Barlow's Beef: HS2 a miracle waiting to happen


Cheshire East Council has welcomed the announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the Government is aiming to bring forward the construction of HS2.

The final route has yet to be decided but the Council is delighted that the Secretary of State has called for HS2 to be 'fast tracked' (nice sound-bite there Mr Secretary). Cheshire East want HS2 ASAP and so do I.

For somewhere between £43B and £80B (depending on whose estimate you believe) I will be able to travel home from London 20 minutes quicker. It's an absolute bargain.

Err... sorry, say again. HS2 won't stop at Wilmslow... no matter I can get off at Crewe and grab a connection that does.

Okay, I'll have to switch platforms and hang around for a Wilmslow train but I'll still shave at least five minutes off my journey time. Hey, I'm a busy man five minutes is enough to change the world. Tony Blair swore Saddam could wipe us out with his Weapons of Mass Destruction in five minutes. He was in such haste to start a war he forgot to tell us Saddam didn't have any.

Forget the thousands of acres of ever shrinking countryside that must be destroyed to facilitate HS2 and a cost greater than the annual education budget. This is a project the prestige of which has not been seen since the scientific miracle of Concorde.

Remember what that did for mankind? It revolutionized air travel for... err dozens of wealthy folk. At less than £1B per celebrity it was a snip.

There's no use us hanging onto the past. Yes, of course we could upgrade our entire existing rail network for a fraction of the cost and yes Virgin does stop at far more stations. But the sort of people who will use HS2 won't want to stop at more stations. These are executives and politicians (travelling on expenses) who want to move between international cities at the speed of light- or at least 20 minutes faster than Virgin.

Do they want it desperately enough to buy a HS2 ticket out of their own pocket? As they have probably never had that experience it's impossible know.

People point out that it wasn't Concorde that created the massive boom in air travel but Freddy Laker's Sky Train swiftly followed by Easy Jet, Ryan Air etc all of whom offered affordable flights to the masses.

But upgrading the current rail system isn't as grandiose as ripping up the landscape and spending Billions of taxpayers' cash on a headline-grabbing project.

Think of the advantages HS2 will bring. There must be millions of people around the globe who lie awake at night thinking I'd love to travel to the North West of England... if only it was 20 minutes closer to London.

Mmm... just had an idea. If Virgin had a service that went from London to Manchester without stopping they could save 20 minutes now. No desecration of the countryside necessary, no need for £80B of taxpayers' cash AND no self-aggrandizing politicians queuing for knighthoods as though they had invented steam.

'A half-ounce of coal will draw two tons a mile," Robert Stephenson said that.

'Everyone's a winner, Baby...' Errol Brown said that.

"Forget HS2 give us better trains at cheaper prices." I said that.

Yet another barnstorming idea from

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

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow