FURTHER to Ian Bell's excellent article on HS2 ("I rail against the true north being cut out of the loop", The Herald, January 30), I would like to add a few observations on this dubious project.
Since the provinces (in this case, Scotland and Wales) appear to be excluded from the "engine for growth in Britain", it is difficult to see any relevance for those parts of the UK outside of southern Britain. I remain firmly of the view that the massive preliminary estimate quoted for HS2 (circa £33m) would be much better, and more equably, spent on the whole UK rail network, including the Celtic fringe.
The proposed HS2 project is a typical brainchild spawned by the metropolitan view pervading the Mother of Parliaments in London, which delivers government of the mostly English, for the mostly English, by the mostly English – in England. I see no prima face evidence that HS2 will benefit anywhere other than the south-east of England, and probably further widen the gap between north and south.
5 Vivian Avenue,
Since high-speed rail would not reach Wigan until 2033 it could not extend to Glasgow-Edinburgh within the next 30 years ("High-speed trains to be hit by Scots delay", The Herald, January 29, and Letters, January 30). Just what, if any, value it would then have is impossible to say. Why present-day Scottish politicians and business people who will have long since gone by then are so concerned over the matter is incomprehensible.
In any case, once London is only 3.7 hours away a further time reduction would not justify the cost of an extension of about 200 miles, much of it through hilly terrain.
The additional population served would be far less per mile than will be the case with the earlier phases. Moreover, unlike the southern section of the existing mainline, there may be no capacity deficiencies on the northern one. Since most of the people served would be in Scotland it would be reasonable to expect a Scottish government to pay for the English as well as its own section.
The business case even for the present proposals is dubious. It may be that these will do more for London than anywhere else. Cities such as Seville and Lyon have not greatly benefited from their HSR services, much less than Madrid and Paris.
In Japan I have seen many HS trains only 30% full. Many people cannot afford to use them, and stick to the ordinary services.
It is likely that many more and quicker gains to Northern England could be achieved by spending the available fund in other ways, for example, by building a new HSR east-west link. Scotland will already have such.
68 Buccleuch Street, Glasgow.
Your leader (January 29) highlights the problem of a single high-speed route serving both Edinburgh and Glasgow and suggests, under current proposals, that trains would be delayed by joining and splitting at Carstairs. Scotland would have this wonderful high-speed route with potential sub-three-hour journey times yet we could have the ridiculous scenario of, for example, one train per hour wasting time sitting somewhere in fields outside Carstairs whilst technicians try to join two trains together in sub-zero temperatures. Are we suggesting constructing a hugely expensive route to run one train an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh? Solution: run one train each hour from both cities which would become a half-hourly service further south where the demand would warrant it.
Since December 2012 Glasgow has lost its two fast trains to London. The services now all call at Wigan and Warrington and whilst they departed from Glasgow at not the most convenient time of day for business travellers (1140 and 1340) they were useful for leisure travel. It is to be hoped that the next round of franchise bidding will include a commitment to running more Royal Scot-type services, which could reduce journey times to around four hours between Glasgow and London. The problem is the lack of a dedicated line and the existing route running at maximum capacity, particularly south of Crewe.
1 Strathmiglo Place,
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