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These people are insane, aren’t they

The Department for Transport has confirmed that the line will stop short of Euston and instead finish at Old Oak Common near North Acton

Just totally insane

30 thoughts on “These people are insane, aren’t they”

  1. I’ve been predicting since day zero of this ridiculous farrago that (a) it would never go beyond Birmingham; and (b) would never reach central London – thus removing any slight purpose it might once have had. “It will pay for itself in time savings of highly paid executives” they said. “But you can work on a train with this new-fangled thing called a laptop” we replied. “It’s vital to relieve congestion on the WCML” they said. But the congestion never existed except in some consultant’s (paid for by HS2 Ltd) computer, and has been rendered otiose now we’ve discovered how effective working from home has become. And if you really need a new line to relieve congestion a ‘traditional’ 4-track 140mph main line is a superior solution for a small fraction of the cost.

    Future textbooks of government failures will list HS2 alongside the groundnut scheme.

  2. “These people are insane, aren’t they”
    Only if you see the purpose of HS2 as a transport system for the public.

    If however, you see it as a way of spending £100bn, with all the backhanders and fat sinecures that money can buy, then it’s a very rational way of spending Other People’s money for self enrichment.

  3. Haha. Because this is what always happens when politicians wake up to the fact that a grand projet is just going to be a colossal ballache with no glory at the end of it. They don’t cancel it because that creates different ballaches, so they do a boiling-the-frog thing of descoping it to the bare minimum so they can say it’s delivered.

    I don’t think it was ever going to work, because unless you get the time down to a commuter time (which is less than an hour door to door) no-one really cares that much. At 49 minutes from Birmingham to Euston, people are going to be over that hour. And for business trips to see a client, you don’t care if it’s 49 or 84 minutes. You’re still going to see them, have your meeting, but be home at 4 instead of 5.

    I think most people who talk around this whether it’s journalists or politicians don’t really know how people use trains.

  4. ‘Net Zero will cost us trillions.’

    Yes Steve.

    Of course what really pisses me off is that some minute fraction of that money will be mine.

  5. Old Oak Common near North Acton must be a very important place. It will certainly be well served by a fast rail link to the north. Shame central London isn’t considered important enough to get a link.

  6. Spot on, BoM4. And, moreover, it’s only 49 minutes if you live in a flat on Curzon Street and are travelling to Euston Old Oak Common. Even if you live in the W Midlands and want to go to London by train, this will involve travelling to the rail hub (probably New Street) and then a messy time-consuming interchange to HS2 (maybe by tram, if they can build it any quicker then Edinburgh). So no time saving at all.

  7. Crikey. I’m a born Londoner & needed to look at a map to find where Acton is. Seems to be that litter of industrial estates at the end of the Westway. I didn’t realise anyone had gone to the bother of naming it. It does have a McDonalds, so I suppose that’d need an address.

  8. On the other hand there’s all sorts of horrible surprises on the Central Line if one accidentally omits getting off at Holland Park.

  9. A monthly travelcard from Birmingham to London costs £1,287. At that rate you’re better off renting a room in London on weekdays and heading back to Brum on weekends. Faster trains won’t change that calculation.

  10. Old Oak Common can’t be far from Wormwood Scrubs, a very appropriate destination for all our politicians!

  11. Old Oak Common is where the Elizabeth line depot is. So I assume they think that everyone will use the Elizabeth line to get there.

  12. Truly insane – what is the point of a “high speed” link that ends up at an obscure station in the suburbs? This is going back to the New Labour plan that was rejected by the 2010 Coalition government.
    Wonderful if you want to go from Birmingham to Bristol via a change of trains in London but not for sane human beings.

  13. @Steve – March 11, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    HS2 is a mere £100 Bn disaster.

    More likely £200 Bn by the time they’ve finished!

  14. The insanity of the Charlie chuckaways in government knows no ends. What’s £100 billion here and there for some Victorian technology between friends? Actually the victorians built grand stations where they were needed, so that’s wrong of me.

    And even if HSR somehow works, how does this match up with 15 minute prisons? Why on earth would you need to leave your state provided utopia you greedy fascist peasant.

    Fuck the lot of them from top to bottom, get out while you still can.

  15. Not a facetious question.

    Is the anywhere in the world where “high speed” rail actually works by the criteria of its proponents. Anywhere that it generates economic activity and benefits that would properly justify its building over alternatives?

    If there is, why is it better than a road or an air link.

    In the case of money black hole 2, I’m genuinely trying to think of anything that could be worse.

  16. I’ve been in Thailand for the last 2.5 months. The train system is slow. You’d think ideal for an upgrade to high speed.

    Instead they have airports in every city, close to town, and low cost airlines zipping around for £25 a pop. Domestic terminals have the minimum of security fuss, no jumped up lesbians in hi vis screeching at you for power kicks, it’s a breeze.

    With such a fantastic modern travel system why would you want to take a fucking train, high speed or not.

    Britain should learn some lessons from such advanced economies.

  17. Formertory (even more so in the past few years)

    Tim the Coder nailed it nicely. I remain utterly convinced that the contracts handed out for this completely senseless project provide, on cancellation, that the compensation to various corporate and personal cronies, rent farmers and subsidy junkies would cost at least twice whatever the cost to finish the project actually is. I’m sure the Civil Service can be relied upon to organise that, if nothing else.

    I had to Google Map for Old Oak Common, too. FFS.

  18. Is the anywhere in the world where “high speed” rail actually works by the criteria of its proponents. Anywhere that it generates economic activity and benefits that would properly justify its building over alternatives?

    Japan? The Shinkansen slashed journey times between major cities. Linking Tokyo/Yokohama to Osaka quickly must have added value. Most of the land used by the railway is between cities, whereas building huge airport capacity would mean building new runways on expensive land. An awful lot of development has happened around rail hubs. Plus it’s generated loads of positive publicity for Japan as a nation which makes stuff that works.

  19. @MC

    Of course!

    But in the case of Japan, I do wonder if this is the exception that proves the rule, as all I see elsewhere is a hideously expensive must have political status symbol. The costs of “high speed” rail, here and across Europe is horrendous and I will take some convincing that the money could not have been far more effectively spent.

    We had an effective high speed network, but because it was decided (by who exactly) that 125mph was not a sufficiently large dick, we are were we are, lumbered with super-Edsel trains! (at least an Edsel peformed all the functions of a car though)

  20. Japan’s Bullet train had the advantage of low land prices, already cleared of existing users, courtesy of the Curtis Le May Urban Redevelopment Group.

    So running the lines from city centry to city centre was easy, because the rubble provided direct access to the city centres.

    In UK of 2020’s, there all these pesky buildings, homes, farms and business parks in the way. Perhaps we need to encourage someone to “redevelop” it all for us?

  21. As far as I’m aware, linking Osaka to Tokyo was intended to boost economic activity in Osaka. Instead, it boosted Tokyo.

  22. Interesting to Google fares and travel times on very fast trains in China…..shanghai to Beijing $78 US…..100km. About 4 hors.

  23. I have linked to my farmers forum thread on HS2 before, but there’s often new posts about how your money is being spent on the ground being added to it, such as this one:

    My own personal brush with HS2 spending recently was when I visited a farm near the route to buy some second hand electricity poles (they make very good gate posts). The chap at the farm had made a caravan park in his farm yard for people working on the HS2 route, and was charging them £85/week to park their vans there. I guess they live in the van perhaps 4 nights week and bugger off home for the rest. At approaching £100k/yr in rent I bet he’s hoping HS2 doesn’t get cancelled!

  24. As far as I’m aware, linking Osaka to Tokyo was intended to boost economic activity in Osaka. Instead, it boosted Tokyo.

    Le Mans was a pleasant French city, until the TGV to Tours opened. Now, it’s a dormitory suburb of Paris. A similar fate awaits Brum. Buy flats near Curzon St (but I expect the attractive ones have been snapped up).

    Japan is an interesting contrast with the UK in terms of geodemography. If the UK were similarly arranged, it would be as if our four major cities were situated in Thurso, Penzance, Holyhead and London. And very high speed rail, with journeys of hundreds of miles, might make more sense. Germany is a bit like this – think Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and the Ruhr conurbation.

    No European high-speed line makes money. If they did, private enterprise would be clamouring to build them, but they’ve learnt from the Channel Tunnel.

  25. I will take some convincing that the money could not have been far more effectively spent.

    Better would be not spending $200bn and not stealing it in the first place.

  26. @Bloke in Wales

    “Better would be not spending…..”

    Indeed, but vampires need blood unfortunately. Oh if only I genuinely were a stake holder.

  27. Actually I’d say that not doing the really expensive bit through nearly-but-not-quite-central London is a Good Idea. People don’t want to go to Acton, but neither do they want to go to Euston — I’m sure that Birmingham has it’s own perfectly acceptable red light district — where people actually want to go will be the West End, City or Docklands. While technically you could walk from Euston to the West End, I doubt anybody arriving at Euston actually does: they take a tube or taxi. For the City it’s either tube or taxi and for Docklands it’s multiple tubes or a very long time in a taxi. Old Oak Common already has full-sized Crossrail trains passing through it which go quickly (at least compared to the tube or taxis) and directly to the West End, City and Docklands, so a journey to any likely ultimate destination would be quicker and less unpleasant than going via Euston.

    Given the rational traveller would transship at Old Oak Common anyway, and the route East from there was originally intended purely to link up to HS1 at St Pancras (so that the European High Speed Network could run one train a week from Paris to Birmingham at preposterous expense), binning the lot off seems eminently sensible and could keep the cost “down” to £100bn.

  28. When the Chunnel opened, they purchased additional (shorter) Eurostar trains to run through from Manchester and Birmingham. It never happened and they never turned a revenue-generating wheel in the UK (and were eventually sold to one of the French ToCs).

    I imagine there’s a reasonable demand for passenger traffic between Edinburgh and Frankfurt, both being banking towns. But even if there were a high-speed line connecting the two directly, it still couldn’t compete in journey time with air travel (1,400km, so at least 3 hours longer than flying).

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