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HS2: beware of fast moving trains

Larry Neild says Liverpool has too much to risk by being swept along

Written by . Published on October 30th 2013.


HS2: beware of fast moving trains
 

IN the early 1800s, the forward-thinking businessmen of Liverpool came forward with a scheme that would change the world. They built the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, the world’s first inter-city passenger link. 

Decades earlier, in the early 1700s, entrepreneurs of the day introduced the country’s quickest stagecoach service. Until then journeys to London from Liverpool could take 10 days, even longer when the weather was bad. Manchester narrowed the time to five and a half days, so soon after the Pony Express journey from Liverpool took three days. 

The problem for places like Liverpool is towns and cities along the direct route will take a quantum leap into the future – and this isn't one of them

Here we are in 2013 and those three former Empire giants, Liverpool, London and Manchester, are embroiled in a debate about trains that will whisk people to the capital not in weeks, days or even hours…. but minutes. The future, say some, including Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, lies with 250mph trains. 

The West Coast Line is reaching bursting point and within years it will not be able to cope at all. Few then can argue with the need for something new. Except ….instead of being in the driving seat, 200 years after that pioneering work in Liverpool, it will be Manchester manning the wheel. 

So let’s do a score chart to see who really wins in the race for HS2. The first leg will link London and Birmingham. Then HS2 goes its separate ways with one arm to Manchester and the other to Leeds. Oh, and they are throwing in a dedicated station at Manchester Airport. 

Will the Manchester conurbation bag the lion's share of inward investment for decades, with firms queuing for spaces along the HS2 corridor? 

Will the ability to alight a train on the airport's front door step pose a threat to Liverpool JLA, particularly as once-snooty Manchester Airport now welcomes low-cost airlines with open arms? 

Will trans-European freight trains haul containers directly to the Port of Salford for shipment along the Manchester Ship Canal to huge container vessels waiting at Seaforth? Could that harm the Port of Liverpool? 

Will there be a daily brain-train, transporting North West talent on the short journey to jobs in London? 

End of the branch line, that's usWill any civil service jobs going spare migrate to Manchester so government workers can head home each night to the smoke? 

Will Greater Manchester expand, overwhelming its not so far neighbours like Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington? 

Will Wigan, quicker by train to London than Liverpool, become Manchester's third city after Salford? 

Will money once destined for urban rail improvements be lost to fund HS2? 

Will Mayor Anderson and the other North West council leaders have to journey to the Palace of Manchester to beg for the things Emperor Leese of the Northern Dynasty doesn't want? 

Manchester is already planning a new world-class rail terminal with spin-offs including 4,500 new homes, 625,000 sqm of commercial office space, 100,000 sqm of retail space, 1,000 new hotel rooms, the creation of numerous high quality public spaces and a string of cultural and community use buildings. 

That is all good and well, but will the North West map of the future change to read Greater Manchester with everything else called Outer Manchester? 

Far fetched? The problem for places like Liverpool is towns and cities along the direct route will take a quantum leap into the future – and this isn't one of them.

As things stand, the fastest trains of the future between Euston and Lime Street will take 1hr 36mins - less than half an hour quicker than now. Head to Manchester from Euston and the journey takes a fraction over the hour. As things stand, that's the time it takes to get 40 miles from Lime Street to Oxford Road. 

So what can Liverpool and its “out of Manchester” neighbours do? It is now clear the economy of Liverpool will take a hit with HS2, 

So why not kick, scream and shout for a compensation goody bag. How about demanding Seaforth becoming the North's sole container base with direct freight services from mainland Europe? 

Manchester Has A Big Welcome Planned For Hs2How about filling in the gap at Ormskirk Station to give direct links from north Lancashire and Cumbria to Liverpool city centre and JLA? 

How about opening new rail links from Liverpool and Wirral directly into the heart of North Wales? Or demanding the Euro money Liverpool is entitled to be sent directly from Brussels, rather than be channelled via Westminster? 

The danger is, just as Liverpool was promised all kinds of things for backing Manchester's Commonwealth Games bid (and we got nowt worth having), if we repeat that act of neighbourliness, we may end up as a branch line backwater. 

The journey Liverpool started at Edge Hill in 1830 could be terminated near Manchester Piccadilly in a few years from now. 

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42 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RobertOctober 30th 2013.

Cast back to nu-Labour's original HS2 plans announced in 2007, and recall that Liverpool was omitted from proposals. One may ask what our local politicians with a transport pedigree have done to put Liverpool back on track from that day? Local transport heroes Merseytravel, under 'Labour Party background player' Neil Scales guidance did not feature prominently in formulating any business case for the city to be directly connected (too busy lining up their new HQ with NWDA petty cash, or wondering why the Tram scheme was rebuffed and how they were going to pay for it whilst wearing John Lennon's rose tinted glasses?). The Council's transport voice pre-Elected Mayor was via Merseytravel.... and now after Mayor Joe chopped Merseytravel off at the waist leaving them relatively impotent (bus lanes), they are placed in charge of formulating the business case for getting the city fully connected. Hardly a confidence boost / fine example of joint working by Mayor Joe for the new Merseytravel staff to produce a stunning economic case is it? Did the NWDA shout up for full high speed track into Liverpool? What of our MP's. Louise Ellman, (Parliament's Transport Select Committee Chair from 2008) possesses unrivalled transport knowledge, whilst Maria Eagle held Shadow Transport Secretary for a number of years - yet direct full linkage to Liverpool is omitted from Labour views on HS2. Oh dear. Ed Milliband / Ed Balls pledge of support so long as costs are kept down equates to no new or upgraded line into Liverpool. What can WE do about that now and importantly what should WE have done back when original plans omitted Liverpool? A starter for ten may involve boosting London passengers through Lime Street.. HS2 will leave current Runcorn - London service users high and dry (W.Cheshire / N.Wales M56 easy access makes it a very popular station). Re-connecting fast Chester / N.Wales services into Lime Street via a reinstated Halton Curve would only add weight to the Liverpool case.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

The Liverpool City Region is served by two London Virgin terminal stations, Lime St and Chester. HS2 bosses never took the Wirral into account when assessing Liverpool. Runcorn is on the Liverpool-London run. If say a HS2 station was built in Liverpool at maybe reusing the old Exchange station site or into Lime St (Exchange is better as t is near Liverpool Waters and the cruise liner terminal), then Fast express Merseyrail services can be run from Chester to a HS2 station and the existing London to Chester services terminated. The Chester to Liverpool services are every 15 minutes. between the stoppers an express can be run with maybe the odd stop along the way. Then it would be faster for people at Chester to get to London than via the existing Virgin London trains.

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

A fast commuter train to Lime St from Runcorn would fill the HS2 gap and maybe bring it into Merseyrail as well.

John ShawOctober 31st 2013.

Faster trains to London are what's not required. Faster trains away from the capital would benefit all. I cannot understand the all consuming need to get from one congested part of the country to an even more congested part of the country. Hasn't anyone noticed we are no longer an industrial nation, as for benefitting towns along the proposed route, nonsense. Since when has the nations industry revolved around the capital. The money spinning parts of our economy can be located anywhere given today's technology. We are an island nation, we trade with Europe and the wider world, getting to London half an hour sooner is unlikely to be the panacea for all our problems. If we are to contemplate the future, lets look at the bigger picture.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 31st 2013.

This isn't just about faster trains. The WCML is very close to capacity and we need a relief line. To build one that was not HS would just be rather regressive as the HS bit does add much to the cost.

John ShawOctober 31st 2013.

I bow to your knowledge reference the WCML, but to look at it in isolation rather than in the context of the bigger picture would also be along the wrong track to take. Do we really want freight to be hurtling at high speeds in a relatively small country. We're talking thirty years hence, do any of us have the foresight to predict what will be the requirement in ten years never mind thirty.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyOctober 31st 2013.

The freight moves far slower, if we are going to move stuff, we need to do it efficiently and rail is efficient, in part due to the low rolling fiction of steel on steel. Not doing it is as much making a prediction about the future as doing it.

SaladDazeNovember 1st 2013.

The big Tory plan is to turn London into Dubai on Thames. Bling built on slavery. A heaven on earth for crooks, pimps and people with lots of ill gotten gains and shite taste. HS2 will be used so the domestics can reach their encampments more easily.

HornbyNovember 1st 2013.

£9 billion of public money was recently spent on the West Coast Main Line. If the line is inadequate what was the money wasted on? Will heads be rolling?

7 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyNovember 1st 2013.

When was this 9 billion spent? Why should heads role? It does the job today it wouldn't have without constant upgrade, but in the future it will reach it's limit and new solutions found.

HornbyNovember 1st 2013.

Well exactly. If a railway enthusiast like you can't tell, who can? It was reason for about five years of delays and track work started by the last government, something to do with Branson's Pendolino trains. If the money has been chucked away on short-term fripperies then I think heads should roll.

HornbyNovember 1st 2013.

I refuse to post a link to the Daily Mail so pass your gimlet eye over this instead: blog.railnews.co.uk/…

John BradleyNovember 1st 2013.

I do have a life beyond railways, it just it is the only but that coincided with anybody elses interests. There was a plan to upgrade WCML to use moving blocks(ETCS3) to allow the pendilinos to do 140 but that was shelved, when it became clear it could not be done. I can find lots of references to the plan but no detail. There have been a lot of realignments to speed up passage. WCML was state of the art in the 60s, then ignored for 40 years, it did need a lot of work.

ThomasNovember 1st 2013.

I can recall working on the WCML in the seventies between Blackrod and Oxenholme, I doubt that it was state of the art in the sixties because it was still being electrified. The occupational bridge crossings were still being raised to accommodate the electrification. In fact Preston signal box wasn't completed till the seventies, and that controlled that stretch of the line ultimately.

John BradleyNovember 1st 2013.

Yup sorry it was finally complete in 1974. The section to Crewe was complete in 65.

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

The WCML is adequate. The Pendolinos can run at 140mph. But only run at 125mph because they did not fit in-cab signalling. The trains only reach 125mph on limited stretches of the line because the line is mixed use. Get all the slow local & regional rail and the Birmingham trains (which can have their own line via High Wycombe) off the WCML and full 140mph is possible end to end, which mean 1hr 40mins London to Liverpool/Manchester. All using existing fast lines.

johnnysaintNovember 1st 2013.

Liverpool shouldn't be drawn into this debate. It should oppose HS2 and instead call for more infrastructure investment for the North with the aim of improving connectivity. In the HSR Debate yesterday, Frank Dobson MP made an interesting comment something along the lines of - "if the 5 cities gaining most from HS2 were each given an equal £10bn share of the budget and told to spend it in the best way for their areas, how many would choose to spend it on HS2?".

2 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyNovember 1st 2013.

We should take part in the debate and we should make sure we get the best out of it. Whether that is a direct connection, extra infrastructure work or manipulate it towards the start of a trans Pennine mainline. There are way Liverpool can benefit but those befits will only come into play if the core of the line is built. Dobsons question misses the point any city would most likely spend the money on itself, that doesn't mean that it produces the best national benefit. Essentially what Dobbo is saying is bigger slice beat bigger cake. His thinking is the same as the "why can't we spend it on the NHS" argument. The reason is simple. The current spending on the NHS is a product of the industry and infrastructure that generates wealth. If we do not maintaining and enhance that then there will be no money to spend on the NHS in 30 years, by not investing across all of society just the bit that directly befit us we would be being very selfish and very short sighted. I could spend a couple of billion on rail in Liverpool CR and still want more.

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

FIVE cities? Only FOUR cities have direct city centre HS2 stations. Five if Sheffield is considered with its out of town Meadowhall station. Liverpool should oppose HS2 at every angle. Unfortunately our naïve mayor backs it. He is giving Manchester the bullets to shoot Liverpool with. Dobson is right. Leeds, Manchester, etc would link all their commuter lines in tunnels under their centres, as Liverpool did, and get themselves metros, which will create economic growth, not another fast line to London that acts as wealth sluice. In reality HS2 is just not needed when objectively looking at the rail network as a whole.

Mickeydrippin'November 9th 2013.

I have only just read Larry's article plus comments because my computer has been out of action. In the House of Commons on Thursday 5th Nov, at Transport Questions, Steve Rotheram asked about HS2 and benefits to the Liverpool city region. Patrick McLoughlin replied that.."once the high speed line goes to Manchester, it will then go on to Liverpool." www.publications.parliament.uk/…/cmhans…. An intruiging statement, suggesting that a spur to Liverpool will be built but we shall see.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyNovember 9th 2013.

It was the 7th and this is cryptic. This by the way is the link. www.publications.parliament.uk/…/131107-0001.htm…

Mickeydrippin'November 11th 2013.

Misread the calendar John.

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

"T7. [900980] Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): I am basically supportive of HS2 proposals, although I am becoming increasingly concerned about the project the more I read the specific detail of regional benefits. Will the Secretary of State assure me that Liverpool will get a spur to increase capacity and ensure greater connectivity with our ports so that the whole city region can benefit? . Mr McLoughlin: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman seems to be having second thoughts. The mayor of Liverpool is certainly not having second thoughts and is a big supporter of the project. The truth is that once the high-speed line goes to Manchester, it will then go on to Liverpool. That will be very important for Liverpool, but it will also get the benefits from phase 1. Parts of Kent that are not served by the line benefit from the capacity and the trains. . I don't even think Mr McLoughlin knows the route of the line.

witty124November 15th 2013.

Yes but we need to think about how we can ease congestion. Congestion is so great on the WCML because of our regionally unbalanced economy, dominated by London. Just feeding that by 'increasing capacity' won't answer fundamental problems with our economy. Why not build HS2 between Manchester and Newcastle and Liverpool and Hull. Just think how that would rebalance our economcy and society and offer a strong counter to the dominance of the South East.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Mickeydrippin'November 17th 2013.

Hopefully, within about 10 years, direct electric trains will be running between Liverpool and Newcastle - considerably improving the present Trans-Pennine services.

witty124November 15th 2013.

The great joke about HS2 is, ofcourse, that they aren't even planning to build the northern section first. So it is sold as something that will boost the economy of the north when infact, the section from London to Birmingham is being built first.

AnonymousNovember 15th 2013.

If it's built at all, it will go straight to Manchester and we'll have to make do with a shuttle bus and count ourselves lucky

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

As it stands Liverpool is at a great disadvantage if HS2 goes ahead in its current form. It is a pity our inarticulate mayor can't see this. The recent Atkins report stated that London to Liverpool/Manchester can be 1hr 46min & 1hr 43min using the WCML. Is that slow? Clearly not. So it is capacity that is the prime point the HS2 train spotters now tell us - not speed. The urgent rail need is local and regional not vanity projects which will become future Concordes. Attack this and take local & regional off the WCML & ECML, which slow up the Pendolinos, by laying new stretches of track for local and regional trains. Which also improves local & regional rail. By default it creates two expressways for 140mpg trains between the prime cities, not just FOUR cities as per HS2. Spend this £50bn on local & regional rail and reactivating old lines for freight, over and above allocated budgets, and the express routes sort themselves out by default. Further capacity can be released by using the little used Birmingham to Paddington line via High Wycombe: www.theguardian.com/…/hs2-rail-service-alternative-paddington… This would take Birmingham trains off the WCML and they could even be diverted at Willesden into London's Crossrail and terminate in East London picking up all the prime London points along the way. This will release capacity on the WCML - the current big whinge of HS2 train spotters. Diverting inter-city trains into Crossrail tunnels from the WCML is also possible for the likes of the Liverpool/Manchester trains as well. Then no terminal stations like Euston. It may mean expanding a few of the under construction Crossrail underground stations to accommodate inter-city trains. The Germans got rid of terminal stations making them all through stations which is far more efficient as they also act as crossrail lines through cities. Liverpool has a north-south crossrail in the Merseyrail Northern Line by removing two terminal stations All it needs is some thought and integrating the rail transport network. The HS2 analysis was flawed when looking at updating the whole rail infrastructure, as it ignores local and regional – Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham do not even have rapid-transit urban networks. In Germany these cities would have an S-Bhan. So with HS2 you can get to Leeds from London and bouncy about in buses to the outskirts. How bright! To make HS2 viable it needs feeding by urban metros in city centre stations. There are only "four" cities with direct city centre HS2 stations planned. Three of them, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester do not have rapid-transit urban rail networks. The three provincial cities that do have metros, with underground running in the city centres, are Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow and none of these cities will have direct HS2 city centre stations. Go figure!! Who thinks all this up? Shishhhhhhhhhh. The HS2 bosses concluded we need HS2, which the UK clearly does not need. The UK has clusters of cities 30 to 40 miles apart. No other European country has such urban density. The Rhur is the only part remotely like the UK. The UKs geography and demographics are just not suited for high-speed rail. Put a station in one city and the adjacent city will lose out. What the north of England needs is a west-east Pendolino down the Liverpool-Hull economic corridor with branches to Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds-Bradford airports. Better if this is extended via a River Dee tunnel to North Wales (a barrage was planned in the 1970s and the M53 Moreton junction was to run to and over the barrage) and Holyhead to link in the 2m in the Dublin economic region directly west of Liverpool, and the 750,000 in North Wales - local Merseyrail metro trains can use the tunnel and terminate in a North Wales town rather than West Kirby on the English bank bringing in isolated North Wales. This would cover the population of many decent sized European countries. The last thing the north of England needs is more fast lines to London to act as wealth sluices. High-speed rail is pretty irrelevant to Scotland as it is quicker by air to get to London. There has clearly been skulduggery in the HS2 analysis (some figures were made up) and hiding data. We need to start all over again and objectively look at the whole rail network, with a view to integrate with other transport modes, and identify where the real needs are, which is local and regional rail and reused lines for freight. Done properly and a new, separate, super-expensive, high-speed rail network would not emerge.

7 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyNovember 27th 2013.

So how did the demo in London go?

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

Have a look: stophs2.org/…/9839-stop-hs2-houses-parliament…

John BradleyNovember 27th 2013.

Yup another pathetic failure. You lost the arguments so long ago and make up such bad arguments. So brave you hide behind anonymity. www.google.co.uk/search… nearly as good as your Manchester outing. twitter.com/…/large…

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

Anti-HS2 have won every argument hands down. It is only illogical blind politics that pushes through this latter day Concorde. I would rather Liverpool had full comprehensive metro with trams filling in the dead spots running into Merseyrail stations and an airport station serving the whole of the North West and North Wales that will create economic growth (I assume economics is not your strong point) than a White Elephant few will use.

John BradleyNovember 27th 2013.

Well the Jury doesn't seem to be agreeing with you. Nice try.

AnonymousNovember 29th 2013.

What jury might this be? BTW, how is the train spotting going?

John BradleyNovember 29th 2013.

Public, press, MPs etc.

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

Who is this Jury? John Bradley or the John Bradley appreciation society (a facebook group with one member)

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyNovember 27th 2013.

The General Public and Parliament. The people who vote to pass the bill you and do not turn up at your protests.

AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

The General Public and Parliament. The people who vote to pass the bill you and do not turn up at your protests. This makes no grammatical sense

John BradleyNovember 28th 2013.

Perhaps not but you get the meaning.

Ah NostalgiaNovember 28th 2013.

My grandma used to get the tram built by that nice Mr Brodie, so did I.

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