What is the HS2

Posted by in News, The Issue | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

On 11th March 2010, the outgoing Labour Government announced plans for a High Speed Rail (HS2) link from London Euston to Birmingham. It was reported then that it would cost £11bn, but that figure was 6 years out of date. On the same day you could have got information from the Department for Transport which put the cost at £17.4bn or from HS2 Ltd, which put it at £25.5bn, or 2.8% of our generational national debt (based on a total national debt estimate of £916.6bn).

Despite all the cuts we will face as a nation, and the fact the new Prime Minister has stated that “things are worse than we thought”, the Coalition Government still want to go ahead with HS2 and even extend it to link with Heathrow and HS1, meaning it will cost even more than the current £160 million per mile.

The business case assumes three times the number of passengers carried by the West Coast Mainline (45,000 increasing to 146,000 per day), despite there has been no increase in long-distance train travel since 1995 and the only increase has been on discounted fares.

This also ignores the fact that in 15 years time when it is scheduled to be ready, people will need to travel for work less, as who knows what we will have in terms of internet connections and video conferencing.

When announcing the sale of HS1 in Kent, Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond said; “High Speed One is a national success story.” This is despite the fact half the trains have been cut to stem the losses. HS1, like HS2, was meant to be great for business and was going to carry 21 million people per year. It has managed 7.5 million. HS1 is being sold for £1.5bn, about a quarter of the £5.8bn it cost to build.

Just to make sure people will use it, as in Kent, current services will be cut. Commuters from Coventry currently enjoy three London trains per hour. If HS2 goes ahead, the two express trains will be cut, meaning even if people go up to Birmingham International to use HS2, it will take them longer to reach their destination. 

Supporters and politicians are quick to say HS2 will be good for the environment, however when you read the actual plans, you find out this is not the case. HS1 passengers are responsible for 35% more CO2 emissions than car passengers, but HS2 will go faster, so the CO2 emissions will be higher, but we don’t know how much higher as there is no passenger train in the world that travels at the proposed 250mph to compare it with. It will also lead to more flights, not less, as Birmingham International Airport is being extended and it will be about 40 minutes on the train from Euston and now will be directly linked to Heathrow. Birmingham will provide Heathrows third runway. 

The HS2 report admits that the plan may lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, but in those calculations they ignore the seven years of construction and roadworks that will mean and the fact that in some places a 75 metre (83 yard) wide strip of ‘green stuff’ will be turned to concrete, due to 25 metre ‘no vegetation zones’ on either side. 

Yes, 75 metres! The pitch at Wembley is only 69 metres wide. The plans state that where the trains will travel at top speed, the tracks will have to be 25 metres to stop passing trains blowing each other other the rails, and there will have to be a 25 metre ‘No vegetation zone’ on either side. 

HS2 will cut right through the heart of the countryside at a noise level of 95 decibels. The noise level at which sustained exposure could cause permanent hearing damage is 90-95dB. It’s not planned to go next to motorways (existing transport corridors) as that would cost even more and to travel at ‘high speed’, the line has to be very straight. 

This will create massive social damage to towns and villages along the line. While the government say it is ‘good for business’, HS1 and the M6 Toll were justified for the same reasons, but have not devilvered the promised benefits. All they have delivered is large losses. The business case takes no account of businesses which will be destroyed, and businesses will only get land value when it comes to compensation. 

HS2 will of course lead to the filling in of greenbelts, as once they are blighted by the fact upto 40 trains per hour (1 per 90 seconds), a quarter of a mile long, going past at 250mph, creating 95dB, it’s not going to be a green belt any more. There is also the chance of extensive development around the Birmingham International station as a result of this plan. 

The thing is with HS2 is it sounds like a good idea, but when you look at the details, you find that most parts of the plans are bad, unjustified ideas. The main thing is that it is going to be a collosal waste of money that will help bankrupt the country even more than it is now. 

Just think of what would not need to be cut if it wasn’t for committing to at least 25.5 billion pounds on one train line, connecting two cities, when there are already two train lines doing the job.

7 Responses to What is the HS2

  1. Lorraine Howell says:

    Stop HS2!! What a waste of money and resources that in turn will ruin huge swathes of the countryside at huge cost to the tax payer. This is sheer madness!!

  2. Cathy Collins says:

    HS2 is clearly such stupidity that there has to be an ulterior motive behind this which has nothing to do with improving connections to the north, which would be better served by upgrading existing lines and train stock NOW. Also, commuter trains/routes, that is, commuter trains which stop at many stations on approach to their destination, in all areas need to be upgraded NOW. These are the trains that people are using NOW and which in may areas just don’t deliver an acceptable service. The Department of Transport needs to address these issues NOW. HS2 is political vanity. The facts – what we know, from the experience of HS1 – show that the predictions for passenger traffic on HS2 are wildly over-estimated. And the HS2 proponents’ arguments make no allowance for the effect of increasingly sophisticated online communication on the way we work and especially, in the way companies choose NOT to travel but to email and video-conference. The environmental issue is clear: the HS2 would destroy a large part of the countryside and towns and villages along the way, running fantastically noisy trains between cities that (in our quite small island) are not really that very far apart. We just don’t need it. We do need the billions of pounds that would be spent on this project to go into: improving existing transport links. The NHS. Schools. Please, please write to your MP. The consultation period is very short, so do it NOW. Also, go to gopetition to sign the petition against HS2. Thanks!

  3. Dover Mcwilliams says:

    I would just like to say How I feel that those people living in the south of the proposed HS2 rail line are the most hypocritical infuriating people I have ever had to suffer on an eveing news programme, You live in houses thats worth now can reach into the millions, those houses only exist for the fact that South Oxon and Bucks have fantastic rail links into london ( do you really believe that your wealth would be thus, if it took 3 hours to get to the city from Amersham) i think not, You money driven people should indeed stop whelping as HS2 is just about the best thing that could happen to this country I personally would like to see it extended from penzance to thurso, On a daily basis working in the rail industry i constantly deal with the whiney complaints about rail punctuality in this country, I also have heard over the last 10 years about constant comparisons with other european networks, It begs the question if you live work in EC1 what on earth are you doing living in Warwickshire?? and surely you should expect delays. infact you “are the proplem” THIS COUNTRY NEEDS HS2, we should embrace it and at the same time HS3 and HS4, stop all this not in my back yard rubbish. its crass it is how it looks when a group of gentlemen farmers appeal on behalf of the countryside, we the hoy poloy now fully understand what impact the greed of the wealthy has had on our devistated green and pleasent land. HS2 will only serve to none pollute where agriculture has devistated. just a special mention to the people of Ladbroke Warwickshire, Most of the proposed line in your area would be laid on existing track bed on the Offchurch Greenway almost all of that will be in a gully, the effect on your village will be minimal, If all disused track bed were brought back into service as most sensible people truly believe they should be, then we might just get the railway that Britain deserves, that the middle classes moan about almost every day and the network that we are cruely compared with across europe, Just might be great again.
    Stop the petitions

  4. David Richards says:

    It is all very well to say that people who are against HS2 are nimbys, and it is easy for those who stand to gain financially to try and brand them as such.

    These people would be singing a different tune if it was their lives that were going to be wrecked by a project which will bring absolutely no benefit to them.

    One thing which has received little attention in the debate is the fact that HS2 will carry no freight.

    If Birmingham and Midlands lobbyists wanted the money to be spent in a more rational way, wouldn’t it make more sense to spend some of it on improving the road system between Birmingham and Felixstowe to facilitate the easier movement of goods between our manufacturing heartland and our major east coast port serving Europe, which is our principal market. Spending the money on this and removing the bottlenecks on the existing West Coast Main Line to facilitate the speeding up of services on existing track, services that actually stop at stations between Birmingham and London and serve the people in between, would make a lot more sense.

    Other people have made the point that with the greatly improved electronic communications services now becoming available and the inexorable rise in transportation costs resulting from rises in oil prices, not to mention the need to cut our individual carbon footprints, government focus should be on taking measures to discourage this sort of travel, little of which will be paid for at a personal level.

    The fact is that in a world of rapidly increasing population, a more erratic climate with consequent crop failures reducing availablity and escalating prices, we need to preserve all our existing agricultural land for feeding our people, not covering a large tract of it with concrete.

  5. Sam Reeve says:

    Please join the HS2Remove pressure group on Facebook to help spread the issue of the HS2 railway, a high speed way, to waste money.

  6. anonymous says:

    It is absolutely ridiculous. They’re cutting the funding to the public as well as employment rising to the highest it’s been since 1988(when Thatcher was in power) and now they’re doing it again. david Cameron is a disgrace. They’ve also put tuition fees up by 3 times. They’re a bloody joke! Cameron just lies and he isn’t going to do anything to help the public. Who needs a bloomin railway which is going to put us in even more debt.

  7. Will Page says:

    All of these anti-HS2 parties are really starting to annoy me. HS2 is exactly what this country needs…From reading the above passage on why HS2 plans should be derailed, It is blatantly obvious that the person/people who wrote this don’t know up from down when it comes to trains, economics, and environmental issues.

    You say we should invest in current rail services and infrastructure to increase rail capacity and speed. Let me just point this out now, this issue has already been addressed by people who actually know what they are talking about, ie, work on the lines – It is physically impossible to do this. “make the trains a few coaches longer” – No platforms in the UK are physically long enough to accommodate this.
    We can’t upgrade the lines to increase speed either, as it is also physically impossible to put a train 200 mph on a line designed over 100 years ago for 80 mph – we are already pushing are luck with the 125 mph Pendolinos.

    Economically, it is impossible to forecast a railway, all of you saying “Economists say it will fail” – Economists said HS1 and the channel tunnel would fail, It turned out to be a massive success. HS2 is exactly what the UK needs – we are behind Asia and Europe already.

    Environmentally, no one can make the claim “it will not be environmentally friendly” or “it will create more flights” Unless you have some sort of undiscovered mental physic power that I have yet to see, you can not make such a claim.
    By saying “HS1 is worse for the environment than cars” – this is a complete con to the reader. The purpose of HS1 was a channel tunnel connection from London. Are you saying that it would be better for the environment for the 400 or so people on the Eurostar to drive from London to Paris? I think not. To fly from London to Paris – I also, think not.
    HS2 will reduce the amount of flights. By connecting it to Heathrow does not at all increase the amount of flights, it simply makes the UK infrastructure needed, as a high speed connection is much needed. It will stop people from flying from London to Glasgow etc, much like Eurostar and HS1 reduced flights from London – Paris.

    Yes, If HS2 was going through my back garden, I would not be the happiest bunny, but the truth is, for the majority of the country, HS2 is beneficial – There is plenty of pristine countryside left, a 5 metre wide section of track will not do much, and the noise levels are minimal.

    Also, for the ignorant people saying ” We are amidst tough economic times – spend the money on something important like education or healthcare” you should note – the government can not spend money allocated specifically for transport on a different field like healthcare – £32 billion for HS2 will go towards a 3rd Heathrow runway if HS2 is not built.

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