We must consider whether high speed rail will pay off

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From: R Hanson, Swallow Lane, Golcar, Huddersfield.

WITH reference to your article about the shortfall in HS2 funding (Yorkshire Post, May 16), France has 2,200 kilometres of high speed rail. This has not made France competitive enough to stop it going into recession with high unemployment.

Who knows what the economy of Britain will be like in 20 years time when HS2 is up and running?

The way the British economy is going, not many people will be able to afford to travel by train and if all the debt on £32m needs to be serviced by passengers using these trains no-one will be able to afford to use them (the income of the Channel Tunnel today would not service the original debt; most of it has been changed into equity). Capacity problem solved.

Birmingham would probably benefit from the first leg of HS2 as it would be plugged into the “golden triangle” of Europe – London, Paris and Frankfurt, being only three hours by rail from the latter two.

Unlike France, where the conurbations are roughly 200 miles apart, the ideal distance for rail to be competitive, to serve Britain’s conurbations would require so many stops that the value of high speed would be lost.

There must be a very thorough appraisal as to whether HS2 is the best way forward. Perhaps speed on the East and West Coast main lines could be lifted to the speed envisaged when the west coast was modernised and the east coast electrified, that is 140mph, and maybe some stretches to 155mph, the speed that the APT would run at.

There could be long stretches of loop-line to cater for freight.

As regards the North, re-quadrupling the North Transpennine Line on the sections used by freight would give adequate capacity for a more frequent express service (maybe engineer out some kinks to give a 100mph line speed), sufficient freight capacity and of equal importance a much needed improved stopping service 
with more stations with park and ride. This would remove the current threat of losing the present even if inadequate service altogether.

Many people will know of places throughout the country where big improvements to their travel experience could be made with a total cost far less than HS2 and giving a far greater return to the economy.

However, many things are built because they can be; the technology is there to do so. 
HS2 will be one and on the whole this is not a bad thing, as not doing so means that those skills are lost.

It may be that in 20 years time if HS2 is not built, Britain will indeed grind to a stand-still because there is certainly not the room to build roads with the same capacity.

This seems a bit slow to say 
the least, to be only building some 320 route miles of track in 20 years using all of the equipment available today, 
when in only 30 years between 1835 and 1865 some 6,000 route miles were built using pick and shovel.

By 2020, the Chinese will 
have built in 20 years some 
6,000 route miles of very 
high speed rail but then they 
have the money and do not 
need to get planning permission.