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HS1 was a godsend. Bring on HS2

28 April 2014

6:48 PM

28 April 2014

6:48 PM

It used to take one hour and forty five minutes to get by train from where I live in Canterbury to central London. Now, as a consequence of HS1 and the rather annoyingly named “Javelin”, it takes a little over fifty minutes. There is not the remotest doubt that the new service has greatly improved the prosperity of the area, and made life more pleasant for the likes of me. An entire swathe of south-eastern England has been suddenly rendered commutable as a consequence – a good thing, seeing the cost of housing in London. (I don’t commute, as it happens, I ought to add.) The trains are frequent, reliable and jam-packed. This is the thing; once a new rail line is built, the complaints melt away and it seems incredible there could have been objections in the first place. This is the precise opposite, of course, in what happens with new motorways and new runways. God speed to HS2.

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Show comments
  • Cornelius Bonkers

    I hear what you say Rod, but new motorways can be absolute delight for us bikers – for example the smooth and wide Midlands Expressway – which incidentally didn’t cost the taxpayer a penny. But of course, as a socialist I suppose you wouldn’t approve of that. More toll roads please…

  • you_kid

    Rod, I always knew deep down you were a lefty.
    What next – an argument against selling HS1 to foreign ‘investors’ in an ill-conceived attempt to balance our books perhaps? That would be nice.

  • James Allen

    So we all get to pick up the tab for you to enjoy a quicker commute into London? Grrrrreat.

  • gram64

    Even in the ’60s it only took 1 hr 30 mins by fast train from Dover Priory (15 miles further south than Canterbury) via Ashford to Charing Cross. Dover Priory to Victoria via Canterbury was only 1hr 45 minutes, so Liddle must be lying, or always caught a slow train.

  • Hereward

    The only question that shd be addressed on HS2 is whether or not it is value for money in relation to other major infrastructure projects. 50bill is rather alot of dosh, when we also need to expand the SE airport capcity asap, as we are losing business and market share to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. Many motorways also need vital repairs and widening. Is HS2 the best way to spend our limited capital? Or has it become a vanit project?

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    High speed rail (HSR). One direction in divergence. I think I’ve told you for some years too late and too expansive. It would be more sensible to get rig of “Low Speed Rail”. With many element of democracy demanding the trains stop at almost every telegraph pole it is no longer High Speed. With parallel endeavor to build and expand airports built new motorways a system of competing transports systems will result with operational deficits as a result. The result of the Scottish referendum should influence which route the rail is built

  • Liberty

    But the world has changed. Technology develops exponentially. So, we can expect the first self-driving cars by 2018 and in 20 years they will be the norm. Then, when people can travel anywhere, any time and on the way sleep, work, eat, watch a movie and arrive refreshed they will not want to travel to the centre of a city, travel to the centre of another city and then get to their destination. And the cost will be huge because the capital cost will be £60bn. The alternative will of course cost the taxpayer nothing.

  • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

    I’m pleased that your journey is so much easier. But why should I, living out in the west, where a line running from London to Birmingham will be of no use to anybody, have to pay for it?

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    HS2 was labour’s creation followed up by the Tories and saved at the last minute by labour……. can anyone else see that they both want the same thing? It will be interesting to see if Lord Drayson is bidding through a silent partner on the contract.

    VOTE UKIP!

    • realfish

      UKIP wanted THREE high speed lines according to the last manifesto

      • Fergus Pickering

        Bloody good for them!

      • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

        Ukip is in favour of “high-speed rail”, just not HS2. Under its thinking, you could have new routes alongside existing ones, with much less pain for local residents. The model would be HS1, from London to the Channel Tunnel, which followed the route of an existing line – and therefore had rather less opposition (although it was not insignificant) than HS2.

  • martin

    The HS2 will have such expensive fares the only users who could afford travel this way will be the clients and staff of the BBC and MPs.

    • Kitty MLB

      My concern is that the train service in this country, some of our stations
      are in very poor, old fashioned conditions and need improvement, especially
      in rural and semi rural areas. A lot of older people use the trains because
      they don’t drive on our roads ( that are also in very bad conditions) in fact
      our roads are a menace to mankind- and I am forever avoiding potholes etc.
      A lot of the local lines in the southwest of the country are in need of updating
      also. I am just not sure that this is a major priority.

    • Fergus Pickering

      That is exactly what they said about HS1. Exactly..Proved to be drivel.

  • onetimeteacher

    What about the cost? near enough £6k a year before the underground. I did it for a year then worked out I could spend that on mortgage repayments on a bigger house in London. Also the last direct train back is 10:42, later on it gets very slow changing at Ashford and even that only one an hour. A decent occasional service, but you need a huge salary to swallow that for a lifetimes commute. I hear the biggest ‘benefit’ is the villages round Ashford, 40 mins to London, and much cheaper houses than the villages round Sevenoaks and T Wells.

  • Feste

    HS2 is not about speed, it is about capacity. Rail passenger numbers have doubled since privatisation and are set to double again. HS2 will free up capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line to meet growing demand from the intermediate stations – Watford, Milton Keynes, Rugby, etc. Delivering this step-change in capacity by upgrading the existing main line would be a hugely expensive undertaking and the additional tracks alongside the existing route would cut a swathe through lineside properties that would be far more damaging environmentally than HS2. It would also mean years and years of possessions, diversions and bus substitutions as they try to operate trains over a 100-mile long building site. The last attempt at upgrading the West Coast Main Line helped to bankrupt Railtrack and eventually delivered a de-specified upgrade that has bought a few years’ breathing space at best.
    We are going to need a bigger railway so we might as well build a 21st century one rather than a 19th century one.

    • martin

      To improve capacity, lengthen trains and go double deck.

      • perdix

        To go double deck you would have to raise all the bridges. Think of the nationwide disruption! And cost!

        • starfish

          Clealry a lot more than that required for HS2?

      • Feste

        You could, but lengthening trains means lengthening stations (which in turn means moving all of the complex track layouts on the approaches to stations). And we are talking double-length trains here, not just an extra carriage, so there will be a half-kilometre walk from one end to the other. Even when you have done this, it is not all gain because longer trains take longer to go through junctions, reducing the number of trains that can be run each hour. And yes, you could go double deck but as Perdix points out, that means rebuilding every overhead structure – bridges, tunnels, overhead electrification masts. And you cannot just hand over the railway to the civil engineers for a few years, you have to do all this on a railway that is being used intensively, all day every day.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You can’t go double-deck you silly man. You must have noticed bridges and tunnels..

        • you_kid

          Lowering the track layout is a PF2 option.

  • transponder

    Former Kent resident here (Tunbridge Wells, village of.) Instead of everyone desperately trying to commute to London, why doesn’t England diversify and become less dependent on that one place? Stop being so London-dependent, folks. You have a wonderful country, fast roads, telecommunications and the Internet. It can be done.

    • mitate

      fast roads? they’re saying they might even have to close some of the potholed horrors around your old manor. the money that would would resurface every road in the country is spent far away from these shores. judge a country by its roads.

      • Kitty MLB

        Oh no please not roads, we have the most monstrous potholes,
        absolute craters, there are probably smaller ones on the moon.
        And probably one of the reasons why rail travel needs improving.
        Our motorways are really not much better for other reasons.

        • mitate

          improve rail travel by all means. but this bankrupt country shouldn’t even be contemplating HS2, let alone steaming (if you’ll excuse) ahead with this project while its roads are in such an appalling state. i repeat, and i shall go on repeating it:
          judge a country by its roads!!!

          • Kitty MLB

            I will excuse your’ steaming ahead’, a nod to steam trains- a joy. Yes I agree with you, our roads are really in a state
            and this seems like politicians playing with toy train sets,
            it will be very expensive, is causing mayhem for householders,
            and will take forever to complete. We really need to improve on what we have, because they are really outdated and some have gone to pot. Our village station looks as it did in the 30s.
            Yes we should judge our country by its roads but also remember those who use the train, not everyone drives-
            and it is quicker.

            • mitate

              “HS2 takes big government stupidity to a new level” on “the commentator” site tells it far better than i.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Nonsense! Judge a country by its people.

            • Lungfish66

              Are you an estate agent Fergus?

          • Lungfish66

            oh c’mon, we must spend a mere 50 billion on a daft new destructive railway. Roads are not part of our new green groupthink

        • Lungfish66

          Kitty, please explain to thick people. There is no need for a new train line through virgin country. Just upgrade the existing infrastructure for Christssake.

    • martin

      Better for all would be the installation of the World’s fastest broadband. Travel needs would be minimised.

    • rodliddle

      Yes, agreed.

      • Lungfish66

        The one good thing the BBC has done- bring in the scum Mancs. very good notion.

        • Lungfish66

          I must say though, that strapping big blond lass they have recruited onto breakfast telly, with a proper northern accent. By gum she is a top girl.

          • Lungfish66

            I only worked for British Rail for a couple of years as a youth in the eighties but I know that London to Birmingham line needs upgrading NOT replacing. Fergus, I know you are a sensible chap, please do not get sucked into the political bullshit of HS2.

  • Lungfish66
  • stearl33

    The most accurate observation in this post is that if HS2 ever does get built, it will become almost immediately an accepted part of the country’s infrastructure. 5 years after it starts running, not only will people wonder what all the fuss was about, they’ll be surprised there was even a fuss in the first place.

  • Lungfish66

    hey Rod was your Dad a train driver?- you surely should declare an interest. I know its bollocks but just so.

    • rodliddle

      yes, I declare an interest.

      • Lungfish66

        ok

  • Ross

    Somehow sums up HS2 advocacy

    ‘man who does not use train service lauds extension of said service’

    • rodliddle

      I do use the train. I just don’t commute every day. Duh.

      • Ross

        Well that obviously changes everything. Duh.

        • rodliddle

          Well it nullifies your fatuous point, doesn’t it?

          • Ross

            A point made based upon your claim

            ‘I don’t commute, as it happens, I ought to add.’

            The definition of commute in the context you were using it is:

            ‘to travel regularly over some distance, as from a suburb into a city and back:’

            To those familiar with what the word means your statement is a claim that you do not travel to London regularly

            I surely can’t be held responsible for your errant usage.

            • rodliddle

              Grow up, you utter bore.

  • arnoldo87

    HS2 is not about commuting. If it were, then people all over the Midlands should be able to get to London more quickly. This will only apply to those commuting from Birmingham. If you are from, for instance, Coventry then it actually takes longer to get to London on HS2 than the current service.

  • Mark McIntyre

    NO2 HS2 – God forbid it !

    • Fergus Pickering

      May God strike you dead!

      • you_kid

        that clearly was too many words for him . . .

        • Lungfish66

          yes

      • Lungfish

        knackers

  • chudsmania

    Am i the only one reading that he lauds HS1 and Javelin but doesnt commute ? So why is it more pleasant for him ? Kinda crap post Mr Liddle.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Because he travels, you fool. As I do, and from Canterbury. The improvement is obvious. Nobody goes by the old, crap service. Why would they?

  • Cooper1992

    Oh well! If it helps people commute into London, then we SIMPLY must do it!

    After all, what London wants, London shall get!

    The only reason we have Buckinghamshire, Suffolk, Huntingdonshire and Sussex in the first place is to serve our great Corporations and our even greater Statesman of Westminster who dwell in the Multicultural Mecca thou nowst call London.

    And what use have we either for Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds? Why do we even have those cities when we could just merge everything into London? Heck why don’t we rename England to Londonland? After all the government of this country couldn’t give a damn about anybody living outside London’s suburbs (that’s Cambridge across to Brighton).

    But now at this point it would be fruitless of me to suggest spending all this HS2 money on repairing and upgrading the OTHER rail lines of this country. You know, the ones that aren’t going to London.

    • Lungfish66
    • martin

      I agree. The East / west links are dreadful. The motorways are desperate for modernisation and the east Coast Motorway should be constructed linking the Humber bridge with the Dartford crossing, opening up The Fens to the rest of the world. Roads are for the general poulation, HS2 for the Elite.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Seconded. Although Man/Liv/Leeds/Hull are also in the deep south there must be an economic argument for spending less money to greater effect around that central belt to try and rebalance/reorientate. Lets not consolidate Londonland’s over mighty influence and help retain talent elsewhere.

        • Lungfish66

          bollocks, but I did shag a bird called Helen in Hexham in 1985, she loved horses and doggy style as far as I can remember- top girl

          • Lungfish66

            lovely part of the world

    • tjamesjones

      Good question – what use have we for Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds? Beats me.

  • Kaine

    So the aim of the project is to turn Birmingham and Manchester into commuter towns for London? Isn’t that exactly the opposite of the current arguments?

    • In2minds

      HS2 and its supporters don’t do logic

    • Liberty

      Exactly; when communication is eased then business will go even faster to where the money is, which is to London.

    • you_kid

      The beauty of trains is – they travel in both directions at the same time.

  • Lungfish66

    Why not just upgrade the existing line thereby negating the need to destroy peoples lives and laying waste to huge tracts of our countryside?

    • chudsmania

      Cant do that mate , business types might have to get out of bed 10 mins earlier.

      • Lungfish66

        I fear so

    • Mark McIntyre

      Simply not sexy enough !

    • Ross

      Because the companies who have profits booked in the for next couple of decades on the back of this boondoggle will be most disappointed; especially after all the brown enveloping they had to do.

      • Lungfish66

        hmm maybe

    • Fergus Pickering

      Do you know anything about what you are talking about? Upgrade? How?

      • realfish

        We did it to the WCML near me a few years back. It took ten years to achieve, was scaled back. Normal traffic was disrupted for years…and now they’re having to have another go, to replace signalling in Watford, replace the wrong type of overhead cables south of Watford, attempt to increase speeds around Stafford.
        In the end we will have spent more than half of the cost of a brand new shiny HS line to Brum

        Upgrade? Try to make-do-and-mend a Victorian railway yet again? You must be joking.

        • Lungfish66

          naysayer

          • Lungfish66

            who is ‘we’ ?

      • Lungfish66

        no

      • Lungfish66

        no. nothing at all.

      • Lungfish66

        Duh

      • Lungfish66

        I do in a funny sort of way

        • Lungfish66

          Apart from the fact that I have been in construction for 35 years?

      • Lungfish66

        And have worked on mad and weird construction projects all around the world for 35 years

    • Guest

      The Syrian war has destroyed people’s lives not a train track.

      • Lungfish66

        but what do you want me to do about it?- I’m a white Englsh bloke and its not my fight or battle. I have no interest in that fight.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Laying waste huge tracts of countryside? By running a double railway rack through it? Come along now. Engage your brain.

      • Lungfish66

        that’s not whats on the table Fergus

      • Lungfish66

        I have only half a brain

        • Lungfish

          ok, maybe only a third

      • Lungfish66

        I promise you Fergus, the London/Brum line can be upgraded

      • Lungfish

        I’ll give it some thought

      • Lungfish

        OK- it will destroy villages, woods, and peoples lives Fergus- you engage your brain. The whole idea is Stalinist.

      • Lungfish66

        YOU engage your bran Fergus?

        • Lungfish66

          You eat bran I presume?

    • David McNeilage

      Because when the Victorians built the two lines of the West Coast Main line they unfortunately built them too close together to effectively do so. To upgrade even a mile of the track, requires the complete closure of the line. Fully upgrading the line would make London largely inaccessible from huge parts of the North by train for what could potentially be a period of years. So for obvious reasons, that isn’t an option.

      • Lungfish66

        rubbish

        • Lungfish66

          David- you have no idea. Nowadays there are ways and means.. My company could provide another way.

          • Lungfish

            shut up Lungfish66, in the cold light of day it probably is quite tricky. But I still think it can be done.

        • Lungfish

          you may have a point

    • Lungfish66

      Sorry I was slightly drunk when I wrote that- but it seems fairly sound to me. I’m not sure spending 50 billion quid on a stupid and damaging train line from London to Birmingham is in any way a good idea?- crazy I think.

    • Lungfish66

      Fergus says we can’t do that. I know some railway blokes from Derby who say we can.

      • Lungfish66

        Are you an engineer Fergus?

    • Lungfish66

      Rod, I’v seen you on the telly doing obscure things about wildlife. Why do you want to push a massive destructive swathe of railway through our ever decreasing country?

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