There has been some pretty dire copy filed by those attacking the HS2 project. But “This HS2 make-do is all about getting a bad job done” by Simon Jenkins in the Standard – he’s the one who wanted Crossrail junked, remember – is such a dishonest and abysmal mess that it begs to be given what The Italian Job’s Mr Bridger might have called “a good going over”.
Oh look out, somebody let facts into the room
“Higgins’s HS2-Plus review emerges as a masterly tactic. He has learned to stop talking about time-saving and stick to ‘enhancing capacity’”. Nobody has stopped talking about time savings. “He has learned to avoid the Treasury’s treacherous cost-benefit analyses”. The analysis is not being avoided, and that for the “Y network” is still significantly above 2.0. Do try again.
“To think of the case he could have made for a new cross-Pennine link”. We already have four, with one being electrified and upgraded. “A new Manchester underground”. Simon, meet Metrolink, which already exists. “Or even for an upgrade of the lines into Paddington or Waterloo”. Paddington? Remember Crossrail? Waterloo? Seen the latest Crossrail 2 proposals? If not, why not?
“Think what Higgins would have proposed for the far more sensible HS2 pathway, down the east coast from Scotland and Yorkshire to the Eurostar and France”. And where, pray, are Birmingham, the East Midlands, Manchester, Merseyside, North Wales and Lancashire? Clue: they’re not on the east coast. HS2 serves those, and Yorkshire, with provision to extend to Scotland.
Then we get “In most cases the time required to get to and from the stations will cancel savings in journey times” followed by “In London ... the case for halting [HS2 services] at their new ‘hub’ station at Willesden/Old Oak Common is powerful”. YOU JUST COMPLAINED ABOUT EXTRA JOURNEY TIMES BECAUSE OF HUB STATIONS BEING OUT OF TOWN.
“Euston remains London’s worst-connected terminus, servicing only the Northern and Victoria lines”. Improvements at Euston will open up the east end of Euston Square station. So add the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith and City. That’s five lines. “There is no good reason beyond sheer obstinacy for not bringing HS2 down into Paddington”. What did you just say about Underground connections?
Paddington has two separate Underground stations, with no prospect of them being connected in the future. And you carp about Euston? “The Euston site is small and constrained”. Been to Paddington recently? “They had to abandon the case for HS2 as slashing journey times when businessmen said they liked working on trains”. Nobody has “abandoned” advertising journey time improvements, and businessmen value getting to their destinations earlier. Otherwise nobody would fly anywhere.
“They have had to ignore Whitehall cost-benefit”. Nobody has ignored this analysis, whether it comes from “Whitehall” or elsewhere. “Now the backers have abandoned the one ‘vision’ that HS2 had on its side, that its trains would run from Scotland and the north through to the Continent via St Pancras”. HS2 has never, but never, BUT NEVER, been presented as anything other than a purely domestic project.
“No work seems to have been done on the opportunities forgone for investment in Northern transport”. Northern Hub. Trans-Pennine electrification. Metrolink expansion. West Midlands Metro expansion. Electrification from Leeds to York, Selby and Hull. Track and linespeed improvements. More and longer trains.
“Easing the lives of first-class commuters into Euston is hardly a national priority”. HS2 is neither a commuter route, and nor is it exclusively first class. AND WHAT ABOUT THE EXTRA FREIGHT CAPACITY IT GIVES? “Higher rail speeds are old technology and energy-inefficient”. Christ on a bike, where does one start with this remark? Siemens, Alstom, Hitachi and Bombardier must all be in the wrong business, then. And those poor passengers lapping up the faster journey times. If only they had listened to Simon Jenkins.
I’m sure much lamer rubbish has passed before my inspection before now. But this article is a masterpiece in wrong-headed, badly-researched, contradictory, ignorant, wilful, selfish drivel from someone who is clearly so detached from the real world that he has lost the capacity for rational argument.
Jenkins was wrong on Crossrail. He is wrong on HS2. It’s the kind of consistency that folks will remember when he gets it wrong on the next major transportation project. Yes, there goes Simon Jenkins, on his way ...out.