Susan Kramer: “The whole plan for HS2 has included benefits for Scotland”

Transport Minister Susan Kramer came to Glasgow yesterday to talk about the benefits HS2 will bring to Scotland, even though it’s not as yet planned to come all the way north. It will cut journey times by an hour and bring economic benefit apparently.

She spoke to the BBC here:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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16 Comments

  • jenny barnes 2nd Nov '13 - 9:00am

    No, I don’t want to listen/ watch this every time I open the site. LD voice is off my radar till this stops.

  • Meanwhile, the A1 north of Newcastle degenerates to one lane each way and is very slow. Clearly concern about fast links to Scotland is a part-time activity.

  • Is our new tactic insulting the intelligence of Scottish people? They are more likely to benefit from a third runway at Heathrow.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Nov '13 - 11:32pm

    Lib Dem politicians are making the same mistake as many in financial services by selling products/policies rather than a service. It would be far better for someone to say “we’re not sure if this is the best policy, but we’ve looked at the alternatives and we think it is so we’re going with it” rather than try to exaggerate its benefits. This is why even though I am a centrist, I struggle to support Nick Clegg.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Nov '13 - 11:47pm

    In fact I don’t even think I’ll vote for the Lib Dems again as long as they keep coming out with stuff like in that audioclip. Politics is about values and I can’t vote for someone who I think is trying to mislead me.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Nov '13 - 3:24pm

    I wonder how many people will continue to use the existing rail services where they have the choice of a high speed train. Yes it will mean that places like Rugby, Nuneaton, Stafford, Stoke etc will probably only have semi fast trains which stop at places like Rugely, Lichfield, Tamworth, Atherstone, Stone etc but we already have this situation where a former main line has been downgraded in favour of a supposedly faster route for example in the Beeching era the Waterloo Exeter route was downgraded to a secondary route with trains stopping at almost all stations between Basingstoke and Exeter (about 16) but almost all the small stations between Reading and Exeter were closed reducing the journey time from Paddington to about 2 hours as opposed to 3 hours 20 minutes from Waterloo. Not surprisingly most passengers from London to Exeter use the service from Paddington. HS1 from Kent to St Pancras has also attracted passengers even though it costs more.

    I am not saying that Β£50 billion could not be better spent on improving other services but it will be a benefit to those places that it serves. They happen to have bigger populations and more voters too.

    It is a bit sad when people say they do not want to hear the case for something just because they do not like it, especially when they claim to be Liberal Democrats.

  • So “The whole plan from the very beginning has included Scotland”, either Susan Kramer is lying or she is reading from documents that have not been released to the public. HS2 from the beginning was for a London to Birmingham line with an optional future northward extension. Talk about re-inventing history to suit your cause.

    Actually if HS2 were to include Scotland – something that make sense, then as a regional development project it makes more sense for a Felixstowe – London – Bristol – Swansea – Dublin – Belfast – Glasgow – Aberdeen route and to aim to complete the entire project by 2026…

  • Oops I meant Folkstone (Channel Tunnel) not Felixstowe!

  • Alex Macfie 4th Nov '13 - 5:34pm

    @nvelope2003: Good point about fast/slow rail services. This has happened in other countries also: in France, in particular, the arrival of the TGV has tended to lead to running down of services along classic routes. It doesn’t have to be like this, and one benefit of privatisation the way it was done in this country is that the operators have an interest in developing the lines that they run. Chiltern Railways is a good example, where level of service along the secondary London-Birmingham route (from Marylebone) has been greatly expanded. It remains slower than the main line from Euston, but it is rather cheaper, and many people do use it in preference to the faster but pricey Virgin Trains. Of course this was possible because of the groundwork done by Network SouthEast following sectorisation of BR. Running everything as a monolithic centralised operation with no regard for needs of local people is one of the things that leads to the deliberate running down of services on one line to the benefit of another. If, as I would expect, HS2 train services are franchised separately from the current main lines, the ‘classic line’ operators would undoubtedly introduce much cheaper non-HS2 tickets to entice people onto their slower services.
    HS1 is faster than the classic route to the London terminal station, but whether it is actually faster does depend where in London you want to go to (or from). If your intended destination is somewhere in the southern part of Zone 1, near Victoria or Charing X stations, then the classic route is probably still more convenient.
    From what i know about the service patterns on the line between Rugby and Stoke on Trent, I imagine that more semi-fast services would be useful. The same is certainly true for Reading-Exeter, where the stopping and semi-fast services don’t even connect (am I right in saying that there are still only about 1-2 trains a day stopping at both Bedwyn and Pewsey (adjacent stations)?… there used to be none). Freeing up classic track for more frequent semi-fast services would be a useful benefit of HS rail.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Nov '13 - 5:38pm

    @Roland: Yes, and really the trains should start/terminate at Calais, rather than Folkestone… the lack of a proper cross-Channel inter-regional passenger train service is one of my big bugbear about the Channel Tunnel… security theatre means it’s unlikely tho’ πŸ™

  • @Alex
    With Folkstone I was doing a little bit of hand waving. However, I have no problem with services starting/terminating in Calais, provided they are under UK jurisdiction – although I think the French might object ! πŸ™‚

    At the back of my mind around all the discussions of HS1/HS2 and freight etc. is at what point will we need a second channel tunnel given the history surrounding the construciton of the current tunnel…

  • nvelope2003 5th Nov '13 - 12:15pm

    Roland

    I have followed the HS2 debate from the beginning and whilst you might be right about the section from London to Birmingham I was under the clear impression that this was part of a plan to provide a HS link to the North. The Labour Government planned the Y shaped route which is now the proposed route but the Conservatives proposed a route running to Manchester then across the North to Leeds which they eventually abandoned in favour of the present plan. Trains to Scotland were to use the route towards Manchester before rejoining the existing line. Susan Kramer may have had the same impression. Any benefits of High Speed rail would be enhanced by extending it to Scotland but of course would cost even more.

    In places like China with its vast distnces HS trains are very popular. In places like Japan and South Korea the previously existing services were very slow and in Korea they had largely been abandoned by travellers so a HS network saved longer distance trains. Our existing services are much faster than theirs were.

  • @nvelope2003
    The HS2 history is a little confused with the grand idea put forward in the 60’s for a high speed rail network that didn’t materialise, but still lurks behind the HS2 thinking. Plus it hasn’t helped that government hasn’t been totally open and honest about HS2 – for example in watching the BBC interview clip, I was almost expecting an announcement of HS2 Phase 3: extending one or both branches of HS2 to Scotland.

    I think that we are both right and wrong, as whilst I agree the original HS2 report took into consideration trains travelling ‘beyond’ Birmingham, this was only over existing trackbeds ie. not dedicated HS2 trackbed. Subsequently, Labour did make public it’s outline for the ‘Y’ extension of HS2 trackbed into South Yorkshire.

    Personally, I would be happier for the government to open up and open an honest debate about building a regional high speed rail network, hence putting the true costs and opportunity on the table. Being honest high speed rail is expensive and to get the best out of it, we need to think big, plan carefully and implement in sensible chunks. [Aside I use the term regional as given we are part of Europe, and Westminster has a benevolent interest in the UK&I, it makes sense for us to look at solutions that enhance these isles ie. region rather the parochial solution that HS2 currently seems to be.]

  • Alex Macfie 6th Nov '13 - 1:47pm

    @Roland: If cross-channel inter-regional train services started/terminated in Calais, then yes, I suppose the sensible approach would be to treat them as an extension of domestic HS1 services. However the main proposal for such a service would have Lille as the continental terminal station
    http://www.rock-project.eu/projects/transmanche-metro.html
    The traditional way of running cross-border passenger train services in Europe is that they function (for the purposes of ticketing, crew etc) as domestic trains of the country they are in at any time. So if this so-called “Transmanche Metro” proposal ever happens, then the trains would presumably function as TER-GV trains on the French side and Southeastern HS on the UK side. Not as far-fetched as it may seem, technically: Southeastern HS trains can be adapted for the Channel Tunnel, while SNCF is using ex-Eurostar sets for its TER-GV services in northern Frnance.
    The CT is running at about 57% capacity, so there doesn’t seem to be call for another one just yet…

  • @Alex – Good points – I was obviously still being too narrow in my thinking πŸ™‚

    Now given it took ~15 years to build the CT:
    5 years of constructive political discussions and consideration of options
    3 years of preparation
    7 years to construct
    and 20 years to reach 57% of capacity. Perhaps we may need to start thinking about a second tunnel sometime around 2017 – ie. just after the referendum everyone keeps talking about but will probably not happen…

  • nvelope2003 6th Nov '13 - 3:17pm

    In the 1960s we already had a high speed line called the Great Central Railway. It was closed in 1966/7 though by then it was a sad relic with filthy old steam trains which often did not even leave Marylebone on time as I could see from my street. It would have been the ideal route for fast trains as there were already stations at Rugby, Leicester, Nottingham etc on other routes but this was the era of contraction for the railways and it would have needed a lot of money to modernise and electrify the route. It did not go to Birmingham though, which was a disadvantage.

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