Coffee House

People’s front against HS2 to unite

1 April 2014

1:02 PM

1 April 2014

1:02 PM

Watch out for an increase in hostilities from anti-HS2 campaigners in the next few weeks. One of the more concerted backbench campaigners against the new route is planning to strengthen the cause by bringing together all the groups that are against HS2 under one umbrella. Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP who has a track record of causing serious problems for the government on issues such as Syria, tells me that he and Cheryl Gillan are setting up the group in May ‘so we can speak as one voice’. Bridgen hopes the campaign will include organisations who have set their faces against high speed rail such as the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the Woodland Trust, describing the current campaign as a ‘bit like the People’s Front of Judea’.

Bridgen is particularly concerned about the impact on homes in other parts of his constituency that are not supposed to be affected by HS2 after conversation he had with the chair of HS2 Sir David Higgins. He says:

‘He told me that there was leeway on the route: it’s a consultation and the route may move miles and miles on either side of the planned route. That has a blight effect on properties for miles around.’

The reason this is particularly interesting is that Bridgen is a potent campaigner. He was behind the revolt on Syria, is celebrating a victory on possibly decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee, and described David Cameron’s leadership as ‘like being in an aeroplane’ that the ‘pilot doesn’t know how to land’. Ministers seem to have worked out how to approach Bridgen a little better: his most recent quest on the licence fee led to the government agreeing to his demand for a review of the sanctions for non-payment of the fee. He knows how to corral MPs to support a cause – and which causes will cause the government embarrassment. So any moves that he makes to step up his anti-HS2 campaign should worry ministers rather.

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Show comments
  • Jackthesmilingblack

    As you arrive in sunny Japan, you can buy a “JR East Pass” which gives you five flexible days of unlimited Bullet train travel (including regular JR trains and the ride into Tokyo) within a 14-day period, for 22,000 yen (you figure it out). Such a deal already, and goes some way to address the major criticism of the Bullet train system, namely that it is too expensive.
    Do I think that Britain should have an HS2 rail network? That is such a no-brainer. Of course it should. Only Luddites would think otherwise.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • Michael

      If you had said ‘Do I think that Britain should have an HS rail network?’ I’d reckon that was a no-brainer. But, an HS network and the inept HS2 are not one and the same.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “But, an HS network and the inept HS2 are not one and the same.” Splitting hairs aren`t we?
        Vietnam will have a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City while Luddites in UK are still arguing the toss.

        • Michael

          I’d want to get on with HS2 if it did not have these flaws:

          1. HS2’s speed-first route to Birmingham risks making that city and its airport an economic satellite of London, tilting the UK economy even more in London’s favour.

          2. HS2 then needs one speed-first fork to reach Manchester and another one to reach Leeds, but

          3. HS2 shuns the northern economy’s critical need for a time-shrinking HS-link between these two centres, which are only 40 miles apart. And

          4. The HS2 fork to Leeds shuns East Midlands Airport, that region’s potential growth driver, and stops instead in some sidings at Toton, on the western edge of Nottingham.

          5. HS2 could have more tidily followed the M1 and M6 corridors to the West Midlands and further north. But it didn’t. And

          6. Euston has interchange penalties for south of London, east of City and Essex users: a large target market.

          I’d not call that analysis splitting hairs.

  • Jimmy R

    What is being kept from the public is that HS2, like so many other money wasting madcap schemes, is that the whole thing is not for the benefit of Britain but to comply with Directive 96/48/EC of 23 July 1996 which concerns the Trans-European high-speed rail network (TEN-R).

    If you want to wade through the usual EU gobbledy gook in the Directive you can find it at

    The simpler explanations can be found in the Annexes towards the end of the Directive.

    For those who love highly technical details check 2002/735/EC which gives endless pages of the specifications everything related to High Speed Rail must comply with throughout the EU.

    In other words our politicians are telling us that HS2 is for the benefit of our economy when the truth is that we will be throwing countless tens of billion pounds of money we do not have simply to comply with the orders of the Brussels Eurocrats and one of their One Size Fits All Single Nation Europe.

    • realfish

      Misleading rubbish.

      I don’t like the way that the EU has mutated either, but your assertion is wrong. The Directive simply says that if a country decides to have high speed rail, it should be built to a specification that allows interoperability between countries (it ends, for example the situation where the protectionist French refuse to allow German trains to run on their network).

      It is entirely up to national government to decide for themselves whether HS rail is appropriate and if so where it will go.

  • Michael

    Don’t get too excited. Whitehall and HS2 Ltd have the only high speed game in town. They will tough it out with PR roadshows and unquestioning endorsements of HS2, while the Whips will tough it through Parliament. Unless, that is, a big group of elected antis can agree on a better high speed game, or on a package of fast-connector rail breakthroughs beyond London that are obviously better for the North South Divide than HS2.

    Alas, agreement and common cause among elected representatives is a rare spotting.

  • Kitty MLB

    Sometimes when things are not good at home chaps buy themselves a little
    Ginetta or Lamborghini our Prime Minister continued with paying with choo choo
    trains – that Labour also was fond of.
    Honestly is a vainglorious project, will cost a fortune, will rip up our green and pleasant
    land. I am a little bemused that the feral green obsessives have not been ranting
    about the atmosphere. We should improve with what we have got already..
    and to be quite honest by the time this appears, technology would have moved on,
    and man will be living on the moon.
    Just leave this platform Mr Cameron… its a dead end.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Why should ministers be worried? Bridgen is going to offer them a get out of jail card without spending £50bn and doubling it. Perhaps McCloughlin should be worried, since he has nailed his colours to the wrong mast.

  • Mark McIntyre

    NO2 HS2 – united we travel !

  • realfish

    ‘Bridgen is particularly concerned about the impact on homes in other parts of his constituency that are not supposed to be affected by HS2..’

    And never will be. Even if there is a detour of ‘miles and miles’, HS2 will come nowhere near Bridgen’s constituency.

    Bridgen is showboating

  • CharlietheChump

    No subsidy to ANY rail project. Cyclists should pay for new cycle lanes. Goodbye Scotland. Goodbye EU. Large brandy. Thanks.

    • CharlietheChump

      And for for my friend . . .

  • saffrin

    How much is all this going to cost the taxpayer before Nigel Farage ends this waste in 2015 I ask?

    • realfish

      UKIP at the last election wanted three more high speed rail lines

      • the viceroy’s gin

        What have they said now that the costs and user figures have been published?

        • realfish

          There’s not a ‘they’, UKIP is a ‘him’ and Farage, canvassing for votes in leafy Buckinghamshire, and having spotted an opportunity to grab Tory votes, is suddenly dead against.

          All irrelevant of course. Fantasy Farage has got as much chance of being in power in 2015, as I have.

          And even more irrelevant when you think of the KIPper demographic – most of ‘his’ supporters and the anti-HS2ers will be dead an gone by the time Britain gets itself into the 21st century.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …so if they don’t agree with you, they’re not in the 21st century? So I guess all the cost studies, capacity studies and time studies must all be from the 20th century, eh lad?

          • saffrin

            I can’t see you ever being elected for anything considering you don’t even know what century it is.

      • saffrin

        What we want and what we can afford are two different things.
        I can’t see UKIP dumping the country with an additional £150 billion debt on top of the £1.5 trillion and rising debt previous parties have failed to payback.

  • Alexsandr

    They should dump HS2 now. Its a stupid vanity project.
    The west coast line is not the most busy inter city line -that into Paddington is. And the line into Waterloo has far worst overcrowding than the line into Euston.
    Intercity ridership is flatlining. the growth to give a case for HS2 simply is not there.
    There are doubts about how much people will be prepared to change trains. Well would you get a tram out from Nottingham to Long eaton rather than get a direct train from the city? The Cross Country business was developed by BR because they knew people hate changing trains so they laid on through trains -even from Aberdeen to Penzance. And why do places like Shrewsbury and Bradford complain about the lack of through trains? And why is Grand central doing so well?
    The Northern hub is walking into disaster. there are no trains for the Manchester -Liverpool electrification because they were planning to reuse the trains from Thameslink (30 years old), but the replacement Thameslink trains are late (DfT’s fault) and now Transpennine is to lose some of their trains to Chiltern so again the north will be short of trains.
    DfT is cleary not fit for purpose. they should forget HS2 and concentrate on getting commuter services into the cities outside London sorted. That’s where the growth is, and its development is long overdue.

    • HookesLaw

      Admittedly its ‘only’ wikipedia, but the WCML
      ‘ is the most important intercity rail passenger route in the United Kingdom’
      ‘is Britain’s most important rail backbone in terms of population served.’
      ‘The WCML is also one of the busiest freight routes in Europe, carrying 43% of all UK rail freight traffic.’
      ‘The line is the principal rail freight corridor linking the European mainland (via the Channel Tunnel) through London and South East England to the West Midlands, North West England and Scotland’

      Previous plans to upgrade speed on the WCML to 225kph were aborted due to cost. We can thank the last brilliant Labour govt for that. And for halting Virgin’s plans for one section (wow, 1 section!) to be run at 217kph.
      It seems an age ago that British Rail, yes moribund deadbeat British Rail, were proposing 250kph trains. Nothing ever gets done in this country thaks to thickheads like you.

      • monty61

        ‘ is the most important intercity rail passenger route in the United Kingdom’ – says ******* who?

        High time they fixed routes out of Paddington, I stood in a train from Paddington to Reading last week where the crush was so bad it ran all the way back from second class along the length of the buffet car and halway into first class. Sadly between 4:30 and 7pm it’s always like this.

        I was connecting at Reading to a non-electrified branch line serving Berkshire and Surrey that has only one train an hour, again standing room only at peak times and you are stuffed for nearly an hour’s wait if your train gets held up for 10min at Reading waiting on a platform (normal occurrence at peak time). It’s been waiting on electification since the 1960s.

        The jokes about getting on the roof are wearing thin. It’s high time we fixed the third world bits of our infrastructure without these nonsense vanity projects.

        • monty61

          The issue here is an utterly botched privatisation in no-ones interest. It was done as a piece of vandalism, humpty dumpty style to make sure it could never be put back together again. Admirable sentiment perhaps but what we got was the worst of all possible worlds, neither controllable nor accountable with minimal operation of market forces and now costing us in real terms four times in subsidy what the old BR did.

        • realfish

          They are fixing the Paddington (GWML) lines. New trains are being built and electrification is on its way (although, when I last heard, the NIMBYs in Bath didn’t want the overhead electrification running through their city, although the railway has been there for more than 150 years).

          • Alexsandr

            one nasty thought about rail electrification. where will the electric come from as we are heading towards a generation shortfall.
            a 4 car class 350 as used by London Midland can draw 1500kW. and they run then in multiple up to 12 cars. and a 11 car pendolino can draw 5.95MW. OK so not all trains draw power all the time and the also regenerate while braking, but the amount they use is serious amounts of electricity. I think its pertinent to ask if its in the plan to provide the necessary generating capacity. suspect not.

            • starfish

              Presumably trains will only run on windy days? Yet more evidence of the incoherent way infrastructure is planned and managed in this country.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          “The jokes about getting on the roof are wearing thin.”
          This place gets more like India everyday.

      • RichardWH

        The WCML is running at 60% passenger capacity. Trains into Paddington at 99% today. Fix those before wasting billion son unnecessary vanity project.

      • Alexsandr

        I do want rail development. But I want the right rail development, not a vanity project.
        The growth is commuting, not inter city. that’s where the cash should go. Getting the speed up on trans pennine, fixing slade lane junction (its between Stockport and Manchester), replacing the awful pacers.
        Network rain are doing some stuff -reading flyover, Norton bridge, Bristol TM-filton quadrupling, 125 on the midland. but lots more could be done. benefiting everyone, not just the minority wanting to get to London fast and who happen to want to travel from one of the few HS2 stations.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Do not quote Wikipedia regarding transportation engineering projects, which by definition have hard data well available for the serious-minded, you ignorant and poorly educated socialist dolt.

      • Kitty MLB

        Everyone is a thick head, is that not the case Hooky.
        This is a vanity project. Politicians are just very fond of playing with toy trains.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        You really need to grasp the difference between abbreviation and initials. But in the meantime ask yourself, “Where`s the metre, Muppet?”
        The correct abbreviation would be “km/h” or “km/hr” if you aspire to be a scientist. Common use doesn`t make for correct.
        Kids today, …