I sometimes feel that enthusiasts for high speed can’t think of an alternative to building HS2. For instance, in the Channel 4 debate between Pete Waterman and Joe Rukin, Pete Waterman’s rationale for favouring it is “You can’t not build it; it’s as simple as that.”
But there are already several train routes between London and Birmingham, and today, Chiltern Railways’ new “Chilterns Mainline” service started between Birmingham Moor Street and London Marylebone after an upgrade.
Sure, it’s not high speed, but it has reduced the journey times on that particular route by about 30 minutes. 30 minutes is of course the same time saving as HS2 Ltd say will come from spending £17 billion spend of taxpayer’s money on just the first Phase of HS2 (excluding of course, the cost of designing and buying new trains). In comparison, the £250 million Chilterns Railway upgrade was paid for by private investment.
Sure, they’ve had to shut Marylebone for the last month, but for some reason, proponents of HS2 don’t seem to think HS2 Ltd’s suggested 8 year rebuild of Euston is problematic.
Maybe the real alternative that would serve the traveling public best is not a high speed, high cost HS2, but low cost options like upgrades to the existing rail network.