We just don’t need HS2, UKIP MEP Derek Clark writes on the Party’s website in a piece described as a ‘strong rebuttal’ of High Speed Rail proposals.
Mr Clark quotes from a letter he sent to Mr Hammond. He writes:
I pointed out that currently the fastest train, Euston to Birmingham, takes 82 minutes but stops 3 times. Non-stop that would be around 76 minutes taking you right into Birmingham at New Street Station. HS2 will go to a new station 10 minutes away from there. So the claimed journey of 49 minutes to Birmingham by HS2 becomes effectively 59 minutes; £30 billion for a total saving of only 17 minutes against a non-stop on existing track.
It’s important to acknowledge the West Coast Main Line is a congested, mixed-use line and one of the busiest rail corridors in Europe. Mixed-use means it is shared by fast services, commuter services and freight traffic.
Pathways have to be made available for fast services that may leave London Euston without stopping until Stoke-on-Trent or Crewe, as well as regular semi-fast stopping services for stations such as Hemel Hempstead, Nuneaton and Lichfield, and freight demand.
This presents a complex picture and if there are train breakdowns or problems with rail infrastructure knock-on effects quickly hamper the whole network.
Now Mr Clark is suggesting that trains should not stop between London and Birmingham to enhance speed.
But what about fast services north of Birmingham? What about freight operators and what about Coventry, Rugby, Milton Keynes and Birmingham International among others?
Some critics will doubtless respond that certain services could stop and some speed through from Euston to New Street. But we don’t have the capacity!
Again, it’s worth repeating……
- The West Coast Main Line will be full by 2024 (this is a conservative estimate)
- Passenger levels are growing at 6% per year, despite the recession
- Passenger levels are at their highest since the 1920s and our network has halved since
Mr Clark continues:
Much is made of HS2 being non-stop but you don’t have to be a fast train not to stop at intermediate stations. You can do that with existing trains, they used to be called an “Express”. A frequent express service from Euston to Birmingham would need a re-jig of the existing track; widening the permanent way and re-building bridges, just like extending motorways. Even with advanced signalling that would come at far less cost than a completely new rail line.
Many critics of HS2 claim erroneously that Coventry and other towns and cities lose out. They don’t, but they certainly would with a scheme that speeds straight past them while doing nothing to deal with current capacity problems, let alone the problems we face in the future.
Many HS2 opponents talk of alternatives without providing any solutions, as if it’s enough to just say ‘do something else.’
If Mr Clark is advocating RP2 or RP2+, as it is now called, this simply doesn’t do the job. You can read a report on why RP2 fails, written by rail analyst William Barter here.