HS2 was a complete disaster – billions spent on it would have been better spent transforming the North and Midlands
GARETH Morgan is just the businessman they need up north.
The company he founded near Sheffield employs 100 skilled workers who manufacture high-tech parts for the aerospace industry and sell them abroad, including in the USA.
But when his customers fly into Manchester from America, they have to make a 40-mile cab ride to Sheffield because, like much of the North, rail service is very slow and utterly unreliable.
dr Morgan, the boss of Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield), can easily travel to London, but to visit suppliers and customers in nearby northern cities he has to use his car.
He agrees “1,000 percent” that the planned 250-mile high-speed train from London to Manchester should now be scrapped.
It would cost just half of the £160 billion that HS2 will cost to provide the North and Midlands with a frequent, reliable, comfortable and electrified rail network that is as good as the service commuters in the South East enjoy.
I’ve spent my life in civil engineering and was instrumental in building the Channel Tunnel.
Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that HS2 is a £161billion vanity project bleeding the rest of the rail network to death.
As The Sun revealed yesterday, the project is not fit for purpose, especially when we can’t seem to design a station in London’s Euston that can accommodate the trains, which seems pretty silly.
HS2 must be abandoned before we throw any more good money after bad.
Out of control
Governments have long talked about bringing prosperity to the North, but HS2 is the biggest failure of the leveling-up agenda.
It will only bring more people and money to the South East and will not help the North or Midlands.
Getting to and from London may be a priority for politicians and business leaders, but the services in place are generally good.
Why do you need to be 30 minutes faster in London when you have WiFi and your laptop on the train?
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt yesterday said it was a “national embarrassment” that Britain didn’t have a high-speed train like Japan.
But HS2 Ltd, the company behind the project, has developed the scheme for trains to travel at 224-250mph, which is higher than any other high-speed line in Europe or Japan.
For a small country like ours, why do we need the biggest, fastest and best in the world?
England is geographically much smaller than France, Germany or Italy.
We don’t need trains that can travel 400 km/h.
The additional earthworks and track costs for transporting such express trains are enormous – and all out of vanity.
HS2 Phase 1 was initially expected to cost between £10 billion and £12 billion.
By 2016 they had risen to £15.1 billion and by 2019 costs had risen to £54.5 billion, an increase of 361 per cent.
With construction inflation at 15-20 per cent, the cost now stands at £161bn – and who knows what the final bill will be.
Not only will HS2 cost billions more than planned, it will also bring in a lot less money than expected.
Earnings calculations were based on 18 trains per hour, with higher fares for those using the line.
Even the company HS2 admits that no other high-speed line in the world can run more than 12 to 14 trains per hour.
It’s time to finish the whole project before it gets out of hand.
Canceling Part 1 of HS2 from Birmingham to London would cost around £10billion as much of the land could be sold or repurposed.
HS2 Part 2 to Crewe and Manchester could easily be canceled at minimal cost.
I spoke to Rishi Sunak about this when he was chancellor and he was very interested in my numbers.
He wouldn’t say he would scrap it, but I think there’s a good chance HS2 will either get cut off or be dropped altogether.
Spending some £80 billion of the money saved would dramatically improve local and regional rail services in the north and central countries, where very few people used the railways even before the rail strikes began.
like dr Morgan in Sheffield, these people want reliable east-west rail services so they can travel to education, work or shopping by train rather than by car.
It doesn’t have to be high speed, but it should have good connections, hopefully electrified, linking cities like Hull and Leeds, Doncaster and Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.
It would really help places like Bradford which have terrible service for such a big city.
Leeds train station in particular is a mess.
A tremendous amount could be done, but instead of waiting 25 years for the ‘benefit’ of HS2, it’s much less financially risky to undertake smaller projects, and when one part goes wrong you learn for the next.
I call on Ministers to give the regions the modern rail network they deserve, as good as or better than that around London, and to put the suffering residents out of their long misery along the HS2 route.
The other £80billion that would be saved could be spent on the NHS, education and the quality of life that people in the North and Midlands so desperately need.
- Lord Berkeley is a civil engineer and was deputy director of a state review of HS2.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7245511/hs2-disaster-train-billions-spent-transforming-north/ HS2 was a complete disaster – billions spent on it would have been better spent transforming the North and Midlands