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The HS2 debacle

The out-of-control cost increases and the constant dithering about where HS2 is to go has resulted in a practically useless stump of a new railway from the outskirts of London to the outskirts of Birmingham – Acton to Aston as Christian Wolmar calls it. The crucial extension to Euston is to be left to the expectation that an enterprising developer will appear but that seems highly unlikely, leaving an ugly gash in the ground and thousands of angry residents whose lives have been blighted by the works.


Even if HS2 does reach Euston there will only be six platforms as opposed to the original eleven. This would allow a maximum of only eight trains an hour. Some of these trains would skirt Birmingham and continue along the existing railway to Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, clogging up the lines which HS2 was supposed to relieve. In the meantime Old Oak Common, with six platforms, will only be able to deal with six terminating trains an hour. Taking into account the extra time needed to reach central London this will deliver end to end timing hardly more than for existing trains.


Is there some way that the project could be rescued and some use made of this expensive stump of a railway? Neil Roth has one imaginative suggestion in an article in this issue. Could there be others?


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