No plans to back away from HS2, says Grayling

Chris Grayling, the newly appointed transport secretary, has confirmed the new government is still committed to building HS2.

In an interview with Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, Grayling said: “I have no plans to back away from the HS2 project. And the thing that’s important for people to understand is that HS2 is not simply a speed project, it’s a capacity project.”

He said that HS2 was needed to reduce congestion in areas such as the West Coast Main Line.

Speaking recently at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) annual conference, Clive Heaphy, HS2’s director of finance and operations, said he was “worried about the long term impact” of the UK’s vote to leave the EU on funding for HS2.

However, Grayling’s predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, promised recently that HS2 would be delivered on budget and on time, despite a recent National Audit Office warning it is behind schedule.

(Image c. Dominic Lipinski from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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John Burns   19/07/2016 at 09:00

The only capacity issues are on the WCML south of Northampton. Nowhere else! The ECML has none with the WCML having twice the traffic of the ECML. The capacity south of Northampton on the WCML can be alleviated by diverting trains to other lines, such as the Wolverhampton and Birmingham trains to an uprated and fast Chiltern line, and opening old and building new local and regional lines taking trains off the WCML. Local and regional lines will be more accepted as they are used by the populations they run though on daily basis. Tilting trains can reach 140mph, they do not because they do not have in-cab signalling fitted. Capacity issues north of Northampton on the WCML tend to be 'bottlenecks'. Take out the bottlenecks on the WCML, run the trains at 140mph by taking slow trains off by building local and regional rail and the difference in journey time from London to Manchester compared to full HS2 is about 15 minutes. There is no need to build a national high-speed rail line in the UK. Many rail experts have constantly emphasised this point. But! Grayling says he is going ahead. He does not hold the purse strings. The Treasury are against HS2 and Hammond holds the money. Predication time. It looks like that if any new line are to be built they need only be from Old Oak Common in London to around Northampton/Milton Keynes. Prepare to see only HS2 running from London to the Crewe Hub via Birmingham and no more. 140mph Hitachis can serve the ECML. Bottlenecks on the WCML, and WCML spurs, can be progressively ironed out The 'whole' of the flawed design of HS2 is a political transport project, not a project that meets a transport 'need' for sure.

Patrick Adams   19/07/2016 at 11:52

I agree - HS2 should not be a priority, nor is it needed. Perhaps a relief line from Rugby to London would be justified. My bet is we will get something like that - a much scaled down project. The country is crying out for better local public transport and does not want this white elephant.

John   19/07/2016 at 12:01

A politician's statemnt - it means that it is doomed! As soom as Grayling is allowed to get to grips wit hthe numbers of McLoughlin's Masturbatory Fantacy, then it will all change and the Consultancies will be cutting costs as fast as they can - ind that means the end of stupid routings and the Euston Problem - everyone knows where it is but no-one wants to go there!

John Burns   19/07/2016 at 16:36

Patrick, If a 'relief' line is to be built from Rugby to London, it may as well be a high-speed line. Then they may as well take it to Birmingham not that far away and then if they get that far, they may as well take up to further to the big important Crewe Junction creating a high-speed hub at Crewe, so HS2 trains can seamlessly run off high-speed tracks onto classic tracks. Then STOP! Any further and little to nothing is gained. Then concentrate on getting the bottlenecks out of the WCML up into Scotland and the WCML spur to Liverpool from Crewe. All bases are then covered with HS2 trains running to: Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, North Wales, West Midlands, Scotland. And the WCML south of Rugby is alleviated. That is if they want to have a shiny new line of course.

Jb   19/07/2016 at 18:25


Jb   19/07/2016 at 18:34

HS2 is a colossal waste of money! The high speed enthusiasts need to recognise that this country is a relatively small one and the advantages of shorter journey times is at best marginal. Against this should be set the horrendous disruption, stress, and costs of this unnecessary project while swathes of the countryside are ripped up for many years during its construction. As someone said recently "if you want to get to Birmingham 30mins earlier - set off 30 mins earlier! However, capacity is another subject. Traffic was directed to the WCML to exploit the investment in electrification in the 1960s and two of the routes to London were closed. I suggest re-instating the Midland main line to Manchester by replacing the 15 miles or so between Matlock and Peak Forest and routing some of the Manchester to London trains to St Pancras. This would also re-establish a direct connection to Derby, Leicester, etc., currently not available. The impact would be minimal as the alignment already exists. Secondly, the ex GC route to Manchester could be re-opened, maybe primarily for freight, thus providing another cross-Pennine connection via Woodhead. Perhaps, some deviation in the Nottingham area may be required but compare this to the wholesale reconfiguration in the Camden and other major city areas by HS2. Thirdly, some traffic from Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, etc, revert to the Paddington route. A re-vitalised Snow Hill station could capitalise on its city centre location again. All these re-instatements would relieve the WCML considerably. The money saved by not building HS2 could be put to better use by restoring other local routes like Northallerton to Harrogate putting the city of Ripon back on the railway map. (I'll bet Riponians would far prefer this to a road journey to Leeds to catch a HS2 train!). Replacing the 12 miles or so track between Skipton and Colne would re-create another much needed north trans-Pennine route with little or no disruption and give back rail transport to many along the route. A local action group have been promoting this for years. There are many other local lines which could be re-opened to the benefit of ordinary travellers and businessmen alike. Restoring the Oxford - Princes Risborough line, (the shortest route from Oxford to London), could put Thame back on the railway map and potentially provide a park and ride facility where it crosses the M40 near Wheatley. That such a facility would be popular can be judged by the numbers of cars parked daily by the M40 on the Watlington road for their drivers to catch a city bound bus. The new Prime Minister is to be applauded for her plan to make life better for everybody, not just the rich and to spend our scarce resources for the benefit of the many - not just the high speed enthusiasts - would accord with that.

John Burns   19/07/2016 at 21:25

Jb, excellent post on how to spread 'capacity' using existing lines, trackbed and alignments on the existing network. And you never even mentioned trains being restricted in speed because they do not have in-cab signalling or the removing of bottlenecks, as the Norton Bridge scheme on the WCML did a few months ago. The MML can be fully electrified (it is overdue for electrification) and run to Manchester from Yorkshire and have excellent journey times using the new Hitachi 140mph trains. The wildcard which will improve a matters considerably will be if HS3 (Northern Powerhouse Rail) is built. Which looks very likely indeed. A new 'west to east base' tunnel under the Pennines would improve time considerably for trains running west to east. But the Manchester trains could use this east to west tunnel from near Sheffield after running up the MML from London, giving excellent journey times. Yes, opening up some disused lines about the country - and even the Woodhead tunnel, will accommodate freight, which does not need fast direct lines. The latter years of Woodhead was actually for only freight trains - and of course the line via Skipton is excellent for freight. Biomass from the Port of Liverpool could use these lines along with container trains. The port is expanding greatly with the managers there very concerned. Not a part of HS2 and its alternatives is the disused line from Warrington to Altchricham, which is ideal for freight and passenger trains from Liverpool to Manchester airport and points in between. The line was used up until about 20 years ago for freight. The expensive updating of a bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal caused its demise.

Gb   20/07/2016 at 17:15

Has the Transport Secretary ever explained how HS2 will be of benefit to the economy? All we hear are bland statements that it will 'equalise' North and South, etc., but with no concrete facts about the establishment of any new businesses with large noumbers of staff needing to make all these high speed journeys - every day. I think it would be far better to spend taxpayers' money on targetted improvements to the existing rail system to improve capacity and connectivity, including re-opening main lines (and some branch lines) closed in the late 1960s, to provide access to the rail system throughout the country for as many people as possible rather than for a few living at the extremities - who already have that facility anyway. Creating such disruption to the landscape and thousands of peoples' lives and property for the sake of cutting 30 mins from the journey time from London to Birmingham seems rediculous to me and selfish in the extreem. The Govt. should re-examine the rail system's priorities and then spend the money saved by not building HS2 on the NHS, the Police and other public services in dire need.

John Burns   27/08/2016 at 14:51

Astrom are building 300km/hr (186mph) tilting trains for Amtrack in the USA which are to use existing track. These will be in use in the next few years. The likes of this type of new train technology negates the need to build dedicated high-speed track and lines in the UK. Uprate and remove bottlenecks on the WCML, Chiltern, MML and ECML. Have the cities served back on their original early 1960s lines: Liverpool/Glasgow on the WCML, Manchester/Sheffield on the MML, Leeds/Newcastle on the ECML, Birmingham/Wolverhampton on the Chiltern. Then there is no need for HS2. Liverpool on the WCML from London will be served in just over about 1hr running 186mph all though. Does anyone ever tell DfT and HMG of these advances?

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