but it sound like you are, am i wrong or not. so again please aswer the question.

            • @MartinH: “There is no excuse for not bothering to find a route that doesn’t plough through communites like these.”

              There is NO credible route completely avoiding proximity to every single community between Birmingham and London – you could of course tunnel the entire route but that would mean a cost akin to £170bn for phase 1, so not really practical?

              The line of route chosen was not arrived at lightly;a rigourous process involving literally hundreds of potential routes was undertaken and gradually filtered down to the one on drawing board now. Of course those in close proximity to this published route will believe that another more advantageous route, ie. one not near them, could have been selected, thus dumping the problem of proximity in someone else’s back yard.

              We need to get on with HS2 toute suite. Just about the only intelligent thing Lord Wolfson (how on earth did he become CEO of a £multi-million company?!?) uttered during his entire contribution to the TSC hearing was his criticism of the timescales involved; whilst adhering to China central planning dictated schedules might be pushing things a bit too far (due process must be seen to be undertaken, everyone has a right to have have their say on this contentious issue) I do think completion of both phases could be speeded up to achieve an opening date closer to 2020 than 2030!

            • Peter Davidson you avoid the main point , quite deliberately.

              The consultation paperwork tells us about the lengthy route sifting process that HS2 Ltd went through. They were all examined with a speed of 250 mph in mind. That is considerably higher than the speeds employed in Germany and Spain. We live in a densely populated country so of course very straight train lines that are designed for speeds of up to 250 mph are bound to skirt or ( as has happened here ) go straight through certain communities.

              I think we should look properly at Railpack 2 type upgrades with longer trains / platforms and better pricing profiles and less first class and spend some of the money saved on improving the poor services that other parts of the country have. Being honest ( as I always try to be ) I don’t know whether this will be adequate or just a short term measure and I don’t believe you do too.

              But anyway ………….

              Even if a new line is to built it doesn’t need speeds of up to 250 mph. I don’t know whether the right figure should be 155 mph , 175 mph or 195 mph ( I’m not an engineer – just a financial person who understands business cases ) but it should be possible to build something along an existing transport corridor and this has just not been in the HS2 Ltd brief. For this the previous Government deserves criticism. At the very least lower speeds would save the likes of Burton Green and Ladroke even if Route 3 was maintained.

              In other words the bone headed pursuit of speed is resulting in a bad decision — economically and environmentally.

              Slower speeds would still deal with the capacity issue and probably give half of the time savings. That is perfectly adequate — even if your six hour train journey to Frankfurt becomes six and a half .

            • @MartinH: “Peter Davidson you avoid the main point , quite deliberately.”

              errrr……No, I haven’t avoided any point at all, deliberately or otherwise

              The 400km/h speed capacity has been fixed within the design criteria as an entirely prudent mechanism to future proof an massive public investment against obsoletion. Technology will improve considerably over the predicted lifespan of this infrastructure project. Time and again in the UK, we’ve discovered to our cost that infrastructure has not been designed with the future in mind, for example, the width of motorways, that had bridges and cuttings without the capacity to widen – so what happened when a two lane motorway became overwhelmed, it cost a fortune, relatively speaking.

              The 400km/h speed threshold will not be utilised immediately, due to the very obvious energy efficiency constraints, utilising current technology, highlighted by opponents of HS2 (something the desingners/planners already knew of course).

              You claim that the 400km/h speed capacity is “considerably higher than the speeds employed in Germany and Spain” but are you sure about that – perhaps we should look at the design criteria for new lines now being planned in Germany, France and Spain – the new lines for LGV Bretagne/Pays de la Loire and LGV Sud-Ouest, should be instructive here. I think you’ll find that the design thresholds are very similar to those being proposed for HS2?

              I’m also interested in your claim that the proposed line of route goes “straight through certain communities”.

              Finally you claim that we should examine in more detail “Railpack 2 type upgrades with longer trains / platforms and better pricing profiles and less first class” but if anything the recent TSC proceedings have hightlighted the massive holes in this strategic approach – certainly perceived wisdom within the rail industry is that the Jerry Marshall, we can just sweat the existing assets and hey presto, more than double existing capacity, is simply pie in the sky!

              The speeds you mention are simply not fast enough to support a sound business case, albeit using the somewhat flawed cretria demanded by the bizarre requirement to deliver financial ROI ratios. They will also not drive the modal shift from short-haul intra-European airlinks to rail, something that underpins the environmental case for HS2

              Of course you know this anyway and the design aspects you are advocating adoption of would simply kill off HS2 – this is your ulterior (but hidden) aim?

            • Dear Peter,
              The proposed line of the route is offered as the ‘best solution’, however really it is only the solution to the specified design criteria – and the point being made is that if these criteria are wrong then so is the solution. Those design criteria follow a large degree to the concept of the value of time savings and every minute reduced from the journey time being critical to the ‘business case’ as initially drawn up. Now of course with every revision you see less reference to time and more to concepts such as capacity, interconnections, transformation – but we are still stuck with a 250mph straight line from London to Birmingham which even those in favour of the line would point out treats Heathrow and HS1 as badly drawn afterthoughts.

              Decades ago we could have designed motorways for 100mph speed limits as it would not be unreasonable to forecast that cars would be physically able to go faster in the future – which indeed they are. However it still does make sense to increase the limit for reasons of safety, fuel efficiency, noise, and the fact that a marginal increase in speed will not make a big enough difference. So building over-spec motorways would have been a waste of time. A train is just the same – whatever ‘new technology’ appears in the future (and let’s face it that will only ever be minor incremental changes) the benefits can be taken as reduced energy rather than immediately squandered by going pointlessly faster (much as I could drive at 100 mph to get somewhere a few minutes quicker at the cost of a 1970’s fuel efficiency – or just drive at 70 and save money and the environment). There are real and present benefits of lowering the speed to 300 kph, the benefits for planning 400 kph are hypothetical at best and as energy costs go up only ever going to become less likely not more (look at the Chinese for a real world example).

              I don’t believe that the justifications for high-speed rail will fall apart if the European standard 300 kph speed is used, and indeed it might make the case stronger if opportunities are taken to broaden the benefits to more people than just the centres of Birmingham and London (who already have fast connections), and/or to get more people out of cars. At the moment we are being sold half-baked plans for half of a system, compared to which schemes to make the best of what we have look like perfect sense.

              Last comment – it is not a ‘claim’ that the line goes straight through certain communities, but a fact. If you are interested please look at the maps.

            • @Andrew Gibbs

              Now who is avoiding key points (deliberately or otherwise) in the debate?

              You and I both know that the upper speed threshold of any new line and the actual average speed trainsets will travel along said line are two entirely distinct entities. The former is determined by the laws of physics and the latter by the prevailing engineering technology available at the time of trainset design/production. To conflate these two issues, which your remarks clumsitly attempt to, is simply disingenuous claptrap, unhelpful to the debate and downright misleading.

              Your allusion to motorways is similarly insincere. You know very well I was referring to the manner in which motorways were constructed with inbuilt width constrictions, to save money in the short term, which later turned out to actually cost more in the long run, due to the need to completely re-engineer bridges and cuttings. Indeed, had motorways in the 60s & 70s been built with potential future expansion in mind it’s entirely possible that any new high speed line would have been able to follow an existing motorway route because the land would have been available right now!

              Fact is the designers/planners of HS2 are actually looking ahead for a change and allowing for potential future advances in technology, ie. advancement in energy efficiency, by constructing a line with an upper 400km/h threshold. This doesn’t mean that any trainset will travel on the line at 400km/h and it’s highly misleading of you (and the vast majority of the media) to assume that trains will travel at the maximum permitted speed threshold. The Chinese are only restricting the speed threshold for two principal reasons; a) present energy efficiency technology, which means that trainsets will consume more energy than their predecessors if they travel much above 300km/h and b) public safety concerns due to the corruption scandal surrounding the previous Transport minister. On the first point this does not mean that average speeds will not increase when improved energy efficiency technology permits, which it will (but that will need a new generation of trainsets, so we are talking ten years from now at least). On the second point, doubtless the Chinese authorities are conducting a forensic examination of the entire procurement process to discover if short cuts have been taken during construction, thereby compromising the safety of the line – it only takes one accident to undermine public confidence. I have no doubt we will see average speeds on the Chinese network increase over the next few decades and crucially here, the design of the line will permit that increase, in precisely the same way as HS2 will enable this advance.

              When HS2 opens, I think you’ll find that the average speed of the trainsets will be between 320km/h – 350km/h. Your insistence on 300km/h is simply a fig leaf to disguise your real motive, which is to undermine the case for the proposed line of route through the Chilterns. If the anti-HS2 brigade can succeed on this point, they will simply claim that the new line can follow an exisiting motorway route, preferably the M1, taking the line of route out of harms way as far as they are concerned. The fact that this strategic change would cost billions more, delay an already extended timescale still further, result in the destruction/disruption of countless more homes/communities than the present route and almost certainly undermine the whole case (if only through uncertainty) is of no concern to the interests of a relatively tiny community of affected individuals in the Chilterns area – all they are bothered about is one thing, moving the line of route away from them and into someone else’s backyard!

              Finally my definition of going straight through a community means just that, ploughing straight through houses, community resources, etc. etc. In fact HS2 avoids this outcome in all but a very few instances. Yes, the line of route comes into close proximity with a number of communities; Great Missenden, Wendover, Ladbroke, Southam and Burton Green all spring to mind and a very small number of people will find the line going straight through their property. However the line of route does not go straight through these communities as you boldly and somewhat emotively claim.

        • Missy and MartinH – is this the only way you can get your point over or it it just bring rude. I have not called you names so why call me. is that just you nature or again is it just a rude way to hide your faults

          • Morris , I’m sorry if I have offended you . I didn’t call you any names, only belligerent which you are, it feels like you want to have a fight with everyone who disagrees with you. You called me ( I think ) a NIMBY and a liar. That is about as far as your contributions go, although as I said I do enjoy them.

            I have never lied on any of my postings and never deliberately exaggerated anything either. I try to deal with facts. I haven’t seen a single fact on any of your postings just opinion which isn’t the same thing.

          • @Peter Davidson

            Yes you are correct it is impossible to avoid everywhere and a tunnel all the way is totally impractical. However, there are additional tunnelling options that would significantly benefit certain areas that would be expensive but not wholly impractical. The same applies to compensation. It isn’t practical for the government to step in and buy all the properties that are currently blighted but beyond that there are a range of options from generous to practically useless. This is where there are real choices for government.

            On timing, I suspect that the current timetable is already pretty challenging. Anyone who thinks the UK is slow should look, for example, at the history of the Frankfurt/Cologne line – first conceived as an idea in 1973, proposed route broadly as built adopted in 1993, construction started in 1995 and opened 2002.

            As an aside, I think the only realistic way this gets cancelled or postponed is if UK government finances are materially worse than projected on or around 2015/6. Much as I would prefer that this wasn’t going past my house I wouldn’t wish a financial crisis on the country to acheive this. Also, I don’t think postponement (much more realistic than cancellation) actually helps local residents much, in many ways it makes the situation worse.

            • @David

              At last! A voice of sanity in this debate from those hostile to the HS2 concept.

              You make some very valid points and doubtless, if those in the anti-HS2 brigade were to adopt this much more pragmatic approach with HS2 and the DfT, I’m sure they would have some success in securing more measures to mitigate the local environmental impact of the new line.

              As it is, the current approach, which can be simplified as largely ignoring reality, breeds utter contempt and derision from those in the corridors of power. There is no sensible dialogue because as soon as such dialogue is attempted the same old rhetoric comes pouring forth. Why does the line have to be near us, why can’t it be somewhere else, etc, etc.

              With regard to the timetable, much of the preliminary work (alluded to in your comparison with the Cologne/Frankfurt line) has already been completed. The principal reasons for delay now are down to political considerations. The process must be seen to be fair and allow those with entirely legitimate concerns to express their opinions; hence the consulation process. Then there’s the little matter of Parliamentary procedure and steering a Hybrid Bill through the House. I’d like to see the Hybrid Bill take powers for both phases 1 & 2 simultaneously and reading between the lines of ministerial public utterances, I wouldn’t rule out this possibility. I wouldn’t be surprised to find the timetable for construction of phase 2 speeded up somewhat so that in fact construction of phase 2 has already begun before phase 1 actually begins operation.

  7. Folks,

    Somebody has started a campaign against the rail link on a new website called Digital Democracy and I have inserted a link to the campaign. If this could somehow be forwarded to opponents of the rail link I am sure it would help wider campaigning efforts. Digital Democracy have been able to get MPs to directly respond to issues – so its a promotional opportunity.

  8. And the case for the line :

    * Is it about capacity ( if so why such an expensive and environmentally damaging solution ) ?
    * Is it about speed ?
    * Is it about freight ?
    * Is it about connectivity with Europe ?
    * Is it about modal switch ( why only 13 % ) ?

    I’m blowed if I know , the story keeps changing.

    Or :

    * Is it about trying to win some votes in the north ?
    * Is it about winning bragging right is Europe ?
    * Is it an outright vanity project ?
    * Is it about cosying up to our new Chinese friends ?

    Pot and kettle !

  9. Eight different people with eight different views as to the problems with HS2.

    Says it all really – flailing around trying to find a justification for opposition to it.

    • I think Ian if you can add up and take away properly you will actually find that 5 out of 8 people on this response were pro HS 2 and NOT trying to find a justification against it. Do the maths hey. Yeaks your getting as bad as Hs2 Ltd!

      • Missy, what does “Yeaks your getting as bad as Hs2 Ltd!” mean in normal English? Perhaps it is best not to criticise the sometimes difficult phrases used by others…

        I think it is clear that the 8 people referred to were the select committee witnesses and not the commentators on this site.

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