The Eurostar Connection

The Eurostar connection

“… so that regional Eurostars can run directly to and from the West Midlands and the North West…”

Sound familiar?  Sound like something you’d find in the HS2 documents?

It’s not in the HS2 documentation though. It comes from a glossy 1998 brochure about the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

The promise of links from north of London to the continent through the Channel Tunnel Rail Link – now known as HS1 – was brought up by a member of the public at the Euston road show.  He said that HS1 had been supported through Parliament by MPs from the north and Scotland, with talk of direct links to the continent.  These direct links from the ECML and the WCML, described in the 1998 brochure, never happened.

And as we reported yesterday, the government is encouraging the people in the north to support the £17 billion project to build HS2 from Euston to Birmingham, but saying it would be “too difficult” to get a network to the north through Parliament.

It looks like another set of implied promises to businesses in the north that they wriggle out of later.

The full paragraph from the brochure:

“The Channel Tunnel Rail Link is not just for London and the south east.  A connection to the West Coast Main Line will be built near St Pancras so that Regional Eurostar trains can run directly to and from the West Midlands and the North West.  From St Pancras, Regional Eurostars can reach the East Coast Main Line to serve Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.”

56 comments to “The Eurostar Connection”
  1. Pingback: STOP HS2 | The HS1 lessons for commuters

  2. This topic has drawn a lot of comments when its significance within HS2’s overall picture is small. Dft’s estimates indicate that they expect only 6% of HS2’s passengers to have switched from air by 2043.

    Next we should bear in mind that the connection between HS2 and HS1 will be through one single track tunnel. That does not indicate a high volume of trains if it is being used in both directions. In fact the DfT suggests this may be three per hour (in each direction?).

    However, perhaps I should draw your attention to page 61 of the Economic Case for HS2 which indicates that at peak hours there will be 18 trains per hour running on the section of HS2 track between Birmingham and London once Phase 2 is operational to Leeds and Newcastle. It just so happens that 18 trains per hour is the internationally recognised (absolute) maximum capacity for a high speed line. Furthermore of the trains listed on page 61, none are scheduled for Heathrow or for connecting with HS1. So during peak hours there will be no trains to Heathrow or Europe unless sacrifices are made elsewhere.

    Peak hour services provide an additional three trains per hour compared to non-peak times. So that amount will have to be shared between Heathrow and Europe during non-peak hours.

    It appears we are intending to embark on building a £33bn rail system which has no capacity for expansion of extra trains once it is built. Some may question the foresight of such a design.

  3. Cities connected to HS2 as proposed. Can anybody tell me why some stations on the diagram called: Figure A1 – Service spectification for HS2″,[ its an appendix to the Economic Case for HS2,] are coloured red? [ Preston-Wigan-Warrington; on the service terminating at Preston? There is a Key to Figure A1. But the diargam key does not tell us what the red stations mean. Another mistake from the DfT, they don`t tell us people being consulted, what the red stops mean, so sad. Or is just a stupid error?

  4. @Penny: Why bring up airports? Of course there isn’t an airport at Milton Keynes!

    Stop prevaricating Penny!

    Airports are relevant when it comes to provincial services utilising HS2 (and you know it) – that’s what this thread is about (although I have a feeling you now regret bringing this particular topic up because you understand it plays to the strengths of HSR transport strategy – never mind Penny, we all make mistakes?)

    A principal plank in the environmental case for HS2 is modal shift from short-haul air to its equivalent HSR rival. In short transferring a significant chunk of the millions of UK passenger who utilise short haul air to get from the UK provinces – take a day trip to Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, East Midlands, Leeds-Bradford, Newcastle, Edinburgh, or Glasgow airports and you’ll see lots of RyanAir, EasyJet, Jet2.Com, FlyBe flights taking off; these companies do not operate as charities – on to HSR services.

    What more appropriate place to locate stations on HS2, phases 1 & 2, than an airport hub where there is already large car parking provision and they often have reasonable transport infrastructure in place – East Midlands Airport would be an ideal location for a parkway station on the East Midlands/Yorks-Humber arm of HS2?

    That way slots at these airports can be given over to long-haul flights where rail is not appropriate and passengers can seamlessly transfer to HSR for intra-European travel

    • Hi Peter. What this thread is about is that various UK city to European connections have been promised before, but have never materialised – this is a fact. Your personal position is very much pro the whole euro thing which is quite fine even if you are ploughing that furrow largely on your own – but remember that the evidence points against you, both by history (it’s not happened with the tunnel, nor with HS1), by the opinions of the HS2 planners, and by the simple logistics that even if HS2 comes along it will not take away the fact that it takes progressively longer and longer to get to Europe by rail the further north you go in the UK.

      Yes, there are a lot of companies running flights from the UK to Europe – and they are not run as charities (unlike the rail industry). The air industry is not going to generally roll over and die by the advent of high speed rail as except for a few specific very short routes (such as London-Paris) the advantages of the aeroplane will remain – yes you can get a train from Lille right now to Marseille but what you have conveniently not mentioned is that this will take you 5 hours on top of the 2.5 you claim to have taken to get to France. Berlin 9+2.5, Turin 12+2.5 hours, need I go on? On these times saving a hour more or less on the Manchester to London segment is an irrelevance, and no justification in any way for HS2 – and indeed no indication that these direct services from the north to anywhere will ever happen.

      The channel tunnel even though built at a massive loss should exist as it is genuinely of strategic national importance in the same way as an aircraft carrier – you may never use it but it is nice to know you have it should the world change in some way unexpected. But unless and until something really dramatic happens to change the current aviation world people are not going to generally shift from air to rail – and to be honest if it became ridiculously expensive to fly the likelihood is that most journeys just would not happen, and for those that did an hour more or less on the UK leg of the journey is really not significant.

      • Sorry @Andrew Gibbs but you’re wrong

        The evidence points in favour of the positive factors I’m favour of direct UK provincial HSR services to/from near mainland destinations

        What you seem to be generally implying is that for people in the London/SE England catchment zones, the commercial arguments for HSR as an alternative to short-haul air stack up but suddenly, due to the extra hour or so of journey time required, those factors evaporate for everyone else in the UK – sorry but I’m not buying that argument!

        That’s precisely why HS2 and HSR in general is about speed, as well as all of the other influential factors it brings to bear. With HS2, phases 1 & 2 completed and operating place, I’ll be approximately 65-70 mins from the junction of HS2>HS1, just a few hundred metres north of St. Pancras – are you trying to argue that this 65-70 minute differential suddenly makes HS2 and HSR strategy in general redundant for everywhere outside the M25 corridor and SE England – if so please stop because your argument is simply laughable!

        • There is not some sort of us and them thing going on here, just geography shifts the balance. London to Paris is 2hrs – sounds favourable in almost all cases. Birmingham to Paris might be 3hrs – this is now comparable to the flight time and choice will be dependent on cost and the overall journey but still I would expect this to work for a lot of people. If London to Frankfurt is 5 hrs that is already pretty marginal, and adding another hour or more to that is not going to be attractive to many people north of London.
          What is certain is that while rail might capture a good chunk of a few specific short routes you have to remember we are still only talking about a relatively small number of people and the vast majority of flights will continue unaffected – talk about people taking the train from Manchester to Milan is the laughable thing, let alone that any of this European stuff makes any difference to the overall case for/against HS2.

          • Rail cannot provide a credible alternative in some instances

            However, where it can I think you are wrong and I am correct.

            You’ve forgotten that over time, speeds will increase generally – hence the requirement for HS2 to enable 400km/h – reducing overall platform to platform journey times by rail.

            Yes, of course it will take time for High Speed Rail to erode short-haul air’s domination in certain markets but wherever rail goes head to head with air and provides a credible alternative, even if it takes a bit longer than its rival, rail still triumphs

            Sorry but we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this subject

  5. @Penny: “You haven’t really answered my point though.”

    errrrr……yes I have Penny and you’ve made specific reference to the very same reasoning process – look at your own words

    There is a complex set of variables in choosing the most suitable form of transport for a specific journey.

    Now look at my words

    …..but the acid test will be seen in a complex equation involving:

    and then I go on to list all of the “variables” you are, by implication, referring to!!!

    I realise you’re not going to acknowledge a direct and accurate answer if it’s not the one you’re looking for but please don’t insult my intelligence by indulging in a game of semantics?

    Of course rail is not going to provide an absolutely direct route in all cases because routes are constrained by physical geography – that’s obvious – but travellers will make their judgement based on the complex set of variables we’ve both made reference to – what I’m arguing (and I’m backed up by the facts) is that given a level playing field, rail wins every single time in a straight commercial contest with short haul air.

    I’m prepared to put money on it right now and we won’t have too many years to wait to see who is right – I predict that the DB service will begin to significantly erode the airline’s share of passengers on the Amsterdam and Frankfurt routes to London from day one, to the point where rail will overtake air within 24-36 months on both routes.

    London to Frankfurt by rail will take approaching five hours and is by no means a direct (as the crow files) route! Are you trying to imply that travellers from Birmingham are somehow radically different from their counterparts in London?

    • I personally would take the extra hour for the privilege of not going near an airport.

      But if a five hour trip from London to Frankfurt will be so attractive why is it that people still fly from London to Scotland which is a rail journey of similar duration? The answer is of course that not everyone wants to travel from city centre to city centre armed with a small briefcase. So yes, DB should get some good numbers on its service (or it will disappear), but I confidently predict that there will still be exactly as many people flying in and out of Gatwick, Luton, and Heathrow because for most of them a rail link from St Pancras to Frankfurt is not going to be any better for the journeys they are making. Another point is that as soon as you move northwards in the UK the comparison becomes even worse – the train journey gets a hour or two longer while the flight time is almost the same [it would be fair to say that the minimum time to get from standing outside any airport in the UK to standing outside an airport in northern Europe is generally going to be about 3 hours (1 to check in, 1.5 for the flight, .5 to get out). The train scales pretty much directly with distance]

      Travellers from Birmingham are different from those in London because they live further away from continental Europe. This distance is going to add an hour by high speed train, about 10 minutes by plane. I don’t see anyone switching out of the Frankfurt flights from Manchester or Leeds. But then remember that HS2 is fundamentally a domestic project – all this talk of European connections from the north is likely to end up as just that: talk, and nothing more.

      • @Andrew Gibbs: But then remember that HS2 is fundamentally a domestic project – all this talk of European connections from the north is likely to end up as just that: talk, and nothing more.

        Let’s see about that

        I happen to think you (and Christian Wolmar) are completely wrong on that score

        For me, HS2 doesn’t need to reach city centre London, they could not build the leg from Old Oak Common into Euston and not bother with the (very expensive) rebuilding of the terminus and it wouldn’t bother me one iota, just so long as the HS2>HS1 link line is completed and through services become possible.

        You’ve conveniently forgotten recent trends

        Let’s remember that cross border rail has been in operation since 1994, when Eurostars terminated at Waterloo – I travelled on the Eurostar during that period (I was on my way to Breda to pick up a new car) and I can recall sitting having my lunch as we gently rattled (at about 100km/h) our way through the Kent countryside. We speeded up a little in the actual Tunnel but once on the other side of the Channel the driver put his foot down, so to speak, and the true qualities of High Speed Train travel quickly became apparent.

        The real step change in passenger uptake between London and Paris/Brussels came when the long overdue HS1 line was completed and St. Pancras opened (to much fanfare and rhetoric from Gordon Brown) in November 2007.

        And so it will be with HS2, which will provide the first serious alternative to short haul air for consumer in the UK provinces – I happen to think that you, the entire anti-HS2 brigade and even the planners down at HS2 are going to be taken aback by just how popular the direct provincial services prove to be. However, I repeat for me to be proved right, the lines have to be built!!!

        • @Peter Davidson “…even the planners down at HS2 are going to be taken aback by just how popular the direct provincial services prove to be”.

          And now we are back to the original HS1 brochure.

          This said that there would be direct services from the West Coast Main Line to the Continent: the graphic shows a direct Milton Keynes to Paris service, taking 2 hours 50 minutes.

          So if you go by what happened with HS1, after HS2 is built you still won’t get direct services to the Continent from places north of London.

          • @Penny: This said that there would be direct services from the West Coast Main Line to the Continent: the graphic shows a direct Milton Keynes to Paris service, taking 2 hours 50 minutes.

            errrr…..Penny, unless you hadn’t noticed, there isn’t an airport at Milton Keynes

            I’ll provide you with a real world example

            When H2 is completed (phases 1 & 2) there will be a Manchester South hub station – it’s 99.9% certain that station will be located at Manchester International Airport. I’m approx 5km (as the crow flies, perhaps 6 – 7km driving) from where that station will be built – probably an underground contruction directly adjacent to the existing local train station at the Airport.

            So a direct service to Paris/Brussels from Manchester will stop there, let’s say at approx 07:00 in the morning. I can board that service and disembark at Lille Europe, approx 2.5 hours later, cross the platform and embark a train to any number of destinations, such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Marseille, or Perpignan (already in operation) and probably by then (it will be 15-20 years from now), Barcelona, Turin, Vienna, Rome, Madrid, Sevilla, Berlin etc. etc.

            Not sure about you Penny but that’s what I call connectivity!!!

            • Why bring up airports? Of course there isn’t an airport at Milton Keynes!

              There is a West Coast Main Line station at Milton Keynes: the 1998 Channel Tunnel Rail Link brochure implied there was going to be a fast direct service from Milton Keynes to the Continent. That service hasn’t started yet, and there are now no plans to introduce one.

  6. @D Owen: “Flying Jet2 from Leeds Bradford – Paris CDG on April 27th – £6.99 (£32.99 with taxes). Flight time = 1hr .30mins.”

    But that’s not what I was asking for is it?

    Can you tell me what the likely cost for an air ticket between Leeds and Paris will be circa 2030, when a true comparison becomes relevant?

    If it’s still £6.99 plus taxes I’ll show my posterior in a well known retail outlet window

    Indeed, as @John Webber has pointed out, your comparison is utterly flawed and meaningless – however I’m prepared to stick my neck out and state right here and now that given a credible HSR rival circa 2030, there will very quickly be no airborne option between Leeds and Paris or Manchester and Paris because the train will put them out of business within two years of starting operations

    • Don’t be silly Peter D!

      What’s your guesstimate for the cost of a ticket from Paris to Leeds on an HS2 train today? You have enough factual info at your disposal so lets have an answer to a simple question.

      “No airbourne option”. Like I say, businessman vote with their pockets and it doesn’t stack up (time is money).

      Over and Out!

      • @D Owen
        If anyone’s being silly here it’s you!

        The only relevant comparison will be one where credible like for like alternatives are on offer to consumers and clearly that’s not possible now. Your comparison is not relevant (and you know it) but of course it’s suits your purpose to throw it into the mix a this stage because of its distorted (in favour of your argument) appearance, despite its utterly false foundation.

        I repeat that given like for like alternatives, rail wins every time – I realise that’s an inconvenient truth for your standpoint but I can’t help that harsh reality.

        As a precursor let’s just wait and see what happens when the Deutsche Bahn service starts operating between London>Frankfurt/Amsterdam – it will be interesting to note how the oft quoted four hour threshold impacts on consumer uptake on the Frankfurt option – care to take a bet on rail vs air for those routes – we won’t have to wait too long after all.

        I’m willing to bet that it won’t be long (perhaps three years) before rail overtakes air (in terms of market share) on the London>Frankfurt route, probably even quicker between London>Amsterdam.

        HS2, phases 1 & 2, merely facilitates this very same transformation in consumer habits for Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and East Midlands airport catchment zones – time for those in the anti-HS2 brigade to wake up and understand that this long-term trend is only going one way – if I was a share holder in Jet2.Com I’d be seriously considering baling out anytime soon?

        • However, rail and air journeys from anywhere in Britain north of London to anywhere in Europe north of Brussels are very different.

          All rail journeys from mainland Britain to Continental Europe goes through the Channel Tunnel. It’s a fact of geography. That means that a rail journey from Manchester to Amsterdam has to go south first through the Channel and then northwards again. It’s much longer then a direct journey by air.

          • True, geography can’t be avoided Penny but the acid test will be seen in a complex equation involving:

            • Comparable journey times (by comparable I mean true door to door comparisons rather than the false measures put forward by @D Owen)
            • Travel costs (including everything door to door)
            • Convenience, which is somewhat subjective in nature
            • Quality, again subjective

            If we take the Leeds > Paris example used earlier, that’s essentially a North > South journey anyway and the door to door journey time comparisons look favourable for rail

            When the London > Frankfurt/Amsterdam service starts in a couple of years I think we’ll discover a lot more about European consumer habits in this market, their perceptions and expectations.

            I believe you (and the anti-HSR brigade in general) will be surprised to find how resilient rail is to perceived (on your part) commercial obstacles – in a straight head to head contest I think you’ll find that an apparent time disadvantage for rail will simply not have any discernible negative effect on general consumer habits.

            In practical terms what I’m saying is that I don’t think it will matter if the train journey takes a bit longer overall (up to a maximum threshold of one hour differential); travellers will still (generally speaking) choose rail over air.

            • You haven’t really answered my point though.

              There is a complex set of variables in choosing the most suitable form of transport for a specific journey.

              But if you are picking rail as your route between Britain and Continental Europe, it involves going to the south-east corner of Britain and through the Channel Tunnel. Sure some routes will be as direct through the Channel Tunnel as by air, but for other routes, this will be a big detour, adding many miles and increasing journey times.

    • Isn’t forecasting what will happen in 2030 one of the key problems of projects that take vast periods of time. I admit that cheap flights may be a thing of the past by then. Or it could be that Peter’s posterior will be on display at his favourite retailer. Maybe 3D/HD video conferencing will have replaced much of business travel. Surely the lesson is don’t commit to mega projects unless you absolutely have to. And we certainly don’t have to have HS2. Incremental change is best.

      • @Philip: “Surely the lesson is don’t commit to mega projects unless you absolutely have to. And we certainly don’t have to have HS2. Incremental change is best.”

        But that’s just it @Philip – the forecasts show that we do need a step change in terms of capacity and upgrading existing infrastructure doesn’t deliver on that front and also involves massive disruption and associated costs.

        The UK is infamous for its make do and mend approach – on the air transport front we can see the results of that culture all to visibly at Heathrow, which was in the wrong place 50 years ago but no one had the bottle (politically) to take the difficult decision to upsticks and move the location, lock stock and barrel – compare and contrast that scenario with Hong Kong where a very set of circumstances held true – fifteen years later and Hong Kong has Chep Lap Kok, a state of the art intercontinental airhub – Heathrow by comparison is a festering dump to be avoided at all costs!

        Your make do and mend, sweat the existing asset, strategy won’t cut it in this instance – so when the UK is lapsing into the third division economy wise due to its lack of transport infrastructure, the lack of foresight shown by your approach will be ruthlessly exposed – by then of course it will be too damn late to change course but at least those residing in the Chilterns will be able to sleep sound whilst the rest of us are in standing room only, crammed in like sardines on a hopelessly inadequate rail network!!!

        • Step change IS the problem. Demand doesn’t come in lumps it changes steadily over time. HS2 provides nothing for 15 years and then – wallop! I agree with you about the state of much of our infrastructure. Who said “Private affluence, public squalor”? So don’t bet the farm on one enormous project but have a national plan for more broad based renewal. Is anybody really thinking about and planning a national fibre optic network? I think there is a half baked scheme which involves taking some more money from the poor old BBC. My objection to HS2 is increased by the hyperbolic rhetoric – ‘transformational’, ‘essential for Birmingham’s economic future’ equivalent to the arrival of the railways in the 19th century'(my favourite!), ‘addresses the north/south divide’ (pity the motorway network failed). Where is the debate about the options for spending £34bn on the infrastructure?

          • @Philip: Step change IS the problem. Demand doesn’t come in lumps it changes steadily over time.

            Sorry but you’ve got completely the wrong idea here

            HS2 is the first realistic attempt to plan for the anticipated increases in demand that are already proven but have not yet reached crisis point. That’s the point here (which you’re conveniently ignoring) – the WCML is already the busiest mixed traffic rail route in Europe but there is still some capacity in the system – hence the oft repeated remarks about half empty trains that pervade some anti-HS2 commentaries but capacity issues are coming down the line (sorry about the pun) in years to come, as sure as day follows night.

            HS2 is a credible plan to solve looming capacity constraints but it also does much more by addressing the growing issue of environmental impact associated with increasing levels of short-haul intra-European passenger traffic – the UK leads Europe in that particular field, which is hardly surprising given our island status and lack of developed trainborne travel options to the European mainland.

            Only a new route can do all of this because it will be constructed to the now mandatory (for all brand new lines) European interoperability standard, which will also rather handily facilitate meaningful competition between service providers – the European directive mandating the opening up of cross border rail markets came into force last year – it’s that same directive behind the Deutsche Bahn decision to begin operating its Frankfurt/Amsterdam>London service. All HS2 does is to extend that potential further afield to the UK provinces which, when it happens, a huge majority of the populations so connected will be cheering loudly for and voting with their cash.

            But for all of that to happen firteen. twenty years from now requires something rather obvious – get the lines built first – the long term nature of such infrastructure projects requires that the process is started now – at last someone has decided to bite the bullet and implement the step change required, rather than bottle it, a la Heathrow in the 60s!!!

  7. Indeed!The Northolt corridor of the North Main Line was allowed to deteriorate since Beeching’s axe.,and expresses to Snow Hill and more freight could easily return after track improvements and new signalling were installed.The Varsity line could be re-opened (as Greenguage would like) to facilitate east-west travel,without Hs2.Unfortunately quite a lot has been built over the old trackbed.Add more track to the Chiltern line where feasible,and forget this obsession with very high speeds and straight lines.In their heyday the Chilterns had a good rail network.We need lines to benefit local people,not flashy trains for the rich.If businessmen are so keen on HS,why don’t they pay for it? And if the M40 didn’t regenerate Birmingham,why should another railway?The great cities of the Midlands and North prospered from manufacturing industry,not “connectivity”.So much abandoned.That’s the pity of it.

    • Brilliantly put Peter.

      And letter in today’s Telegraph from Tory MPs in the North trotting out usually rubbish about North/South divide and suggesting it will open up international business opportunities…as if a Frenchman is really going to get a train to Leeds when he can fly (probably at half the price).

      • @D Owen: “…as if a Frenchman is really going to get a train to Leeds when he can fly (probably at half the price).”

        Not a particularly good example @D Owen

        If that really was the case why have Air Inter and Air Littoral (both airlines predicated on short haul routes) both been forced out of business by the advent of TGV networks across France and beyond?

        Fact is your average French consumer has voted with their cash by switching to HSR based alternatives from their airborne rival – so I can think we can expect plenty of travellers utilising HSR services between near mainland European destinations and UK provincial cities.

        • I live near London. Go to Paris twice a year on business and always travel by plane – it’s far cheaper and far more convenient. (In fact I drive into London because it works out cheaper even when paying the congestion charge).

          Airport closures (snow) prior to Christmas – Eurostar was inundated with travellers otherwise going by plane.

          Can you guestimate what price an HS2 ticket will be from Paris to Leeds? What are estimated travel times from Paris to Leeds via HS2?

          And exactly who and where are all these businessmen champing at the bit to do business in the North of England?

            • Mr. Owen need not be fearful for the future of the Arts here in Britain, at least not on the evidence shown on this STOP site, where they flourish.

              Literature, in the form of imaginative and highly creative writing appears almost daily, while the debate has prompted both Music and Poetry, well verse at least.

              Previous videos have illustrated ongoing Drama, full of passionate dialogue and emotion played out against a lively and vocal (!) chorus of supporters, as such guest celebrities as the Transport Minister are juxtaposed with the leading actors as the debate is enacted. Wonderful stuff, especially when an element of Stand Up is added, consciously or not, with charactors in funny hats with funny dogs.

              Beautiful publications, illustrated and brightly coloured , seek to proclaim their messages of warning and reassurance, to discredit and dispose of the Myths and Falsehoods so widely disseminated, hopefully without creating too many fresh Myths of their own….
              It will provide the chance for students in years to come to sift and analyse these writings. Textual analysis may detect a certain commonality in both style and content with key phrases occuring frequently; the”Synoptic Brochures”one might describe them, and somewhat reminiscent of Orwell’s (or rather Napoleon’s) flock.,

              Many show a keen regard for landscape; though generally large scale open air sculpture is not highly regarded. Maybe we no longer possess the vision of a Kent or one such as Lancelot “Capability” Brown, who might well have suggested the excavation of a deep grotto- or even a tunnel, – or throwing up a mighty bridge to span a valley!

              Finally, even in this generally secular age, the many and various apocalyptic and escatological prophecies may even lead to a revival in interest in Theology.

          • So D Owen manages to fly from London to Paris and incurs the cost of the congestion charge on the way ?? Considering there isnt actually an airport within the congestion charge zone……I think you need to buy a new Sat Nav !!!!

          • @D Owen: “Can you guestimate what price an HS2 ticket will be from Paris to Leeds? What are estimated travel times from Paris to Leeds via HS2?”

            Guestimating the price of an HS2 ticket is futile at this stage, a) because it’s some years into the future and b) we won’t know which service providers will be operating on the route. I might as well ask you to forecast an equivalent airline ticket for the relevant period?

            The travelling time, once both phases of HS2 are completed, will be approximately 3hrs 45mins

            • Well let me give you a little steer.

              Flying Jet2 from Leeds Bradford – Paris CDG on April 27th – £6.99 (£32.99 with taxes). Flight time = 1hr .30mins.

              Eurostar from London (not Leeds) to Paris on same date (cheapest fare) – £56.00. Travel time 2hrs. 25mins

              Ummm really think I’ll let the train take the strain!

              * Up to two hours check in and security clearance before you even board the aircraft.
              * Time waiting for baggage to be unloaded and made available for collection.
              *Journey time to and from the airport to the city centre (to correspond to the railway terminus.
              ***Add another hour if travelling by R***air, as their” destination” is 50 miles away.(probably!)

              Total flight time- (you may have to wait for up to twelve planes to take off as your flight queues for the runway) – say- (your example, Mr Owen) one and a half hours.

              Probable centre to centre journey time – five hours.

              Short haul air travel- As somebody said, “It’s all in the mind, you know,”

            • But catching the Eurostar also involves check-in time and security. As well as actually travelling to London in the first place.

              Anyway, if you just take hand luggage (which lots of business travellors do, if it;s just overnight), you don’t have to wait for baggage reclaim at the airport.

          • Gary: No reply to my question Mr Owen ?? Thats typical for the stopHS2 campaigners

            Oh for heavens sake, this is driving me up the wall. Mr Owen’s occupation has nothing whatsoever to do with stophs2 and it is rude of you to keep harping on about it in this snide manner.

            Typical for the stop HS2 campaigners??? It strikes me that your continued baiting of contributors is rather more typical of the tactics used by a certain Mr Hammond when he can’t/won’t reply to reasonable questions.

    • What Peter failed to mention that the Chiltern area is already getting its own upgrade with a project called Evergreen sponsored by Chiltern Rail themselves……..which include some new track and an increase in both the frequency and line speed for DIESEL trains. I cant hear many complaints about the fact that this will actually lead to an increase in noise for residents living near the lines …… or is there???

      UK manufacturing was slowly strangled by the fact that as transport links got better between countries, it was found to be more economic to manufacture in countries where labour costs were a lot lower. As we have become more of a service sector economy, people are having to travel further to secure work…..the table below gives an indication of commute times in Europe.

      Italy: 23 minutes
      Spain: 33 minutes
      France: 36 minutes
      EU average: 38 minutes
      Netherlands: 43 minutes
      Germany: 44 minutes
      UK: 45 minutes

      Notice how the average for the UK is greater than anywhere else…….and which is in fact pretty much the same time as quoted for London to Birmingham once HS2 is built.

        • D Owen – the figures I ve quoted are for commute times irrespective of whether its by rail road or walk etc… your post is irrelevant

          • Then make that clear in your post Gazza.

            Of course, as we know, cost is not an irrelevance, because HS comes down to cost and affordability for the end-user at the end of the day, and HS2 certainly won’t be affordable for the average commuter – hence the figures in your post are themselves irrelevant without a comparison of fares.

            The comparison is even more irrelevant given the demographics and nature of commutes in each country.

            If you are not going to compare fares across the continent then perhaps you should use comparisons within England itself. Compare like-for-like.

        • Short-haul to Paris from Luton is 40mins check in – business travel = no bags. First flight out – never had a delay. You should try it.

          The rest of your post is supposition. Give us the facts about HS2 costs – come on!

      • commute times will go UP with HS2. You only need to look at the commuters misery in Kent to see the same thing happening in many other places as HS2 is given priority over other trains so this is complete nonsense. People currently commuting quite happily from coventry will have to get to birmingham first to board a more expensive (but slower for them) HS2.

        Gary have you seen Pennys latest article about work done by the taxpayers alliance on how Manchester will lose out because of HS2?

      • I think Gary’s list of commute times says it all. We don’t know what the average distance travelled is or the average speed, from the details he provides. Let’s assume that we spend longer on our trains because they are slower. Or maybe the cost of living near a city is higher in the UK so people live further away. A function of our very high population density. Whichever it is, and it doesn’t much matter, those who saw ‘Despatches’ on Channel 4 last week will have seen the conditions many commuters have to endure. As far more commute than will ever travel on HS2 surely it is clear where the investment should go.

        • Of course Phillip……and it already is with projects such as Thameslink and Crossrail.

          Notice Mr Owen is still avoiding a direct answer to my question……..

          • You are asking him personal questions which you have no right to ask, and which he doesn’t have to answer. Any more questions like this to anyone, and they will be moderated without warning.

            • Oh yes, where one of the other posters said

              “Well, on your criteria, I think you’ll be more than happy with my occupation. However, I don’t give out personal details on web forums, and I’d advise anyone else not to do so.”

              If you agree with that advise, you’ll see why we deleted your posts demanding an answer about the occupation of one of the commenters on this website.

              As a general reminder, comments on this website should be addressing issues raised in the posts to which they relate. Or they will be deleted without notice.

  8. This article touches a particularly raw nerve for me

    Is the author attempting to imply that talk of direct provincial services from Birmingham or Manchester to near mainland European destinations (Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam?) are yet more empty promises – we can only assume so from the rather flippant tone pervading its narrative?

    Of course the article conveniently omits two rather vital facts;

    1. The construction of a direct link between HS2 and HS1
    2. The fact that only a new line construction will facilitate the utilisation of a European Interoperability Standard, which in turn enables existing and all future High Speed Train sets compliant with that now mandatory standard (for all new line construction), to run on said lines.

    So from day one of HS2 opening, trains planned to operate into St. Pancras, such as the ICE3 proposed to run between London and Frankfurt/Amsterdam and the new e320 Eurostars (also belonging to the same Siemens derived family as the ICE3) ordered for delivery from 2014 onwards, will be able to seamlessly negotiate their way to Birmingham.

    True, until phase 2 of HS2 is completed, hybrid train sets will have to operate to Manchester (not certain about Leeds) but why go to the trouble of constructing a direct link from HS2 to HS1 if such services were not going to materialise?

    No, this piece smacks of utter desperation – a crass attempt at divide and conquer – sorry but your rather obvious ruse has been spotted the proverbial km away!

    • Peter D – can you locate for me where in the consultation documentation there is a plan for a direct link between HS1 and HS2? Unfortunately although I’ve been following events I haven’t been able to read it myself all the way through yet. People that have read it, advise me that there is no plan for this link so I was interested to see your statement as follows:

      “Of course the article conveniently omits two rather vital facts;

      1. The construction of a direct link between HS2 and HS1”

      If you can point me in the direction of where the plan/information for this infrasture i, I’d be most grateful

      • Peter is quite correct with his point 1 as the HS2-HS1 link is in the plans: In the consultation summary p14 you can read “…any link between HS2 and HS1 would be constructed as part of Phase 1, the line between London and the West Midlands.”. In the ‘route engineering summary’ section 5 you can see the planned route in more detail.

        As to whether this part of the plans goes the distance, or if even if it does exactly how many trains might ever run along it is a more interesting question. The point raised in Penny’s original article above is that there are a lot of things promised by high-speed rail but just because something is conceivable does not mean it will be so – indeed the evidence is more on the side that not many of them ever appear (as well as bogus route forecasts you can add passenger usage forecasts, net benefit forecasts, etc).

        • Of course that’s “bogus” route forecasts, according to you Andrew?

          Thanks for confirming the fact that a direct link between HS2 and HS1 is now integral to the plans, indeed it is included in phase 1. This facilitates the operation of direct provincial services to/from Birmingham and Manchester to Paris/Brussels and maybe even beyond, depending on demand levels. I remain convinced that this aspect of HS2 will prove more popular than even those wildly heroic forecasts universally berated by anti-HS2 protesters but of course for me to be proved right, HS2 has to be built. Certainly Eurostar would like the chance to operate such services as this senior Executive confirms here;

          Why else would Eurostar commit to £700million of investment in new trainsets if they weren’t planning to expand their route network – Birmingham is just another origin point they can add to their portfolio?

          A large part of the environmental case for HS2 rests on modal shift from short-haul intra European air to HSR alternatives. That element of modal shift simply cannot happen without the HS2>HS1 link in situ from day one of HS2 operation

          • By ‘bogus route forecasts’ I would mean
            “Overnight services (with sleeper and couchette facilities) will start from three regional centres in the UK (Glasgow, Plymouth, Swansea), stopping at other important stations en route to Waterloo , from where they will travel to Paris and Brussels. There will also be overnight trains from Waterloo to Amsterdam, Dortmund and Frankfurt, and to Cologne” [project “nightstar”]
            “regional Eurostars can run directly to and from the West Midlands and the North West”
            Achieved :
            None of the above.

            For ‘bogus passenger forecasts’ I would mean:
            Forecast: 15.9 million passengers in opening year (1994, with original slow Waterloo link)
            Acheived: 2.9 million. Even 15 years later and with the HS1 improvement there were only 9.5 million passengers in 2010.

            For ‘bogus freight forecasts’ I would mean:
            Forecast: 7.2 million gross tonnes by through freight trains
            Acheived: a maximum of 3.1 million in 1998. For the last five years the average is well under 1.5 million tonnes.

            For ‘bogus benefit forecasts’ and a general summing up I offer the following from Strategic Rail Authority post economic evaluation of the Channel Tunnel “The forecasts underpinning the construction of the Channel Tunnel largely and systematically overestimated the total size and growth of the cross-Channel passenger and freight markets. The share of the cross-Channel markets captured by the Tunnel was accurately predicted. However, this was only achieved through a competitive battle with ferry operators, which resulted in reduced tariffs. The combination of these two factors resulted in revenues much lower than predicted. For completely separate reasons, the construction costs of the Tunnel doubled.
            The cost benefit appraisal of the Channel Tunnel reveals that overall the British economy would have been better off had the Tunnel never been constructed, as the total resource cost outweighs the benefits generated”

            You may argue that the channel tunnel link was‘different’ and that HS2 is of course perfectly costed and predicted. But remember that research shows that “9 out of 10 rail projects have demand overestimated, on average by a factor of two”.

  9. just to point out that at the last ECML track access discussions, Eurostar still hold contingency rights for a number of paths. And of course MML passengers have a seamless interchange at St Pancras right now….

    Also the depot built in here Manchester for regional eurostar trains is still there under LCSP ownership.

    • Hs2 MAKES SENSE ONLY AS PART OF A LARGER NETWORK, so even the proposed first phase connects with the West Coast Main line north of the branch to Birmingham and thence gives access to the whole network of routes spreading throughout the Midlands and northern England and Scotland.

      It repeats, in a way, the progress of the M 1 Motorway which originally ran from north of London to Northamptonshire, where it turned left towards Coventry- (M 45 /A 45)

      Other isolated bits : the Preston Bypass, the Doncaster Bypass etc. avoided long standing congested pinch points on the existing trunk roads and then were eventually incorporated into an extending Motorway system, with the Leeds M1 / A 1 Link following in recent years complete that part of the network.

      HS2 either in its published form, or something on an equivilent scale , will be needed in the near future. A dedicated fast route, unencombered with slower stopping and freight trains, ( unlike the present WCML ) is needed to bypass congestion.

      Furthermore, building a new route ,or reconstructing a former line such as the GCR or the semi derelict Old Oak to South Ruislip link, are far less disruptive than re constructing busy inter city and commuter lines.The “collateral damage” of creating space for extra tracks in suburban or inner city areas is likely to be just as great as it would be for the HS route.
      * Even the comparatively modest upgrading of the Chiltern line is requiring weekend closures and “bustitution” while the work is done.*

      Would the residents of “Metroland” , Wendover, Missenden and the Chalfonts prefer to reinstate “their” railway back to its former main trunk line status, which must involve rebuilding and provision of extra tracks to accommodate modern speeds and volume of traffic?

      The closure of the GC main line and other “rationalisation” of the network has left us short of capacity. IS HS2 THE PRICE WE HAVE TO PAY FOR THE SHORTSIGHTED POLICIES OF THE PAST FIFTY YEARS?

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