/ Travel & Leisure

Not everyone’s on board the high-speed rail network

Fast train

In six years’ time, work will start on the HS2 high-speed rail network. It’s set to boost journey times between London, the midlands and the north, but do you actually want it?

Almost half of us support plans to build the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway network, or so says a poll by TNS-BMRB. Only 9% of those questioned opposed it, although 44% were still left undecided.

Are you also ambivalent about the £32 billion project? Or are you firmly standing on one side of the fence?

The link will run at 250mph between London and cities like Birmingham and Manchester – slashing travel times for the former journey by 36 minutes, and 47 minutes for the latter.

Plans get a mixed reception

The ultra-fast line does have its critics, with many saying it’ll destroy acres of Britain’s most beautiful countryside and demolish homes. But supporters cite the creation of jobs and monetary benefits that stretch into the billions.

A full public consultation on whether the line will go ahead is due very soon, but if it gets a ‘thumbs up’, we’ll get an announcement later this year. Transport secretary Philip Hammond champions the high-speed network and hopes the above survey will win over its doubters:

‘This poll shows that, across Britain, five times as many people support our planned High Speed Rail network as oppose it.

‘Of course we will do everything we can to mitigate the impacts on areas like the Chilterns but projects like this have to be decided on the basis of the national interest and the overall net benefits it will bring to Britain.’

If that sounds like a big fudge to you, you’re definitely not alone. Many others oppose the network, proving it’s not going to be easy to get everyone on board the high-speed hype train.

The pressure group ‘Stop HS2‘ has been set up, with its head, Lizzy Williams, arguing that the project is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, ‘This is a railway for the rich, yet all of us are expected to pay for it and carry all of the financial risk.’

A council in Buckinghamshire has even joined the disapproving chorus, pledging 100k to fight the network. So are you on board with the high-speed rail network? Or will you throw yourself on to the line in opposition?


In the interests of impartiality, you should provide a link to Yes2HS2 as well.

I am well in favour of a new High Speed Line. Well, any new railway line which relieves the crowded, congested and unreliable West Coast Main Line (which I take every day from Rugby) is to be welcomed.

Some points to consider:-

West Coast Mainline “upgrade” – costing £9bn gave us i) remodelled Rugby station ii) remodelled Milton Keynes station and iii) remodelled Euston throat. Basically things which should’ve been done years ago.
The reality was
1) a decade of disruption to all WCML passengers
2) de-scoped delivery – it was meant to deliver 140mph trains with cab signalling
3) many parts of the line still using old signalling and track which break frequently

this against HS1 which was

1) Delivered on time and on budget (£15bn inc St Pancras)
2) Delivered with a 200mph top speed (capable)
3) Is extremely reliable (the trains are not in snow)


The cost – this is spread over 20 years, so we can afford it


This is not managed by Network Rail so costs/overheads are lower and does not come out of their budget for maintenance of the existing network.

It will be funded in the same way as HS1, Thameslink and Crossrail – all seperate from Network Rail


It is about capacity, faster journey times are a bonus

and finally E)

We invented the railways and we have been “making do and mending” for all our lives. It’s the British way. Think of the jobs that it will create, think of the connections to Europe, think of the ability to not live in the London/Birmingham/Manchester commuter belts in order to work there, think of the increased services on the WCML for all the towns and cities on it, think of the expanding of rail freight due to increased capacity, think of grounded flights (check London – Paris), think of the rising price of petrol (1.33 last time I looked), think of fewer cars on the road.


These guys can put it way better than I can, build it! build it now!!

HUHS2 says:
1 March 2011

For anyone living in – or with any kind of interest in the future of – the West Midlands there’s also a new campaign, ‘Hands Up for High Speed 2’ – which |promotes the importance of building HS2 for a region with one of the UK’s highest joblessness stats (261,000 and rising). HS2 could absolutely transform the region’s economy which is traditionally the workhorse (and bell weather) of the wider UK economy. I want to do my bit to create a much more prosperous region for my children to inherit so that they don’t necessarily have to leave it in order to find opportunity (the case for many young people today).

I know I am not alone in thinking this and HUHS2 gives people somewhere to go to express their support for the proposals.

Sign up to show your support at https://www.handsupforhighspeed2.org/petition/

I also am also strongly in favour of this scheme. Dean obviously knows a lot more about railways and makes a very good case but I can also foresee the benefits this new line will bring to the most populous parts of England and the opportunities it would throw up for cross-channel journeys. The time-saving on the high speed line is not necessarily the big issue for most people but the much needed capacity the new line will release on the classic routes – new cross-country journeys and local [stopping] services will become possible, there could be new routes for Ox and Bucks dwellers to centres of educatiion, employment and leisure interest, and midlanders might be able to get a seat on their daily commute. Or, we could just disfigure the countryside with more roads, fly-overs and roundabouts, suffer more injuries and deaths, have more unsafe loads, and experience more delays.

Think of what follows, faster trains to Glasgow and Newcastle etc. That will cut the number of internal flights in the UK.

In German I noticed a year or two back that one of their new hi-speed lines was built following the line of the Autobahn. Gave the drivers something to look at as the train sped by without making too much noise. Most of the noise was from the traffic.

Incidently the Eurostar engines are a disgrace. The noise they produce is much too loud; at least they were when they went through Bromley before HS1 was commissioned.

True, the Germans did build a high-speed line between Frankfurt and Koeln alongside the A3 (some of the engineering on this line is incredible – 4% gradients) and through an area which has far more areas of “outstanding natural beauty” than the Chilterns.

I also noticed that this week, Phil Hammond has announced the electrification of the Great Western Line to Bristol and Cardiff and announced a new fleet of trains to replace the aging HSTs and commuter trains on that route.

Good news all round for rail passengers…….and enthusiasts 🙂

Chris Tolmie says:
2 March 2011

The HS2 line to Birmingham (the first phase) is due to be complete by 2026. Well before this date the change in working culture and new enhancements to teleworking technology will greatly increase the number of people working from home.
Even with occasional team meetings in the office, more than 30% of jobs will be home based by 2015. This steady growth in people with flexible working options will reduce the pressure on road rail and air routes and reduce the forecasts for rail passenger traffic.
In addition, business users and commuters are the most profitable passengers, tending to travel at peak times and at higher fares. By taking significant proportions of these people out of the system the business case for HS2 has to be reconsidered.


I don’t know what companies you work for but everyone I have worked for, or my friends have, or my colleagues and family have, have offered home working merely as a way of working when you are sick. Or when your boiler blows up. Employers want you in the office, that is a fact, and will remain so.

Home working and teleconferencing has been around for years, so why hasn’t there already been a huge modal shift? Why are all modes of transport increasing in patronage?

Or do you think that we are a nation of consultants and journalists?

I use Skype quite a lot sure, but to say that this will replace office working is misguided.

I would love to see where you get your figures from…. “more than 30% jobs will be home based by 2015” is just crazy.
Have you been listening to notoriously negative rail commentator Christian Wolmar? 🙂

Stung says:
2 March 2011

£34 thousand million of taxpayers’ money spent on HS2 – how are we going to pay for that? Anyone else remember the following note left in the Treasury pointing out there is no money? “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards — and good luck! Liam Byrne.”

Here is a solution. Add 7% onto VAT for a year – that will just cover the costs of the land and track (although not the trains)…. so long as it doesn’t go over budget.

Now does £34 billion on HS2 still sound like good value for money? Not to me.

Interestingly I had yet to meet anyone who was in favour of HS2 – until I read these comments! I guess it’s very dependent on where you live and where you travel to.

As a train user into/out of Hampshire-London, I’d much rather the £32bn was spent improving the whole network rather than a very specific section. I would also argue the London to Birmingham route is well served at present (it’s a lot faster than the Waterloo – Portsmouth route).

It does seem like a bit of a white elephant to me but I appreciate the sentiments of those that have contributed to this conversation.

I wonder what the odds are that it will be abandoned if/when there is another elected party? Remember the APT?

I don’t know enough about HS2 and am fortunate enough to live in central London so won’t be negatively impacted by the building of the line, but anything that improves our ageing rail network has to be a good thing – surely?

Too often the quickest and cheapest way to travel around the UK is by car or plane, but with oil running out, the impact of rising CO2 emissions and the 2020 EU targets we have to meet, this has to change and to me high speed rail seems a pretty good option.

I tried to go to Inverness by train last year but it was going to cost me over £200 and 23 hours to get home, so because I had to go, I flew instead. It took me 3 hours door to door and cost well under £100 – this is not a sustainable option. Start building tomorrow I say!