Barlow's Beef: Book early for HS2


I'm sure you are delighted to know that HS2 high-speed rail service will be coming to a station near you in the next 12-17 years. Well, when I say 'near you' what I mean is Crewe. When and if it ever actually makes it to Wilmslow is anyone's guess.
So, fellow travellers, in just a few years less than it took to build the Great Wall of China HS2 will be heading your way. Obviously you will need to travel to Crewe to board it but hey-ho your journey has to start somewhere.

This is stunning news as the trip from Wilmslow to Euston currently takes two hours so travelling to Crewe, waiting for your connection then taking HS2 to London will mean your overall journey time will be err... never mind you will enjoy the experience.

And the cost of land, track, trains, the whole shooting match is estimated to be no more than £50B unless you believe the Institute of Economic Affairs who say it's more likely to be £80B but c'mon whose counting?

This is BIG news, in fact so big Cheshire East are advertising the service right now. Full page ads, no less. I think it's a great idea to start the promotional campaign early lest we forget.

I have already set my alarm for 2027 and booked a taxi to take me to Crewe. Okay, I may need to hit the snooze button for another six years but at least I won't miss my train.

Cheshire East is clearly a forward thinking organisation and sufficiently well funded they can afford to place full-page ads promoting a service that won't actually be available for 12-18 years.

Other councils are closing down care facilities, cutting services and couldn't contemplate the cost of advertising a facility that won't be in existence for a decade and a half. Not so CEC who have no such cash restrictions especially when it comes to self-aggrandisement.

If they are starting their promotional campaign now imagine the cost by the time the first train rolls into Crewe. You could probably buy a hospital, school and a waste transfer station with that kind of money.

God knows what the world will look like in 20028. Given our government's proclivity for firing off missiles we could be embroiled in something rather more pressing than HS2.

Nevertheless CEC is delivering a pre-emptive strike to ensure no one forgets the part it played in the planning process. Before a turf has been turned (or even grown) the marketing campaign has begun and YOU, my friends, are picking up the tab.

Who wants schools and hospitals any way?

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

John Moylan
Tuesday 29th December 2015 at 3:49 pm
Mr Barlow, I'm in full agreement with your sentiments. No one I have spoken to about HS2 wants it, wants to fund it, thinks we need it. There was a joke of a consultation process and I know many, including myself, responded with sensible reasons why we shouldn't be spending £80 Billion - money our country doesn't even have, so we'll have to either borrow it, raise it from higher taxes or print it out of thin air - on a project that clearly has no economic or social basis. But, as usual the consultation was a farce because the government, at the insistence of the EU, had already decided to go ahead with the project, destroying yet more countryside in the process.
Roger Bagguley
Tuesday 29th December 2015 at 6:01 pm
As per usual Vic Barlow is spot on the button with his observations on crazy projects and the crazy things CEC thinks and does. Vic has my vote for sure to lead CEC and bring some sanity to future planning decisions - Don't think the post will be up for grabs though - just another stunt to boost the ego. Money grows on trees for CEC. Hope they have factored this in as they decimate the countryside and indulge their HS2 fantasies.
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 29th December 2015 at 7:42 pm
Vic, you're right. It is indicative of UK's poor record when it comes to infrastructure provision that we have to wait perhaps a couple of decades for something the rest of Europe commenced over 30 years ago and are still expanding. There's even a branch of the extensive French High Speed Rail system that reaches into UK - via the Channel Tunnel to London. Anyone who has traveled in Europe and many other parts of the world will know that a railway without HS arteries is like a road system without motorways. It's archaic.

It may or may not be sensible to be spending money on advertising a project which won't even start construction for many years (why the heck are we waiting so long?) but the case for HS2 (and indeed HS3) is unimpeachable. Our Victorian railway system has seen a three-fold increase in traffic since privatisation and is bursting at the seams, and rail freight companies cannot expand to meet fast increasing demand such is the lack of capacity.

Fiddling around trying to cobble more out of our existing outdated system has been tried and found be give a poor return on investment (it's expensive and relatively ineffective) and the disruption to the busy working railway is unacceptable.

We need HS2 primarily for capacity reasons and we need it NOW, never mind in the decade after the next!
Jon Williams
Tuesday 29th December 2015 at 8:19 pm
Don't worry, parts of it will be flooded when it's built
Vic Barlow
Tuesday 29th December 2015 at 10:44 pm
No direct trains to London for 11 days
Andrew Needham
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 11:15 am
Lord Adonis has launched a major new Call for Evidence, focusing on three of the UK’s most critical infrastructure challenges:
•Northern Connectivity: particularly identifying priorities for future investment in the north’s strategic transport infrastructure to improve connectivity between cities, especially east-west across the Pennines
•London’s Transport System: particularly reviewing strategic options for future investment in large scale transport improvements – on road, rail and underground – including Crossrail 2
•Energy: reviewing how the UK can better balance supply and demand

Personally I favour east-west links - rather than HS2. Apparently the Mayors of Merseyside and GM take this view.

Lord Adonis wants a single answer from the Northern Powerhouse and the Northern Gateway

There has been some discussion about the views of the potential combined authority of Cheshire and Warrington. I surmised:

Cheshire East very keen

Cheshire West lukewarm

Warrington undecided.
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 11:52 am
East - west link improvements are certainly required, but the priority must be to ensure the major rail flow (north - south) capacity constraints don't impede the UK's financial growth, or even grind to a halt, hence HS2.

No surprise that the mayors of Liverpool and GM are in favor of east - west improvements; journey times by rail between those cities are no improvement on the faster trains of 100 years ago!

But we don't seem to 'do' infrastructure in UK (at least outside London with its imaginative Crossrail schemes). I was travelling in Spain by (mostly high speed) rail earlier this year. After we passed Segovia we entered a tunnel 17 miles long under the mountains north of Madrid, which we passed through at an undiminished 200mph. Why can't WE build one of those under the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds?

And let's start building HS2 now, not many years hence. We are already 30 years behind mainland Europe and Japan (and China of course).
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 30th December 2015 at 5:54 pm
At least CEC has the advertising started.

Book early