Liam Halligan was incandescent at the suggestion by Nigel Harris of Rail magazine that the Channel 4 Dispatches programme on the HS2 project, which he had fronted, was “selective and misleading tosh”. He had, he let it be known, sought out serious and informed opinion on the subject. His presentation was not a hatchet job, honestly.
Liam Halligan - very stylish, and very busted
Halligan’s credibility on the subject of HS2 has just been dealt a serious blow, the kind of blow that makes one wonder what Channel 4 were doing letting him on its airwaves in the first place. And the dealing of that serious blow has been down exclusively to himself. He saw an anti-HS2 article, endorsed it, and by doing so, he showed the world that he does not know one end of the rail industry - and specifically, that project - from the other.
Why GC does not equal HS2 ((c) Permanent Rail Engineering)
“The cheaper, far more sensible alternative to the incoherent, grotesquely over-priced, vanity project that is HS2 … Well-worth reading” he Tweeted the other day, giving his backing to “There is a far better option than HS2 - and it already exists” by Ross Clark, in the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine. An alternative already exists?
Sadly, no it doesn’t. This is a selection of what Clark has written, with my corrections. “The alternative is the little-known Great Central Railway [it’s known to everyone in the rail industry, because know-nothing hacks are forever citing it as an HS2 alternative]. This ready-made high speed line [it was engineered for 75mph] takes almost exactly the same route between London and the Midlands as HS2 would [no it doesn’t].” There is more.
“It sits there, its viaducts and bridges unused [by ‘unused’, he means ‘demolished’], begging for trains [no. Just no] … It was built with the vision of operating 125mph expresses [no railway designed in the 19th Century was thus built], and used a ‘continental loading gauge’ [debatable] - which means that, uniquely for British lines, the wider trains used in mainland Europe could be run along it [no they couldn’t. Not a chance]”.
It gets worse. A lot worse. “The Great Central was one of the many casualties of the Beeching closures of the 1960s [mainly wrong - the run down of the GC began in 1958, five years before the Beeching Report], yet it remains almost totally intact [totally wrong]. A few agricultural buildings have been built across it, but otherwise its line remains clear [by ‘A few agricultural buildings’ he means ‘most of Nottingham city centre’]”.
GC also does not address the freight capacity problem
The Great Central was closed mainly in 1966, with the last part, between Rugby and Nottingham, following in 1969. Clark’s article is as close to a flat-out pack of lies as makes no difference. It is fanciful nonsense; even if the line could be reinstated, it would not address the capacity problem that HS2 addresses. By so visibly and unequivocally endorsing this drivel, Liam Halligan has shown the world the extent of his knowledge.
Or perhaps that should read “lack of knowledge” - together with the implicit admission that his Dispatches edition was no more than an mean-spirited hatchet job. I told you so.
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