The mirage that is HS2
Leicester’s city mayor Peter Soulsby has called on the government to get its priorities right and scrap plans for HS2 and continue with its planned investment in the Midland Mainline, the Leicester Mercury reported.
[Sidelining of £800m rail electrification labelled catastrophic by Leicestershire councils, Leicester Mercury, June 25, 2015]
[Peter Soulsby:] “It would reduce journey times, increase capacity and take polluting diesel trains out of the hearts of our cities. Paying for it would cost comparatively small change, and if the government can’t control the relatively small costs of electrification, how can we have any confidence it its ability to control the estimated £42 billion cost of HS2?”
Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council said: “The investment in the Midland Mainline would have a major, positive impact on Leicestershire, for a much lower cost. With HS2 it is all pain, for no gain. It’s a bloody stupid decision.”
With government policy focused on “protéger l’éléphant”, there would seem to be little chance of reviving the Midland electrification, unless Yorkshire and East Midlands councils came together to make a coherent case for stopping the diversion of resources from the classic network to HS2.
But there seems little chance of that happening; in South Yorkshire, councils remain preoccupied with bickering about where to locate the HS2 station, rather than the existing railway.
While modernisation of the Midland is a much better prospect than HS2, there is a need for analysis and re-scoping to make the investment work better. Connections into the West Coast Main Line at Watford and Northampton would vastly improve the network value of the Midland route, and bolster the case for investment.