Full steam ahead for high speed rail, say 55% of Lib Dem members

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members back HS2 by 55% to 31%

There are plans to build a new high speed rail link (called HS2) between London and Birmingham, and then on to Manchester and Leeds. This is currently expected to cost around £42 billion. Do you support or oppose these plans?

    55% – Support

    31% – Oppose

    13% – Don’t know

It’s six months since Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker extolled the virtues of high-speed rail for LibDemVoice readers following his announcement of “the biggest investment in rail since the Victorian era”. I wasn’t impressed at the time and said so: I apologise for my lack of enthusiasm for HS2. It’s been unavoidably delayed owing to the lack of evidence. Since then, a succession of senior political figures have cast doubt on the plans, most recently Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable.

But I’m in a minority (31%) among Lib Dem members, with a clear majority (55%) supporting it. Here’s a selection of your comments:

Support not on the grounds of need for high speed rail but on the grounds of need for more rail capacity

It’s a vanity project – spend the money on ordinary lines and trains. Preferaby renationalise – East Coast is better since it was taken back.

Did support, but now oppose. Money could be better spent elsewhere. This will only suck business AWAY from Birmingham not TO Birmingham from London.

It’s basically a capacity issue, as the present network will not be able to cope with demand. The real question is why we didn’t take these decisions thirty years ago – ah yes, I remember, Margaret Thatcher had an irrational hatred of railways.

This expenditure simply cannot be afforded. Available funds should be used in repairing/upgrading existing infrastructure, e.g. Liverpool Street- Cambridge (West Anglia) Line.

I would support these plans were it £100 billion. This country needs to be able to get both passengers and goods into and out of europe by rain and the wider track on the european gauge is the only sensible way to do this.

I’d rather the money was invested in the regular lines, stations and (especially here in the NW) rolling stock. Who really NEEDS to get to Manchester 1/2 hr earlier?

I support new infrastructure projects but the economic case for this one has not been proven.

Have always been in favour but less sure now as costs rise

The HS2 should go all the way to Scotland, both Glasgow and Edinburgh

Most other large European Countries benefit from high speed rail. Our railway was built by the Victorians.

By the time it is built, if it ever gets built, the cost will be up in the £80 billions. Much better to strengthen infrastructure in the North right now! Electrify the lot.

It seems like a vanity project. Extra capacity could be provided by re-opening railways that were closed in the 1960s, such as the Great Central route from London to Manchester via Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. It would by-pass the congested West Midlands. The route was built in the 1890s to accommodate the wider continental trains in anticipation of a Channel tunnel. It was designed for high speeds, with gentle curves and no level crossings.

I want this money spent on our existing rail system – a massive electrification project over virtually the whole of the system, substantial lengthening of most trains, double, triple or quadruple tracking on many lines to improve capacity and reliability and the reopening of a carefully selected tranche of lines. Also through trains to the continent from further afield than just St. Pancras itself.

I want the state to spend a lot more on transport infrastructure, but HS2 has been put forward as the best way to expand HS rail, rather it being shown to be the best answer to a known problem. There are stronger arguments for the spending to go to other, smaller, projects.

I support the plans because we need additional capacity and it would be perverse not to build high-speed. However it does not amount to a regional development policy and links between cities in the north need urgent improvement – three hours from Sunderland to Manchester…?

Very much support. We should be building this line quicker and planning a wider network of high speed lines.

I used to support it but now I’m unsure given arguments that the money could be spent more effectively on other transport projects.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Just over 600 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 19th and 23rd July.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
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    53 Comments

    • Just shows that 55% of Libdems can be fooled into believing foolish belief’s – remember the advisor (Peter Mandelson) to the tailor and emperor has told us the emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes: HS2 was just a gimmick dreamt up be New Labour to make it look modern and forward looking…

    • This is just the wrong investment. The economic case is extremely weak. There is so much to be done in de-bottle-knecking the existing railway system, flood protection (given rising sea levels), constructing affordable housing where needed, ensuring WIFI coverage throughout the rail system (travel time is not then a cost, but an opportunity to work or relax). In short, HS2 is too costly, doubtful (at best) economic benefits, negative environmental consequences, but above all the opportunity cost in terms of reduced investments ceteris paribus) in other areas id just too high. Our party leadership must be bereft of real ideas and have jumped on a train that will only lead to a high speed derailment.

    • John Jefkins 11th Aug '13 - 9:44am

      HS2 is mainly about adding CAPACITY to all 3 main north-south lines connecting our top 10 cities.
      (Passenger numbers have risen 5% /yr for the past 20yrs and look set to carry on rising to fill existing capacity by the 2020s. Car fuel prices and our population are not going to drop).

      Without HS2 , demand for seats will outstrip supply – forcing seat prices UP.
      No HS2 = No seats (at any sensible price). And you cannot “work on a train” if you have no seat.

      HS2 adds 2 extra tracks alongside the routes of the WCML to Manchester the N.W. and Scotland, the Midland Mainline to Nottingham/Derby and Sheffield and the ECML to Leeds and York with trains running on to Newcastle.

      It also HALVES journey times – eg ONE HOUR each way (ie 2 hours off a return journey) from London to Manchester or Leeds. It also HALVES journey times from Birmingham to Nottingham, Sheffield or Leeds or between Sheffield an Leeds (and onwards to York or Newcastle too).

      Imagine how much more expensive, disruptive or environmentally damaging to property the alternative of “upgrading existing lines” – ie adding extra tracks alongside all 3 old lines as they wiggle through every town en-route. These long distance trains never stop at those towns – so it is FAR MORE SENSIBLE to bypass them with a new route.

      HS2 will enable more slow trains on the old lines – by moving long distance trains to the own NEW LINE.

      Having decided to build a new line, making it a fast line costs very little more. You just make that same new line straighter.

      Faster trains attract so many extra passengers (from air or road) that the energy per passenger is reduced (longer trains can carry twice as many people and the load factor is also higher) – to thus also PAY BACK THE COSTS of the new line sooner (eg Tokyo-Osaka and Paris-Lyon paid back costs within 30yrs).

      If you can reach Preston at 200mph average, you only need average 125mph the rest of the way to either Glasgow or Edinburgh (via Carstairs) to thus NOT NEED a new line the rest of the way to Scotland. We could thus win most of the 10m /yr Scottish air market with a 3 hr journey time without needing a new line all the way (although we’d still need upgrades to remove Kendal & Penrith wiggles)

      So HS2 adds so much CAPACITY, speed and new CONNECTIVITY it is money well spent.

      And whilst HS2 costs (inflated by contingency money that may never be spent) are spread over 15 yrs, we actually plan to spend £37 billion (almost the same) on upgrading EXISTING lines in just the 5yrs of 2014-19.

      We DO plan to do BOTH – and HS2 is itself a big relief to – and thus upgrade of – our existing network.

    • In the not so dim and distant past, when the Liberal Democrats were an independent campaigning movement of the centre-left, we had a well-earned reputation for our determination to protect the environment. I can recall Paddy Ashdown railing against the rape of the countryside by industrialised agriculture, and Robin Day sneering at a Liberal Assembly for debating an emergency motion about straw burning.

      Now that we’re propping up a Tory government, and our ideology is being realigned to that of the libertarian right, we are rapidly becoming the least environmentally friendly of the main political parties. First we support the Tory National Planning Policy Framework in the erroneous belief that relaxing planning controls will kick-start the economy (it will actually lead to a gerry-building boom with estates of Noddy houses in the countryside and latter-day Harry Hyamses throwing up useless office buildings for a quick profit). Then we offer a “cautious” approach to fracking, apparently ignoring the very real problems that this has caused in North America. And we’re also promoting a hugely expensive and environmentally destructive railway with no proven business case. Has it occurred to party members that the real reason for building HS2 is to gift public money to the Tory Party’s rich friends in the construction industry?

      I’m reasonably confident that HS2 will be scuppered, for the same reason that Peter Mandelson turned against it, unless the route is switched to avoid certain parts of Aylesbury Vale. But even if this happens, we’ll still be remembered for our support for the scheme, while Tory doubters and nimbyists will add to the impression that the Tories never really favoured it in the first place. “We’re the listening Party, and we listened. Those Liberals never listened to anybody” (except the libertarian right).

    • John Carlisle 11th Aug '13 - 10:58am

      There is no business case for HS2. There is a business case for more and better trains, better signalling and control. More speed is not a big issue. I regularly meet my Government Construction Strategy colleagues in London who travel from Birmingham, Manchester and Northampton and they all say that their time on the train is most valuable as they can sit in quiet and get through work without interruption. They are all senior executives who are mainly engineers, and none has supported HS2 on a time saving criterion.
      And can someone explain this link with performance of the economy (John Jefkins: “And our economy would be seriously harmed without this vital extra rail CAPACITY”.) Indian has a massive lack of transportation infrastucture; but look how their economy has grown.
      If we build more rolling stock it is jobs now and the same goes for signalling. More trains on the lines with more passenger capacity should be investigated more thoroughly. And, remember, some of the Japanese Bullet trains run at 4′ minute intervals, so safety of more trains on the line is not an obstacle.
      It is time we thought less of celebrity projects and more of practical solutions.

    • Michael Parsons 11th Aug '13 - 11:01am

      @john Jefkins
      Isn’t it cheaper to fly to Scotland (even via Frankfurt) than meet rail charges? Why should all this money go on rich men’s play things while car users (the general public) are forced off the road by extortionate green fuel duties? We (ie the vast majority of the traveling public) need better roads – and have paid many times over for them – how about a resal sand rapid upgrading of the M6 for a start? As well as building a better and far cheaper rail system for the commuter victims in the South East instead quickly? A better direct State investement destination for QE than the banks are.

    • Jonathan Brown 11th Aug '13 - 3:41pm

      @John Jefkins – I’m glad you’ve showed up here and added to the debate on HS2. I’ve found your points very useful.

      But on the subject of LDV and the polling – it is a poll of Lib Dems who are signed up to this blog. That’s it.

      It is advertised as more representative of the feeling of the party than other polls, but that’s probably only because of the lack of other polls. Each poll covers a range of issues, and tracks (subject to the usual limitations) changing opinions on a range of issues over time. It is not meant to be a definitive culmination of weeks of policy discussion on one particular subject.

      This poll was the first one I took part in, so I don’t know if HS2 has come up previously or will come up again, but I think your criticisms relating to not being contacted about it are misplaced. The HS2 debate may not be appearing in google searches, but HS2 was just one subject of many covered in it. And, I suspect, not even one that ranks particularly highly in the priorities of most correspondents. (Not to say that when asked people don’t have an opinion, just that I would guess that most answering the poll are more concerned about other issues.)

      I voted in support of HS2, but I admit I did so with some concern about the weakness of the economic case that has been made so far and about the opportunity cost. Ultimately I support(ed) HS2 more out of a gut belief that this country needs major as well as smaller-scale infrastructure projects, and that if we don’t get HS2 going now, we’ll perhaps lose the opportunity for another generation. And I would far rather be able to argue in favour of something with evidence to back me up than ‘gut instinct’.

      I hope that the economic rationale of the smaller scale stuff will be so self-evident that even if it gets crowded out now (by HS2 or other funding commitments or cuts), we’ll still get it some time in the relatively near future. HS2 however strikes me as something that we should have built 30 years ago, and if we don’t do so now we might never get the chance.

    • richard dickson 11th Aug '13 - 3:58pm

      No surprise but the trend is one way -against. As Exec Chair of a constituency decimated by HS2 (Kenilworth &Southam) it’s v frustrating that appeals to HQ for a change in policy get swept away as nimbyist by juniors staff. Requests for a high level visit from senior party leaders to meet constituents or for better compensation get ignored. Hardly true LibDem behaviour! The current situation is a gift to UKIP and Greens in 2015 unless we have a radical independent-minded candidate.

    • John Jefkins wrote:

      “You really should not believe silly myths.”

      Is it a silly myth that Lord Mandelson is a close personal friend of Jacob and Serena Rothschild, who principal residence at Eythrope Park borders the proposed route? I don’t think so. Lord Mandelson talks about this friendship in his autobiography.

    • Michael Parsons 12th Aug '13 - 1:27am

      @ John Jefkins

      Huh! Yet we already have the most expensive rail service in Europe, I read; and predicted to get more so; and pricing people off the roads, limiting popular mobility as now, is not transport progress. I notice you dodge the SE Commuter problem too – which in sufferng and numbers surely dwarfs the rail lines you want improved; and as to the M6, if the State shuffles off its duties much more, we will all need 4×4’s to go anywhere. Why should over-taxed motorists pay tolls anyway? We’ve already given far more than we get in services and roads. Surely policy should centre more on good local links to develop local economies, (local roads and reinstated branch lines): we might need fewer Kenyan and Dutch vegetables then? Think of the food-miles you could save once you cancel Johny-Head-in-Air’s Eurorail colonial master plan!

    • Michael Parsons 12th Aug '13 - 9:57am

      @ John Jefkins

      I’m afraid it’s yes but from me ….
      But if we cancel HS2 we can double local invstment where it is really needed, and indeed we need to more than double it.
      But as to the “freezing” of fuel duties, it’s no comfort after having bled us white, driven us from the most convenient travel system and, moreover, without petrol and diesel and oil price-control is just a switch to the profits if price-hiking oil companies -made infinitely more dangerous by the recent US move to allow “banks” to deal in copper and oil, thus paving the way for even bigger supply-manipulation, grosser price-fixing and general scamming of the helpless consuming public.

      But HS2 like the tilting trains and “modernisation” generally is hopelessly stuck in the past. Outdated curvilinear track systems, old-fashioned tarted-up traction. If you want to build for the future forget the Eurorail French monopoly dream and go for maglev; but base it entirely on local labour, skills and resources with training from abroad if necessary.

      But as for typos they are abundant, so don’t worry, we are all hurrying these dyas..!

    • HSR isn’t French. First line in the world was Japanese, first in Europe was Italian, biggest trainmaker is German, biggest current network is Chinese, second biggest is Spanish.

    • Alex Macfie 12th Aug '13 - 3:45pm

      @John Jefkins:

      “Eurostar … has taken 85% of the London-Paris air market,”

      This is mainly people shifting from air to rail. Eurostar is no cheaper than flying (whether considering open or restricted advance-purchase tickets like for like), so presumably this is due to the convenience of travel by train, although this is negated somewhat by the airport-style check-in system and pre-book-only ticketing system (similar to planes), but air travellers perhaps don’t mind this so much as they’re used to it. But I think it’s a real shame that there is no straightforward affordable ‘walk up, buy a ticket and hop on’ cross-Channel passenger train service, and this is an example of how the Channel Tunnel has not fulfilled its potential.

    • Alex Macfie 12th Aug '13 - 3:48pm

      HS2 should not lead to the running down of parallel classic rail lines, as has happened in France.

    • Alex, sadly, it’s security theatre that is preventing easy-access Channel Tunnel passenger service. Also UKBA are incredibly inflexible about doing on-board passport / customs checks (every other international train service in Europe has on-board checks or has no checks at all because it’s within Schengen). This means that you have to pass security, passport and customs checks before boarding.

      Because it’s only the Tunnel that the security theatre applies to, we should get hop-on services on HS2, albeit that buying a ticket in advance is going to be cheaper than a hop-on ticket, just as it is at present. We might get seat-reservation-required like the TGV.

      Note that off-peak returns are not that outrageous – Manchester-London is £77.30 at present, and that’s a flexible ticket that can be bought at the ticket office five minutes before departure. There’s no reason to believe that HS2 would make that ticket unavailable or dramatically more expensive (20 years’ inflation aside).

      Just for comparison, the cheapest advance return is £25, (First: £76)
      Standard Class Anytime Return is £308. (First: £441)

      Again, the planning for HS2 assumes that the only changes to these prices is the inflation between now and 2033 when the line opens.

    • John Jefkins wrote:

      “Godington Park near Ashford is a similar property that you can spend a whole afternoon in its gardens (the Delphiniums are great in June). ”

      I too have visited Godinton House (no “g”) and can confirm that HS1 runs nowhere near it. Half a mile is quite a long way, even in rural Kent. Any noise from the railway will be attenuated by the cutting and the dense sweet chestnut coppice that stands between it and the house. Last summer, Godinton ran an exhibition of garden sculpture, which included bronze nude women stuck in yew hedges and a sheep made out of wire. Well worth the trip.

      HS1 certainly has caused environmental damage in Kent. The Woodland Trust confirms that its construction involved the loss of semi-natural ancient woodland. The NW section traverses open land that is already highly degraded, while most of the rest of the route runs in a deep cutting and follows the M20. All one can really see from the road are the tops of the gantries. The real horror story is outside Folkestone. Stand on top of Paddlesworth Hill and look down. What you see are acres and acres of marshalling yards that load vehicles on to trains. And you hear the constant clank-clank-clank. I suppose this is something one has to put up with if we’re to have a Channel Tunnel, and it does provide a few jobs in Folkestone. I would certainly not describe the environmental impact of HS1 as neutral.

      I believe that Jacob Rothschild will scupper HS2. His close friend, Lord Mandelson, has chucked the first rock down the mountain slope. If this doesn’t turn into a landslide, then my prediction is that Jacob will turn to another close friend, Mr Rupert Murdoch. Jacob helped fund Murdoch’s acquisition of the “News of the World” in 1969, and the two remain very close. The Murdoch press maintains a strict “never mention the Rothschilds” policy. Indeed, when Nat lost his libel action against the “Daily Mail” (an avowedly anti-Rothschild publication) none of the Murdoch titles reported the fact (I checked).

      I must add that I don’t like the fact that the ultra-rich can influence Government policy in this way, even on the odd occasion that they happen to be right.

      Now, even the most enthusiastic HS2 supporter has to admit that £42 billion is a lot of money. Are there more worthwhile ways of spending this tidy sum where the benefits are more obvious and immediate? I would argue that a tunnel to the Isle of Wight is long overdue. And a decent relief road round Bournemouth wouldn’t go amiss. Not to mention the electrification of all existing railways, something that should have been done a century ago.

    • Peter Chivall 13th Aug '13 - 1:15am

      Many of those who posit the upgrading of existing rail routes and the construction of HS2 as mutually exclusive seem not to have noticed that in the next ten years virtually every city in England will be connected to every other city by electrified, upgraded rail routes running 125mph rolling stock. Even existing electrified routes like the East Coast Main line are due to have £100s of millions spent uprgrading the existing overhead electric system to improve reliability and higher speeds, while those routes designated as major Freight routes, linking major ports such as Southampton and Felixstowe to the industrial midlands will also be electrified to the same 25kV system, with improved track and signalling.
      Basically, short of building totally new lines from London to the Midlands and the North, as much will be spent under already existing plans on upgrading BEFORE HS2 is commenced, than will actually be spent on HS2 Phase 1.
      Where the HS2 planners seem to have lacked political ‘nouse’ is in not including an interchange between HS2 and the Oxford-Marylebone ‘Greengauge’ route in the Aylesbury area and run a 150mph ‘Javelin’ type service similar to the one which uses HS1 to link into commuter routes to East Kent. The anti-HS2 campaigners who happily acquiesced in the construction of the M40 because they could use it to commute to London would thus have a stake in HS2.
      Finally, HS2 would really justify itself if the 1970s Wing/Cublington hub airport plan was revived and allowed the transfer of long distance flights from Heathrow over a 20-30 year timescale. Why? a) the HS2 route runs virtually at the end of the planned Cublington runway, making it within 25mins of Central London and b) Heathrow could be gradually run down, allowing West London the chance to breathe at last.

    • Michael Parsons 13th Aug '13 - 11:03am

      @john Jenkins
      It is not a matter of connecting city to city but of making travel around each city area more available and thus sustaining rural development- and that means local lines, mono-railo, trams, roads, not HS2 or 5 or whatever. Just completeing the London District Line to Oxford as orig9inally planned would be an improvement! Your grand long-distance projects seem to me something that modern telelinks increasingly reduce the need for. Also: set against maglev’s costs (and perhaps the cost of currently-researched rapid transit by elevated tube-lines, with their land-requirement potentially comparable more to pylons than to rail track) effective action for the removal by the State of pure-rent charges on land and we get more reasonable estimates.
      Note too the current SE commuter-cost charges up again b y 4% and planned to escalate further; this drain on household budgets by the anti-road lobby is an intolerable imposition; and since this charge is for season tickets talk about reducing costs by forward planning is an absurdity.
      What benefit would HS travel from say London to Glasgow produce except, by eco nomies of scale, concetrate ecoomic activity yet more in the South?

    • Michael Parsons 14th Aug '13 - 12:58pm

      @John Jenkins
      Well I think China also has maglev, and as to costs practice makes perfect; but again it is not enough for you to say we need both this and that and the other; policy is about choice, and HS2 sacrifices too many other choices.
      The SE commuter fiasco causes misery and overcharging to hundreds of thousands. It needs greater State-backed cash, QE paid direct as an expenditure priority (not QE via banks), far more than your HS schemes which you are already turning into stopping-trains by the sound of it.
      And again: what use are HS links to the North except to concemtrate economic activity in the South East because of the effect of economies of scale? If we want develoment we must act locally, with what we have around us in our towns and villages.

      By the way for what is it worth I have certainly clinched deals by internet, and made friends – internet friends are one of the dangers for the young, are they not, if they actually meet? And virtual reality might well offer synthetic travel experience, just as chemistry offers synthetic wine and perfume, or food-science offers laboratory-grown meat; or as a friendship robot is offering comfort on the space station right now, not that I would seek to press these points myself.

    • Michael Parsons 17th Aug '13 - 4:57pm

      I reckon that’s complacent indifference to the needs of the people. Of course car use falls and profit-gouging train journeys increase because of unfaur and unbalanced government policy and taxes in favour oif profiteering and overpaid CEO’s.. The cost rises in the SE are not just “unpopular” (anymore than bank insurance swindles are just “miss-selling”) they are a disgraceful betrayal of the travelling, working public; as is your suggestion that so much as one penny of investment is diverted to HS2 etc away from doubling and trebling work to aid the SE system – which would also need severe action against administrators who are unable to speed things up if it is to make any timely improvement at all… And again I repeat it makes no difference if tax is “frozen” on fuel, because prices still get manipulated upwards in the absenceof State price control: it simply means the State loses out while petrol prices are forcedupwards by pirce-manipulating monopolistic corporations that av oid tax and give pay-outs to shareholders who are mainly the members of the Parliamentary crony y capitalist groups that finance their elections; claims of “supply and demand balances” are a laughable farce given the internationally rigged commodity and finance markets. Your whole bean-counting approach is just naively wide of the ;political realities of corruption and genuine need! And so what if maglev is just starting – isn’t that where we should be? starting? Or do you want to wait till we are hiring in foreign firms that have deverloped the skills fir that, just as you (I suspect) would be forced to hire in the French etc for your HS schemes. Support trains if you must, yes – b ut why put UK in the last carriage all the time?

      Moreover isn’t the scheme that you are plugging very remote in its conception from UK open debate? and suspiciously close to the EU continental rail plan? concieved long since by the EU,which seems now to have become an organisation with an enormous democratic deficit, inadequate financial control and in practcice a side-kick of the small-country smashing operations of the IMF andBIS?

    • john jefkins 18th Aug '13 - 8:28am

      @Michael

      What would be complacent indifference to the needs of the people would be to ignore demand growth in passenger numbers on all 3 main north-south rail lines.

      Only HS2 adds capacity to cope with that demand growth.
      All the studies, committees and court cases have agreed that other alternatives fail to solve that capacity problem.

      What solution would you ofier?

    • john jefkins 18th Aug '13 - 8:30am

      @Michael

      European Ten-T plans are only created when Member states submit their own proposals of what they themselves plan to do. Look at the rules.

      If HS2 appears on a European map it is because WE PUT IT THERE.

    • David Wilkinson 18th Aug '13 - 9:21am

      John Jefkins
      Many thanks for taking the time and the trouble to argue the case for not only investment in HS2 but also pointing out to posters that BILLIONS are being invested in current lines

    • john jefkins 19th Aug '13 - 5:51pm

      Thanks David

    • Michael Parsons 21st Aug '13 - 9:31am

      Given the Tory RAIL slaughter in the 1960’s we are still in need of billions – the private companies are getting some four times in tax what BR got, I read, and still lcan’t make it work. Nationlisation is long ovcerdue, we suffer while Branson and co squabble over a share in the profits. Why should the tax-payer take on costs and losses while the profits are privatised? The banks are anither example. And still I need an answer: how will HS2 do anything but concentrate economic activity in the South East because of economies of scale? Just as the improved bridge took computer industry from Wales to Bristol?
      If you want to revive the UK economy, strengthen the Unions so they can negotiate a bigger GDP share for wages, which would lower the overall propensity to save far more effectively than the Coalition’s policy of punishing and looting savings and rigging the interest rates in the interests of the rich; union action would raise effective demand; and at the same the the State should direct investment to black-spots and to import-substitution. Don’t kid yourself there is no national investment money, there are £billions issued by the Bank of England, but used only to create a property bubble and higher share prices for the benefit of the weathy few.-having destroyed pensions for the many already.
      When was the EU colonial rail scheme dscussed or voted on by us? Another phony stitch up.

    • john jefkins 24th Aug '13 - 1:37pm

      @Micheal
      Our rail CAPACITY solution (HS2) is OUR design rather than anything to do with the EU.
      Ten T rules are clear. A project is only included if a member state puts it there – ie they intend to build it.
      So any inclusion of HS2 in the EU’s Ten T would be because WE PUT IT THERE.

      As for private companies getting tax, the truth is that franchises like Thameslink and the WCML are now paying more in premium payments than they get in subsidy. These franchises pay the taxman now.

      The government does not want to take the risk of operating the trains, but I do agree that the East Coast franchise has been successfully publically run whilst taken into public ownership at no cost (when the previous operator broke their contract).

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