New Street Station

HS2: the down side of the up-train

By: The Leader
Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 12:28 GMT Jump to Comments

The Leader explains why we must not let High Speed Rail (HS2) turn Birmingham into another leafy suburb of London, suggests a counter-measure and promises never to mention HS2 again.

Oh for goodness sake, I’m fed up with this HS2 debate. And I bet I’m not the only one.

Thankfully my local pub, The Pinchbeck Arms, has designated the small bar at the rear as an “HS2 free zone”, so I won’t have to suffer a decade of self appointed transport policy wonks pontificating over their pint of Old Sumpsludge.

Which is fortunate for me because everyone, including a number of people whose transport expertise goes as far as naming seven different brands of bicycle saddle, and some prevaricating, snout in trough, self-aggrandizing politicians (doesn’t leave many does it), are all gearing up to do the bombast boogie on whether or not to invest in the railways.

Of course we should do it. It’s just a railway line you turkey brained dumper. We should do the north-south HS2 and another east-west one linking Merseyside with Humberside and we should do lots of smashing airports besides.


Because we have to do something and not just talk about it. It’s the doing of these things that will do the nation good in all sorts of ways.

However, the thing itself, when delivered, will surely be wrong! Too big, too small, too soon, too late, take your pick. Who on earth ever got such a big bit of long term mega planning right? Certainly not the idiots who re-designed the back nine at the Leader’s golf club!

HS2 will surely cost more than “they” say. But it won't cost anything like what the nay-sayers are saying it will cost.

Furthermore, it won’t do all of the wonderful, magical things the “yes” lobby are claiming. But nor will it be the unmitigated disaster the “no” lobby are suggesting.

One thing, however, is certain. By the time HS2 is finished the world will be a different place and we will have a whole lot of other things we need to do. And a generation will have benefitted from all the activity and investment that comes with such grand projects as HS2.

The main worry for the pundits in “the Pinch” is that HS2 will make Brummagem just another flavourless, characterless, anodyne, up-its-own area code London suburb, like Putney or Forest Hill.

Living in Wylde Green and working in Westminster is already possible and if it gets any easier why wouldn’t you, when Brummies are so much more friendly than Londoners? B73 is so much nicer than SW15 and everything from houses to private school uniforms are so much cheaper.

In order to ensure that the net effect of HS2 is not to make Birmingham a suburb of the Great Wen*, The Leader offered the following solution to the early evening “just a quick one before home” crowd on his last visit to The Pinch.

Return tickets for a London-Birmingham trip on HS2, where the journey originates in London, should be subsidized by the West Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure that the tickets are half the price for the same journey where the journey originates in Birmingham.

The net effect of this will be to ensure that business people come to the West Midlands for their meetings rather than the other way round. All those stressed-out travellers trying to get through South East airports will be encouraged to fly through Birmingham Airport which is already cheaper and more convenient than anything “London” has to offer.

This suggestion proved so popular with The Pinch that a pressure group has been formed and many MPs relying on votes from West Midland's postcodes can expect a tsunami of threatening letters from their “supporters” in advance of the upcoming election. Hurrah!

Next week: Let’s privatise Scotland.

If the SNP is right that an independent Scotland will attract lots of investment, why wait for Alex Salmond to run it into the ground?

Why not invite bids from consortia and sell off the whole country now? This will allow the Tories to avoid a potentially humiliating defeat (and being remembered forever as the party who lost the Union), fix the deficit and balance the national books all at a stroke.

The Leader will float this creative approach to restructuring UK PLC at The Pinch this very evening.

*William Cobbett described London as “The Great Wen” (Rural Rides 1830). A wen is a boil or septic cyst, a festering bubuckle, a purulent whelk , a foul and infectious pustule. Who are we to argue with Cobbett?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.



Outdated infrastructure and an increasingly fragmented market threaten the future of technology-enabled integrated care.

County Durham voters back devolution in the North-East, Sir Digby Jones considers run for West Midlands mayor…

The recent launch of The Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016 on London’s digital future, sets out a clear agenda…

The manufacturing industry is currently facing scrutiny from parties concerned for its survival. Far from facing…

Almost a year ago, I made some predictions for what would take place in government and public sector customer…

Sheffield, Warrington and Doncaster announce cuts, Lincolnshire is held to data ransom, fight begins for West…

Working for an education charity delivering numeracy and literacy programmes in primary schools, I’m only…

Northamptonshire County Council recently received the maximum four star rating from Better connected after putting…

Historically, the entrance of new generations into the workplace has caused varying levels of disruption. The…

Following another commendation for digital services, Surrey County Council's Web and Digital Services Manager,…

We cannot carry on spinning the roulette wheel that is cyber security, knowing that the “castle and moat”…

This week David Cameron wades into row over £69m of cuts planned by Oxfordshire CC; Stoke on Trent plans…