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Sunday 15 January 2012

Booker Makes It Up On HS2

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.


Anne Palmer said...

First of all remember this?
The Coalition: Our program for Government. Cabinet Office.
22 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2WH Publication Date : May 2010. © Crown copyright 2010
The Coalition: Our Program for Government.13. EUROPE
"The Government believes that Britain should play a leading role in an enlarged European Union, but that no further powers should be transferred to Brussels without a referendum. This approach strikes the right balance between constructive engagement with the EU to deal with the issues that affect us all, and protecting our national sovereignty".End or quote.

I now come to a massive transfer of sovereignty. Without doubt there must be a referendum-the promised referendum on this matter whether to remain in the EU or become a free country once again.

I write of the proposed “Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy.” High Speed 2 is the first part this Government seems to be going ahead with. Giving the EU Sovereignty (The Authority) to decide what the United Kingdom must have on our British Land. Their need for the first part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy to begin by first making way for the EU’s High Speed Train to go on our sovereign land from the South Coast all the way eventually to Scotland. Giving the EU the right-the Sovereignty (authority) to tell our once sovereignty Government what we must have on our land. Whether we want it or not, or whether we can afford it or not.

Tim Fenton said...

The comment above has been published to show that a wide range of views is accepted, nay, encouraged here.

Even if the premise is totally divorced from any kind of reality.

Alex Macfie said...

Through trains from north or west of London to mainland Europe are most unlikely to happen until the nonsense of requiring airport-style check-in to international trains is ended, and such trains are allowed to carry domestic passengers inside the UK. If through trains from Birmingham to Paris cannot carry Brum-London or Brum-Ashford passengers, then they would most likely be unviable due to the long runs on the UK side with many empty seats. This is what scuppered the original plan to run so-called "regional Eurostar" services along existing UK rail lines to and from the north of the country. It is also one reason why there is no inter-regional passenger rail service through the Channel Tunnel. Even if there were to be a connection between HS1 and HS2, it would be unlikely to be used for international services unless the border controls change.

This is a shame. The Channel Tunnel is only running at about 57% of capacity (and St Pancras International terminal and the international HS1 line can surely accommodate more than the ~1.5tph that they currently carry). Yet politics, and particularly border hysteria by UK insularists, prevents the introduction of international services to a wider range of destinations inside the UK that would make use of this spare capacity and likely lead to a much greater transfer of passengers from air to rail.