These Huge Benefits of HS2

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From our Swindon Correspondent:

OK, it’s a done deal, it’s going to happen, but I was slightly amused by this argument from an advocate for HS2
 
You release capacity on the Midland Main Line, the East Coast Main Line and particularly the West Coast Main Line that you can then use for other things…. that means that big places like Milton Keynes have got an hourly service to Manchester only. Rugby hasn’t any trains at all.
First of all, this is slightly untrue. In the morning, there’s 2 trains an hour to Manchester from Milton Keynes from 6am to 9am. But OK, after 9am there’s one train per hour.
But, OK, who can come up with a value proposition for doubling trains after 9am, from Manchester to Milton Keynes?
This isn’t commuter hours, and the journey is too long for a commute. OK, maybe someone in Milton Keynes has a 2:30 interview for a job. So, instead of being able to leave the station at 12:20 to get into Manchester at 2pm, they get in at 1:30 instead and have to sit in a Starbucks for half an hour killing time? In the case of someone doing a client meeting, it doesn’t really matter much. You just check what time the train is arriving and arrange to meet just after that time. That’s how people generally work.
As for Rugby, ever heard of connecting trains? How many people in Rugby want to go to Manchester more often than once a year? Even for those who do it, how many care about saving 15 minutes at Stafford on a once a month meeting?

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Bloke on M4Ian BaxterQuentin VoleAndrew Carey Recent comment authors
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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

One hugely amusing* factoid is that beyond Crewe, the HS2 trains will run slower than the existing Pendolinos, because they can’t tilt and will therefore have to obey a reduced speed limit.

* or it would be amusing if every bloody household in the country didn’t have to fork out the thick end of £5,000 for this gold-plated white elephant

Andrew Carey
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Andrew Carey

I must say I’m impressed by the train service that the North West gets. Euston fires out 3 trains an hour to Manchester ( of which 2 take under 2 hours 15m ), 2 to Warrington/Wigan/Preston, 1 to Liverpool, 1 to Chester and 3 to Wolverhampton. None of these overlap. As a child I occasionally went from Manchester to London in 2:30 and the service was hourly, with the occasional bonus service early/late plus a Pullman, whatever that was, British Rail then certainly thought they knew better than the free market what a premium passenger wanted versus the alternatives (… Read more »

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

I don’t know that the market would fill it. There’s a whole mountain of regulations to build a railway. Your point about air travel is fair. Why isn’t there a Luton to Manchester flight for all these people desperate for a quick way from Milton Keynes? The biggest filler of the need is cars, and politicians never grasp why cars win so much, but it’s so much about the interchanges. The rerouting from one road to the next generally takes between seconds and minutes, where trains mean waiting. They believe in this world where people live near Milton Keynes station… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

“Trains: taking you from where you aren’t to where you don’t want to be for 200 years.”

HS2 will be a great boon if you live in a flat near the new Curzon St station. But most people don’t. If you live in Solihull or Kidderminster or Wolverhampton or Coventry, it’ll still be much easier and quicker to take the existing trains into London.

Ian Baxter
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Ian Baxter

Politics vs Economics:

The main point of hs2, similarly, is its impact on the cities and towns along its route and beyond. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is on a mission to boost growth in northern and western areas left behind by the country’s lopsided, London-centred pattern of growth. On its own hs2 won’t make that happen, but doing so without a new railway would be tough. The success of the “Northern Powerhouse” rail scheme, to link the north’s big towns, depends on it. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/02/08/why-hs2-should-go-ahead

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

I don’t have access to that article, so please explain, in short, simple terms, how all of this boosts the North? How does making a fast train from Manchester to London help create more businesses in Bishop Auckland? I’m talking concrete examples here. If we build HS2 and then build x, we then get y happening in Bishop Auckland. Throwing around terms like “Northern Powerhouse” and assuming trains help is woo. Because I’m really sceptical about the value of boosting rail. Most of the reasons for centres of wealth is because of where government spends money or odd geographical reasons.… Read more »

Ian Baxter
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Ian Baxter

The artice does not explain how it will boost the north. It quotes the Jubilee Line extension as being approved with a benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) of less than one but is now delivering circa 1.75. The point they are making, besides the leap of faith in building HS2, is that it is now a political decision given all those northern votes BJ garnered.

Which puts paid to any rational analysis. The Economist was against HS2 at first but now support it.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

The Jubilee Line extension is a commuter service. People travelling from fairly short distances. Trains work there.

As for the “northern voters” argument, that won’t work. The problems aren’t about “the north”. It’s about certain parts of the north. Manchester is doing quite nicely as a city. So is Leeds. It’s mostly the old rural coal mining areas that are suffering and putting a fast train into Leeds does nothing for people in Bolsover.

Ian Baxter
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Ian Baxter

You should write to the editor, making your points. Be interesting to see if they print your letter.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

To The Economist? Why should I feed a bunch of upper-normie big state lefties?