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Greengauge21 is a very professional lobbying group for the high speed rail link and it's well worth looking at what they've written. The arguments they make are persuasive and include DfT demand forecasts which seem to contradict Cochrane.

He added that public money should not be invested in the line because high-speed rail would not benefit the least well-off.

Does everything have to be about directly benefitting the least well off?
Everyone has to live in this country and the high speed rail should be available to all, that's the point, not just to help poorer people that can't afford to drive/fly (who will indirectly benefit even if they don't use it themselves)
Is he saying it should bypass birmingham to go manchester?

We absolutely should be investing in this lasting piece of transport infrastructure, which will benefit far more people than a third runway. The question of cost can be managed on the ground, the main thing is to get the high-speed link up and running.

They'll use any argument to stop a perfectly sensible plan which would take many off the roads, ease congestion, save lives through accidents, give a cleaner environment, bring masses of jobs throughout the country, get goods, people and post shipped about faster, give Britain a feel of being advanced instead of backward and connect millions of people culturally, socially and economically, and instead make a festering environmental and ecological unfriendly ramp for aircraft, which will unhome countless numbers of people, fill the air with more Co2, not bring benefits to the roads or any of the above in terms of jobs, and cost a fortune on the back of travel figures which are out of date and expected not to rise given there's less money in society as a result of their other lunatic policies.

So there !

Well said Norm.

Train travel is prohibitively expensive in the UK.

Is there anyone except politicians whose tickets are funded by taxpayers who can actually afford long-distance regular train travel?

Regular train commuters have been stiffed on prices over the past few years leading to many having to 'drive down the line' to afford to get on the train.

The Tory proposals so far have been to jack up the price of air and car travel, ignoring the fact that it will simply put long-distance travel beyond all but the rich and state-subsidised.

Affordable travel is as essential to the economy as affordable credit, and yet the Tories preferred solution will not help the regular traveller at all.

There is no point in having the means if you can't afford to use them Tony!

We need runways not Zac-friendly pet projects that we be expensive and benefit few.

What does he mean "we don't need to go that fast"? Who is this man and who does he represent?

What is the supposed connection between a third runway at Heathrow and a new railway through England? It puzzles me.

GB£, there is little point in arguing about price and take up at this stage, the main thing is to ensure that our country has a transport system in place to last the next fifty years and beyond. We always need to be thinking in terms of the future rather than just being anchored to question of cost and travel volume today.

I'm a little divided on this one. Public transport infrastructure is great, but building a high speed shuttle to serve air travellers? I'm not so sure.

With land prices and construction relatively cheap, I think some line widening with bridge rebuilding would be worthwhile.

I also had a peculiar idea - I have no idea if it's feasible - which is to add some kind of public transport which makes use of the hard shoulder - it could be as simple as making the hard shoulder a coach lane for National Express and similar companies.

Let's see if the misguided minds here can come up with something based on that.

This high speed rail proposal was worked out in some detail by the Institution of Civil Engineers around late 2005 and was well received.

If there was any confidence in it being delivered in around a third of the time and on budget it would be a go-er, but we all know it won't be.

Its costs will increase, it will get delayed.

As the debate on Villiers's article yesterday showed, there is widespread support of a complete overhaul of transport which would support high speed rail, more air capacity around London etc but everyone knows the UK is hopeless at this sort of thing and using 2027-2030 as a timeframe is a joke - if Boris has any sense he will have his entire staff working on the Thames Estuary Airport plans and launch them before the Heathrow decision is made in around 4-8 weeks, but he won't. He'll conduct a review that will take years, studies that will take longer, and it's highly unlikely that anything even resembling a blueprint will be produced before his re-election campaign in 2012. In light of that, whatever is quickest and most in the private sector is best, and if the threat of more noise and pollution upsets our green friends in their million pound houses in west London then maybe they can pressure Boris into getting Thames Estuary off the back of an envelope rather than acting like NIMBYs.

which is to add some kind of public transport which makes use of the hard shoulder

Nooooooo... the hard shoulder is there for a reason and shouldn't be used for general traffic or a bus lane (although is in a few places at peak times now)
The left lane on a motorway never gets used much anyway, too many middle/right lane hoggers; officially permitting lefthand overtaking would clear traffic if that's what you were looking to do, but I think the rail plan is mostly aimed at a different market, to enable more people to travel and do it faster to reduce internal flights, I doubt it would reduce traffic so much.

You could build a train that had horizontal wheels to run down the middle of the armco in the middle of a motorway. Would have to knock down all the bridges though.

Why do we have this nonsense about expensive rail travel? Few will turn up at an airport and expect to pay rock bottom fares (even - and especially - with 'budget' airlines, where you only access the lower fares by booking well ahead and being lucky!) Non-business travellers can almost always plan their journey - even two or three days ahead - and easily access very significantly lower fares. Business travellers SHOULD be planning ahead but don't - and winge when they pay similar 'walk up' fares to those which they would pay by 'walking up' at an airport. Roll on DC in No 10 and the daft Heathrow and road-widening schemes being junked!!

Why do we have this nonsense about expensive rail travel?

Oh you mean like people thinking in advance and buying an annual season ticket?

In percentage terms, how much higher is an annual season ticket price compared to 5 years ago?

In suffolk, they have gone up so much that many people can no longer afford to board the train at their nearest station.

One of the effects of having the high speed network would be to reduce congestion on the existing lines. There's no reason why the existing services might not reduce their prices in order to compete for passengers with the high speed line and so make long-distance travel more accessible to poorer people.

I do agree that potentially the London-Brum leg will offer the least benefits over existing services, but this ignores the benefits of the line north of Birmingham (a 17 minute commute time between Leeds and Manchester would give the opportunity to view the Liverpool-Hull corridor as a single large economic area, particularly if the high speed link encouraged the upgrading of the feeder lines into Leeds and Manchester).

If Birmingham doesn't need the line, how about rerouting it Manchester-Leeds-Sheffield-East Midlands (a new hub between Nottingham/Derby/Leicester)-MK-London? How loud would the West Midlands whine if that happened?

We need runways

But not at Heathrow. There is simply no room anymore - the whole airport is surrounded and has little room for expansion. The one they would build there would be too short for larger aircraft. And even if it is built the capacity will get used up again v quickly.

We need to end the restriction for building at Gatwick now - put a bill through Parliament if necessary. We could build plenty of runways and new terminal buildings there. Just drop the obsession with Heathrow being the UK's "leading" international airport and it will work out fine.

But I think that we need new rail links too. High-speed rail would benefit lots of people - forget the environmental argument. It still takes far too long to travel across the country. Trains are much more convenient than planes for domestic travel.

High speed rail links will benefit the "least well off" not on expenses if they absorb the bulk of business travel so that more second class seats can be provided on other trains.

As things are, many "least well off" often have to stand- having paid for a ticket- while there are empty seats in First.

I have never read such misleading guff put out by this government. Rail is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and quicker (for journeys under 3hrs such as London-Birmingham, Birmingham-Newcastle) than air. FACT.

"We don't need to go that fast." Does this mean the DfT are planning on reintroducing Stevenson's Rocket and bi-planes?

And on what basis does he argue passengers won't switch? Eurostar to Paris has been rather effective against aviation.

The railway is not just about passengers - which will come, whatever rot this unelected odd-ball claims without proof - but freight also. Cargo terminals at Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool Docks for "roll on roll off" traffic could take thousands of lorries off the roads and be supported by hauliers too (drivers need rest, faster, less wear etc.)

hmm wot about- give road haulage firms/vehicles the option to pay less VED if cirtain registered vehicles only travel between 9pm-6am on main roads. Enforcable issues I know, but by and large the motorways and main transport roads are empty at these times and it would take a large amount of slow moving traffic out of peak times. Of course this would only benifit firms that use main routes for haulage and that have well placed depots. This also doesn't address foreign haulage on our roads as they don't pay VED (or do they is another form)

Norm Brainer
"You could build a train that had horizontal wheels to run down the middle of the armco in the middle of a motorway."

The Irish already thought of that one! ....
"The Lartigue Monorail was a unique railway line which ran from Listowel to Ballybunion between 1888 & 1924. Reputed to be the only one of its type in the world to commercially operate, it was characterised by an engine and carriages which ran along a single rail standing 3 feet off the ground through the centre of the train.

Links to images are too long to insert here. Just Google "Lartigue Monorailway"

ah, someone has always done the ideas I have before!
I'm sure if high speed rail was introduced in this country it would just be standard gauge bi-rail as we don't go for innovation here anymore.
Just like crossrail was a missed opportunity to do something a bit different like when the train is in tunnel put rails on the ceiling for added stability and therefore higher speed, or let motorbikes/cars go on it, but no, we just get plans for a standard passenger train, less inventive than 19th century designs.

A high speed line is essential and would help massively in shrinking the country and bringing wealth to the North.

A high speed rail line is not essential, and will do little to mitigate the need for increased UK airport capacity. The majority of leading UK airport facilities are cheaply constructed, shoddily furnished, and already operating at or above capacity. Aviation forms the backbone of inter-city transport in the US. The North American aviation infrastructure, and the rapidly growing ones in the Middle East and Asia, provide the bread and butter for creative, successful UK leaders in their fields, including Rolls-Royce and others.

It's time for the anti-growth, aristocratic fops who have gained the ascendancy to stop pontificating about how they can destroy the last vestiges of an effective state education system that has provided technical leadership and talent, and to stop disparaging an industry at which the UK is at the vanguard.

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