Manchester City Council


Decided to rename HSR as High Capacity Rail. That might not accurately describe what it is but better describes why, by the time HS2 phase 2 is built, in around 20 years time, we will need it.

Just departing Crewe on the way back from giving evidence to the High Speed Rail ( Preparation ) Public Bill Committee and thought that was a chance to address a few of the comments from a few blogs ago.

New platforms at Euston are already planned, Virgin West Coast have already increased the length of their trains and they could make more capacity available by reducing/eliminating first-class seats. However all of these would only make a tiny dint in the increasing capacity problem. The real problem is that there aren't enough pathways, that is track space for the trains we need.

Work on the Northern Hub, on the electrification of Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds, and the plans for Northern local authorities to take over the northern rail franchises are all aimed at the very important objective of increasing the speed and regularity of inter-city services in the north and midlands. That though is to happen in the next five years, is not instead of HSR, and indeed is likely to accelerate the capacity problems on the West and East Coast mainlines.

People have been saying that the growth in availability of high-speed, high capacity digital communication will reduce travel for over a decade now but all the evidence suggests that it is actually increasing the propensity to travel. And anyway people still want to meet people face-to-face. Video conferencing will never be a replacement for that.

Far from sucking the wealth out of the North West, if we don't get the capacity we need in good time we won't have the wealth in the first place. If transport links to London are so bad for our economy why don't we close the M6 and the existing West Coast mainline.

I'm all in favour of investing in cycling both for health and environmental reasons but comparing that with any inter-city link is really apples and pears. HSR will not be anywhere near the total transport spend over the next twenty years. The annual expenditure will be no more than is currently being spent on Cross Rail for the benefit of London alone so we can invest in more.

Even in this age of austerity we can afford to invest in cycling and in inter-city links and in HSR. But the last of these is not really about speed it is about capacity. By the middle of the next decade, if we want more local train services and more inter-city services, including but not only to London, we will have to have a new network, though one linked to a compatible with the existing network.If we need a new network it would be daft for it not to be high speed.

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There are 8 responses to “HCR”

  1. Camille Says:

    I can see the arguments in favour of HS2, but not at any cost.
    The figures being bandied around are multiplying rapidly, and I don't think it is the best use of £70billion (or whatever the cost is this week!).
    Wouldn't you rather see a chunk of this money used to address economic issues in our region now rather than in 20-30 years?
    I think it would be better to allow the regions (via LEPs?) to invest the money on short term projects to improve connectivity and business links across region and beyond.
    The Government should put more than the token amount they've allocated to the Heseltine plan. Devolve the money so WE can decide how to use it!

  2. good Says:

    Sound responses to earlier critical comments me thinks. I do believe many though are just concerned that existing railway services (overcrowding etc) will not be focussed upon when they really need to be. It needs to be economically more viable to ditch the car or people won't do it (regardless of the green agenda).

  3. Tim Says:

    Having previously commented on this subject, I very much appreciate seeing my points addressed. I also take the point that national train travel and local cycle travel are different things, except that both are transport options deserving of attention and funding at a national level, and only one is getting that level of attention and funding.

    As a Mancunian I occasionally travel to London by train and rarely if ever have a problem getting a ticket. Neither the speed nor the capacity of the service seems to be a problem, and if capacity is an issue perhaps a more frequent service could help - as mentioned previously my understanding is that a lack of rolling stock is the main setback there. Of course I'd like more reasonably priced tickets - wouldn't we all - but again, that's the privatised rail network for you.

    However, as a cyclist I find myself exposed to busy dangerous traffic on the roads of Manchester daily, so of the two I know what my priority would be, and I feel the average Manchester resident would benefit far more from a liveable city.

    It's a bit like the small free-to-enter community festivals which had funding cut to help pay for the international festival. Like HS2, MIF is very trendy with a high profile and I'm sure it's lovely having the fancy bar tent outside your office, but the events are priced well outside of the budget of your average local resident.

    I know the local council can't be blamed for central government priorities - we can't just take train money and spend it on cycling. And I am watching the current cycling developments - such as the Oxford road proposals and the Velocity bid - with enthusiasm and interest. But we're a long way from a joined up cycle network and it's hard to get excited about a few more (expensive) trains (to somewhere I can already get to) in 20 years time.

  4. AJ Says:

    I agree entirely with Tim. Politicians forget who they represent and where "our" money should be used/invested NOW.

    Thank goodness we are all in this together though - are MPs really giving themselves a pay rise whilst the rest of us are being told (by them) to cut back?

    They really aren't from the real world.

    Sorry to go aff the subject there, but it just really annoys me.

  5. i love jack russels Says:

    i think Cllr leese makes some good points, but the stumbling block for me is that the whole economic/jobs benefits for the north west are based on improving the speed and capacity at which you can get to london. It hints at an acceptance that there can only be economic and employment benefits in the capital and that the best we can hope for in North West is being able to get to it quicker !

  6. franky Says:

    This govt can find billions for HS2, while they can´t find the money to help people who are forced to use food banks and pay bedroom taxes. Oxford UNI should be ashamed of Osborne!

  7. Eve Says:

    Very concerned that this will lead to an even greater emphasis on London (the Capital following on with what Capitalism has been proven to result in - one single monopoly). Manchester may need to reinvent itself in return as the only jobs left will be in London, accessible on a train nobody may be afford to travel on. What kind of City is Manchester planning on being in 20 years time as I love living here and I would prefer to see an alternative to a London based UK? Also I have heard that large parts of Ardwick will be affected by the work, what parts and where?

  8. Dick Says:

    It's unfortunate that HS2 and similar schemes may be considered 'green herrings'. By that I mean that they ignore the issue that ever increasing economic growth on the current model in favour is not sustainable. Such projects are unlikely to result in a more sustainable economy, either in London or Manchester. Already in the UK we are living a '3 planet' lifestyle. One of the principles of sustainable development, which the Council has supposedly signed up for, is REDUCING THE NEED TO TRAVEL. How is HS2 going to relate to that?



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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