This is the first in a series of articles looking into what fatuous rubbish, and in many cases lies, various MPs were willing to say during the debate on the second reading of the High Speed Rail Bill.
First up is Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, though as you might expect he will come up again during this series.
During his speech, McLoughlin told a load of whoppers, but probably the most obvious one was this:
“Today, we can get a high-speed train from London to Lille but not to Leeds, and from London to Brussels but not to Birmingham.”
“France and Germany have been reaping the benefits of a high-speed rail network for decades, while we have just 67 miles from London to Kent and the channel tunnel.”
This was quite odd, as being Secretary for State for Transport, Mr McLoughlin should really know what the international definition of high speed rail actually is.
If you didn’t know, for the supposed ‘Victorian Infrastructure’ in the UK , high speed rail equals 124mph (200kph), which we have had in this country since the 1970s, so we have been ‘reaping the benefits of a high-speed rail network’ for coming on to four decades. The truth is that every day, people get high speed trains from London to both Birmingham and Leeds, amongst many other cities.
The worst thing of course was that McLoughlin knows full well what High Speed Rail is defined as, as of course he was all to proud just this year to be there when parts of the Midland Mainline joined the West Coast Mainline, the East Coast Mainline, the Chiltern Line and the Great Western in becoming an internationally defined high speed railway line.
If McLoughlin has said we had 67 miles of dedicated high speed railway, opposed to multi-use railway, he may have got away with it. But of course, those 67 miles have become multi-use too, as HS1 now carries freight, as well as very, very few high speed trains.
It’s worth remembering that originally, McLoughlins predecessors said HS1 wouldn’t ever carry freight, the same way he is now saying HS2 won’t ever carry freight…….
Another spirited and robust reaction from Joe, of the kind we have come to expect and enjoy!
But , to be truthful, does splitting hairs over one mile an hour or less actually prove anything?
As we know only to well, out on the Queen’s highway, our top speed is actually 70, 60, 50 or less, depending on the nature of the road and local factors. However the actual speeds of vehicles is frequently way above any given limit…
Not so on the railway. The fact that SOME PARTS of SOME MAIN LINES have a top speed LIMIT of 125mph does not mean that the whole network- or even the whole of these lines-can be seriously be regarded as being High Speed routes as they would be regarded in Germany or in France.
The point is that for any regular passenger service train to travel at MORE THAN 125mph is prohibited -unless a wholly different control/signalling system is in use…which is why the West Coast ‘Pendolino’ trains, designed and intended to run at 140mph are still limited to 125.
Denied a SEA for HS2 now is the opportunity to request a SEA review to be authorised by the Bill Select Committee if the impact is over 0.5 hectare of land and the length of the route is between 1Km to 2Km or more. Request your SEA as a specific measure in the Petition please. Landowners can also do the same.