HS2 – is it really too late to think again?

I’ll start with a confession – since hearing it proposed at a LibDem conference fringe meeting back in 2008 or thereabouts I have been a fan of HS2 – or at least the concept that the UK needs a high speed rail network. So throughout the debates about routing and costs I have generally followed the advice of people I know who have researched this more deeply, and gone along with the ‘consensus’ that this is a ‘good idea’.

However, I have never been persuaded that the specifications are appropriate, and have always been concerned that there was too much emphasis being put on speed rather than connectivity. I also believe that the costs should be challenged and that the timescale is too slow. Surely there was a better alternative?

Well this week I recieved an email from ‘High Speed for All’ – an organisation that (I have to admit) had not appeared on my radar previously. They have developed the alternative that might be the answer. It certainly grabbed my attention, and not just because it avoids the Chilterns’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but mostly because it talks about a High Speed Network, and not just a High Speed Line. And they have apparently researched it meticulously, mapping the entire new network at 1:25,000 (although they don’t publish these) and calculating a significant cost saving over HS2/HS3 (although I would take any such estimates with a pinch of salt until audited).

You can follow the links here for more information. It certainly deserves consideration in my view and if elected I will be calling for this to be given greater priority.