1 Mar 2011

Reply to questionnaire chapter 2

Do you agree that a national high speed rail network from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester (the Y network) would provide the best value for money solution (best balance of costs and benefits) for enhancing rail capacity and performance?


I have read the document on alternative investment strategies. (High Speed 2 Strategic Alternatives Study by W S Atkins).

On the basis of that report, it is simply not true to say that the benefits that they would deliver would be disruptive and poor value for money. In any case there other other alternative strategies which appear not been explored at all, in particular, the construction of a conventional (125 or 140mph speed railway on roughly the same alignment as HS2).

The Rail Interventions section of that report concentrates on upgrades to the West Coast Main Line and the Chilterns route to Birmingham and in case of the latter, an interesting list of interventions are postulated. Amongst the options discussed is the possibility of running much longer trains on the WCML. But this is dismissed in the following sentence:

"However, operating a fleet of 400 metre would require platforms at every station served by WCML “fast” services to be lengthened. Selective Door Opening (“SDO”) is unlikely to prove acceptable or workable."

This curt dismissal of a major policy option is strange because what is called for is better SDO system than those currently in use.

As regards the dominance of London and the South East, there is no reason to suppose that HS2 would reduce this - on the contrary - it could suck business away and simply lead to longer-distance commuting. The appropriate way to balance the UK economy across the regions is through the tax system, so that less tax is payable in areas of geographical disadvantage.

The forecast figures are so conjectural as to be worthless.

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