YP Letters: HS2 is about rail capacity, not speed

From: Dr Alex Strickland, Childwall Road, Liverpool.

HS2 continues to divide opinion.

I WRITE in response to the letter from JM Lesson of Hull, saying ‘HS2 cannot be justified’ (The Yorkshire Post, December 3). Although valid points are made about potential problems relating to high fares, the argument that the investment is being made simply to ‘save minutes on journey times’ must be addressed.

It is true that HS2 would reduce journey times and, if coupled with investment in the so-called HS3 transpennine route from Liverpool to Hull, it would offer the potential to deliver 30-minute journey times in the triangle between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, as well as 45 minutes from Leeds to Hull and 20 minutes from Manchester to Liverpool.

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These reduced journey times deliver what the economists refer to as agglomeration benefits, making these city regions more attractive to business, boosting economic growth and the pool of available jobs for local people.

There would be a valid case to invest, based on journey times alone – but the main justifications are on capacity and connectivity. The present transpennine lines struggle with capacity now, the West and East Coast main lines will be full in little over a decade – new capacity is needed. The economic benefits that flow from greater connectivity between urban centres in terms of labour markets, housing markets and skills development have also been well documented.

Journey times are an important part of the story, but not the main basis upon which investment is to be justified.

From: John Turley, Dronfield Woodhouse.

WHAT possible evidence do Jeff Johnson (The Yorkshire Post, December 1) and others have that the vast majority of the public are opposed to constructing HS2? I don’t recall there being a referendum on this subject.

Where would we be in terms of transport infrastructure if the Victorian pioneers who built our railways, had been opposed by these sorts of people?

I think that the opponents of HS2 have much in common with the Brexiteers, in so much as they appear to be a very vocal, backward-looking minority who claim to speak for the majority.

HS2 will benefit the majority of those in Yorkshire, not only in terms of the drastically reduced journey times (far greater than a few minutes as some correspondents have suggested), but also by freeing up much needed capacity on existing routes. I recently travelled on the French TGV between Paris and Lyon, and only wish we had something similar in the UK –with an advance ticket, prices were actually cheaper than for travelling a similar distance on the existing UK network.

From: David Reed, Huddersfield.

YOUR correspondent JM Lowson reiterates all the usual misunderstandings of HS2 to justify his claim that it cannot be justified.

HS2 is about capacity, not speed. The number of passengers on rail had doubled in the past 10 years and is set to double again by the time HS2 is operational.

There is no room on existing tracks to cater for this level of demand.

Without this modern 21st century railway, our vital main lines will be come so overcrowded as to be totally dysfunctional. Is that what he wants? Once the case has been made on capacity grounds for a new North-South railway, the cheapest way to operate it is at high speed.

Under siege from traffic

From: Geoffrey North, Silverdale Avenue, Guiseley.

I FOUND Andrew Vine’s feature on Otley most interesting and well-written (“Putting Otley on the map”, The Yorkshire Post, December 1). I did wonder, however, how he squared his assertion that Otley was bucking the trend concerning the closing of pubs nationally when he later mentions that there were once more than 30 pubs and now there are only 20.

Still that is a small point and it seems that Otley Pub Club, a community-based organisation designed to preserve pub life in Otley, is doing a grand job.

As a relative newcomer to this area, I believe that Otley could be a far more lively and vibrant town than it currently is.

It seems that the heavy volume of traffic and the associated high level of noxious fumes are destroying life in its unique town centre which was not designed for modern traffic.

It should be possible to eliminate many of the traffic light systems and allow the traffic to flow more freely, although it may be necessary to keep the traffic light system at the junction of Kirkgate and Westgate because HGVs find it difficult to turn from the former.

Life-changing ideas needed

From: Mike Smith, Birkby, Huddersfield.

AT a time of year when charitable thoughts are in many people’s minds, I would like to draw attention to a forthcoming BBC2 series of three programmes called The Big Life Fix [December 7, 14 and 21].

They deal mainly with engineered solutions for the physically disadvantaged, and the making of the series was extensively assisted by a charity called Remap. My reason for mentioning that is because Remap has a local branch, or panel as we call them, centred in Leeds and serving our West Yorkshire area.

Our panel was formed in 2001 following a letter in The Yorkshire Post asking for volunteers, and some 40 or more turned up for the inaugural meeting. Many were retired or redundant engineers and others, such as model makers, simply saw a worthwhile cause to utilise their creative talents.

Time has taken its toll on our original team and we could do with some new and younger blood amongst us. If anyone feels inspired by the TV series to join us, we would like to hear from you. Visit www.remap leedsbradford.org.uk