Don't Come Off Your High-Speed Rails

HS2 is a shuddering piece of English transport infrastructure. That may or may not host passengers within the next decade.

Global public funded projects of this ilk have such bad press you wonder how any ever got made. For every modern day marvel like Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport Chek Lap Kok replacement there’s a procrastination over a new London runway, a half-century in and counting.

The particular embarrassment of this British trainline spine I’ve mentioned when blogging before (with sales traps on labelling and that classic airport framing).

The public mood (or is that rather the sneer of the metropolitan liberal elite) seems against the project. Despite the twin Crossrail mega-projects given to London for pretty much similar ends. The error was hard-wired into the ‘branding’.

HS1 was pitched as for trains to go as quick as the French to remove the shame of chugging sedately through Kent.

Mass approval. So why not use the same label for the next such plan? HS2 was born.

Every single advocate majored solely on the quickness it’d bring.

The problem was that no-one seemed to care much for reduced travel time between London and Second City Birmingham 100 miles north. Especially as the main connected stations planned were both some way from the town centres. The vast billions price tag derided as folly. A vocal coalition of Stop-HS2 opponents with the refrain “No Business case, No environmental case, No money to pay for it”. Brand now so toxic that the proposed extension up-country re-calibrated by the recipients as Northern Powerhouse Rail instead of official HS3 stamp.

The real benefit of the line is less speed, more capacity. Many are making this renewed case. Yet has the battle been lost? I applauded a latest spokesman this week state;

“HS2 will connect eight out of our 10 biggest cities, increase rail capacity on the current system and reduce journey times, while also creating thousands of jobs and acting as a catalyst for economic growth across the UK.”

Travel time definitely taking a back seat. Further confirmed with the continuation;

“At Euston, our work will triple the number of seats out of the station at peak hours and help to create a gateway to the capital and the nation that the local community and travelling public can rightly call their own.”

They’ve finally realised the precise greater good they should be promoting. But the journey to imprint this on the public won’t end at their desired destination any time soon.

Just because something worked in the past does not mean that it will win when pitched again.

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