December 2023
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HS2 – why are our politicians so dumb-arse stupid?

(Friday/weekend blog)

Oh no, here we go again. At the time of writing, it looks like our useless politicians are going to approve the hugely-costly and totally unnecessary HS2 project.

Ask the wrong questions – you get the wrong answer

Let me bore you with why I think the idiots in Westminster have blundered into yet another horrifically expensive disaster.

There are two questions our politicians should have asked:

Question 1: Do we need more rail capacity between the South and North of England?

The answer is probably yes, although new communication options may mean that in the 20 to 30 years it takes to build the HS2 disaster, people will be doing less physical travelling and more on-line communication. But let’s for a moment accept that there is a need for more rail capacity from South to North. Then there’s a second question:

Question 2: What is the best, fastest and most economical way of delivering that extra capacity?

There are various answers to this. For example, modernising signalling on the existing line may allow more trains to run. Additionally, building a new conventional line, allowing trains to travel at 125 mph, alongside the existing line might also be a possibility. And then there’s the £100bn+ HS2. HS2 will be (I believe) much more expensive than a new traditional line because high-speed lines have totally different engineering requirements and high-speed trains are much more expensive than traditional Intercity 125s.

But our worthless politicians didn’t ask these two simple questions. Our politicians got the two questions mixed up together and so got the wrong answer.

Fast trains in a tiny country?

Now let me explain why it is totally ludicrous to use a high-speed train in a tiny country like England

I’ll make this part of my blog today simple so, were any politicians to be reading it, even they might understand.

France is a big country – about 640,000 km2. The UK is a small country – about 242,000 km2. England is an even smaller country – 130,000 km2. France has an extensive high-speed rail network – the TGV. It makes sense to have high-speed trains in a large country. It doesn’t make sense to have high-speed trains in a small country.

Now let’s go a bit deeper. The French train route from Paris to Lyon to Marseilles can probably be seen as comparable to the UK train route from London to Birmingham to Manchester in terms of how it connects major cities. But the differences in distances are huge. Paris to Lyon is 292 miles, whereas London to Birmingham is only 128 miles. And Lyon to Marseilles is 488 miles, whereas Birmingham to Manchester is just 86 miles.

The much greater distances in France justify a high-speed rail network. But squandering over £100bn on cutting just a few minutes off the train time from London to Birmingham and then even fewer minutes off the train journey from Birmingham to Manchester is utterly ludicrous.

Moreover, as far as I understand, the new HS2 won’t start at Euston. Instead it will start at a new station to be built at Old Oak Common in West London. This means it might be quicker for business travellers from or to Central London to use the old conventional line to Euston rather than the new HS2 line to Old Oak Common station. Good grief!!!!! Plus, once the stupid thing got past Birmingham, the distances between stops would be so small that the train would have to start slowing down almost as soon as it got up to speed. Oooppss!!!

There are many better things the Government could do with £100bn+ than the ridiculously unnecessary HS2 project. They could, for example, have just built another conventional line and maybe saved £20bn or more.

But that would have been sensible and therefore not something our dumb-arse stupid politicians would have considered.

6 comments to HS2 – why are our politicians so dumb-arse stupid?

  • PeterW

    Our Politicians are far from being dumb arse stupid when it comes to HS2. There are deals to be brokered, advice to be offered, contacts to be passed on, Boardrooms to be filled, and all will require appropriate financial renumeration for expertise. And who is best placed to participate in such roles? Of course, our serving MPs, or former MPs…

  • Stillreading

    It is beyond deplorable that this project looks set to go ahead. We all know that the current top estimate of £100 billion will be exceeded, possibly to the extent of another £100 billion by the time it’s complete. By that time, as you rightly say, it is probable that there will be far less physical travel for work, the purpose for which this vile, destructive project is primarily intended. When the HS2 route was first decided, I was driving regularly through beautiful Midlands countryside scheduled for desecration and was conscious of the desperation of homeowners and farmers whose properties and farms were set for demolition or division. Needless to say, I signed as requested their protest petition. No “ordinary” people will be able to afford to travel on HS2 anyway, even when it is finally completed. It is already necessary virtually to take out a mortgage before travelling on the nation’s appallingly-run existing network, so costly is it. HS2 travel will be limited to the wealthy elite – aka top-rank politicians and oligarchs! Furthermore, we all know from bitter experience that almost as much time is spent on the final few miles either end of a rail journey as on the journey itself, so inadequate is public transport provision and so excruciatingly expensive is station car parking. The priority need right NOW is for a decent cross-country service for Northern cities, as well as extra capacity in the South, not a narcissistic indulgence, at the Taxpayer’s expense, to appease politicians who refuse to acknowledge that they made an error in ever approving HS2 in the first place. Far better to cancel the project now and write off the several billions already wasted, than throw gigantic further sums of good money after bad. And this is the government which says it can’t afford to continue to subsidise the TV licence for over 75s, many of whom live alone and are struggling on the brink of poverty but do not quite qualify for pension credit. A government which is indicating it is about to squander £100 billion plus on a vanity project apparently is happy to criminalise pensioners who, after Jun this year, do not have a TV licence. I expected better of Boris!

  • William Boreham

    Yes, not a good start from Boris, approving the HS2 fiasco, backtracking it would appear on reclaiming our fishing rights and when this new 5G phone system is in operation, it seems Charlie Chan will be listening in on all our conversations.

  • A Thorpe

    There seems to be a fundamental flaw in the justification. It assumes that the journeys are just from one city centre station to another. Add in the times at either end to get from home to the station and then to the final destination and the time saving becomes almost irrelevant in a small country like the UK. I cannot see any justification for time saving based on leisure travel and I suspect that most business travel is only to get out of the office for a day. All the complaints we hear about rail travel are from commuters, not long distance travellers.

    The nonsense of human caused climate change is also influencing the decision because of the pointless view that we should cut back on air travel. It also assumes that we will get the electricity for trains from a non fossil source.

    On top of all that we are a country that cannot deliver large projects to time and cost and the fat controller does not have a clue how to run a railway system.

  • leila

    It has been said it is to link England faster to Europe and, in a few years onwards to Mecca. I note that ex GoldmanS present Chancellor of the Exchequer may partake of this offer. Remember he said he was of no religion until his swearing-in arrived, a copy of the holy book was deemed necessary, and a specific request made for it to be carried to him by a male Tells you all you need to know.

  • leila

    PS He recommended Boris continue with the project mere days ago

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