Wednesday 11 January 2012

Preparing for the next step

From a UK perspective, the one part of yesterday’s announcement on HS2 that I don’t really understand is why the Government has decided to terminate HS2 at Euston, rather than at St Pancras which is virtually next door, and which would allow through-running to continental Europe without having to change train.  Even if through-running were not to be an immediate feature of services, it should certainly be a longer term objective.  After all, it was what we were promised right at the start of the building of the Channel Tunnel.
From a Welsh perspective, the proposals are far from ideal, with a danger that we will be left behind in a world where reliable high speed surface transport is increasingly seen as the norm, and preferable to aviation.  It’s time, though, to stop arguing about the detail of HS2 and start the debate about HS3.  Continued argument about HS2 will only further delay the Welsh connection.
HS2 will initially connect London and Birmingham, with connections to Manchester and Leeds – and a possible spur to Heathrow – seen as being phase 2 of the scheme.  The timescales are lengthy, and if we wait until HS2 is finished – or even well under way – or if we try and continue the argument, rather than widening the issue out, we run the risk not only of further delaying HS3, but also that the ‘competition’ will get there first.
There are two obvious candidates for HS3.  The first is to continue HS2 north to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the second is to build on westwards from Heathrow to Cardiff and Bristol. 
I’d prefer that we didn’t have to be in competition with our Scots colleagues, but they should gain significant benefit from HS2.  There is no inherent reason why the rolling stock purchased to run on HS2 cannot continue over existing rail infrastructure, albeit at slower speed, all the way to Scotland once HS2 is completed.  This is exactly the approach taken by the TGV services in France, which serve many more towns than are actually on high-speed lines, providing direct rather then merely connecting services.  It just requires foresight and commitment.
We need to make sure that it’s our turn next.  A far sighted, strategically-thinking Welsh Government would now stop all whingeing about HS2, and start lobbying and making the case for an early decision on what follows.  And on getting the right decision.


Spirit of BME said...

HS2 is really about making Birmingham Airport the third runway for Heathrow and I predict that the Heathrow spur will be attached to phase one.
There is no other justification for this first phase unless it is seen in this light, as Little Boris Johnson stated this will be of no economic advantage to the Midlands and simply turn Birmingham into a new dormitory town for the S.E.

boncath said...

Here we go again
The world revolves around London
The modus operandi of Rome was that all roads led to Rome hence in Britannia all roads led to London but from there only one road led to Rome
The Railways followed the same philosopy in that they competed with the roads but in London each company had its own Terminus completely separated from the services of its rivals
The problem then was that France was the enemy so services to the south coast were not to be encouraged

You may remember the point that the M4 ends at Pont Abraham so as not to aid the Southern Irish economy

Regretably until we have independence Wales may never see any Electrified rail services let alone High Speed

maen_tramgwydd said...

"From a Welsh perspective... a danger that we will be left behind in a world where reliable high speed surface transport is increasingly seen as the norm.."

Left behind? ...the railway infrastructure in Wales (and most of the UK) is still in the 19th century!

How long did it take the UK government to build the link from the Tunnel to London? The French had completed theirs before the Tunnel was opened.

Even by 2017 (if then) there will only be some 30 miles of electrified main line in the whole of Wales.

The UK has had (and has got) abysmally bad government - and sadly most of us in Wales keep voting for the parties that have let us down so badly.