Tuesday, 10 January 2012


England's high speed railway link between London and Birmingham is to go ahead, according to the Telegraph, with tunnels through the most highly disputed areas of the countryside between London and Birmingham. Parliament still has to vote on the matter, but as Labour is also committed to  the high speed link, it is likely to leap that hurdle with little problem.

Cheryl Gillan, SoS for Wales, who, for some unknown reason has her constituency in that Buckinghamshire, has previously, somewhat rashly, threatened to resign if the scheme went ahead. It remains to be seen whether the tunnels, (at an estimated £190,000 extra a yard) are long enough and deep enough to appease her and save her job, her face and her ministerial Mondeo!

Anyone who has travelled on the Continent, through Spain, France, Italy and Germany, the high speed trains are, if you're used to UK trains, simply amazing. You can get on a train in the North of Sweden and get off in the South of Portugal, Greece, Italy, having enjoyed a smooth and comfortable ride, with good service, in hours and having travelled through 3 or 4 countries on the way. And you can travel up to England from Brussels or Paris in the same comfort... but there it ends.

Anywhere north of London and you are back to dirty bone shakers running over Victorian track with antiquated signalling and the inevitable delays. And north of Edinburgh, even on intercity routes, you are relegated to diesel trains!

Back in the 1970s, Europe realised that there was a need for fast efficient rail connection between major cities. The UK preferred to develop a road system. And in the '80, the network developed across the Continent. But Mrs Thatcher didn't like trains, as you can see from the map.

I support the UK government's decision to go ahead. Britain has to catch up with the rest of the world at some point and the English Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said that the £38 billion line is just the foundation for a high speed network Britain wide. 

The English transport department MUST take notice of the National Audit Office's findings on how the Civil Service negotiates contracts with private companies. 

The £38 million could easily double or triple over the time scale set for building this railway, the first stage of which is set to be completed in 2026. 

Oh, by the way, does anyone know why is it going to take 14 years to build this little bit of railway? 


  1. "Oh, by the way, does anyone know why is it going to take 14 years to build this little bit of railway?"

    1.We haven't got the money.
    2. What money we do have is to given to the USA for trident.
    3. Why pay £38 billion now when we can treble it in a few years time.

    That said, when have you ever heard of government contracts coming in on price and time? Please ignore what the Scottish government is doing as that breaks the mould.

  2. £38bn ? That's only a billion tickets at £38 each. Soon be paid off.
    It's a train for the elite. Paid for by the taxpayers. Most of whom will never see it or be able to go on it.
    It's to cater for the elitelite when they can no longer afford to live in London but need fast access to The City.
    In olden days if business needed such a line then business would pay for it. Now they just put it on the tab of the proles.

  3. Lets built it starting from Edinburgh ... wait ... wouldnt the English in the south coast object?

  4. Good thinking Dean. We could get the boys who worked on the successful Edinburgh Tram Project to get the work rolling ASAP ;)

  5. Dean,

    Cameron will probably say there will be some legal obstacle and possibly so much indecisions that companies won't invest and then again, according to the MSM will say we might call the line Braveheart or Bannockburn.


    By the sound of the opening time in 2015 it sounds as if they already have the contract.

  6. lol, over budget and 2015? Optimistic

  7. Ah well, thanks for these answers Gedguy. They seem reasonable to me.

  8. That is the trouble, Monty. In France everyone uses the TGV. If I'm in Paris and off to Geneva, I wouldn't think of taking a plane. Much much easier and really just as quick, if you consider the journey to airports and the booking in time, to get on the train at Gare de Lyon, and 3 hours later you are in Geneva Cornavin. And it's cheaper.

    The UK has the most expensive trains in all of Europe, possibly the whole world. (I've never taken the train in North America or Australia.)

  9. Yeah Dean, I like that idea, but I have a sneaking suspicion Cameron wouldn't be overly happy!! LOL

    It would bring down Scottish unemployment and I imagine that from now until 2014 he will make life as difficult economically as possible for Scotland and try to make it look like it's the SNP's fault.

    His mates in the Press and the BBC will doubtless be enrolled to assist in this.

    On the other hand if he is very smart, he might lavish money on Scotland in an effort to show how bountiful Mother London is... but then he'd hack off the English.

    Ah, who'd be prime minister?

  10. Over budget and 2035 more like.

  11. "..high speed network Britain wide" - fat chance!! Belated New Year greetings to you and your millions of readers! The curse of the drinking classes called again and whilst I recall your mention of lap-tops semaphore flags would be more useful on my journeys. Will catch up with all your contributions since I left when I have time and make my usual nonsensical comments. xxx to your Mum!!

  12. Waste of taxpayers money to subsidise something which will do nothing to solve the railways congestion problems. Thank goodness we will be out of the disunited kingdom long before the first sod is cut.

  13. Hey John... I wodnered where the hell you were, Indeed I have mentioned your absense on a couple of occasions.

    Not least when I was round at Sophia's place listening to her latest and one of the best yet, stories.

    She wasn't best pleased you'd not turned up. Special black bum and everything...

    Anyway, pop round and she'll tell you all about one New Year long ago in her youth.

    I tell my mum, and I'm sure she'll be sending them back... in the nicest way.

    I'm whondering, by the way, how you'd be coping with these high speed trains on that wee island of yours... och you'd nefer get to see any of the scenery, and wouldn't that be the pity.

    Glad you're back matey. Missed you mucho, and will look forward to you witterings as soon as you feel up to making them..

  14. Well CH... we'll need to get one of these high speed contraptions for the trip to Auchenshoogle. It might shave 3 or 4 minutes off the 5 minute journey...

    I guess I'm outnumbered here... but you guys have made good points about it being too expensive for ordinary travellers and so it will be filled with rich people having their fares subsidised by the poor.

    I just can't help feeling that this island has been badly let down by trains... and after all, independence or no, I'll still need to go to London to get the train to Paris. mrs Thatcher's promise of a train direct from Edinburgh to Paris was yet another one which she broke.

  15. PS Happy New Year John...

  16. Oh Happy New Year tris. I don't think we've met since last year.
    The new train will take you direct to Paris. Like all big infrastructure projects in the UK you will find the grubby hands of the EUSSR all over it.
    This directive means we must connect up to the European High Speed rail network..


  17. Hey Monty, I think you're right there. Where have you been?

    Happy new Year to you too.

    It'll not take me to Paris if it starts at Birmingham though will it?

    I mean imagine having to get to Birmingham from Dundee... quel cauchemar!

  18. Nah Tris, Edinburgh to Birmingham ... it is slow progress... they down south will understand ... it isn't like we are being asked (as the pooorest END) of the north south divide to pay out for them!

  19. At that rate by the time it gets to Scotland we will all be using Star Trek type matter transporters, and all of us will be dead.

    Incidentally I heard a little rumour that The Unionists are so keen to have the Electoral Commission involved in the referendum not to ensure fairness, but because this would restrict how much the SNP could spend on the campaign. As we all know the SNP has loads of money to spend while all of the Unionists don't! method in the madness eh?

    Also we would be obliged to use the current electoral role which would exclude 16 & 17 year olds who are more likely to vote "yes". Respect, respect, respect.

  20. Yes, Munguin. But there may be some international law about a referendum by a nation in a union which wants to achieve independence fro that union.

    It has been suggested over at Lallands that there may be a legal mimit to the amount of influenece the rump state may have in the organisation of the ballot, because in third world countries it might be assumed that dirty work might be going on behind the scenes to massage the results shall we say.

    Now of course it would NEVER be thought that any such jiggery pokery would go on in the er most successful union of states in the history of the universe, but, well, as Granny would say... what's good tae gie's no ill tae tack.

    As for the train. Yep, I think we might be better off with apperation and disapperation ... It would certainly be cheaper.

  21. Heaven forbid that we would be expected to fork out for something that will do us no good Dean... That would be so unusual... I mean there's no precedent for that at all is there... if you exclude the Millennium Dome and the Olympics which spring immediately to mind...

    Still, if they are forking out £38 billion for their train, there should be a consequential for us of some £380 million?