Manchester City Council

High Speed Too

I said last week that I'd say a bit more about transport this week and so I will. The war of words over High Speed 2 ( HS2 ) is already hotting up fuelled primarily by Home County nimbyism. Of course London and the Home Counties already have access to the developing European High Speed rail network via HS1 and most of them won't give two hoots about the impact of a two-speed Britain with all of us north of the Chilterns excluded from the system. But they ought to because unless we start planning for HS2, there will in the long term be a negative impact on the whole of the UK economy. I'm not going to spend time here discussing the importance of good transport links to economic growth, but knowledge and connectivity are the twin foundation stones of a modern economy.

Many opponents now are arguing that instead of investment in High Speed, government should be investing in the " classic " ie existing network. The fallacy in this argument is that this is not an either/or situation. If we look from a Manchester perspective, we already have severe overcrowding in most of our commuter train services. There is no capacity for more trains so that means we need more carriages, we need some station platforms lengthened to take longer trains and we need that now.

High Speed won't improve journey times Liverpool - Manchester - Leeds/Sheffield and beyond. Electrification will and that is already underway and should be completed around 2016, and with a few minor modifications on the Leeds - Manchester line, travel time could be down to 30/35 minutes. To get more services we need to resolve what used to be called the Manchester hub, is now called the Northern Hub, but is essentially a number of pinch points in the railway network around Manchester which limit the number of train pathways and regularly cause severe congestion impacting across the whole of the North and the North Midlands. Network Rail have developed a realistic plan to free up the Northern Hub, their Chief Executive has identified at as their number one priority, and with a fair wind we could see work start on that in the next 2/3 years.

There are 21 responses to “ High Speed Too”

  1. REDSTEVE57 Says:

    You have a severe case of the anoraks!! Do you have a great urge to collect engine numbers at weekends?

  2. Kevin Peel Says:

    Absolutely spot on. There is a very strong economic case for bringing high speed rail to the North West but Richard is also right to say that alongside that we need further investment in improvements to commuter services, particularly the trans pennine route. It is a shame that the government has only committed to taking high speed rail to Birmingham and it shows their lack of interest in the great cities of the north.

  3. Dave Bishop Says:

    'Nimbyism' is such a weasely little word, isn't it? Presumably the people of the 'Home Counties' (the sort of people who you and your Council love to hate - even though you haven't done too badly yourself, have you, Sir Richard?) can have anything heaped on them in the name of the 'sacred cow' of 'Economic Growth'. Trouble is 'Economic Growth' demands more and more and more assaults on the environment until, in the very near future, there will be no more environment left to assault. Then, of course you can start concreting over the concrete - although, by then, the world won't be worth living in. Just how much is enough? Have you ever even asked that question?

  4. Andy K Says:

    2 Things here:
    1 - Richard spot on, HS2 is great idea we need it, and we also need it to go further in time to come, but neither that nor any "classic" work would help unless we can decongest coming into manchester, that must come first.
    2 - dave ... environment ... it means whats around you, the office you are sat in is an environment ... manchester is an environment this nulls your point there will always be an environment - even though i am sure you meant natural environments.

  5. Manchester Man Says:

    How can anyone defend:
    - Train passengers having to stand for all of their (2hrs 35mins) journey from Manchester to London;
    - Wealthy land and home owners denying most of the UK populaton the benefits of the largely tunelled/embankmented high speed train link;
    - Public transport costing more than travelling by car;
    - High speed trains as an environmentally friendly alternative to flying?

  6. Val Stevens Says:

    I have written about this very topic in the next issue of Manchester Matters. Out this week I think. It is vital for the viability of the NW economy. There is one thing worse than concreting over the concrete Dave Bishop and that is tumbleweed blowing across it from lack of investment.

  7. Bernsteinwatch Says:

    2,000 jobs lost will feee up fair amount of space on the commuter trains, so no hurry needed there then.

  8. Richard Leese Says:

    @Dave Bishop
    I'll risk being called an anorak again but the current rail network is half what it was sixty years, so the development of high speed rail, much of which will be either tunnelled, in deep cuttings or using an existing train route in the most sensitive areas will still leave us a lot less developed than we were then

  9. Dave Bishop Says:

    Tumbleweed (Salsola kali) isn't native to the UK, Val - so there's not much danger of it blowing around in Manchester!
    But, joking aside, at one time we had 'progess' - which involved progressive things like public libraries, public toilets and decent, affordable housing.
    But now all we've got is 'Economic Growth' which seems to involve a widening gap between rich and poor, a degraded NATURAL environment (and a degraded urban one too, in my opinion) and the abolition of progressive things like public libraries, public toilets and affordable housing.
    Once, within my memory, we had decent public transport - but now we seem to have an inadequate, privatised free-for-all which is to be augmented by silly, extravagant prestige projects like High Speed Rail (and Metrolink to the ever-expanding Airport).
    God save us from Economic Growth!!

  10. nato Says:

    can't we spend the money from HS2 on genetic experiments to make giant dragonflies which we can ride, this would be a lot more fun and more environmentally friendly, also I believe this would benefit the airport and could create new and exciting sporting events which Manchester could host and therefore benefit through.

  11. Val Stevens Says:

    @ Dave Bishop I have seen enough cowboy films to know where tumbleweed comes from and I thought it was Richard who was accused of being an anorak. We wouldnt be discussing this at all if investment hadn't been made in the past. My family would still be poor farmlabourers in Cheshire and their families struggling in less than Lark Rise to Candleford rural romanticism.

  12. Heather from Eastenders Says:

    I agree with nato, bring on the Dragonflies....yaaaaaay

  13. Dave Bishop Says:

    Val, I'm not disputing that there was progress in the recent past (from which I benefited as well) but now we seem to be going backwards with truly progressive things (see my post above) being abolished and the rich getting richer and richer and richer.
    Last night I was in the process of recycling some magazines and came across a copy of 'Scientific American' from last year (Aug 2010). In it was a letter from a Mr Bill McKibben, commenting on an earlier article, who wrote: "During my 72 years as a citizen of the U.S., I've lived out West, back East, up North and down South. There was always a local chamber of commerce stating that if a town was not in a perpetual state of growth, it was not healthy. Isn't growth for the sake of growth the philosophy of cancer?"
    Considering the state we're in at the moment I think he's got a point!

  14. Chris Says:

    We can not let localist protest from the south de rail HS2, it is of vital importance to the north of the UK and will from day one benefit the north west. Don’t let people tell you that it is just a train from London to Birmingham this is a complete lie. HS2 phase 1 will reach as far north as Glasgow from day 1 and cut journey times from places like Manchester to London by over 20 minutes even before the HSR line is extended north. The localist StopHS2 war machine from the south should not be allowed to dictate people’s views on HS2 they can be extremely persuasive but at the end of the day there is vested interest at stake for the majority of protesters. If you support HS2 please be an active supporter visit And say Yes To High Speed 2

  15. transportman Says:

    Though broadly in favour of HS2, I do have to question the prioritization as the existing London -Mancehster service is quite acceptable @ 2 hours or so journey time. OK, we might be able to get from London to Manchester on any evening or Sunday in a mere 70 minutes with HS2. However, you won't be able to progress onwards by train to Rose Hill Marple, Hyde North or Hyde Central because there is no Sunday or evening service!

    I do think at the current time this very costly project is not the priority, rather improve the service on exisitng lines and line re-openings would be far more cost effective. The former Woodhead route (Manchester to Sheffield) should never have been closed in 1981 and is a classic example of a line that should be reopened. There is only one route between Manchester and Sheffield which is prone to landlsides as a well as frequent engineering work becasue is numerous Vicrorian tunnels on the line. Moreover, the new Woodhead tunnel only had an operational life as a railway tunnel for 27 years! (1954 to 1981) - now wasn't that a waste of mone time, effort and life (6 workers died in constructuction). Moreover, lest it not be forgotten that this route was electrified again at great expense and effort. Rest my case.

  16. ABU Says:

    Never knew about the Woodhead line. Thats interesting stuff. So was it a direct line, unlike the every-stop train now?
    Although I agree a Woodhead line would be good I can't help but thinking thta giant dragonflies would be best. In time we could develop jumbo dragonflies. Or dragonfly black cabs.
    I'm with you nato

  17. transportman Says:

    Well yes, travelling on the back of a giant genetically modified dragon fly would be fun. However, what if our genetic manipulation went wrong and they were not friendly ones but instead chose to make us a nice "snack?"

    Woodhead, yes it was the quickest and shortest route. I think the express train used to take 40 / 45 minutes. However passenger services were withdrawn in about 1970 and thereafter it was a freight route only, thus making it much easier for the former British Railways to close it when they were under such a financial squeeze by the Thatcher administration (she who did not like trains and believed in the "great car economy"). It is alledged that the (privatised) Nantional Grid bought the new (1954) tunnel for £1 from the B.R. board. The old railway now forms the Londendale and Don Valley trails and was a wonderful asset thrown away. There is a wealth of information on the internet.

    Readers might be interetsed to know that much of the coal destined for Fiddler' s Ferry power station used to traverse this route. The demise of both the Woodhead Line and the York/Derby/Notts coalfied under Thatcher seem inextricably linked. How does coal get to Fiddlers Ferry now I wonder - ship from China / Poland?

  18. John of Ickenham Says:

    The north’s campaign 'Their lawns or our jobs' is just pathetic. Here in West London we have actually taken the trouble to examine this project in detail and HS2 clearly has no business case or environmental case. Those opposing it are honest, sensible working class folk, unlike the misguided authors of 'Their lawns or our jobs'

  19. Arthur Dark (Ickenham) Says:

    As one of thousands of angry residents living along the line of the proposed HS2 here in west London I can assure you that none of us own stately homes, rolling lawns or wear bowler hats. Nothing could illustrate better the intellectual bankruptcy of the pro-HS2 lobby than their pathetic poster campaign.

  20. rose-marie adams Says:

    we already have fast trains to Birmingham, ie. Chiltern Railway and Virgin; what is now needed is RP2 extending costing £2 not £32 billion and with extra rolling stock generating 65% more capacity will benefit everyone along the line, not jujst the select few.

  21. M F Says:

    We need a thought through transport strategy, not the purchase of an expensive inappropriate package which might fit China but not a country the size of the UK.We need to look at all the options and not waste public funds on a this environmentally damaging, expensive package.



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