Yesterday, the BBC reported that there has been a huge growth in the number of people using branch lines.
The notable feature of this growth is that it is not faster journeys that make people want to use these branch lines: the BBC describes them as being “typically low-speed”, and says part of the growth is due to more reliable services making them of use for commuters.
There are numerous other proposals for branch lines – some quite major – which will benefit local travellors on local routes. These include NUCKLE (joining Nuneaton, Coventry, Kenilworth and Nuneaton), the Croxley link in Hertfordshire, the East West link, which could link Oxford and Bedford by train and many others. Some of these are subject to public inquiries, others have been quietly shelved for the moment.
However the HS2 proposal does not provide new connections, it merely duplicates existing railway lines between London and Birmingham. So why is HS2 getting so much support from the Secretary of State for Transport, but not these other links which provide genuinely new routes?