George Monboit continues to be proved correct: there seems so little point in the ramblings of Christopher Booker, whose latest Telegraph column desperately tries to show that HS2 is come kind of EU Trojan Horse personally ordered by Jacques Delors. The first piece of evidence offered to readers is that HS2 will not run into London’s St Pancras terminus, but Euston.
But, so what? Well, Booker skates quickly past Robert Stephenson’s terminus to the possibility that there may be a connection to HS1 and therefore mainland Europe. All service projections thus far produced have all services terminating at Euston, but Booker sees the hand of Brussels at work, and is sure that HS2 is part of an “overall plan” of interconnected high speed lines.
He brings no citation in support, other than EU directive 96/48, which does not specify or even suggest where high speed rail routes should be built within the EU or elsewhere. But, because HS2 may be connected to HS1, this is Booker’s clincher: all these high speed lines must connect to one another. It’s utter nonsense, as a brief look at the rest of the EU shows.
High speed lines in France do not all connect to each other, nor those in Italy or Germany. Nor do the high speed lines to the north and south of Madrid, though a connection is planned, not because of EU diktat, but because it is operationally convenient. And we have to have the example of the Netherlands regurgitated from Andrew Gilligan’s muddled piece last week.
I pointed out at the time how Gilligan was wrong on this, and had confused “high speed line” with “services running over high speed lines”. Booker could have found this out with a few minutes’ research, but this is not his style. Instead, he asserts that trains on HS2 “will have to connect directly with the continent” (they won’t) and that “one can fly from Birmingham to Paris in under an hour” (one can’t).
He also tells a clear whopper on the naming of HS1, the link from London to the Channel Tunnel, telling that adopting this name, rather than the more prosaic “Channel Tunnel Rail Link” was because it had been “subsumed” into a Trans European Network (TEN). Wrong. The name was changed because this line was intended to be the first of a number of high speed lines.
And how many of those there are is not down to the EU, but the UK Government. There needs to be interoperability, but this is common sense: there is no compulsion to run through trains from HS2 into mainland Europe, but these may come: already, German operator DB has stated its intention of running from London, beyond Brussels, to Frankfurt am Main and Amsterdam.
There is no sinister EU plot regarding HS2, and Booker should realise it.