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MPs have voted to approve initial funding for HS2 railway line. It means that prep work, including the violent eviction of property owners, can go ahead.

There’s little point to it, cutting the time between London and Manchester by a marginal amount, while the cost/benefits looks worse as time goes by. The government’s latest estimate of the capital to be squandered has recently risen to £46 billion. There’s opposition from many, including some Tory MPs whose constituents will either be kicked off their own land or have it blighted.

So why is the government pushing ahead with this pointless scheme? Because the EU wants it. It’s a part of what’s called a Trans-European Network, essentially a Grand Project of transport links and networks across the continent. This map shows where it all fits in.

When you next hear a government minister on the wireless defending the scheme (or an infrastructure sector rep whose job it is to talk government into giving our money to his clients) remember that it’s happening only because the EU has ordered it.

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12 thoughts on “THE POINTLESS HS2 MOVES AHEAD

  1. It’s an unfortunate fact that any new significant rail lines or highways in populated areas will involve ” eminent domain ” seizures of land. There’s just no way the projects would work otherwise.

  2. Whilst its an EU idea, it is not necessary for the ‘member state’, in this case the UK, to build it. That in no way takes away your fundamental argument, that this is somehow ALL to do with the EU. Our so called Government is as much to blame for doing it, as the EU are for thinking it.

    In fact, I think this is much worse, since they can give in to public pressure and not build this White Elephant.

    So why then are they doing it, you may ask ? Well, because they can ! And you thought you lived in a democracy ?

  3. I think that ATW gives one a ( ahem ) incomplete perspective on British public opinion.

    Does anyone there support the project?

    I believe that the French, Germans and Japanese are extremely proud of their TGV and Bullet trains.

    Surely there are some advantages to having trains like this?

    I’d love to have TGV level service from Boston – NY – Washington and other places. Not gonna happen anytime soon.

  4. Years back, I took the high speed train from London to Edinburgh, which wasn’t even in the top tier of European trains, and was so delighted with how fast and comfortable it was. A billion times better than America’s best.

    I am a huge train supporter myself. I use subways and similar all the time on business travel, even though there would be no problem taking taxis.

    Trains are good in many ways – easing congestion, speed, much less energy use, etc etc.

  5. Public transport is for communists.

    It’s an unfortunate fact that any new significant rail lines or highways in populated areas will involve ” eminent domain ” seizures of land. There’s just no way the projects would work otherwise.

    You mean that when a bunch of foreign megalomaniacs decide on the grandest of projects, Britons should be violently evicted and dispossessed of their property and be forced to hand over tens of billions for the pleasure.

    Hey, that’s government all over!

    If the economic case can be made, the market will provide. Roads, railways and canals were all private-sector schemes before government barged all the way in with its corruption, theft and violence. The City is awash with cash. If the economic case is there then the funds could be found. If the economic case is there then people can be peacefully persuaded to do deals. If not, then go elsewhere.

    Kicking people off their own land is the mark of tyrants. But that’s government all over.

  6. The distance between London and Manchester, at 181 miles, is about the same as the distance between NYC and Boston, 189 miles.

    The market won’t assemble a direct parcel of land between those places. I doubt that lines of that size have ever been built without eminent domain, even when Britain’s intercity rail lines were first built in the 1800s

  7. I doubt that lines of that size have –in heavily populated areas —ever been built without eminent domain, even when Britain’s intercity rail lines were first built in the 1800s.

    In the middle of the Outback, no problemo. In southern England, impossible.

  8. I know Switzerland very well and I have always been impressed by its railway network. Having said that its railways are not very fast. But they are very punctual. To me this is important. It is nice to catch a train on time and find it arrives on time at ones destination. One can wonder if a HS Network will achieve this.

  9. Well said Pete. This will cost not £42 billion, but at at least £100 billion when it’s finished, and its cheer-leaders know this. But once its underway it will be impossible to cancel.

  10. Phantom:

    I think that ATW gives one a ( ahem ) incomplete perspective on British public opinion.

    No shit Sherlock. 🙂 Understatement of the year award coming your way.

    Does anyone there support the project?

    I do.

  11. Peter T

    Punctuality can be more important than speed.

    The best Japanese trains give you both. In Japan, the train operators are really upset if they’re 30 seconds late.

    In 2002, I spent all too few days in Belgium. We took a number of trains, the last one a tricky itinerary of three trains and two connections to Cherleroi Airport. I was afraid that one of the trains would be late. But no, each of the trains was exactly on time, including one with only two ancient cars.

    Here in the Northeast US, its the train delays that are the big problem, not the maximum speed. It’s really hard to fix it, since we have too few tracks and too many trains sharing them.

    And no, its not a problem that any private developer can ever afford to fix, or that they have any desire to fix.

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