Coffee House

Will high-speed rail mean a new Welsh Secretary?

7 January 2012

3:34 PM

7 January 2012

3:34 PM

The decision on whether or not to proceed with the HS2 rail link is expected on Tuesday.
Given all the legal issues involved, the government is not making any public comment on the matter. But all the signs are that it will get the go-ahead.

There will be quite considerable opposition to the projects from parts of the Tory party. It is highly likely that Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary who represents one of the seats that will have
the line running through it, will resign over the matter. If she does, expect Maria Miller to replace her.

Number 10 are keen not to see the number of women in the Cabinet fall and Miller is regarded as a safe pair of hands and Welsh enough to do the job. Despite representing the very English seat of
Basingstoke, Miller was born and brought up in Wales.

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Show comments
  • Mark McIntyre

    NO2 HS2 – only if she ‘Welshes’ on us !

  • starfish

    I still await the business case for this project

    I fail to see how this railway will generate ANY additonal jobs or investment

    If such investment is really dependent on shaving a few minutes off a rail journey into the capital I really have to question the business model

    And there is no way this project will come in on budget

  • G Butler.

    Why should Gillan be replaced by another English based MP ?
    We have 8 Welsh MP’s, and one of them should replace her regardless of whether she resigns. The Tories would never take such an approach with Scotland !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Fergus, I have lived in Maidstone all my life, more or less. Moved out of Peckham, where I was born, when I was 1. I like Maidstone a lot. But the traffic system is pants. Indeed traffic management in all of West Kent is pants. At least once a month the entire Motorway/A road network grinds to a halt. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Maidstone and Kent. I love it and don’t want to live anywhere else.

  • fergus pickering

    Malfleur, ah, more money for London from everybody else. And the fuss about the Margate line was very reminiscent of the fuss about the Birmingham one. The essence of the thing is NEW track, is it not. The Margate line has NEW track and tunnel near London. And it cuts the journey time in half. Sounds high speed to me. The argument for the hig speed line is that the NEW track is needed because of congestion on the OLD track. They may be lying in their teeth. I wouldn’t know. But the argument is a perfectly respectable one. Longer trains is a silly idea if you don’t have longer stations. and I am old enough to remember longer trains after the war, Dirty and disgusting and VERY slow. Like SNCF until the frogs but A LOT OF MONEY into it.

  • Chrisyy

    Money on Cheryl Gillan not to resign. She is my local MP and as such, as vacuous as any other. Rhetoric about resigning over a point of principle will fade away when she realises she receives remuneration far greater than her abilities and sits in a very safe seat, or as it is better known, a job for life. Quite why she needs a second home when her constituency is at the end of an Underground line is again one of life’s enduring mysteries.

  • Draughtsman

    I can certainly understand why those in the projected path of HS2 are upset, especially as it will cut through beautiful contryside, but this I guess is about trying to even out growth between London and the south east and the rest of the country. Fast transport links are a must for this to happen and it is a pity that the line will take so long to build.

  • fergus pickering

    Holland is a small country the size of East Anglia. The high speed railway must be short and certainly sounds unnecessary. It is more than 500 miles from London to Aberdeen. That is quite a long way. So the cases are rather different. I like Gilligan’s journalism but he has his crotchets the same as anybody else.

  • In2minds

    Andrew Gilligan is reporting how the Dutch equivalent of the HS2 is in severe trouble. But as we can see in this ‘debate’ above facts count for very little. But H2B, he of the ‘big bazooka’, will no doubt fall into the trap and believe all the fairy tales about growth the business people have told him. The HS2 will be another disaster.

  • Derek

    Yes, she probably will resign, and lurk in the back benches for a while before being appointed a new front line role in the next reshuffle.

    Sooner or later local residents will be able to exercise their democratic vote, and that will probably send her out of the government when Green replaces Blue along the line of the HS2 and elsewhere.

    Naturally she’ll then be given a ‘safe’ seat somewhere else and return again to the front bench.

    It’s just the way the system works, it isn’t just and it doesn’t work for the people, but works well for the party.

    Now if ony they could work out a way for us to pay for it all too…

  • Jeremy

    Can we save some English countyside, please? Just so that future generations might have something left to remind them that this was once a green and pleasant land.

  • Adam Nixon

    Cynic: “it’s the result of an EU directive”. Is it? Could you tell us which directive that is? I rather suspect that you are mistaken.

  • Malfleur

    Fergus Pickering

    I take it you jest, Sir… That said, is a “fast train” a “high-speed rail”? In the same way as a straight line from London to Birmingham is a network no doubt. Could we perhaps have more fast trains for the cost of the one high-speed rail? We might even aim at a NETWORK of fast trains for the cost of one high-speed rail line.

    Or we could spend the money on modernising the London Underground…

  • Fergus Pickering

    Malfleur, we have been talking about the great Margate – Saint Pancras link. Do pay attention. It also goes to Faversham I believe. Here’s richness.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Why on earth do you Kentish men and Men of Kent slag the place off. I have lived in Ednburgh, in Oxford, in London and in East Kent and East Kent is best in my opinion. Even Maidstone has its points – a jolly good hi-fi centre and about ten years back it was a grand place to buy cheap computers. Oh, and the swimming pool and the cricket groud are good. I saw Tony Greig make some runs there – though that was rather long ago.

  • Hugh

    Wans’t it one Napoleon Bonaparte who codified the French Imperial Road system and straightened out the kinks. Of course it was not so easy for them to extend it our way then, but we seem to have invited them to do it now.
    Just a pity that, if the Scots and the Mancunians are to benefit from faster access for their EU masters, they cannot be asked to build it, or at least pay for it.

  • In2minds

    A man who is tired of Maidstone goes to Margate!

  • Malfleur


    “In the Conservative manifesto – ‘We will establish a high speed rail network…'”

    London to Birmingham: is this a “network” or does Mr. Cameron have some more expensive toys of the same kind planned?

  • libertarian

    Dear Fergus

    As far as the Maidstone one way system is concerned they changed that more than 3 years ago and as I work there I can tell you I rarely get jammed now unless there’s an accident or major road works.

    Maidstone is still almost as big a dump as Margate ( but not quite) though

  • libertarian


    fast train from Margate to Saint Pancras has turned Margate from a dump to a centre of culture

    What total and utter bollocks Fergus, Margate is still a great big fat dump, it just now has a very nice and expensive art gallery and a very expensive slightly quicker rail service that sometimes gets to London on time

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Fergus, I agree. The one way system in Maidstone is appalling, and the lack of a ring road means everyone has to go through the centre of town.

    Maidstone does have connections. Disraeli was our MP. And Anne Widdecombe has some reputation as an author of a certain type of literature.

    I have nothing against Margate. We used to go there every Summer for church day outs and picnic on the beach and visit Dreamworld.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Well, Peter from Maidstone, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The Maidstone one-way system causes anyone trapped on it to die a little. I’d rather live in Margate. It has literary connections at least.

  • Cynic

    Of course it will go ahead – it’s the result of an EU directive. Never mind that it’s a white elephant and will be massively over budget. I predict that any savings in journey time will be lost at the destination stations and that local services will be reduced to shift passengers onto the expensive service.

  • michael

    In the event that Hs2 does get the green light I hope the construction and engineering is UK sourced rather than propping up ‘eurorail’ industries for which the continuity of work is already effectively heavily subsidised. Their uber subsidised fares ensuring higher operational turnover. The ‘local’ maintenance, renewal and re-engineering lot being the ultimate economic winners.
    (I have yet to see any of it coming across the channel.)

  • Peter From Maidstone

    I see no reason why major policies should not have a po;pular component. This could be by referendum or by large scale polling. But there is no reason why in the 21st century the populace should be excluded from all decision making – except for choosing which band of liars will act as though there is not demos to worry about.

    It could be decided, for instance, that 20% of a vote in parliament on certain issues was to be determined by a referenda. It need not be 100%, but there is no reason at all for it to be 0%.

    I don’t trust my MP. She doesn’t represent me in any sense, and I had no say at all in her selection and then her election. She is a shoe-in. There needs to be a way to require her to be representative in some way. At present there is no such requirement and no choice.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    I have to say that I think Margate is pretty much still a dump. But a dump with an art gallery in it.

  • michael

    £2,000,000,000 spent per journey minute saved.
    Raising motorway speed limits 10 mph does the same job for erm…. nothing.

  • Edward Sutherland

    Now, if your photograph was accurate (it’s HSI that’s shown) and HS2 was up close to the existing M40, so a new transport corridor was not created through the Chilterns, then the project might make a lot more sense.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Not only do the EUSSR want it. I want it. And lots more of it. I love travelling in fast trains and I hate travelling in aeroplanes and buses. The fast train from Margate to Saint Pancras has turned Margate from a dump to a centre of culture with Tracy Emin, that fine conservative. Bloody good show. And it’s cut MY journey from an hour and three quarters to 55 minutes. Love it!

  • tom jones

    Gillan is rubbish anyway. I’d bet money she’ll eat her words and NOT resign. Now that she’s experienced what it’s like at the top, she won’t want to give it up.

  • Stephen Harrison

    She’s about as Welsh as my Spanish neighbour, she may have been brought up here, however, she was born in the west midlands.

  • Deivoloution

    Does it really matter?

  • Heartless Curmudgeon

    Oh come now!

    Surely the ‘Tory’ Party knew what they were electing when they chose the “Progressive” H2B, – all PR, bright lights, and wind farms?

    Besides which, the EUSSR wants it, – so no question it will go ahead.

  • PayDirt

    Well that’s tough cookie for those NIMBY’s who want the stop the bus. Since the present Govt, and its EU law rubberstamping, has stopped me driving my 7 seater minivan to the local shops, council tip, old people’s home, I’m all for rubbing every fuckers nose in the coming Brave New World transport mess. I want faster trains, so move on over you wankers in the Chilterns etc.

  • strapworld

    Trevors Den what has happened? I agree with you. There is absolutely no need for a Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish secretary and those ministries could be closed down and not missed.

    But before you do the light fantastic,TD, let me remind you that your man Cameron promised a smaller cabinet and government. He also promised to reduce the number of ‘special advisors’. Just more stats to place on the ‘broken promises’ sheet which will be paraded before him when he has to go to the country!

    As for Cheryl Gillian she has certainly got to resign.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    So just because there is one line in a manifesto then it means that there is an unlimited mandate for it?

    What rubbish!

    So if there were 1,000 suggestions that were generally acceptable and one line that said all first born children were to be sold into slavery then anyone voting for the 1,000 sensible suggestions must never be allowed to protest against this one bad one?

    What rubbish!

    In an age when our opinions can be gauged on everything it is anti-democratic to suggest that a Government can do whatever it wants as long as it appears somewhere in the maniesto.

    But then TD will always follow whatever orders he receives from HQ.

  • In2minds

    William Huskisson MP was, in 1830, run over by and killed by George Stephenson’s locomotive, Rocket. The accident making Huskisson the first casualty of rail travel in Britain was Huskisson’s fault. I think that Cheryl Gillan won’t be the only casualty of the HS2 folly, and the blame goes to Cameron for that.

  • Fergus Pickering

    We have these Celti Secretaries for the same reason we have a Stephen Lawrence police unit twiddling thumbs till kingdom come. It’s symbolic, squire.

  • fergus pickering

    What say do you want over it, Peter? A referendum?

  • TrevorsDen

    PS – why on earth do we need a Welsh Secretary? or a Scottish one? At the very best all we need is a Minister for Devolved Affairs, working from a cupboard in Pickles Dept.

  • TrevorsDen

    No say?
    how so?

    We voted in the election and the coalition has a majority in parliament.

    In the Conservative manifesto – ‘We will establish a high speed rail network…’

    So come of your sanctimonious high horse.

  • Nickle

    5 million a day in debt payments.

    Will the passengers pay for that?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Another thing that we don’t get any say over at all.