HS2: Can the UK afford the high speed rail network system?
HS2's concept has prompted an annual general meeting up until 2033 for 'Railfans' across the country who meet-up fifty two times a year anyhow to discuss trains. In fact the usually sedated anorak folk have got rather hot under their anorak collars regarding the HS2 project and pledged to keep a sharp eye on the 'Phase numbered timetable' - just in-case they miss anything, which they seldom do. Any rail news, that isn't logged, documented, or sychronised with 'Accurist' timing is an unforgivable anorak crime. If high speed trains bullet through the countryside, train spotting could be a precarious activity - duly on the factor that one miss-timed blink of a weary eye could miss the HS2 bullet entirely. In turn such an event could break-up marriages, cause insurmountable stress that'll clog up hospital waiting rooms.
No, Blighty cannot afford the HS2 rail network system; on the basis it'll have a profound drain on the National Health Service. 'Rail widows' permanently on the NHS Direct line with stories of matchstick kebab eyeballed spouses, and grotesque hemorrhoids due to placing derrieres on damp rural mounds to get a captain bird's eye view of a locomotive - and of a jumpy, tetchy paranoia that comes from incessantly supping Costa coffee on stations in the hope of being the first anorak to catch a HS2 bullet number, on the Canon camera. "He's been camping out in sub zero temperatures for five nights on the trot now, I'm afraid he's gone off the rails." I hasten a guess that the well-being cost could outweigh the financial cost, on the likelihood HS2 will stimulate unhealthy interests in railway clubs, and of course, don't forget the 'Hornby house invasions', whereby eccentric train enthusiasts simulate a plastic world that originated in the attic but like a disease has spread into the living quarters with vengeance. Ah yes, the coalition's HS2 rhetoric has a lot to answer for. Such talk has already ignited the die-hard train spotter's religion - whose broken capillary cheeks are reddening with excitement at the mere whiff of a high speed rail system, the fact it is said to cost over 33 billion pounds plugging the media waves, is a mere afterthought.
Pessimistically, the UK's without an Isambard Kingdom Brunel type who built 'The Great Western Railway' and whose Victorian cigar ash lined the routes. I doubt Brunel had a phase numbered timetable of a twenty four year time span, which flirted with a plethora of committees and motions going forth; not forgetting the red tape and green belts the un-curvaceous route will scar into. Initially the HS2 vision presented by Lord Adonis in 2009 had a rounded figure of 60 billion pounds tagged onto the project assuming this isn't all the property compensation costs, my economic prose of the coalitions estimated 34 billion fee is odiously out-of-touch with reality. What really made me swallow hard was that the fee would be eaten up directly by taxes by those who reside on route within a certain radius of the stops - so our current administration is not considering in forking out any investment in the HS project, but purely selling it hard as farcical economic promises, such as: solving the 'north south divide' - economically and via cutting transit time duration. This isn't the case; internal plane flights are far quicker and cheaper and at least you get a seat!
I'm expecting 'Phase Two' at some point to include an army of volunteer workers, happy to work around the clock on the HS2 project all part of the 'big society grand plan' - On par to; 'The Special Constabulary'. I can see the HS2 being the second-coming of the London Olympics; the problem is, the Olympics had a momentous pulling power; high speed rail is non-existent in comparison - there is no legacy to take part in, other than learning Romanian. This isn't a world-first or breaking technology boundaries either - the Germans French and Japanese have HS2! In the UK it is just a rhetorical HS2 plan; that'll be outdated by the routes scheduled completion date, and actual construction work is not going ahead until 2015. If you read the small-print the system is purely for the affluent traveler, not financially available for a majority of rail users. To facilitate the HS2 system, Camden Town's businesses and property owners will have to be restructured with a nine digit compensation fee. Each one will go through a lengthily legal procedure which has the capacity to derail HS2 altogether in the next year. Meager trepidation also makes my spine quiver as HS2 was a Lib-Dem policy way back in 2004 - very likely a policy written on a beer mat by a then squiffy Charles Kennedy. While writing this I'm reminded of The Fables of Aesop translated into Human Nature - the hare and the tortoise. The capitalist has a profound relationship with speed - speed makes normally sound-minded folk into 'fuel-headed' Jeremy Clarksons. Where ill-advised speed ideas are expressed and performed without any thought whatsoever - HS2 is one of those ideas. Please note, the Department for Transport (DfT) will refrain from supporting our current railway system post 2033. Now that *will* divide the nation.
The German's have already boasted that they're reducing their HS2 rail speeds to 200 mph, on grounds of safety - not even the Germans would cater airbags for each passenger, and not forgetting the German city link infrastructure is very different to the UK's and cities are further away and therefore facilitates a HS2 system far better. In comparison in the UK, the sixteen year rail privatization has completely derailed - there is a yearly systematic over-inflation increase in fares, which has no bearing with the better service across the channel. In the UK higher rail fees means lower quality of rail travel. When it comes to HS2 the UK cannot compete; the European 'hare and the tortoise' race was years ago, the UK was left at the Victorian age starting block. Classic rail needs renationalizing before any mention of HS2!
Thank God that of late there haven't been any major rail accidents , especially those those that concern deaths relating from. However , it seems that the railways are never very far from the news , be it punculity , safety or even customer disgust , eg. the Post Office calling a day to the mail train , due to costs and reliability . Every morning I switch on the TV for the news , and during the local news section , railway delays / cancellations are always made known . Not a day goes by without a mention . I fortunately do not have to rely on them , but many of you out there do , but I do have the odd occasion to use them . The last time my daughter , not me , travelled using the train from Newport , South Wales to Plymouth . Essential track repairs were being carried out , so a special bus service had to be used between Taunton and Exeter . With two kids in tow , it made the journey a nightmare . The distance between the two cities is 150 miles . This particular SuperSaver fare cost £44.00 , and the journey took five and a half hours in all each way . When I take my car to Newport and back , it costs me £35.00 including Severn Bridge tolls , and each one way journey takes approximately two hours . So here we have discussion regarding cost , reliability and punctuality. Without delays and track repairs the travelling time by train is still three hours . GET TO THE POINT BRIAN ..... I have an old copy of Punch Magazine , issue No. Six ( back then it was published yearly ) , and one remark was noted and of relevance - it seems 150 years on , despit the train being a British invention , we still haven't advanced very far....lets have your comments / thoughts via a review on it . Punch Volume 6 : July-December 1844 : Page 258 . "The Railway Monitor . To Travellers. The existing railway arrangements render it imperative that you shoild provide yourselves with a large
stock of philosophy , to enable you to put up with certain inconveniences , which you will be sure , to a greater or less extent , to encounter on most lines , and whereof a classification is hereby appended for your benefit . FIRST CLASS. The chief inconvenience peculiar to this class , is , that your fare will be about twice as much as you ought in fairness to pay . You run , perhaps , rather less risk in this class than in others , of having your neck broken ; but you must not be unprepared for such a contingency . SECOND CLASS. In travelling by second class , you will do well to wear a respirator , unless you wish to be choked with dust and ashes from the engine close i front of you . Also , if you are going far , you are recommended to put on a diving-dress , like that used at the Polytechnic ; because , if it should rain much during your journey , the sides of the carriage being open , you will have to ride ib a pool of water . Your dignity must not be hurt should you have for next neighbour a ragamuffin in handcuffs , with a policeman next him . The hardness of your seat is a mere trifle ; that is the least of the annoyances to which you are judiciously subjected , with the view of driving you into the first class cabin. THIRD CLASS. Make up your mind for unmitigated hail , rain , sleet , snow , thunder and lightning . Look out for a double allowance of smoke , dust , dirt , and everything that is disagreeable . Be content to run a twofold risk of loss of life and limb . Do not expect the luxury of a seat . As an individual and a traveller , you are one of the lower classes ; a poor , beggarly , contemptible person , and your comfort and convenience are not to be attended to . ALL THREE CLASSES. Punctuality may be the soul of business , but suppose not that it is the spirit of railways . If you do not care whether you keep appointment or not , make it on the faith of the Company by all means l but otherwise
by none . Regard starting or arriving at your destination , only half an hour too late , as luck . You pay nothing extra to attendants for civility , so you must not hope for it . Remember that oyu are at the mercy of the Company as to where you may stop for refreshments ; for which , accordingly , be not surprised if you have to pay through the nose . Beware , if you quit the train for an instant , lest it move on ; you have paid your money , the rest is your own look-out and , you may depend will be no one else's . For loss and damage of luggage , and the like little mishaps , prepare yourself as a matter of course ; and if at the end of your journey you find yourself in a whole skin - thank your stars . "