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Will a high-speed rail improve transport links?

12:47 UK time, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ministers have revealed plans for a new high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham with a possible future extension to northern England and Scotland. Will this improve transport links in the UK?

High-speed trains are expected to arrive and depart from London Euston station with the route of the line passing through the picturesque Chiltern Hills to Birmingham.

The public will be consulted on the proposals but work is unlikely to start until 2017 at the earliest. There are also concerns over the environmental impact on the Chilterns.

Will a high-speed rail help to revive the economy and create jobs? Has the best route been chosen? Do you live or work in the affected region? Are there any other parts of the UK that could also benefit from a high-speed rail link?


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  • Comment number 1.

    This is a great idea.

    Reinvesting in the railways and fixing some of the damage done by Dr Beeching in the 60s is what we need in the UK to ween the UK off of its car dependency and obsession.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not if Network Rail and all those parasitic train operating companies have anything to do with it!

    And it still amazes me, that in the 21st Century we have not progress from metal wheels and strips of steal to move the public around the country! Have none of our brilliant engineers heard of electro magnetic propulsion? We could all be whizzing around at 400mph in our public transport utopian society - if we had the will to achieve such a great leap forward!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    It is an absolute joke that this country does not have a high speed rail network, or even an efficient low speed one!

    If our governments stopped spending our taxes overseas in ilegal wars perhaps they could divert some of this money back into Britain to improve the country?

    Or is that just a crazy idea...

  • Comment number 4.

    I'd have though up-grading the existing line (or running it alongside) would've made more sense.

    Still, good news however it's done.

  • Comment number 5.

    When this country is up to it's armpits in debt should we not be satisfied with maintaining our existing network, rather than spending a fortune on new technology. Why talk about spending in 2017 when Labour can't decide what it should spend now.

  • Comment number 6.

    Will a high-speed rail improve transport links? Is this a stupid question with an obvious answer? Perhaps not. A high speed rail link can only improve things if it doesn't drag funds away from other areas of the rail infrastructure and it is affordable to use. If you are going to use it, it needs to be faster AND cheaper than using a car.

  • Comment number 7.

    More money being spent on links to London (cutting staff for LU, thus making the journey worse when you get there).

    Cambridge to Birmingham, 4 hours, Liverpool to Southampton, 6 hours - I could go on. Why not upgrade some of the other lines?

    Of course,now the UK no rail infrastructure manufacturers, all this work will go to Italy, France, Germany and Japan.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is a pity that the line will still only serve the southern part of the country.
    Can the government please remember that the rail network should cover the whole of the country.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm sick of hearing about new ways for people to travel to or from London. When will the UK Government support the UK and improve transport in other areas?

  • Comment number 10.

    What the country needs is a high speed 'Goods Link' from the Channel Tunnel to Glasgow, with spurs to the South West Wales, The Midlands, and so on. Built to take the biggest loading gauge in Europe. Built to carry millions of loads a year, built with the infrastructure to include rapid container transfer from road to Rail and back. Run at cost, not to profit some foreign shareholders.

  • Comment number 11.

    How about fixing the "slow-speed" network first? And in any case who is going to pay for this?

  • Comment number 12.

    The whole thing is a joke isn't it? Not starting until probably 2017 with completion in 2025! Typical of this country when the government get involved. They'll be the usual NIMBY's, environmentalists, tree hugging nutters who will delight in (excuse the pun) railroading this project so we'll be lucky to see this finished in 50 years time. Why don't they get the roads sorted first, have you seen the size of the pot holes in Berkshire?

  • Comment number 13.

    This has got to be one of the most important investments the UK will make this century. Having travelled on European high speed networks, it's clear this is the most realistic from of quick, scalable, mid-distance transportation for the coming decades.

    Just imagine if the Victorians hadn't made the investment in our rail network in the 1800s. We'd of had no industrial revolution and Britain, and the entire world, would be a very different place today.

  • Comment number 14.

    6. At 1:41pm on 11 Mar 2010, Robert Eva wrote:
    Will a high-speed rail improve transport links? Is this a stupid question with an obvious answer? Perhaps not. A high speed rail link can only improve things if it doesn't drag funds away from other areas of the rail infrastructure and it is affordable to use. If you are going to use it, it needs to be faster AND cheaper than using a car.


    thats hit the nail on head. Unless they can bring down the cost of rail travel so that people can actually afford to see it as an option then they can install nuclear powered hover trains and people will still avoid the rail network.

  • Comment number 15.

    A high speed link is a great idea BUT London to Birmingham??? Is that enough distance to make it really attractive? How many people fly between London and Birmingham? Would this cut down air travel and associated environmental damage? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Who will own this high speed network, will it be sold off for the fat cats to own shares in within the first 10 years.

  • Comment number 17.

    Off course it will improve the transport network in the Uk and it is long over due!

    However I am sure the train company will ask premium prices for the little time gain and at the end it will NOT be competitive with the car or plane. Governmental subsidies are continuous required to keep the train going due to total mismanagement and pure greed.

  • Comment number 18.

    Can I suggest that we introduce hover cars or space cars such as the one in the Jetsons? These methods of transport are about as much attainable to our 'red tape' society as a high speed rail will ever be.....

  • Comment number 19.

    Lots opertunity..

    No catering for Channel tunnel freight lorries to travel directly the Birmingham before being unloaded.

    No park and ride for Gatwick and Heathrow

    No moving of Freight from Gatwick and Heathrow to the meidlands airport customes centre

    No HS link to Birmingham to Gatwick

    All of the above were on offer in 1998 but Prescott turned down the preposal.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think this is a good announcement, but it's too little too late. This country has seriously under-invested in public transport for at least 30 years, probably longer.

    The railways were invented in Britain yet we have the most antiquated, most expensive and least efficient network in western Europe. Back before Dr. Beeching there were train stations all over the country including two stations within a mile of where I grew up - but by the time I was a kid in the 1980's those magnificent buildings had been turned into shops and homes.

    If previous governments had invested in continuous improvement in public transport infrastructure we wouldn't be talking about high speed rail - we'd be talking about upgrading to MagLev trains like those 400kph bullets they have in Tokyo.

    Also consider the fact that we don't even have enough railway carriages in the country to fully provide the service as it is currently timetabled, yet passenger numbers continue to grow. To add insult to injury the UK doesn't even have the manufacturing ability to construct new carriages - any new ones would have to be imported from Europe or Japan.

    Good infrastructure is always good for the economy, which is exactly why the network should never have been so badly neglected. People are having to travel further away from home to find work during the recession and for most the only viable option to transport them there is to drive. Not to mention the thousands of jobs that could have been created if the government had committed to upgrade the whole railway network. Such an ambitious scheme would make never be spoken of by our current crop of political masters because of the initial outlay by the taxpayer.

    The worst part about this is that Network Rail is actually going to be cutting jobs and reducing its maintenance schedule on our current delapidated network. You couldn't make this stuff up.

  • Comment number 21.

    Upgrading existing lines would be much more efficient and environment-friendly.

    Also, why does it always have to be about LONDON?

  • Comment number 22.

    Only MPs will be able to afford to use it!

    Public transport is a joke, should be renamed middle class and MP transport. Fares just make it prohibitive to use.

  • Comment number 23.

    Just think of the cost its already cheaper for 2 people to use a black london cab to go from central london for a 1 hour meeting at the NEC than for them to buy rail tickets!

  • Comment number 24.

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha...................

  • Comment number 25.

    Too little too late, as usual. Why not fix the existing network first? The route will be overloaded before it opens. Getting the rail company's to provide a decent service should be the first priority.

  • Comment number 26.

    Will the minister conform that those of us in KENT who are paying increased fiars to pay towards HS1 dispite the fact that our journeys are not effected by HS1 and we cant use HS1 will NOT be paying increrased fairs for HS2

    The HS1 surcharge in fairs only applies to fairs for rail users in the south east (mainly Kent)

  • Comment number 27.

    All the usual HYS complaining asside, this is a great idea. I just wish the plans were far bigger and they would get built far sooner. Compared to countries like Japan, Germany and France, our rail network and rolling stock is a joke. Any investment is money well spent.

  • Comment number 28.

    Trains are expensive to use at the moment so only the wealthy will be able to afford to use this high speed service and it will still be considerably cheaper to fly. I don't have any rail service where I live on the east coast so I guess I will be one of those lucky people who will pay for the new high speed line out of my taxes but will be ignored when it comes to public transport.

    How about this government, or whatever party wins the next election spending a fraction of this £34bn on a light railway line or low speed line to connect this part of the UK to the rail network?

    Any MP's reading this then Lincolnshire does still exist, look it up on a map, you should be able to buy one and claim it back on expenses.

  • Comment number 29.

    we need investment in the railways, coaching stock and stations, but do we need a fasr rail link that in reality will only cut minuets of birmingham to london, when you look at the collosal cost, you have to wonder if this is the wiset way to invest in the rail industry.

  • Comment number 30.

    This is described as "high speed" and it will be another 7 years before they even start to build it? You couldn't make it up.

  • Comment number 31.

    Its not as if we even have the capability now to manufacture the new trains and infrastrcture in the UK now anyway.

    I really welcome it,

    but like most people have said on here, its years of under commitment and investment into integrated rail that have left the UK decades behind the continent.

  • Comment number 32.

    I rather like instead the super high-speed broadband of the Tories so we can telework rather than travel at all.

    Indeed if MP's teleworked in one massive web conference they need not claim expenses. (Beyond the broadband cost, obviously)

  • Comment number 33.

    He said the first 120 miles between London and the West Midlands would cost between £15.8bn and £17.4bn.

    To any of us voters, this means an actual cost of possibly £25bn to £30bn+.
    I cannot remember ANY government plans of such magnitude that have come anywhere near initial suggested costs.

    The Millennium Dome (02 areana) was massively over budget and the channel tunnel was also massively over stated costs, hospitals, schools etc and many other government buildings funded by taxpayers end up being excessively beyond stated costs. Even military expenditure.

    When do they get anything right. They talk about these plans, BUT it is TAXPAYERS money that funds their incompetance.

    When ever Government plan something & cost it, for a more realistic cost it is reasonable to just add anywhere from 25% to 100% to the total.

    Any & all public expenditure contracts are ALWAYS far over budget, even 1st new BBC digital buildings & BBC new current buildings are also over budget.

    Whenever a public contract is mentioned, contractors are rubbing their hands with glee.

    I think that those who planned & built Arsenals new football stadium should have the job of planning & costing & contracting because they actually managed to maintain high standard of cost compliance.

    All this means to me, is yet more worryingly excessive & negligent planning & expense.
    Wonder why people dont trust or have much confidence in governemnt/politicians. The expenses fiasco was just the tip of a very massive iceburg of incompetance & wastefulness at taxpayers expense.

    Maybe they will put a tax on other lines to pay for it, as they are doing similar with cable/broadband.

    I wouldnt pay £10.00 for a McDonalds burger, so why should taxpayers have to pay similar excessive inflated prices for buildings & roads & hospitals & tanks ,helicopters, aircraft carriers, & of course railway improvements. Trouble is, thats closer to any realistic reality of this high speed line.

  • Comment number 34.

    Possible future extensions to northern England and Scotland. Good news, but hang on...I'm sure I've heard that somewhere before.


  • Comment number 35.

    The route through Burton Green is crazy. With 14 trains an hour at 250mph at the end of our short garden my house would fall down! This route goes along the back of a line of houses. Given that Burton Green is the highest point in the area the route needs to be further South and tunnel under the Cromwell Lane area.
    Burton Green fended off a mine 20 years ago and will do the same again.
    Given that it's only 63 mins from Coventry to London anyway, how much benefit will a slightly faster line really bring, especially as the cost will be even higher than the current fare, which at over £100 is already prohibitive for many.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Victoria here. Here's an article from the Press Association:
    Are you opposed to the plans? Is this for political or environmental reasons?

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    It will be overpriced as everything else is I'm sure.

    Besides, it apparently cuts the London - Birmngham journey to 45 mins...from the massive 1 hour Euston to B.International route currently available with Virgin? (at obsence prices goes without saying)

    Now whatever will I do with that extra 15 minutes??

    Come on, you can excite us more than this, Try Rome to Inverness in 2 and half hours...

  • Comment number 39.

    For the life of me I can't understand why they've opted for a duplication of the West Coast Main Line, especially having just spent millions upgrading it.
    Surely they ought to go for a central spine railway with spurs off to feed all the major conurbations.
    If planned carefully that might mean the spine route actually missing all major cities with their environmental issues and high costs, but the spurs serving Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds etc.
    As it is the link to Leeds will never get built because the Peaks and Pennines are in the way.

  • Comment number 40.

    Yes, It will improve transport links, help revive the economy & create jobs but can we afford it. As things stand we will need to make cuts elsewhere to pay for it which will decrease jobs & damage the economy. Given the time scales involved, it may be a good idea provided we don't have too spend much money on it in the near future.

  • Comment number 41.

    It takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from Euston to Birmingham (100 miles). THAT IS FAST - compared to the time it takes to get from Charing Cross to Hastings (60 miles) which is supposed to be 1 hour and 45 minutes, but invariably it takes 2 hours. I was under the impression that the vast majority of wealth producers in this country live in the south east - would it not be sensible speed up the trains in the south east?

  • Comment number 42.

    We desperately need a high speed rail network but we also need to improve our existing railways.

    Currently the trains have too few seats leading to standing and when seats are some available they are desperately cramped and uncomfortable. There are no minimum standards in place to ensure passenger comfort or the provision of sufficient seating. A shambles that UK travellers should protest about.

    Furthermore there are many communities without rail connections and these ought to be prioritised over high speed lines duplicating existing routes.

  • Comment number 43.

    I cannot believe the way this question is worded as if there was any doubt that a high speed rail link would improve transport links. The real question should have been how far and how soon will this come into effect? We are years behind our continental cousins in France, Spain, Germany and Italy and our major roads and motorways are already overcrowded as we all know only too well.

  • Comment number 44.

    Matters will improve only when our railways are run for our benefit as part of a fully integrated public transport system for the UK, not as a basis for making big business profits and stock market speculation. Nationalise British Railways Now.

  • Comment number 45.

    It will turn out the same as everything our incompetant country does. It will be bogged down in planning applications for years due to nimbys and when it finally gets going will cost x times more than estimated.
    Take a leaf out of those great railway builder, the Victorians, books.
    Start it now, hand it over to engineers, tell planning consultants to get stuffed, confirm it is going all the way to Glasgow, start work at four places at the same time. Finish by 2014.

  • Comment number 46.

    It would be a lot better to take up the Central Railway idea, building a new freight railway line connecting High Speed 1 to the north of England, using much of the trackbed of the former Great Central Railway. Such a line could significantly cut traffic congestion by carrying lorries on flatbed trucks. It could collect passengers from Heathrow, and take them through the Woodhead Tunnel, or via Leeds onto the Settle and Carlisle to Scotland.

  • Comment number 47.

    To all those naysayers at HYS:

    1. It takes 7 years to go from outline proposal to start building. That's life. Stop making out like you dream up a perfect proposal and start building tomorrow. It doesn't happen.
    2. Part of the reason for using London is that many business journeys go to or from London. That's reality, it's not politicians doing it to suit Londoners.
    3. The cost of this is about £2bn - £3bn a year. Peanuts. But it's wasted unless we do it each year for 30 - 50 years.
    4. It's not this OR magnetic trains. The 400kph bullets may be used for other shorter routes. The first one in Shanghai was only from the airport to downtown......
    5. If the plans are sensible there will be stations at the edges of major conurbations and near airports.
    6. This would be a great stimulus to restarting a railway engineering capacity in the UK. Yes, some would be outsourced abroad. But what a chance to bring back engineering to this country, eh??
    7. Routes are not limited to those discussed today. The concensus is that the economic case currently is greatest for Manchester, but there is also a case for Sheffield-Newcastle BEFORE an East coast spur from London is built. There are discussions also about fast upgrades (but not HS2-style) to cross the North of England...
    8. There are a lot of people who want us to fall further and further behind our European neighbours. Shame on them.
    9. There needs to be cross-party commitment to a 30 year programme or its pointless. There's nothing wrong with a feisty debate upfront, but the whole thing will fail if its 'my legacy, not yours', 'our NIMBYs, not yours' etc etc. By all means debate rigorously. But don't do cheap election punditry by trashing £50bn intergenerational projects.....
    10. Lord Adonis is a can-do man. Oh but there were more like him.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    No-one is taking these plans seriously are they? They are just a ploy to try and win a few votes. The fact is Labour have mismanaged the economy so badly there isn't the money to buy a horse and trap. Unless of course you tax the middle classes some more.

  • Comment number 50.

    Whos going to afford the fares ? o i know claim on expenses woo hoo last train to San Fanando

  • Comment number 51.

    What a waste of time and money, not to mention damaging (we really should be avoiding doing anything destructive to any of the few attractive parts left of the UK, England especially, considering what a mess we've made of most of it). It is also unaffordable in the current economic mess. Even if we could afford it the money would be better spent improving the existing trains, so that we return to decent-length trains instead of short over-crammed-full multiple units, or (re)expanding the network to places currently missed by it, instead of duplicating existing tracks.

    Anyway, if you need to travel that fast often enough for this to be useful (and from Birmingham it's not going to be a massive time-saver over existing services) then you really need to get your life better organised. Do we really need to be running around the country like headless chickens?

  • Comment number 52.

    If a certain Dr Beeching/government had not been allowed to close all the stations which he did, and if British Rail had NOT been privatised.
    There probably would be a lot less cars on the roads.
    Hig Speed between cities may be a good thing, but it does not keep cars off the roads.

  • Comment number 53.

    Why Preston?


    They need to sort out HS1 first. Train times from the North Kent coast have got slower since HS1 cam into service

  • Comment number 54.

    #41 - "I was under the impression that the vast majority of wealth producers in this country live in the south east - would it not be sensible speed up the trains in the south east?"

    Those would be those people who have brought the country to its knees with financial mis-management? They've never produced wealth, they've just managed to make a bit of money by providing services (often at extortionate cost) to people and businesses who do by actually making things. Oh, since what they do can all be done by computers and phones then why do they need fast rail services anyway?

  • Comment number 55.

    And who pray tell will pay for this marvel? No doubt after “hard” negotiation Network Rail will carry the lion’s share. The “private” franchise rail companies will demand hand outs for the trains. Environmentalist will be forced to drive to protest campaigns for the “lesser spotted dove tailed Chiltern gnat” (for the environmentalists there is no such creature) whilst bemoaning the lack of “green” transport option! Nimbi’s will object! Celebs will be rallied to support!
    This hurts! The French got it right. They said, “we want a high speed rail track from here to there, what is the shortest route? Good we build there…” The protesters complained and they were met with a Gallic shrug and the line was build on time and budget.

    2017 my eye!

  • Comment number 56.

    32 Neon

    "I rather like instead the super high-speed broadband of the Tories so we can telework rather than travel at all."

    Good point.

    Why do policymakers assume we all want or need to travel?

    Advances in IT have significantly reduced the need for face-to-face contact. So much can be done via video-conferencing and emails, nowadays.

    But even if we accept the need for improved rail travel, I'd question

    a - why start with London?
    b - why not just upgrade existing lines and rolling stock?

    I can't help thinking that the whole thing will involve endless, expensive, quango's for ministers' friends, in short.

    Whereas improving existing lines, and buying better rolling stock, would just involve the rail industry doing its job. Where's the fun in that, eh?

  • Comment number 57.

    Surely cars are more "old-fashioned" than trains. Unlike trains, cars haven't changed any fundamental components since they first settled on the current configuration around a century ago. They use roads first paved millenniums ago. Whereas trains have changed fundamentally from steam to diesel and now to electric (cars are trying to do the same but don't see how they can overcome the fundamental issue of fuel/power storage).

    Also high-speed trains not only travel many times any standard car's top speed. Trains are the future, which is why young kids still marvel at them. You'll never get a young kid standing next to a motorway marvelling at the cars in the way he would when stood next to a train track.

  • Comment number 58.

    Yes, build them, then ban internal domestic flights, then there will be no need to add to airport capacity.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a customer I don't really have a problem with the speed of the trains, I have an issue with the inflated prices. This move will raise the prices even further at one point or another....whilst any improvement is beneficial I would rather see a more appropriate pricing system

  • Comment number 60.

    It sounds to be a good idea, yet I suspect that what is really needed is an acceptance that Britain came to the Industrial Age too early, and that it may be more effective in the long run to uproot the entire present system, and start again from scratch. Otherwise, you end up with a situation of putting patch upon patch upon patch, fiddling about and making do. It's the sort of thing that the British do superbly well, but it would be nice to see the job done properly for once. If it was, we might even see a drop in fares to reasonable levels, as we wouldn't need to pay for the inefficiencies that are inevitably built in to what is effectively a 250 year old system. I could think of worse things to spend public money on.

  • Comment number 61.

    # 10 BarryP - an excellent post - couldn't have put it better myself! The problem is though, that those that decide these things have neither the political will or the common sense to do as you suggested. Pity, really.

  • Comment number 62.

    Rail should be utilised more for freight rather than commuters.

    It is also depressing how long it takes for this country to put any kind of idea into action.
    It shouldn't take 7 years of planning for an 8 year long construction project. The channel tunnel was 8 years in total!

    China would have this set up by the summer.

  • Comment number 63.

    It's a nice idea in principle, however Ministers' idea of "high speed rail" is even more outdated than their idea of high speed internet.

    Simply put, having a train that does 140mph would have been a real breakthrough, back in the '60s! These days, 300mph is a fast train, and the Ministers simply don't seem to realise this.

  • Comment number 64.

    12. At 2:05pm on 11 Mar 2010, Chrisl wrote:
    The whole thing is a joke isn't it? Not starting until probably 2017 with completion in 2025! Typical of this country when the government get involved. They'll be the usual NIMBY's, environmentalists, tree hugging nutters who will delight in (excuse the pun) railroading this project so we'll be lucky to see this finished in 50 years time. Why don't they get the roads sorted first, have you seen the size of the pot holes in Berkshire?

    This post is hilarious; I just wanted to draw more people's attention to it! I will be off to Berkshire to view these enormous pot holes directly after posting this!

  • Comment number 65.

    Waste of time and money. Replace the existing railways completely with magnetic propulsion services similar to those used in Japan for the last who-knows-how-many years. It will be cheaper and more satisfying in the long run than just throwing money at a poorly infrastructured and outdated mode of transport. In fact, these magnetic rails are believed to be capable of working under water, so it's not inconceivable that they could even replace air and ferry travel before long. But only if governments have the sack to try them out.

  • Comment number 66.

    What we need is more branch lines and local stations, with lots more cheaper parking at stations.

    This high speed link will only help people living in, or very close to, Birmingham reach London slightly quicker.

    Ideally we should be encouraging people to live nearer their work, rather than making it easier for them to travel half way across the country to work.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why are ministers obsessed with the biggest fatest shiny-est fabulous project that will serve London and a small number of provincial cities, rather than sorting out commuter services and "sensible" infrastructure projects such as Leeds Supertram (cancelled in favour of the 2012 Olympic fortnight) and re-opening te woodhead Tunnel (no one south of Watford knows where it is)? To satiate their overblown egos, perhaps? Or maybe it's so that when they cancel the project they can claim to have made £30Bn of the "spending cuts" we all know are neccesary. Just another fiddling in the books.
    And I'm pro-rail big time!

  • Comment number 68.

    " ABOUT TIME" But why is Wales not in the plan??????? we need a modern railway system very badly, as our railways are a big joke. A high speed link is what we need now in Cardiff. If the nimbys in England dont want to have they lovely view damage by any train line? run it from Cardiff and Wales please !!!

  • Comment number 69.

    Sounds great. I'm sure that by the time they've implemented this they'll have invented teleportation making it all rather pointless :)

  • Comment number 70.

    I hope it will improve transport links. However, I wonder if the aim of getting more journeys by rail and fewer by car could be achieved considerably more easily if the £30bn or so they are planning to spend on this were spent on subsidising fares on the existing rail system.

    I'm sure there are plenty of people who would travel by train more often if they could afford it.

  • Comment number 71.

    Work is guestimated to start on the new rail link1n 2017 with completion in 2025, 8 years for 105 miles of track in fairly easy country ! ! Come on you guys You have fleets af diggers and muck shifters. How long did it take Brunels navvies to build the London Bristol line?

  • Comment number 72.

    If there is such money available to be spent,perhaps it might be a good idea to update and expand the present network first! But I'd welcome the advent of TGV lines in the UK...20 years behind everyone else as usual,but still welcome! One worry I have about such a scheme is that it would be private financed,which would mean the investors would expect a healthy profit on their investment. This might mean fares might end up being unaffordable for ordinary people and so the whole thing just ends up an expensive luxury method of transport for the well to do and the business a cost of massive environmental damage for the rest of us.If something like this cannot be done for the general benefit then perhaps it is not justified.

  • Comment number 73.

    Fast trains are and will only be available to a few who are living near the largest cities.We still have slow trains taking us to London unless we travel by car to a station where Virgin trains stop. Trains should be available to all and if they are spending so much on a new line only of use to those working in Birmingham or London, what will happen to all the rest of the network?What about creating fast trains from east to west? Travelling to Cambridge from the Midlands is so slow that the car is the only option. Travelling from here to Wales is a joke and getting to Cornwall is a one day's journey.Why do the southerners get all the advantages and the high wages that go with it, is so unfair and it will not get my vote.

  • Comment number 74.

    "46. At 2:59pm on 11 Mar 2010, danensis wrote:
    It would be a lot better to take up the Central Railway idea, building a new freight railway line connecting High Speed 1 to the north of England, using much of the trackbed of the former Great Central Railway. . ."

    Absolutely spot on! I'd like to click on the "recomnend" button, but can't seem to find it. GRRR.

  • Comment number 75.

    We in Scotland do not want this railway imposed on us from westminster we can build our own. Scotland will be out of the united Kingdom by this time and also the commonwealth so will not be engaged with the rest of the UK in any form

  • Comment number 76.

    Knowing this country it will be another thing that's supposed to be good, but ends up being rubbish... And i bet people will still be noisy in the 'Quiet Zone'.

  • Comment number 77.

    One of the busiest air routes in the world is that between London and Dublin, why not a high speed rail link under the St George's Channel linking London and Dublin, if passed through Cardiff it could link three capitals not just two.

  • Comment number 78.

    And another thing...
    At £30bn, that's £500 for every man, woman and child in the country. If they stay on budget.
    I guess maybe 15m people live near enough to a station to potentially benefit, so that's £2,000 per potential beneficiary.
    Of these, say 2/3rds will never need it or be able to afford it.
    So every traveller will be paying around £6,000 capital costs for the privilege. If this was our money, would we do it, just to get to London a few minutes quicker?
    And of course it is our money.
    To make any sense, surely the route also has to link directly with the Channel Tunnel?

  • Comment number 79.

    Sounds good - even if it's 30 or so years late. Still plenty of time for government ministers and other unqualified (i.e. mediocre degree in law, no work experience) MPs to meddle, of course. If they keep the IT component to a minimum it may even have a chance of success bearing in mind the "reverse Midas touch" of NuLaburr seems to be able to ensure a complete mess-up of every IT project it dabbles in.

    Although potentially we could be catching up with the rest of the world at last - which would be marvellous - I have a simple question:

    I agree that high speed rail links were sensible 30 years ago - which is why many sensible countries adopted them - but, after all this time, is the benefit of high speed rail still there? It could be even more compelling now than 30 years ago but has anyone done a proper cost/benefits analysis study, other than Prescott on the back of a fag packet, that is?

  • Comment number 80.

    Number 59 is right about fare comparison. I'm planning to go to Glasgow soon from Heathrow. Rail fare - £225 and 7 hours; air fare £78 and about 1 hour; coach fare £60 odd and 10 hours.

    Which would anyone else choose?

  • Comment number 81.

    How is this going to be paid for? Will we borrow the money or print it?

    @DaveRN #75 Ah what a lovely thought - please let it be true.

  • Comment number 82.

    How about providing rail lines to areas that don't have them and what about connecting up more stations from east to west.

    Having to go all the way to London to get to a place that's just a short distance to the west is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 83.

    It'd be a step in the right direction.

    But it's perhaps not the most important first step - the first step should be to rebuild the goods yards that were torn up between 1960 and 1990 - Beeching isn't the only one to blame here either.

    Get goods back onto rail to all major towns and cities, take the majority of the long distance, and worst of all, international, freight from the motorways and town streets back to something that can handle it without destroying our towns.

    Once we have freight back on rail, THEN we can worry about how much we need to rebuild passenger services.

    Oh, and one last thing, make sure to FUND the railways this time, British Rail was the *ONLY* european railway system expected to be financially self-sufficient. And it's an unfair requirement when you consider the benefits to town and countryside that a fast effecient rail network brings.

  • Comment number 84.

    I think journey times on the main routes are pretty good already. You can reach London in less than two hours from Yorkshire/Lancashire for example. It would not make much of a difference if the journey was 15 minutes quicker. Of more importance is the number of lines and trains we can run, and the cost of tickets. Little point if we have faster trains that only the rich can afford to use.
    At the moment we have so few lines that if a train breakdowns it blocks the track for countless other trains, as there are not the tracks available to divert the train on to. To be honest it's the same with the roads, we have so few motorways that if accidents occur at a number of key places the network grinds to an halt.

  • Comment number 85.

    I think the whole transport planning is an outrageous attrocity.

    While politicians dream up big schemes, current train travelers in many areas have to put up with ridiculous number of carriages & massive overcrowding with some at times not even being able to get on their regular train.

    Theres a huge problem in Yorkshire & promised extra carriages will not be available until 2014 and after.

    I'd hate for us to get into a really serious war, because this Labour government & previous Tory government couldnt adequately plan a tea party let alone something deal with something more serious.

    How can it be that extra carriages are so slow to come online. Passenger capacity has far exceeded actual train capacity. WHEREs the environmental planning to get people off the roads. People want to use trains but its more & more difficult & not nice being herded like cattle in some 3rd world country.

    Its completely ridiculous to even suggest such a scheme, especially with Torys not agreeing to it as it stands.

    I just wish we had some cross party compliance, which is what this country desperately needs.

    Maybe a hung parliament would actually achieve it or even if politicians were strung up in a room together there might be some new understanding & bonding that we are all in this together so should work better together.

  • Comment number 86.

    All those that look enviously across the Channel at the TGVs in France etc. should remember that many quite large towns in France don't have rail stations, so as good as their high-speed rail network is, it simply isn't available to many people. Stations in the UK are much more widespread, despite the efforts of Dr. Beeching.

    The main thing that will detract from the success of the project is (of course) potential cost of using the service. Train travel is so expensive that people are forced onto the roads, or up in the air, which is really the opposite of what is required. The train operators missed a trick by making the HS1 ridiculously expensive, so that even people that can afford it feel ripped off. You just KNOW that they will make this new service prohibitively costly if it ever does get built. Why can't they just see sense for once!

  • Comment number 87.

    Who on earth can afford to use the railways? I for one cannot. I do wonder however why the government doesnt bring back British Rail. After all doesnt all this money for new railways just go into the pockets of shareholders.

  • Comment number 88.

    Great, but why can it not be started until 2017, and the extensions further north even later.

    I an glad that the route through Heathrow was not chosen. Presumably the idea of those in favour of routing through Heathrow, is that it should become a transport hub for the whole of the UK.

    One of the problems which besets transport in the UK, is that most airlines, in particular BA, use hubs in the London area. This means that to travel to even common destinations on the continent, or the US, from anywhere in the UK it is often necessary to go via a London airport. This is infuriating for passengers who have no wish to spend a few hours in a shopping mall in the middle of their journey, increases congestion at the London airports and probably increases the carbon footprint.

    Heathrow should become a hub for the south east only, and as such does not need a high speed link to the north.

  • Comment number 89.

    Well its a great idea.. but if the train doesnt leave on time will it make any difference and as for weekends what happens when they dont have the specialist drivers ? I suspect its just another great idea that will be another useless service.

  • Comment number 90.

    As I don't live in London or Birmingham, I don't really care. It would be nice to see some major projects in other parts of the UK for a change

  • Comment number 91.

    Is Lord Adonis his real name? Cool! When I get to the House can I call myself Lord Hercules or something?

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Let's understand this: It currently takes 1hr10min from London to Birmingham International and 1hr25min to New Street (approx 103 miles) and 1hr25min to Bristol Parkway and 1hr40 min to Temple Meads (approx 107 miles) - So, they are planning to spend £16,000,000,000 of general tax-payer's money (when we already have a Government debt some 50 times this size which the country will struggle to repay) to reduce the Birmingham journey time by 20 or 25 minutes (assuming, of course that additional security checks are not required for passengers boarding these 250 mph trains, and that one of them doesn't break down on the line or fall off it, causing potentially days of disruption to the whole service).

    And how many people will actually benefit from this quicker journey?

    And what benefit will the other 50 million-odd taxpayers (including all the ones who have to suffer trains rushing by twice as frequently and at twice the speed - and hence approximately 4x the sound energy) see from this?

    I say pull the other one!

  • Comment number 94.

    66 Paul

    "This high speed link will only help people living in, or very close to, Birmingham reach London slightly quicker.

    Ideally we should be encouraging people to live nearer their work, rather than making it easier for them to travel half way across the country to work."

    Well said.

    I'd sooner see the money invested in

    - local rail
    - cycle paths
    - broadband.

    I question the very 'need' for the high speed network. Actually, that's a lie. There is a clear need.

    There is a whole network of consultants and quangoes out there needing feeding. The Olympics will run dry soon. This project will be there next little earner.

  • Comment number 95.

    2017 - hardly worth considering is it. It won't get off the drawing board so what's the point. Where's the money coming from? In 2017 we'll be one of the worse off countries around. Get real.

  • Comment number 96.

    Pfft. Pigs might fly.

    I've moved to using buses instead of the trains here in North Essex (Colchester to Braintree and vice versa) because they're more reliable and cost 1/3 of what I was spending on travel to and from work.

    The Tories won't do what the public want in the way of public transport, in the same way that NuLab haven't. Until the public transport system is taken out of the hands of profiteering fat cat companies and made viable for all as an alternative to the car public transport in this country will not improve one bit, Tory promises or no Tory promises.

  • Comment number 97.

    There was, I believe, a "Yes Minister" or "Yes Prime Minister" episode where the concept of a 'fully integrated transport system' was acidly lampooned in a very funny but accurate way.

    We are a small country which would benefit from having a single transport authority with a wide remit to explore all modes of transport and meet the needs of all sectors.

    It is no good having fast rail links if the infrastructure at the terminus is poor.

    There are some startling anomalies. I went to Liverpool last Friday from Birmingham. The cost of an advanced single with senior railcard (£6.60) was less than the taxi ride from my house (1.5 miles) to New Street Station. However for open tickets at peak time, it can cost more to go by train than by plane, even when taking into account travel to the airport and parking. Rural transport links are laughable once you get a few miles outside the city.

    We need careful research, analysis, integrated planning and joined-up thinking and decision-making without political interference. But I see pigs flying outside my window ...

  • Comment number 98.

    It will be great but until its cheaper than driving it will only be used by those that have a need rather than a choice. Ticket pricing is around 4 times more expensive than driving at the moment so there is no point in using them.

  • Comment number 99.

    How many billion? I didn't realise that a 250MPH train requires solid gold rails. Why will it take so long? Many of us will never live long enough to see the benefits, only our children. The longer it takes, the more it will cost. It should be finished by 2017, not started, that gives them 7 years, why do they need longer? This could be a good excuse for getting our planning laws sorted and streamlined.

    Why does it have to carve a new route through the countryside? What's wrong with running it alongside the M40 for most of it's route - OK, the gradients in the Chilterns will have to be addressed, but I seem to remember a tunnelling machine going spare somewhere near Dover.

    In it's present form it will be of no benefit to the towns and cities in-between London and Birmingham, I'm sure that places like Oxford would love to benefit from a high speed link.

    No wonder it's going to get a lot of opposition.

  • Comment number 100.

    I just don't see why we have to wait until 2017. We needed high-speed rail links yesterday! And making only a link between London and Birmingham isn't going to solve anything. We need high-speed links along all the major motorway routes to get people out of their cars and onto the train. But more importantly, we need for it to be run at a price that'll make it a realistic alternative for those of us who choose our method of transport according to the cost!


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