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Saturday 27 July 2019

Boris Will Build HS3 - Or Maybe Not

Margaret Thatcher famously told “If you want something said, ask a man … If you want something done, ask a woman”. Many of those who claim to follow in her footsteps have long forgotten her advice, and will not be remembering it today, when alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson regales the more easily impressed on the subject of the mythical new railway known as HS3.
High speed rail - but not in the UK

Brave Bozo is attempting today to con swing voters in the North of England into favouring the Tories - by offering them a bribe which is yet to take on a discernible form. As the BBC has reported, “Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pledge to fund a new high-speed rail route between Leeds and Manchester … In a speech in Manchester later, Mr Johnson will give his backing to the trans-Pennine transport link to ‘turbo-charge the economy’”.

There was more. “It is claimed the plans would cut journey times on the 36-mile (58km) route from 50 minutes to less than 30”. Fine. So how are we defining HS3? “The full details of the route are expected to be published in the autumn following the review into HS2”. Exactly what HS3 means, we don’t get to find out until later.

Why does this matter? Well, right now, HS3 means many things to many interest groups, and the “many things” includes how much railway it will mean, and where it will go. For instance, the BBC report pencilled in not only Manchester to Leeds, but also Manchester to Liverpool, Manchester to Sheffield, and Leeds to Hull and York.

But under the map illustrating all of those possibilities, the Beeb reminds readers “Mr Johnson is only proposing to fund the route between Manchester and Leeds”. So no Warrington Parkway station, no link to Liverpool to give the city an HS2 direct connection, nothing for Sheffield. Just a speculative line on the map joining two cities.
A complete Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

And that’s the difference between what Johnson is supposedly backing today, and HS2, which has had its route planned, pored over, refined and the rest so that we can be certain where it’s going and what population it’s going to serve. Also, to reduce the journey time between Manchester and Leeds by the amounts suggested means something straight and direct - which, given the terrain, means lots of tunnelling.

That means it will cost significant amounts of money. We are told that the cost will be “up to £39bn”, which was considered, by all those opposed to HS2, to be too onerous a sum. So it will be interesting to see which way the TPA, IEA, CPS and ASI jump, now they have their man in Downing Street. If, of course, they say anything at all.

Or perhaps they will say nothing because they are well aware of Johnson’s ability to promise well, but deliver less. Until there is a firmed up route for HS3, and a commitment extending beyond just Manchester to Leeds, this is no more than a cheap pre-election bribe. Promising something not yet defined is easy. Delivering it is not.

Hence the BBC report’s analysis concluding “Attention will now turn to the precise route and if the HS2 experience is anything to go by that's when the difficulties of building a railway become apparent”. But by then, Johnson will have moved on.
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Ed said...

There's a nice planted notion. How many will be led to link that £39bn with another £39bn?

Anonymous said...

I'll show my arse freely in Leeds if Johnson gets to build anything anywhere.

He should have been run out of Manchester clutching his arse to his chest, the public school Bullingdon divvy.

Jonathan said...

Considering it took EU money to build the Metrolink in Manchester in the early 90s, when Thatcher refused to cough up anything. Nothing should come as any surprise if nothing materialises.
Considering that if Bozza's Chancellor, who shares the same home town as me, blows a few billion on Tax cuts for the already minted Tory voters, there will be conviently nothing left for HS3.

Don't be conned by Bozza, he is rather fond of shiny things that don't do anything.

Steve Woods said...

The capital's press has been strangely silent during the current pleasant summer weather about Londoners cooling off in the shade of a tree-covered bridge over the Thames or taking off for their holidays from the new airport in that river's estuary...

Mark said...

Jeremy Corbyn went to Liverpool to talk about a prospective Labour govt's plans to harness the Mersey to power homes and the Granada Reports interviewer packed off to talk to him asked him one question; will you resign?

Boris Johnson turns up in Manchester with the promise of shaving a fraction off your Manchester to Leeds train journey and the press have done nothing but talk about in mostly favourable it all week.

One is a genuinely exciting prospect that will turn the idea of a Northern Powerhouse from the white elephant it is into a genuine going concern with new jobs in a city oft-condemned by Tories govts and lead the way in greener energy policies, the other is a pointless development that, in the long run, will barely register even to the most regular Mcr-Leeds commuter, let alone impact on the North - let alone the country - as a whole.