HS2, Deutsche Bahn, Birmingham Airport and Freight

Since yesterday’s article, Stop Hs2 has been sent the following information.  The opinions and conclusions expressed are the author’s own:

  • The 30 year concession to operate HS1 was purchased last year by a consortium of Ontario Teachers Pension Fund (through their subsidiary Teachers Infrastructure Group),  and Borealis Infrastructure.
  • Teachers Infrastructure Group also owns 48% of Birmingham International Airport.
  • Birmingham International Airport, in January 2010, conducted a survey and found that Londoners are happy to travel to Birmingham to fly from there.  The airport’s CEO, Paul Kehoe said “The HS2 high speed rail route would extend Birmingham’s catchment area further into London and the South East, and even Kent would be less than an hour away. Future plans will create further connectivity. Regional airports have the potential to relieve overcrowding in the South East. For many in London and the South East, it will be quicker to travel to Birmingham airport than to Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. ” See link http://www.birminghamairport.co.uk/meta/news/2010/01/birmingham-airport-over-heathrow-3rd-runway.aspx
  • Birmingham airport is partway through a huge expansion program. See link http://www.birminghamairport.co.uk/meta/news/2011/05/one-terminal-opening.aspx.
  • In January this year Theresa Villiers suggested regional airports are the solution to the overcrowding of UK’s aviation infrastructure, rather than a new hub in the South East.  – see “Regional airports have the potential to relieve overcrowding in the South East.”
  • The co-owner of HS1, Borealis Infrastructure, is part of OMERS – Ontario Municipal Employers Retirement Systems.  Borealis Infrastructure also owns a stake in Associated British Ports (ABP) along with Goldmann Sachs and others.  Apart from Ports, ABP also owns the Hams Hall Rail Terminal, North East of Birmingham.
  • Hams Hall terminal is used by DB Schenker amongst others for freight via the channel tunnel to European destinations http://www.logisticsmanager.com/Articles/13995/DB+Schenker+extends+rail+links+to+Italy.html DB Schenker is the freight transport subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn.   It bought EWS a few years ago and now carries the most rail freight in the UK.
  • DB Schenker announced on their website that they look forward to future links between HS2 and HS1, as “a route for continental sized freight trains” – http://www.rail.dbschenker.co.uk/cmsnews/news_article.asp?guid=%7BC9A48660-CB51-492E-8337-26D5EE7C082B%7D
  • According to the HS2Ltd business case, although not currently planned to operate freight, HS2 will nevertheless be built to the structure gauge for international freight.  Note on that website that Schenker will introduce services between Birmingham and Glasgow.
  • Apart from DB Schenker being a rail freight operator they also operate their own buses, lorries (with tie up with Eddie Stobart), their own ships and an air freight company.
  • Eurotunnel owns rail freight company GB freight and French Veolia Traction.  Veolia traction operates multi modal trains between Daventry rail freight terminal and Novarra, Italy.

My conclusion is that HS2 is less about lack of capacity on the WCML or increased business travel, but more about 1) increased passenger travel between Birmingham airport and other regional centres, as it expands, possibly as an alternative international hub to Heathrow with government giving these regional airports tax breaks; and 2) international freight movements, possibly on HS2 itself.

Not forgetting of course that Deutsche Bahn will soon be running passenger high speed train services in competition with Eurostar through the channel tunnel to London, with Siemens trains of course!

What wouldn’t Deutsche Bahn  do to get involved with HS2?

The opinions and conclusions expressed are the author’s own.

200 comments to “HS2, Deutsche Bahn, Birmingham Airport and Freight”
  1. If hs2 is so brilliant why is Hammond having to sell it to intelligent business men again in B,ham today? oh and with another rise in electricity today it will make the power hungry train even less viable to run.

    • Elaine……key goverment ministers address the business world ALL the time……..they dont spend 40 hours a week sat in the House of Commons.

      And if electric prices have risen, wouldnt that make the equipment for video conferencing more expensive to run as well??

      • Possibly not to the tune of £30 odd billion! Thank you for making me laugh out loud. I’ve just choked on my coffee!

          • You’re the one who raised the issue of it becoming more expensive to run videoconferencing as if it were a justification for not doing it. Just drawing the parallel between the cost of running electric trains and technical office equipment … Just struck me as amusing.

            • Lel ….Electric trains use electricity

              Video conference equipment uses electricity.

              If the cost for electricity rises, it stands to reason that both would be more expensive to operate.

              I never mentioned the fact that rising energy costs was a reason for not carrying out the activity……are you considering turning off your PC to save on the cost of electric?

        • I thought this site was to engage in constructive dialogue on how to stop HS2.
          It appears that there is a concerted effort by a few to distract and disrupt any fruitful discussion we might attempt.
          Since yesterday’s new article, on this freshly updated site not yet two days old, ‘GARY’ has already posted 16 comments and not one in favour of helping prevent the project.
          WE don’t need this kind of dialogue, we know the problems,
          Gary started posting yesterday at
          2 18pm
          3 10pm
          3 15pm
          3 23pm
          3 55pm
          10 37pm
          First posting today
          12.42 pm. So far.
          Is this a record for you Gary?

          • Have I got a stalker lol ??!!!

            Its cyberspace Dave……free speech and all that. This site is designed with comments in mind….lets also not forget that there are links posted to other sites which appear to be on the side of HS2…..these are actually quite useful as far as I m concerned.

            • What are the other websites ? I’m enjoying the cut and thrust so much I fancy playing a few “away” matches .

          • Yes Dave , I noticed the six and a half hour gap yesterday and was worried for the lad’s welfare . Turns out they were so pleased with his efforts over the last few weeks they gave him the night off .

    • If hs2 is so brilliant why is Hammond having to sell it to intelligent business men again in B,ham today?

      To make sure none of them is taken in by the hysterical, selfish guff being pumped out by Stop HS2. I doubt they are, but no harm in making sure.

      • I know, how selfish of people to deny 72% of leasiure passengers the right to shop and see a show in the west end of London.

        • Here are some of the not-at-all selfish reasons (and these are just the ones I can remember to hand), which have genuinely been put forward as credible reasons why HS2 shouldn’t be built:

          Wild boar
          Dead people in cemetery
          Pear tree
          Noise whilst walking dog on footpath
          Encroaching on hunting territory
          View from window/garden

            • Such as…

              1 Lack of capacity.
              2 Passenger growth
              3 Freight transport needs
              4 Known green transportation method
              5 Reduced dependence on fossil fuels
              6 No new runways in the London area
              7 revenue return for the government

            • Ok, crystal ball time. In 15-20 years time How many electric cars with zero tailpipe emissions will be on the road? How many electric buses and trucks with new battery technology? I’ll take a guess and say a lot more than there is now. And guess what , they can travel anywhere in the UK. And on existing road networks. As for rail capacity how about dumping 1st class travel. That should free up a few seats. Chiltern rail done it years ago.

            • Probably no more fanciful by some of the reasons why it should be built…

              Don’t argue for the sake of it. Concede the point that those are silly reasons to not build HS2 and move on.

              Ok, crystal ball time.

              You people spend way too much time in front of your crystal balls I’m afraid. HS2 requirements are based on information we have now such as usage and trends, population growth figures etc, not wild speculation about technology. In the same way there is zero evidence that the internet is slowing the demand for rail travel, you have no idea whatsoever where battery technology will be at in two decades time, and even if it’s wonderful, so what? How does swapping one type of car for another deal with rail capacity issues?

              how about dumping 1st class travel?

              Oh right I see. That’s rail capacity issues for the next century sorted out then. Terrific.

              BTW, if this is the stuff I don’t get or aren’t listening to that you lost your rag about, it’s probably because I generally don’t consider people guessing at things to be good enough arguments. Sorry about that.

          • you forgot armageddon and concrete bombs and all the nuclear powerplants that are going to be built in the chilterns. or even that electric trains damage childrens health. scaremongering at its worst

            and before anyone criticises me, these commenst have been made on this blog on several occasions.

    • Well if you check the latest Public Performance Measure punctuality stats, you’ll find the two least punctual train operators in the country are East Coast and Virgin Trains, and neither is being too subtle about making it known that infrastructure failures are to blame.

      Given that the East Coast route was subject to a ‘line of route’ upgrade about 20 years ago and the West Coast much more recently at a staggering £9bn (a mere £7bn over budget *guffaw*), this doesn’t bode too well for either of these routes serving as our principal north-south axes in another 25 years. That dilemma is exacerbated by the recent trend growth in rail travel, and HS2 Ltd’s forward projection of 1.9% pa is extremely modest by recent increases (5%+ on WCML).

      • NickK …the West Coast much more recently at a staggering £9bn (a mere £7bn over budget *guffaw*)

        Using the same percentage for overrun for HS2 construction, could this be an omen of things to come …. or do you believe that costs will be so tightly managed, that this project will come in on budget. No guffaw from me.

        • Just to clarify……the original £2bn pound budget was actually planned by Railtrack back in the 90s…..a key part of this was the introduction of moving block technology which would allow trains to run a lot quicker. However, the technology at the time was not deemed mature enough, and would have breeched the safety case.

          Post Hatfield, it was realised that the infrastructure in general needed a lot more work than was originally envisaged, and revised costings were put in place which would allow 140mph running. As these plans progressed, the costs looked like they were going to soar to around £13bn to achieve a line speed which would allow Pendolinos to run at 140mph, so the plans were scaled back and costs came down to around £9bn. The results of that we see today……high frequency service which runs at the speed the infrastructure allows. Despite not quite achieving what was originally planned, the WCML has seen record number of passengers, the London to Manchester route has seen the biggest growth point to point of any route in the UK, and shows no sign of slowing down. There was never any actual cost overuns……as the project was scaled back to fit the budget allowed for…

          The budget for HS2 is £33bn……whether that is too much or too little , none of us on here are in a position to comment. It is spread out over many years. I dont know how the budget breaks down by element, but an educated guess would lead me to believe that a good portion of it relates to the first few mile or so of the route….ie Euston redevlopment, and the tunnels between their and Old Oak Common. If the plan was changed to just start the line at Old Oak Common ( which was mooted originally ), then the cost may well drop significantly.

          • “Breached”,Gary,not trousered.It would be heartening to read that safety and comfort were a top priority for rail travel,rather than speed and profit.

            • Yes I know Peter…..no spellchecker on here…..and I need some new glasses as well.

              Shinkansen is recognised as having high comfort levels, and there has never been a single passenger or track worker fatality in its history. Doesnt stop people committing suicide though.

            • Encouraging details about the Bullet Train,Gary,though I believe one of them overshot a station some time ago.Accidents will happen.In a recent letter to the press from a correspondent in Sheffield,he comments on the disruption caused on the ECML over the Bank Holiday weekend by de-wirements of the overhead cable,blamed on the unusually wide supporting masts,but,more significantly,the extreme cost-cutting pressure from the DfT.

            • Peter ……the recent bank holiday issue on the ECML was actually caused by a tree falling on to the line, the branches became entangled in the pantograph of a passing train, which caused significant damage. All 4 lines were closed, passengers transfered to St Pancras or Euston where possible.

              BBC radio Sheffield were later quoted as mis reporting the incident to their listeners, after advising that passengers could still travel , but on First Hull Trains only.

              The ” no vegetation ” that HS2 state will avoid this sort of problem when it is built…..there have been a number of incidents of falling trees on the classic network, as well as the one I describe, there was one last year in Lavington ,Wiltshire, which significantly damaged a First Great Western service.

            • True,Gary.I’d forgotten that.However,if proper maintenance had been carried out,and the trees pruned,that would probably have been averted.It doesn’t exonerate the DfT.Recent examples have emerged on the London Underground since a recent derailment,of safety reports being ignored.Bob Crowe considers it a disaster waiting to happen. A “no-vegetation” policy is really unnecessary if it’s kept to small shrubs and grass,which Nature will provide for nothing.However,they won’t want to maintain it. Incidentally,on a recent trip from Stoke-on-Trent on the Pendolino,I noticed how the train,very sensibly,slowed down as it passed residential properties close to the line.Reaching open country it speeded up and arrived on time.No such re-assurances have been given by HS2Ltd,and,in fact,an ARUP engineer,at the Shepherd’s Bush roadshow pointed out how quickly the new trains would accelerate from Old Oak Common.Between there and Ruislip are many houses.Again,Speed is of the essence,not safety.

            • Peter…if a train slows down , it will be because of a speed restiction on the line, not because of the proximity to houses. Motorways have a speed limit of 70mph no matter how close they are to homes…..the M60 in Bury being a classic example ( use Google maps and you can see just how close homes are to the road ).

              Have a look at the ORR reports on safety….they show an ever increasing line downwards of incidents. The RAIB was set up as a recommendation from the Ladbroke Grove public inquiry.

              Is this the same Bob Crow that screams blue murder at government spending cuts……and yet was awarded a 12% pay rise?

            • Yes,Gary.I would say that speed limits SHOULD be in force in built up areas as railways aren’t subject to the same restrictions as roads.Statistically ,they’re safer,but we’re talking about ultra-high speeds here,and very high volume.When Network Rail re-fenced the boundary recently on our patch, they removed the access gate,so,in the event of a derailment,emergency services would be severely hampered.The new line would also be very close to the heavily used Central Line .

            • Peter ….High Speed Rail is designed with emergency access in mind, the ” cess ” which will be buit in ( as per HS2 plans ) will take emergency vehicles should the need arise – the Channel Tunnel has an access tunnel running parallel. Derailments are rare, but are recoverable by rail vehicle. HS2 will have no level crossings ( which are the biggest cause of incidents on todays network ) and no public right of way across any of it. The line is rightly being designed to take rolling stock that could deliver up to 400 kph, in reality the trains probably wouldnt reach that speed from the beginning.

            • No plans are mentioned in the documents,Gary,to include access here .Derailment may well be rare,but “recoverable by rail vehicle”?Not if it lands in my back garden. As I’ve mentioned before,there’s a 10m.p.h. speed limit on this section owing to subsidence(on clay) and its effect on the track geometry.A great deal of work would need to be done before they could run hs2 ,and what is unacceptable is that no ground surveys have been carried out. Though I daresay they’ve consulted with Network Rail on their remedial work so far..

            • John Webber says:
              May 11, 2011 at 1:28 am

              GOOD NEWS on this point

              Talking with the senior engineer at the Aylesbury Exhibition today, I established that the THREAT of a TWENTY FIVE METRE “VEGETATION FREE ZONE each side of the track bed is NO MORE.

              The twin tracks lie on a ballasted bed (not concrete, except in tunnels)
              The track centres are “up to 5 metres apart.”

              The masts supporting the power lines are “up to 11.5m.” apart, on either side of the rails.

              The WHOLE FORMATION is within the fenced strip “up to 22m” wide; this strip includes an access/ emergency road to one side.

              Here we go peter…senior engineer actually told us this in Aylesbury

            • Not quite sure why it unacceptable that ground surveys have been carried out……is the area known for mining subsidence ?

            • Peter, I agree with you that it is unacceptable that no ground surveys have been carried out. Especially with the subsidence issues you mention.

            • Joanne….can you higlight the relevant legislation which HS2 Ltd are contravening by not carrying out ground surveys up to this point in time? Bear in mind that 24% of residents of Great Missenden are employed in Real Estate…….

              Peter….subsidence is an occupational hazard on our current rail network……its one of the biggest contributors to TSRs. Localised track subsidence are known as ” voids “. The newish Network Rail Measurement train ( a concerted HS125) covers the entire network in 2 weeks checking geometry. It recently visited HS1 for the first time. Voids are dealt with by tampers. As far as I m aware , there are no records of a train disappearing down a hole, though that was nearly the case a while ago when floodwater scoured the abutement of a rail bridge in Kent causing a sudden fail. The driver of the train ( which was in the middle of the night ) reported high vertical movement of his unit….a track team discovered a significant hole in the ballast , though the track was intact. Network Rail were taken to task recently by the ORR about the recording of bridge conditions. Of course any bridges and viaducts on HS2 will be brand new, and as such operating under ” guarentee “…..not sure of the length of time though.

            • Asking other people to do your homework again, Gary? If the legislation is relevant to my discussion with Peter, why don’t you search it out for us?

            • I ve no idea myself Joanne….but you seem to think its unacceptable that no ground surveys have been carried out. Of course you could take HS2 to task about it if they are contravening known legislation…..are they ? Of course you could do the same as me and say you have no idea…..but like I said, I m pretty sure all those Real Estate employees in Great Missenden would have picked up on this already and hung them up to dry. It would seem to be a very good point in stopHS2s favour if that was the case would it not ? And didnt we have someone one here earlier who actually said that stopHS2 were not ” scoring enough points ” so to speak??

              If they have done wrong , I dont mind myself writing to them and saying you aint playing fair….but I ve no idea myself like I said….

              I do know that the Chiltern Society themselves commissioned a survey on the geology of the area and how it would be affected by tunnels……Im no geologist, but it appears that water supply issues arise..

            • about the checking about the chalk areas water levels i was told at the road show that no drilling had been done to check because people would think that they had started to build the railway!

          • Gary, you seem like a bright lad. Fancy coming down to the big smoke for a job sometime? Im sure they
            Could use your brains down here.

            • Thanks,Joanne.I’ve been told that companies will not spend money on surveys,until Parliament gives the go-ahead.Hence HS2’Ltd’s reluctance or inability to answer significant questions.On the subject of abandonment of wide no-vegetation zones,I take it with a pinch of salt,as “experts” at the roadshows have given contradictory information,even on data on their own websites! You may have noticed that Ruislip residents close to the line have been informed that their gardens will be taken away,and given back after construction.With,or without trees?I was told that work could be carried out within the existing railway land.You pays your money,and you takes your choice.Except that we don’t seem to have a choice.

        • Like I said John…..none of us are in a position to know. Of course there is still a long way to go before a decision is made, and my own view is that the southern tip of this will be revised. Network Rails own RUS for the WCML south of Milton Keynes suggests that the current slow lines ( ie the local commuter routes ) into Euston would actually be better linking into Crossrail, thus bypassing the need for passengers to use the tube.

  2. Siemens is part owner of Transrapid, so they are in a “win win” for the future, with interests in both HSR and Maglev.
    At the moment, HSR is more profitable for them, so they are holding back Maglev.
    A Maglev line to Birmingham airport would make the travailing time about 30mins, so it is possible that the airport could services London.

    I had know idea teachers had such business exploits outside the classroom.
    It seems all very greedy to me, an selfish to put business before the people.

    As for the pan-European question, Britain needs a transportation solution for the British public, not greedy businesses.

    • Bless you Luke ….u keep trying…..

      The teachers thing is their pension fund……which will have other interests as well, just like all other pension funds.

    • By the way….whats happened to this site…..all of a sudden everything is appearing in italics…..??

  3. Are the editors of this site sure they really meant to include this article because it merely highlights the commercial arguments supporting the development of HS2 as an logical extension of the burgeoning pan-European High Speed Rail network?

    The article author poses the not unreasonable question “What wouldn’t Deutsche Bahn do to get involved with HS2?

    Perhaps this piece from Midlands TV answers this question – towards the end of the piece, there is specific reference to extending the forthcoming Frankfurt/Amsterdam > London service up to Birmingham, when HS2 comes into service.

    If you ask me this is just another sound reason supporting HS2

    • Interesting article . Deutsche Bahn telling us why we need High Speed trains ( see below ) .

      “Frankfurt to Birmingham might be 6 hours” . This is predominantly a business route ( I fly it half a dozen times a year with flybe ) and there is no chance that I would take the train instead .

      We have offices in Cologne and Frankfurt and the staff definitely do take the train between offices rather than fly . You article says the time is 70 minutes , 2 minutes faster than the current quickest Birmingham to Euston journey !

      We’ve dealt with the environmental claims , we’ve dealt with need for 250 mph trains ( not needed in this compact country ) , we are dealing with the capacity question . The next thing will be connectivity with Europe and that ain’t all its made out to be either .

      • @MartinH: “Frankfurt to Birmingham might be 6 hours” . This is predominantly a business route ( I fly it half a dozen times a year with flybe ) and there is no chance that I would take the train instead .

        Horses for courses @MartinH?

        At relatively short notice I had to travel to Frankfurt on business earlier this year and I hate flying – I’ll avoid flying whenever feasible and I also favour rail over short haul air on environmental grouds – I actively sought out a rail based solution and the only reason I ended up flying was down to convenience – travelling from Manchester meant I couldn’t get there and back within the set number of days – rail was actually cheaper overall (cheap airfares aren’t generally available if you have to travel at less than 48 hours notice). If HS2 had been in-situ and direct routes to the continent on offer, rail would have been both practical and cheaper – a no brainer choice in fact.

        I’ll keep saying this but once the DB service between London and Frankfurt/Amsterdam starts running we’ll find out just how big a myth the four hour air vs rail threshold really is?

        • Peter , I honestly don’t know what you mean by Horses for courses @MartinH ? Like you said you don’t like flying so you would take the train wherever you could . Fair enough . There is no way I would take a 6 hour train journey if I could take a 2 hour flight from a local airport . Maybe that’s just me but I don’t think so . Cost would play a part but don’t expect this expensive railway to have cheap fairs . The current Virgin peak service ( which includes most of the morning and a big chunk of the afternoon ) costs £ 130 just for a trip to London from Coventry . If WCML and HS2 were to be franchised separately that would add some competition but that looks rather unlikely . Also the airlines will respond just like the ferry companies did .

          I hadn’t actually heard of the 4 hour threshold but now you come to mention it ……

          • @Martin H

            How about, “it takes all sorts” same underlying message

            I note you’re trying to massage the figures to support your argument

            “There is no way I would take a 6 hour train journey if I could take a 2 hour flight from a local airport .”

            Actually it will nearer 5.5 hours city centre platform to city centre platform and your 2 hour flight isn’t really two hours at all is it – when you add in the journey times to the airport, check in and security/passport procedures at departure point and arrival procedures/transfer to city centre at destination it’s more like four hours (if your lucky and don’t encounter any delays). So in fact the time differential is not as great as you imply and given the vastly superior travelling environment I think you’ll quickly find that the majority of travellers opt for the train – certainly the clever people at DB seem to think so – otherwise why would they be investing millions (probably more like billions actually) in High Speed Rail?

            The evidence to date supports my argument

            Whenever rail is provided with a level playing field to compete head to head against short haul air, rail wins every single time!!!

            • Calm down Peter I am not massaging anything . The 6 hours journey time is exactly what was quoted on the BBC Midlands report for Birmingham to Frankfurt so the journey from Manchester will be a little longer . Perhaps I should have said a 2 hour flight from a local airport even allowing for a bit of hanging around at the airport . You will know that the journey ( by train ) from Frankfurt Airport to Hauptbahnhof takes just a few minutes .

              An example of “massaging” is putting a made up round sum figure of £ 3 bn for “Agglomeration” into the HS2 Economic Case . Likewise pretending that all time spent on a train is unproductive . I’m sure you don’t think that since you would be keen to spend 6 hours or so on one .

              Ask yourself why Birmingham Airport is in favour of HS2 . I know it wants to be known as London fifth airport ( I’m sure that Ryanair would fly to ” London Birmingham Airport ” ) but if it was seriously worried about losing a big chunk of its existing business to rail it wouldn’t . Tell me I’m wrong but I don’t hear Manchester Airport quaking in its boots .

              I do agree with you that giving a level playing field rail will beat air . It’s just that the level playing field only stretches about as far as Paris .

          • @MartinH says: “Cost would play a part but don’t expect this expensive railway to have cheap fairs”

            Funny you should mention the cost of fares?


            49€ (£42.50) for a one way ticket (already available by the way, I know because it was the price quoted to me by DB’s ticket office when I was enquiring about train services to Frankfurt earlier this year) doesn’t sound like it’s going to break the bank – so not really a rich man’s railway at all?

            • Rail fares in general are a real can of worms – I ve never seen anything as confusing !! A fare was quoted of £130 for Coventry to London for a peak day return further up……it is somewhat perverse you can buy a 7 day season ticket on the same journey for pretty much the same price !!

            • @MartinH: I do agree with you that giving a level playing field rail will beat air . It’s just that the level playing field only stretches about as far as Paris

              From the nature of your comments it seems you’ve already bought into the mythical status of the four hour air vs rail threshold?

              I’m not really bothered about the rationale behind Birmingham Airport and its support for HS2.

              However, what I am concerned with is connectivity as a mechanism to drive economic growth (watch the video?) and a more equitable distribution of growth and prosperity across the rest of the UK. HS2 helps to deliver that long term goal – I can understand the antipathy of those few thousand individuals who are genuinely adversely impacted, due to their very close proximity to the preferred route, by the construction of HS2 – they should be generously compensated – but this debate, despite the best efforts of the anti-HS2 brigade to promote their campaign of disinformation, boils down to the advantages accruing to millions weighed against the disadvantages suffered by a few thousand – it really is no contest.

            • Peter , sorry if this all comes out in the wrong order , we seem to be running out of ” reply ” buttons . Maybe admin are trying to tell us something .

              Quick straw poll of my 3 German MDs this morning ( admittedly not a scientific survey ) . They are based in Cologne , Frankfurt and Berlin respectively . For journeys between Cologne and Frankfurt they always use the train as I mentioned before . However for journeys from Frankfurt or Cologne to Berlin ( or vice versa ) none of them would consider using the train . In fact they thought I was a bit mad to even ask the question .

              Frankfurt to Berlin takes a whopping 4 hours 19 mins . Their view is that anything much over 2 hours each way would preclude a round trip on a single day . They might go as high as 2.5 to 3 hours if they were going for several days stay .

              From seeing familiar faces on the return flybe flight to Birmingham I would guess ( again not scientifically ) that probably half of the people flying to Frankfurt come back on the same day . I guess that flight is safe .

              I could believe that leisure travellers might be prepared to travel for a little longer than my German business colleagues so yes I could buy the 4 hour rule .

              One of the inconsistencies that troubles me about the Pro HS2 argument is this . If journey times of 2 hr 8 minutes are so terrible for travellers from Manchester to London how come 6 hr journeys to Frankfurt are fine .

              On a positive note , the thousands of people effected by the the line will be very pleased about your comments on generous compensation . They would be grateful if you and friends would fill in your consultation returns accordingly — preferably paying at least a portion out before 2026 by which time they might have died .

            • @MartinH

              Your straw poll is just that – entirely unscientific and coloured by your own viewpoints on this matter

              Fact is Germany is investing heavily in High Speed Rail networks because they fully understand their value and the positive impact they can have in fostering economic growth.

              In terms of travel time, yes of course there is a point where the contest between short haul air and rail tips in favour of air but I believe that threshold is higher than you might like to believe. Travellers will tend to put up with a slightly longer overall travel time, perhaps up to 90mins, if there environment is far superior and reliability is better (and HSR beats short haul air hands down on that front)

              The travel time between Frankfurt to Berlin is due to shrink when the new line between Erfurt and Halle comes into operation so perhaps some of those MDs you sampled will soon be changing their business travel arrangements, despite your assurances to the contrary?

            • Peter , straw poll – yes , coloured by my own views – actually not on this occasion .

              You seem to know quite a lot about the mighty Deutsche Bahn , not connected are you ?

              My MDs will continue to fly unless the time comes down by a couple of hours which I’m doubting .

              Of course Germany has got a real incentive to build very fast lines ( although at 200 mph still well short of what Hammond is suggesting ) . Reverting back to Wikipedia reminds me that Germany is almost 3 times as big as England ( sorry Mr Salmond ) and the population is much less concentrated . It also makes the trains so has got a powerful lobby group .

              On the same subject Spain and France are just under and just over 4 times the size of England respectively .

              So faster speeds might be a “nice to have” but for many people , and not just the ones looking for compensation , it isn’t worth the hit to the balance of payments , national debt and the permanent damage to the rural landscape .

              Easier and quicker access into and out of Europe might also be a “nice to have” but ultimately won’t make that much difference to the grand picture . Go back to the stance of Birmingham and Manchester Airports .

            • @MartinH

              Under the slightest pressure I see you’re reverting to type – anyone vaguely positive about HS2 must have something to gain financially mustn’t they – why else would they be in favour?

              How about, they understand the bleedin’ obvious, which is the fact that the benefits of HS2 far outweigh the disadvantages – yes of course there are some downsides to HS2, which those in very close proximity to the proposed route will be impacted by. Yes I believe that people genuinely impacted by HS2 should receive generous compensation but unlike the propaganda spewed out by the anti-HS2 brigade those individuals will number a few thousand at most, not the hundreds of thousands claimed.

              Your comments are permeated with the same introverted, isolationist (Britain as a “small” island) sentiment, commonplace in this site and others like it. Perceived as a wholly domestic concept, High Speed Rail doesn’t really work but HS2 and the creation of a comprehensive HSR network across the rest of the UK is NOT an exclusively UK domestic project. Not sure about others here but the very last place I’ll be travelling to on any HSR service originating in my Region (NW.England), is London!. The distances between the peripheral English Regions, Scotland and the rest of mainland Europe mean that HSR provides a credible and effective alternative to unsustainable short-haul airborne links. The sooner we have them, the better!

              On the matter of travelling habits amongst German business élites, come back in ten years time when the network has expanded even further and more internal flights across Germany are being replaced by rail-borne competitors?

              So in reality, linking the rest of the UK into an emerging pan-European HSR network isn’t something just “nice to have”. In fact it’s an essential adjunct to providing the relatively impoverished Regions of Britain, outside the more affluent London/SE area, with the economic tools it needs to thrive in the 21st century. HS2 is not a cost; it’s an investment for the future!

          • on the other hand you can travel off peak workington to welwyn for £106. still expensive but shows a variety of fares available. pity it is so difficult to get the right fares information sometimes.

  4. I too am confused by the point of this piece. On the whole this looks positive for the government in planning for a radical change in the way we travel throughout the country. God forbid that the government should plan for the future.

    It seems to me that critics who perhaps live close to London are annoyed that a new runway at Heathrow was cancelled in favour of HS2. Lets not forget it was a government policy that forced the cancellation of the runway not public opinion. If Labour had of gotten into power then the runway WOULD of gone ahead. It was all there in the party manifesto before the election. Runway or HS2.

    When HS2 is linked up to the UK major airports which allows better international interconnectivity the business case for HS2 improves dramatically. Are we saying that business people should not be allowed the choice of which mode of transport they use or which airport they fly from?!

    This just smacks of a badly worded conspiracy theory that instead of making the government look bad it actually makes the case for HS2 and it’s international connections.

    More freight by rail? Yes please, 1000 tonnes or 50 lorries on each train.

    • isnt the 3rd runway in Hammonds constituency and he told them he would oppose it for them.Hense pushing Hs2

  5. I agree with Jack. Surely it is a good thing that Birmingham Airport could relieve South Eastern hubs like Heathrow, and HS2 could help transport freight? This can go hand in hand with relieving capacity on WCML. It doesn’t necessarily follow that just because there are other benefits, it means that capacity is not an issue. Thanks for helping to highlight that there are lots of positives to building HS2!

  6. Thanks for the free publicity – you make it sound like we are trying to hide the unique benefits of Birmingham Airport! Please do tell your friends and family how accessible we already are to most of the UK, and how much better it could get!

    You can find out most of what you have quoted on our website http://www.birminghamairport.co.uk

    As we’ve always said, HS2 will put us in the equivalent of Zone 4. It will also free up the classic route so that the many people from Coventry, Northampton, Milton Keynes and many others to the north, can come to Birmingham by train.

    Or would you rather they took the car?

    Birmingham Airport already has permission to take nearly 30 million passengers, with only 9 million coming today. Using scarce resources is a great idea.

    Or would you rather build more airports and runways instead of using what you have?

    Birmingham Airport supports HS2 but not at any cost. Those affected must be compensated and mitigated.

    Someone has to get the growth. But whoever gets it gets jobs too. The positives outweigh the negatives.

    We need to plan for the UK’s transport needs in 20 or 30 years time; using petro-chemicals only where there is no alternative. High Speed Rail is uniquely ready to accept power from a variety of renewable and new energy sources – as well as the emerging Hydrogen economy and, like it or not, Nuclear power.

    Or would you rather that we gave up being a cvilised and industrialised country?

    I want to see an equitable solution, but trying to create some kind of conspiracy theory where one doesn’t exist doesn’t seem to be a very mature way of campaigning for mitigation. This is hardly ‘Edge of darkness’ !

    • I.ve had a look at your website and you seem to have excellent train links and indeed your page on how to get there by train says so!
      What are you claiming HS2 will give you that justifies massive expenditure and irreperably damaging communities.

    • John , aren’t you worried that HS2 will take some of your business ? If you aren’t is that because you don’t think it will do you much damage or because you think an associated company will be running it ?

      PS ) I think Birmingham Airport is great ( with 1 runway ) and use it all the time ( including tomorrow ) !

    • My issue is with the technology, HSR was developed in the 60’s, we do need to plan for transport needs in 20 or 30 years time, but by that time HSR as a technology would be 70 or 80 years old, hardly cutting edge.

      I think it is a great idea to link London with Birmingham airport, and I am all in favour of it, but the link shouldn’t be continental gauge rail.
      Of course I do enjoy Maglev, and so I think that would do much for Birmingham airport, it has done much for Shanghai becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction, and what better way to impress business associates then to fly 1cm over a monorail track at 300mph?
      It would do so much for Birmingham airport.

      • Maglev did do wonders for Birmingham Airport for 11 years Luke…..until it was scrapped in 1995 due to reliability issues.

        • The technology has moved on since the days of Prof. Laithwaite, Transrapid is German perfection of a British invention, is it really so far-fetched to think that it could return the Birmingham airport?
          HS2 is not specificity designed for Birmingham airport, it is just 1 stop on the way, a dedicated Maglev line would bring it within 30mins of London, that’s comparable to the time it takes to reach Heathrow or Gatwick.
          What about other airports that are not on the HS2 plans like Luton, even Bristol airport is not much further the Birmingham.
          HS2 tries to be all uncompressing, but it doesn’t accomplish anything, for the price of HS2, 2 Maglev links to two different airports could be built, and that is a lot better then untold environmental damage and an undedicated line to 1 airport with only 20mins time saving.

  7. Some interesting points raised, which tie in with DBS’s submission to the Transport Select Committee on HS2. But on this occasion I am sure many in the rail industry would share local residents’ concerns about the use of HS2 by conventional trains. Simply put, slow and heavy freight trains and high speed passenger services do not mix, and it is no coincidence that DBS’s use of HS1 is one of very few (if any) such projects in the world.

    HS1, of course, is underused due to reasons beyond the reasonable control of the railway industry (ie. the onerous and byzantine Channel Tunnel safety rules and the equally onerous security and border control regulations). It is therefore little surprise that the industry is seeking more ways to use the capacity available, including freight, and that unfortunately Southeastern high speed passengers have been forced to foot some of the bill. The root causes of this situation are, it is generally accepted, of no relevance to the purely domestic HS2.

    While HS2 would provide continental gauge access to Birmingham, the issue of reaching terminals remains a major challenge in terms of funding the significant infrastructure work to allow UIC gauge wagons to use the UK network; DBS would need lots of long term contracts in place to fund that work I suspect. Add to that the likely higher access charges for using HS2 and the limited paths available (ie. at night), and it’s hard to imagine this coming to fruition. The mass uptake of the W10 gauge profile to allow larger ocean-going containers on the conventional network continues apace however, and the planned container port at London gateway now under construction will provide ample intermodal traffic onto the southern part of the WCML, in addition to the significant freight flows serving Daventry’s DIRFT.

    In addition, there are issues of track cant, wheel wear, noise and catenary design that all mitigate against conventional freight using HS2 on a long term basis; the line needs to be optimised for a typical running speed of c330 km/h with a broadly similar fleet of trains; it’s most likely DB will ultimately see the opportunity of running through services to Europe as a far more lucrative commercial goal.

  8. Whatis your point here?

    The Government is looking at some joined up thinking for a change?

    It means no more airport development and no runways at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted.

    Birmingham Airport has just opened a new terminal that can look after another 20 million passengers.

    If Airport passengers help the case for hsr, what is your problem?

    Or would you rather we all lived in caves?

    • Jack , I think the point is quite simple .

      The opponents of HS2 are called NIMBYs . They are accused of having a vested interest in the debate or , at best , having their objectiveness compromised .

      However there are many companies and people who stand to make big bucks out of HS2 . Just follow the money every time . This pot of money is bigger than most .

      Civil engineers ( perhaps the like of Mott MacDonald ) , construction companies ( perhaps the like of Laing O’Rourke ) , German / Chinese train manufacturers , train operators ( and yes that will include Deutche Bahn , they are huge and into everything ) . Add in the NEC and Birmingham Airport if you like . Birmingham and Solihull councils who can see extra business rates if companies relocate from Wolverhampton and Coventry .

      These people are privately or publicly lobbying for the scheme and , given the money at stake , who can blame them . But let me polite and say their objectiveness is compromised .

      On the subject of airport development . Why is a new runway at Heathrow bad but OK at Birmingham ? ( because that will be the next thing ) .

      PS . No need to live in a cave .

      • And lets not forget D Bahn are also the owners of Chiltern Railways, who are investing millions via the Evergreen Project on improving services in areas such as Aylesbury , Great Missenden, and Ruislip.

          • Why would they ? They are a German company with worldwide interests. Of course if you want to share in the profits, you can always purchase shares, in much the same way you can purchase shares in First Group who are based in Aberdeen , but have significant interests in the USA and Canada.

            Of course to generate profits, they have to invest in the first place. Investment usually means jobs somewhere along the line ( pardon the pun )

        • You sidestep several points in my earlier post.Before bailing out the failing banks,the previous government was borrowing too heavily,hence the coalition’s attempts to address the serious deficit .Experts will argue indefinitely as to how successful that approach will be.The IMF also point out that inflation is a serious issue.As Bernard Shaw wisely said:”If all economists were laid end to end,they would not reach a conclusion.” As a mere layman,I simply point out the contrast between severe cuts to the public sector which will adversely affect the more vulnerable in our society,and,at the same time,proposing a service for the rich. It was good to learn that you don’t have a credit card,however.At least we can agree about something!

          • Peter … we could argue all day about the rights and wrongs of current economic policies, spending cuts are nothing new. The reality nowadays however is that most of us are a lot wealthier than 30 years ago when Thatchers government took charge after a disastrous few years. Currently there is little distinction between political parties , its no suprise we have a hung parliament. So whoever is in charge will always have the distinction of displeasing someone. You may argue that previous Government was spending too much prior to the banking crisis, but the flip side of that coin was that the nation got a whole raft of new hospitals and schools etc ( including one at the back of my house ). And if you dont like who is in charge, you can always vote them out at an election ….its democracy in action, some countries dont have that luxury. This country must be doing something right….we seem to get more people applying to live here than those wanting to leave….

            • Gary,of course I’m pleased about new hospitals and schools.We have a new one here,which is yet to be paid for.I suppose it’s an impossible dream to hope that governments,or many people in today’s world could learn to live within their means,and accept that many things are not affordable.Easy credit,and insupportable mortgages have been part of the problem.Some may be better off,but the gap between rich and poor widens.The government front bench of multi-millionaires have little experience of the pain we’re all invited to share.

          • part of the reasons for the recession were fundamental issues or energy use and sustainability that need to be addressed. the quadrupling of the price of oil in 2008 precipitated the fall of the world economy which was stacked like a deck of cards and the old domino effect took hold !

            if we do not solve the issues of banks, financial institutions and address energy problems and yes reduce long term debt there is nothing to stop 2008 being repeated. we have to use less energy and use more renewables and have to bear in mind the problems of global warming, or if you dont believe that, the huge levels of worldwide pollution which costs the world economy billions and damage health.

            so if we accept the premiss that by and large people will travel as they do now we need to move people in the least polluting way possible which is where the electric train comes into view along the platform. in the uk only an average of 5% of all travel is by rail, the majority is by single occupant passenger cars. so to get to even 10% you need to double rail capacity.

            so even if overall travel shrinks you still need more rail passengers if you want to reduce emissions. whilst it is true that hs2 has higher emissions then does slower rail, it is also true that hs2 emits less per passenger than do cars. we also need higher rail speeds to encourage less car use. and existing lines can use the capacity hs2 releases for further passenger trains and more freight.

            hs1 is now carrying nearly 17 million international and domestic passengers and this is set to expand in the coming years. it has also been calculated that the economy has benefitted considerably from hs1.

      • I thought the country was supposed to be cutting down on co2 emmissions no chance of meeting any of those targets with all this talk of more and more air travel .video conferencing is the way forward other wise there will be no future.

        • teleconferencing etc is fine but we have it now and still have a lot of people travelling. the population will also increase in the future so even if a smaller percentage travel the numbers may be the same.

          also what about people going on holidays. the tourism sector is very important for this country and creates jobs and brings huge sums into the economy. now i am all for people in the uk staying here and spending their money here but how ill teleconferencing help people travelling for leisure or seeing relatives ? are we all expected to stay at home and go on a virtual holiday or never see our friends and relatives ?

          we should put resources into technology to reduce commuting to work but we cant guarantee that people will not want to travel. therefore we need to ensure that when we do travel that we do so with the least polluting method of transport which is electric rail and to encourage tansfer from road and air where possible.

          expanding birmingham airport might help if it took some strain off heathrow as a lot of pollution is caused by planes held up on runways awaiting a slot. also if more flights went from birmingham people in the north would not have to travel to london to fly. heathrow is quite convenient for the airlines but isnt ideally situated for their passengers !

    • And who is paying for this piece of Infrastructure – Joe Taxpayer. And who is standing to get that dough – big business -nice transfer

      And why don’t we want Heathrow to be developed ? because Phillip Hammond is keeping it out of his constituency.

      • Peter …for your info, its being mooted that HS2 is going to be a state run rail. The current auction for the new West Coast Franchise ( 2012 ) has been put on hold. East Coast rail is currently state run…….and making a profit. The franchise system is subject of a review post Mcnulty report, so there is no clear definition just now.

        Interestingly , the rail union Aslef have expressed an interest in bidding for the East Coast franchise and running it as a workers co-operative. Watch this space, I ll fill you in on that as it evolves…..

          • I was actually replying to the other Peter , but hey there you go !!!

            A lot of stopHS2 campaigners have mentioned the ” sucking in ” of jobs to London if HS2 goes ahead. Not sure myself, but the link below from BBC news raises some interesting views , some of which I would subscribe to….


            Maybe its about time we all became farmers again…..UK imports over half its food !! There could well be a backlash around the corner when we start realising that a lot of us spend our working day in front of a PC. The ORR today sent me their annual report ( HS2 gets a mention ). What caught my eye was the sheer number ( nearly 300 ) of staff whose job would involve just such a scenario. These are funded by the rail industry, and ultimately, the fare paying passenger. High rail fares get a constant mention on here, but when you look at what they have to fund , its not suprising.

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