The Telegraph misleads further with pieces on High Speed Rail 2

9:45 am - January 7th 2013

by Tim Fenton    

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The Telegraph yesterday gave a platform to Tory MP Cheryl Gillan, who represents Chesham and Amersham, to rant freely about the HS2 project, which she calls a “Labour initiated folly” to “take a few minutes off the time of a journey to Birmingham (35 mins actually).

The rest of her scattergun analysis is similarly shaky. She asserts that the cost is “rising steeply”, although construction work has not yet started, and that the cost/benefit ratio of the project “should shame the Treasury into calling an immediate halt”, although this is estimated to be around 2.15 for the “Y network”, or an outlay of £30 billion bringing benefits of £64.5 billion, putting the return in the “high” category.

Moreover, her assertion that HS2 will not connect to HS1 is wrong, and the obsession with serving “our main hub airport” is bizarre (there’s no high speed line connecting to the main airports of Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Berlin, Munich, or Brussels, for instance).

But the Telegraph also knows that the project has been green lighted, and so also carried a piece informing readers where HS2 north of Birmingham is going to go.

Here, it is told that Sheffield will “lose out”, although a station will be located at Meadowhall, which is, er, in Sheffield, with good local rail connections to Doncaster, Hull, Barnsley and of course Sheffield city centre.

Elsewhere, the Telegraph is a little shaky on the route of HS2 to Manchester, asserting that it will go via Crewe, although my information is that it will pass to the north east of the town, with a parkway station close to the M6 for Stoke and the Potteries, and a spur to the Kidsgrove to Crewe line to allow HS2 services to serve Chester and Liverpool. And I’m not sure about that “Manchester Airport station” idea.

What David Millward’s article misses completely, to no surprise, is that HS2 will free up capacity on the existing network for regional passenger services, and most importantly, freight trains, these each taking dozens of lorry movements off the road network.

Moreover, freight traffic is a profitable business for the railway, which should find favour with politicians unhappy about rail subsidies.

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About the author
Tim is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more frequently at Zelo Street
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Reader comments

HS2 is a disgusting white elephant project that will rip up 100s of ancient forests and scar some of England’s most beautiful country side. It will also add to the nation’s bankruptcy all for the sake of a few minutes off a journey that probably isn’t even necessary. Eff HS2.

2. Richard Gadsden

The HS1-HS2 link is, for me, the entire point of HS2.

If someone (probably a consortium like Thalys) decides to build high-speed trains compatible with multiple national networks and with sleeper cars in, then it should be possible to get on a train in Manchester/Leeds in the evening and wake up a couple of thousand miles away – Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen are the obvious ones, as those are the sleepers that currently leave Paris at conventional speeds.

The main HS2 consultation document says on p19

“The focus has been on developing proposals for a safe and reliable railway, using proven European standards, technology and practice.

“Key aspects include:
• Speed: A line capable of up to 250 miles per hour but with a maximum train speed of 225 mph assumed at opening.
• Capacity: Up to 400 metre long trains with as many as 1,100 seats, and up to 14 trains per hour in each direction; developments in train control technology are expected to see that increase to 18 trains per hour on a wider network.”

Nobody in the world is currently running 14 trains an hour – the Japanese only run 12.
No one is even considering running 18.

Taxpayers have already been saddled with a £4.8bn debt from the Channel Tunnel high-speed rail line (HS1) so far, a report by a committee of MPs has said (July 2012).

The Public Accounts Committee blamed over-optimistic forecasts about the number of passengers using the service.

It predicted that the final bill for the London to Folkestone line would rise to £10.2bn by 2070.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said passenger forecasting had improved significantly since work 20 years ago.

International passenger numbers on HS1 are a third of the original 1995 forecast and two-thirds of the DfT’s 1998 forecast, it stated: “Over-optimistic and unrealised forecasts for passenger demand on HS1 left the taxpayer saddled with £4.8 billion of debt.”

It also said the delivery of regeneration benefits from HS1 had suffered from a “lack of effective leadership”.

The DfT gave insufficient attention to evaluating its major projects, the report added.

Ms Hodge pointed out that an earlier report into the East Coast main line had raised similar concerns about over-optimistic planning.

And the report warned the same could happen with the far more expensive HS2 line from London to Birmingham.

Mrs Hodge acknowledged HS1 provided an efficient service but warned the “costly mistakes” of the project must not be repeated with HS2.

If HS2 is such a good idea maybe the private sector could pay for it and recoup their costs through ticket pricing?

Apart from the potential loss of taxpayer’s money, I’m not personally affected by the route and remain unconvinced by the business case but no doubt it will usefully employ thousands of immigrant workers.

We keep being told the Olympic Games came in under budget, when anybody with an IQ larger than their shoe size knows full well it didn’t. Still hope they’ve factored in VAT, soft soil/hard soil big stones/too many small stones, weather too wet/too dry, royal birth/death, General election, arrival of aliens etc., etc.

Always funny when the tory scum suddenly try to pretend they are environmentally friendly. Of course they are really just NIMBYS. And that is what drives this moronic tory MP. And no bigger newspaper exists for the tory NIMBY class than the telegraph.

I believe she used to work in the city of London, so she would know all about govt subsidies for worthless institutions, (such as banks.)

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