“High Speed Rail is going ahead” says the Lib Dem Travel Minister

As we’ve mentioned before, Norman Baker, the LibDem travel minister, has a remit for “non-travel”.

The aim of this remit is “to reduce travel” – that might seem obvious, but sometimes its worth checking these things.

In contrast, the business case for HS2 is based on a massive growth in demand for all types of travel.  And as well as a growth in demand for travel, they also expect that a quarter of the passengers using HS2 will only have decided to travel anywhere because someone has built the railway.

HS2 Ltd’s plans are in clear conflict with a non-travel agenda.

Like other Coalition ministers, Norman Baker has visited Oldham this week.  He went to a bus depot, and a train station and spoke to the local papers.

So why, with his remit for non-travel, did he say “High-speed rail is going ahead”?

The consultation on the UK’s high speed rail strategy has not even started.  If ministers are going to genuinely listen to the public, how can Norman Baker be so certain of the conclusion?

PS One of the commenters points out that flights between Manchester and City Airport are no longer scheduled – another example of a domestic air route which is no longer needed.

14 comments to ““High Speed Rail is going ahead” says the Lib Dem Travel Minister”
  1. the cost of london birmingham is £17 billion not £33 billion which is for the whole network

    the airline route was manchester london city per the article.

    wcml does have congestion and capacity issues which HS2 will greatly resolve

    wcml upgrade cost £9 billion or over £3 billion more than the new hs1 cost – so is not cost effective. there is a limit as to how many longer trains or platforms are possible. losing 1st class seats also loses 1st class revenue

    i dont know who is going to decide which of us can travel will we have a quota ?

    ordinary people will benefit directly and indirectly and i dont see any evidence from anywhere else that high speed trains are full of speed obsessed fat cats ! Such language doesnt help your case.

    I done agree with waste incinerators or nuclear power plants but where is energy to come from ?

    Finally, the journey time of 40 minutes for non stopping trains is not in any way farcical. phillip hammond said that the expected london birmingham time was 49 minutes or possibly less for non-stopping trains. trains will run at 240mph and it is 120 miles. current journey time was quoted at over 80 minutes.

    • thanks for the link it confirms what i am saying
      ” The cost for the whole scheme including rolling stock is said to be £33 billion. That includes a contingency for overruns and inflation” whole scheme being more thatn london – birmingham – £17billion or less

      • 1) the figures are all 2009 discounted rates. No allowance for inflation, no allowance for interest on loans. No allowance for a 2.4% VAT hike for that matter. The cost has to go up.

        2) We have had 3 route reallignments, but the cost hasn’t changed, up or down. How’s that work then?

        3) There is no engineered solution for the northern extension, but we know how much it will cost. Again, how’s that work then?

  2. Dear Nick, which domestic air route do you refer to please?

    Are you saying there are not any capacity or upgrading issues on the WCML?

    Why is upgrading the existing lines not cost effective? Can you explain why removing first class carriages, upgrading signalling to enable safer and quicker journeys, extending train platforms and trains are not options being considered or indeed Rail Package 2? Please detail your figures. I fear you looking only at the gross capital costs of construction as a stand alone project, which by the way, is one of the key problems with HS2.

    To be in the National Interest projects MUST not be based purely on capital cost, the social, economic and environment costs all have to be addressed. This is something David Cameron was very keen on prior to the election ie; green growth http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4917516.stm.

    I would remind you of the existing rail networks ability to deal entirely adequately with ash cloud crisis.

    I would suggest most of us are willing to travel less as STOP HS2 supporters do have a developed environmental conscience. One of the problems with HS2 is that it will not be carbon efficient compared to other forms of transport at the speed intended because of air resistance and subsequent fuel consumption. If you drop the speed the journey time increase makes the project unnecessary unless you still wish to address capacity not speed where it then does become possible to mitigate the route more effectively.

    Indeed STOP HS2 was involved in the Campaign Against Climate Change march in London in December and George Monbiot their honorary president is very clear he can not support HS2 on carbon grounds not does the green party.

    It is the Government’s job to discourage unnecessary travel. HS2 does entirely the opposite generating 1,000’s more journeys instead of what should be a priority for this country, local transport connectivity for local jobs. HS2 is completely environmentally irresponsible.

    Do you really think ordinary people will benefit from this train driven by the greed for speed that will service Fat Cats? Are you happy that huge investment is being spent on HS2 when existing transport schemes are being cut by 25% including 800 million so far since the spending review. Are you happy paying he fare increases we are seeing at the moment while HS2 Ltd wastes £1.2 million per month (via FOI) on running itself?

    You refer to sustainable energy and renewables. Are you aware two waste incinerator sites alongside the proposed route are currently going through planning and the operators have indicated they will be providing electricity to HS2? Are you aware we face an energy crisis in the UK and the load of HS2 will exacerbate this, potentially needing more nuclear power stations?

    You state we misquote the facts and figures. We do not. Please refer to the reports by experts in this subject on our facts page. The £17 billion refers ONLY to the construction cost; it does not include finance costs, compensation or rolling stock.

    Please prove your 40 minutes saving. That is a simply farcical statement and shows no examination of the detail, comparison with the benefits of improvements being carried out on existing lines, transfer times between stations and you are assuming any time saving has a value – again focusing on cost. Are you aware that the HS2 business case omits any time on the train spent from its figures – do you not see people working on trains.

    You criticise our detail. It is all on our website and publically available if you research it. Please do that.

  3. At least we can use the M1 and the M40. I don’t disagree with the points about capacity and journey time. I suspect that you might find a lot less people against a normal high speed train, like on the West Coast main line, travelling at 140 mph, on a track that follows the lie of the land and with intermediate stations so that people who live along the line of the route could actually use it. When what you need is a family car you don’t go out and buy a Ferrari!

  4. High Speed 1 was completed both on time and on budget. Going back to what the previous commenter said, why wouldn’t HS2?

    • Really? Can you back that statement up please. Even the Wikipedia entry details the financial and delivery difficulties of HS1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_1. You are aware that the taxpayer was forced to bail out the project details of which you will find here on an official goverment site http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/snbt-00267.pdf. HS1 lost this country billions of pounds and failed to deliver the project as originally intended due to the overambition. Half the rolling stock is in sidings due to lack of demand http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23830369-140mph-ashford-trains-cut-in-size-after-commuter-complaints.do. We have leased it to foreign company at a loss. HS1 is not a success it is a catastrophic financial failure.

      • thanks for the other links. the parliamentary on is most interesting. quote “the report predicts the total benefits to the economy of High Speed 1, which cost a total of £7.3bn including the new commuter services, will be more than £17.6bn over 60 years.” so a 10 billion pound gain over 60 years is “not a success it is a catastrophic financial failure.” how do you arrive at that ??

        german railways are planning direct services to hamburg and amsterdam and recently eurostar has announced it is greatly expanding its fleet. these will all provide revenue to hs1 and by extension hs2 for through services.

        as far as the kent services are conncerned some routes did not meet the expected numbers but that was not the only reason for taking some units out of service. they were modified to counter the criticisms of the poor ride.
        6.5 million people used the kent high speed services in the first year of service.

        on theone hand you criticize hs2 for potentially generating too many new journeys but for hs1 is seems the opposite viewpoint holds true for you. you also criticize hs2 by saying that it doesnt meet the wider socio economic benefit but for hs1 you then disegard those some benefits ie your catrastrophic financial failure !!!!

        • The economic benefits are 1) questionable 2) based on the predicted passenger figures, which are three times what the thing is actually carrying.

          There is no contradiction in what we are saying about new journeys. HS2 will create new journeys IF IT WORKS and the passenger figures can be trusted. HS1 shows that might not be the case

          • joe, you can always say that the figures are questionable, or that serious questions remain unanswered. that was the blueprint that sir humphrey used to counter and suggestions by jim hacker in Yes Minister ?

            but as I have said before can you prove that they are questionable. hs1 may not be carrying the predicted numbers yet but the numbers are building all the time. and the best way to improve the numbers would be let me think a high speed connection from hs1 to the rest of the country.

            it is difficult to predict patterns for the future as you say, but planning has to be done. also I dont see why the cost has to go up. the original figures already include a large percentage for any possible overruns anyway. and in any case these concerns apply to any large project.

            if people dont all work from home and reduce travelling and the trains become even more crowded and expensive, then we are looking at a future of more flights and more travel by car. i dont think we can take the chance on your scenario being more valid then any alternatives.

  5. the domestic air route is no longer needed because people are travelling by train because the west coast line was upgraded to provide faster speeds and more capacity – or in other words just like hs2 but less cost effective ! so it is proven that with sufficient capacity the railway can take traffic away from alternative modes which are in general more polluting on a like for like basis.

    also, how many of the people on this web site are willing to travel less ? how many who object to hs2 use the m1 and the m40 ? and do none of you do any jobs that cause pollution ie do none of you work for construction companies, builders etc ? in the years to come we will be generating far more electricity from renewables. i suspect that the environmental benefits are in fact undervalue by the government as was found to be the case with the california high speed figures.

    I have noticed that many of those agaist hs2 often misquote the expected cost, the reduction in journey time, the capacity benefits and the location of the birmingham terminal. if you are against the line because it will effect you then that is fair enough. but your case is made stronger by that and not by trying to stop the line for supposed other reasons which dont hold water. for example, the cost of the first leg is expected to be £17 billion not £35billion. and the time savings are 40 minutes on the first leg alone. and if you believe that these are incorrect then prove it !

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