HS2 or Basic Rail Services?

Travelling around the country over the last couple of weeks, it’s obvious that the non-mainline rail services between some of our major cities are in need of major investment.

If the government really wants to spend more than £50 billion on the new HS2 line, then I think, rightly, there needs to be an impact assessment to see if that money would be better spent in other places and on a different scale.

I have no problem with the concept of HS2. It’s a wonderful idea. But if it comes at the expense of starving our non-mainline services of capital investment then I’m opposed to it.

Travel between Liverpool and Manchester, or between Sheffield and Leeds, or from Birmingham to Cardiff, and you will realise how inadequate much of the train services still are in this country. They clunk, they are slow and they are expensive.

I was a regular commuter into Leicester for more than ten years, and the level of investment into the route between Birmingham and Stanstead Airport, via Peterborough and Cambridge, is minimal. A significant cross-country route like this should be electrified and running highly frequent services through the day and night.

Instead, the rout picks-off the commuters, charges them a four tune and then leaves them to deal with overcrowding. A familiar story across the country since rail privatisation in the 1990s.

A high-speed rout is laudable, though I don’t understand where the costs increases keep coming from? Is the is the sound of profiteering? Perhaps HS2 should be designed and built by the state on a not-for-profit basis? How many minutes will be knocked off the journey times to London?

After all there has to be a wider benefit for everyone, not just business elites who charge between the financial centres. Scrapping HS2 could be argued as a progressive reclaiming of social justice. Cheap, efficient mass transit for all, or expensive, exclusive perks for an otherwise already pampered elite?

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