Directors urge ministers to scrap HS2

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Robert Lovell
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The Institute of Directors has called on the government to scrap the planned high-speed rail link between London and the north, saying the £50bn project would be a “grand folly”.

The IoD is the first large business group to adopt this stance, while other business lobbies such as the Confederation of British Industry and British Chambers of Commerce continue to back HS2, but have voiced concern over the rising costs of the coalition’s flagship project.

The cost recently went up by...

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28th Aug 2013 09:05

We prattle prattle prattle ...

... and even after this scheme being on the drawing board for some years, we're still years off starting and decades off finishing. Meanwhile other countries spend their resources on getting on with the job and have excellent networks and are reaping the advantages. I remember the UK discussing high speed rail when the French started their network in the 1970s. 40 years on and the French have an extensive (and still expanding) network whereas we have one line only.

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28th Aug 2013 20:07

spain broke, Italy broke and france on the verge.

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28th Aug 2013 12:12


West Coast Main Line is at full capacity and still growing (despite steep price hikes).  A new line is needed, whether it be high speed or not.

In France people no longer bother flying from say Paris to Marseille.  We need to make our trains more competitive (faster and cheaper) so that our airports have capacity for more long haul flights without covering the green belt in concrete.

The key is an integrated transport policy. Government should decide its preference for getting people from say London to Newcastle (or Manchester to Cologne, for that matter) and support it. If that means taking subsidies away from budget airlines then so be it.  A logical integrated transport policy should include HS2 as a key element.

All this requires (a) shedloads of public investment (b) some people being inconvenienced.  But if it's true that HS2 threatens the health and happiness of people in Bucks, then it's equally true that 'Boris Island' would make life misery for some in South Essex/North Kent.  We can't make omelettes unless we break eggs.

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By ghewitt
28th Aug 2013 13:52


It's all part of the Agenda 21 scheme - the US is building similar railways. If you are wondering what that is; watch the 'Hunger Games' film, it will give you an insight into the New World Order that is approaching by stealth. These HS railways are to link 'Human Settlement Cities, or Zones'. Whilst we are all busying ourselves with the total BS and trivia of this world - new iPhone 5s and other pointless gadgets; accounting regs and other meaningless twaddle, the so-called 'News' and other rubbish on the TV et-al the totalitarian prison state that we are helping to build for ourselves continues to rise; whilst we stand and applaud each new brick laid. Want proof? Look no further than the comments being made. "Bread and Games" and the proles are happy; rule on Caesar!

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28th Aug 2013 20:05


the u.s.a is building one hs rail from los angeles to san fransisco through virgin desert.

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By vstrad
28th Aug 2013 14:30

The IoD should know better ...

... than to come out with this silly season nonsense. Their "survey" reflects the opinion of a self-selecting 3% of their membership, who happened to be monitoring the IoD website during the holiday month of August and who could be bothered to respond. And, of course, the "Nays" are always more likely to respond than the "Ayes". Meaningless twaddle, I'm afraid.

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28th Aug 2013 20:10

....and 600 plus to vote for 60,000,000 - is that a fair representation of opinion.

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28th Aug 2013 14:37

...and the rest.

The ongoing effectswill be catastrophic in every way.the loss of the natural underground aquifers have not been taken into account.

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By Briar
28th Aug 2013 15:52

Beam me up Scotty!

In the 20 years HS2 is going to take to build, communication technology could (will) be very advanced. We already have skype, video conferencing, cloud computing, et al. Has anyone sat down and tried to predict where we will be in 20-50 years time? Possibly not needing to travel on railways! What about superfast broadband for the whole country? Computer controlled vehicles which will drive you safely to your destination (allowing "trains" or "convoys" on the motorways)? I travel much less now than I did 5 years ago. In 20 years, I would expect my kids to need to travel even less. They will have a massive debt (to build HS2) to service so probably won't be able to afford it.

And it will cost a lot more than the forecasts!

As it will be so expensive to build, the cost of travel will, I assume, also be high. So, only the "fat cats" will be able to travel on it (but we will all have to pay for the capital costs).

Cancel it now before more millions are spent.

(North West of England resident)

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By tedbuck
28th Aug 2013 17:25


It seems to me that HS2 will cost far more than the gains made. Locally to me they are talking about the deleterious effect of construction traffic over a number of years affecting business and its ability to travel. Did I hear someone say "What about the jobs it will create?" Well I suppose they will be filled by the usual Eastern Europeans so the Skills that Pete Waterman thought would be created for the Brits will in fact go back overseas.

I live mid Country about 10 miles from Coventry and 20 miles from Birmingham. The London service from Coventry is pretty good and I can get to the station in 20 minutes. Why would I take 30 minutes extra to go to Birmingham to shorten the train journey by 20 minutes at a greater cost?  HS2 will not help me and many like me but will make a horrible mess of the area around it and thus help reduce the area's productivity.

Another millennium dome?

One has to ask whether a small and congested Country like ours needs HS2. WE don't have large distances to travel like France, nor do we have passengers en route through our country from one neighbour to another.

And, of course, like all government projects it will cost 3x the projected figure because they always do. This is just a new trainset toy for the politicians at our expense.

As Ronald Reagan Said "The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibilty at the other."


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By Hudges
29th Aug 2013 10:42

...why go for a Victorian solution anyway

Train travel was a Victorian solution to public transportation.  We need to invent our own.

Don't misunderstand me, I love trains, they are a really enjoyable way to travel and have even been a fireman on the Ffestiniog Railway.  The trouble is they have a fundamental flaw.

They cannot stop in short distances.  A road vehicle has a stopping distance of 75 feet from 30 MPH, a train may have 450 feet.

The result of this is that the distances required between trains have to be large.  Additionally, these distances are not controlled as such, as the trains are allocated sectors that are dependant on the signalling infrastructure.

Therefore the capacity of a train line is severely limited.  Just compare the volume of traffic on the M1 with the railway that runs beside it.

The suggestions put forward by the Railway industry are for faster trains, massive investment (around £1,000 per head of population), longer platforms, etc....  They just do not get it!

If we want to invest in the railways, then invest in techniques to run trains as close as coaches travel on the roads. Then shorten the length of trains and increase their frequency.  Or as one suggestion I read, tarmac over the railways and run coaches instead.  Result: faster turn-round at terminals; more frequent service; less waiting; shorter platforms; lower cost; quadruple the capacity over existing lines.

Or alternatively as my son suggests, invest in research into teleportation.  

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29th Aug 2013 12:15

Relative costs

Can someone with knowledge of the field explain why the French can build and complete their high-speed lines for a fraction of the cost per km that these UK figures imply ?

For all our much-vaunted financial prowess that Governments like to harp on about, we just don't seem to be very good at getting these large public infrastructure projects right - and spend years faffing around beforehand, while costs seem to rise all the time. (Even the Scottish parliament  building had the same problem).

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30th Aug 2013 13:06

institute of directors.

further to my comment earlier, I think it very unlikely indeed if the paid director of the institute said what he has about hs2 without it being the consensus of the majority of its members. I do believe many of the comments below are put forward without due indepth knowledge of the issues directly and indirectly involved.

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By DMGbus
30th Aug 2013 13:43

Problem with HS2 and similar projects

The problem with HS2 and similar big price ticket projects is that it is portrayed as being "for the benefit of the Country" when in reality there will be winners and losers.

Unfortunately the losers will be people not receiving any benefit yet expected through taxes to contribute to what others will benefit from.    Some losers will only have to pay for it, other losers will suffer quality of life losses as well.

And, don't forget the end cost will be on the up and up over and well above normal inflation rates compared to any original understated projected costs, the cost-benefit equation as originally outlined will be out of date and costs may well exceed benefits.  And, remember the benefits will be only for a minority of the UK population, the costs will be borne by the whole UK population.

In the electronic age long distance travel should be on the way out, not encouraged to flourish at great expense to the taxpayer.




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30th Aug 2013 18:45


...and with the super technology advancing at an uncontrollable rate by the time hs2 is built,business cases will be all out of date..........I think it without any bias in any way that proportionately, there will only be a miniscule number of people able to afford to travel hs2. despite the hype the reality is that in spain, france and Italy the wake of non stop hs trains have left devastation along their routes as towns and cities are byepassed. why Coventry council recently reversed their decision from objecting to hs2 to an vote of favour, I will never know.  maybe under the influence of one peter rigby who is chair of the Warwickshire and Coventry lep who has a personal vested interest in seeing hs2 built

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02nd Sep 2013 09:32


The logical extension to your argument is that we should never ever invest in any new technology because it will soon be out of date.  If we had heeded that wisdom over the past 200 years we would still be [insert your own example here]...

Have you any examples of Spanish, Italian and French towns devastated by high-speed rail links?

Meanwhile back here in the UK towns like Corby, Middlesbrough, Barrow, Merthyr Tydfil, Hull (and many others) have suffered economic decline precisely because of poor transport links.  To anyone who lives in those places, no disrespect intended.  I actually like Hull.

I agree that high speed trains will incur a premium fare.  I tend to travel on cheaper transport.  Trains to Birmingham tend to be badly overcrowded at times, and they can be hell on earth when something goes wrong.  (And air travel is hell at any time).  A new line will relieve pressure on existing lines, and the market will resist excessive price hikes on those services.

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02nd Sep 2013 12:41

recent experience.

there was recently a very objectice report put forward to the government select committee by an expert from ucl re the effects of hs in spain. also, even if so far conceptual, a new method of transport has been devised by some billionaireincalifornia which does not seem too way out considering the rapid advance in high tech. he has to shelve his research due to time on his own further financial projects. - cheaper and faster.i must apologize for my not having my references at hand due to my time constraint this am however they can be put forward as constructive and objective to the arguments and discussions at hand - assuming that stubborn opinion in favor of hs2 can be eased.

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