Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why HS2 Should Hit The Buffers

As you may have guessed I am anti HS2, but I am very pro railways.

Where are all those tax-payers groups on this white elephant and also talking of hundred billion sequels, on that other white elephant part II ,Trident 2? The two biggest wastes of tax payers money the current generation will see, and each will be rubber stamped in the next parliament in England at least. Right, left, centre this is why you should be involved in politics or bending the ears of your politicians at MP surgeries.

Why is HS2 such a waste of money? In principle it is my contention that it is a Keynsian economic injection to sustain the heavy civil engineering competance built up in the UK, and since it will be built south- north most likely, provide jobs for the wo'kin' classes and be a vote winner around the London and home counties area.

What does it actually intend to deliver? Well it is going to be about delivering more workers to the city of London in particular, grabbing a main artery into a massive resource of new daily commuters. In the north I can fully appreciate that faster Leeds-Manc-Brum, higher speed services would be very beneficial in helping people grasp higher paid jobs and educational opportunities. Economists on the capatilist side and some major real estate owners have decided that you will not be able to afford to buy a house in Greater London, but by George that is where you will jolly well need to work!

The thin claim to the contrary is that northerners with their jute and flax mills will be able to shoot down to London and gather investment for t'internet mill and t' weaponries factory from one of the worlds biggest centres for banking and investment.  The truth is that The City is not there to fund SMEs in t' north, and if England votes itself out the EU, there will be a major decline. Several US major banks are making contingency plans to relocate to other EU countries if the "island monkey" attitude perisists. Venture Capatilists and Modern Milll Owners use Bentleys and stay at Claridges or the Ritz. They don't take t'train. Who uses Eurostar? Not nearly as many private business people as "projected".

One thing the proponents are very keen on saying is that HSR will mean 250km/h minimum or average speeds with peaks of over 300 like the TGV. Note that they dont like talking about that in miles-per-hour because it doesnt sound as fast, and then joe public would be able to make more real life comparisons to expected journey times. So Manchester to London is near enough 200 miles, 321 km,  current pendolinos can do that with stops in under three hours. An HSR could maybe do it in an hour non stop! Wow.

Certainly though Birmingham to London would go down to an hour, thus making that huge connurbation a virtual suburb of London.

That's quick. Super. Hang on a minute, what are you realistically comparing the alternative to? Road? Manchester to Coventry can be a three hour affaire, as can Coventry to any actual destination in North London. Flying? Planes zoom along....what about getting out to airport check in , security, getting off and out and then the train into paddington or liverpool st or Waterloo...then getting to the office.

The) rail route is just then a wish from heaven to completely smash all other forms of transport for city centre to wait for it here comes the clanger, city centre. People will leave their cars and the plane in droves, er, because they want to get to the city centres. Carbon emmissions will toppel, England will be a green and pleasant quiet motorway place again.

The fact is that the cross birmingham morning jam is made by people who realistically either cannot reach their destination by train with any degree of common sense ,be that maybe of course  day's sales itinerary, or they have  have no interest in using the train because they are happy to sit in a two hour virtual car park in staffordshire as long as they have a BMW badge on their bonnet. Furthermore, they do not live in the town centres, and probably not all that near to key stops on the way like Stockport.

HS 2 serves the main purpose of supplying more wage slaves and consumers to London, which many have just rolled over and accepted as being the real future of english economic prosperity. Or rather they dont travel north of Watford Gap.

The costs are enormous. That is the rub. We could build brand new full capacity city hospitals in at least 20 of the UKs main cities and solve the 'crisis' in the NHS. We could pull all the children under the poverty line over it and give them personal tutors and free university education. We could probably make major breakthroughs on a world first basis in cures for two of the major cancers people die from in the west.

Carbon emmissions per passenger mile are not all that great ,especially if as with Eurostar there is constant off peak under occupancy.  Better than the plane, but a lot worse than the current Pendolinos which run on average on their real daytime diagrams at over three quarters full. Pricey too, i mean it will hardly be cheaper than the

Railways do need investment though and in particular the WCML south of Birmingham is slower now on average daytime diagrams than it probably was in 1982 because of under capacity. Mostly this is caused by slower freight services, some of which are diesel hauled and sub 70mph. If you could divert those to a new route with only 100mph running and then build more passing loops between Rugby and the London termini then you would be able to run pendolinos at 125mph and if you improved the current staffordshire-warwick shire Brum avoider route you could chunder along at 140mph through that bit of rural Englandshire to accelerate Manchunians on their way south.

The other issue is that of not actually wanting to go to "The City" but rather to either a company HQ in Hemel Hempstead, Slough or Maidenhead. Or as many budget travellers do now, just use London as a place you have to go through in order to sew Stanstead tenner flights to off peak saver Euston trains.

The Railway, capital letter note, was never developed to be trans home counties. Just as with HS2 , the routes all wanted to rush to the city, and even a map from as late as 1961 still shows this radial pattern in more or less its full Victorian glory. The last built  being the eventually bankrupted Great Central Main Line, which is Ironically a possible south radial route for HS2.  There are very few interconnector routes and until HS1, transrail and latterly HS2 were proposed, there has no post war strategic plan for adapting the victorian network to meet current or forseeable transport plans, apart from Beeching who proposed a biased cut, and actually closed the GCML which ten years later could have been a realistic 125mph strategic capacity route to London and places like Hemel Hempstead.

There is a need for realism here:  France had vast swaithes of low value, flat rural land to push the TGV through. Germany needs to reorientate its railways east-west again. Does England need to essentailly have a fifth radial route out of London again which is mainly isolated and passenger dedicated, enourmously costly to build and which will be very expensive to travel on with private operators?

I propose a freight relief route, using some of the GCNML from Hemel Hempstead and Tring,  140mph in rural stretches for the WCML,  widening or stacked tracks, commuter area passing loops on all routes to London, interconnectors both north and south of Rugby between the four main routes north, and a cross n london connector in the home counties to Cambridge and Stanstead in the East, while Aylesbury and maybe Reading in the west. Also the electrification of the Paddington-Oxf-Brum route in preference to Bristol, thus providing more capacity and an emergency relief route for through trains to & from the north be they frieght or passenger.

Who needs to go from Manchester to London in under 2 hours if it will cost them the future passenger, and you today's tax payer a small fortune for the route?