China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is about to visit the UK. In preparation for the visit, China’s ambassador Liu Xiaoming has expressed interest in building UK’s HS2 stating that China has vast experience in building their own high speed rail system and this can only help the UK with its project.
Given the pace of China’s high speed rail developments I wonder if this could also reduce the million years that the UK seems to be taking by itself (most of which will be taken up with planning, opposition, re-planning, more opposition, and then eventually they will decide we don’t need it after all and we should take to skies using helicopters). If it means we get high speed faster, and the sourcing is done from the UK, then I am all for this.
Mr Liu said Chinese companies would bid for major infrastructure projects. “We really need to identify flagship projects and high-speed rail might be one of them,” he said. China is currently building a network of “bullet train” links covering thousands of miles
Meanwhile opposition to high speed 2 is gathering pace with a recent report suggesting that the business case was fundamentally flawed and additionally there high profile opposition to the routing through the Chilterns towards Birmingham…
… the initial line, which will go straight through the Chilterns and rural Warwickshire, has met with huge opposition from high-profile figures such as Lord Rothschild, whose Buckinghamshire estate would be within a mile of the track, and Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh secretary, whose constituencies are on the route. Even the Queen is reported to be worried about the proposed route, with Prince Andrew said to have raised the issue with Treasury officials last year on account of his mother’s concern that passing trains would upset her horses at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, which hosts the Royal Show.
The Telegraph comments on the pro-high speed campaign using “upper-class” vs the North arguments, under the headline “High speed rail campaign mocks rich opponents of scheme “. Finally the Spectator has an interesting comment about benefiting the rest of the UK with the type of infrastructure project that only appear to have been happening in London, and also challenging the cost and benefit fears put about by the no campaign.
My take on this is to forget about the Chilterns and Birmingham completely for a dedicated high speed, route and upgrade the East Coast line to be entirely high speed. The only upgrade that is needed between London and Birmingham is an increase in speed to 140mph (like HS1) and include the necessary improvements along the route to ensure this speed can be maintained throughout the entire journey (as I have previously argued). This will not only improve the commute for people along these routes and reduce the travel time between all the major points in-between, but it means that you have multiple rail routes being upgraded rather than just providing for a single route through areas that don’t seem to want to benefit from reduced travel times. Will this keep everyone happy? of course not.