Letter: The leaked “findings” of the HS2 review make for dismal reading

This letter sent to the Star was written by Philip N Mortimer, West Sussex

Friday, 15th November 2019, 8:51 am
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 6:53 am
An artist's impression of how HS2 could look

The leaked “findings” of the HS2 review make for dismal reading particularly in relation to how Sheffield appears to be being treated in this evolving sage. The latest plan for the HS2 project effectively put Sheffield and Chesterfield in a passing loop on the new line between London and Leeds and points North. Effectively it implies Sheffield is reduced in status. This is not an acceptable position.

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Given this and the earlier cancellation of the electrification project between London and Sheffield it would appear timely to get the orthodox electrification project back into government infrastructure priorities. It would ignite the economies of the wider Sheffield region together with those of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester much more rapidly than HS2 which now appears to be out of control in relation to estimated overall cost and delivery date. Perversely government wants to delete the use of diesel trains much quicker than previously but is silent on the options to power their replacements. Hydrogen (boom!), batteries (AAA anyone?) or bionic duckweed?

Frequent electric trains able to operate at 125mph would be more than adequate and compare closely with any services planned for HS2 (and that is before having to trek to some remote station near Meadowhall). There are costs in terms of the major tunnels South of the city but these are not insurmountable projects. By comparison with the plans for HS2 this service model could be in play decades before HS2 is delivered.

HS2 has attempted to use capacity, connectivity and economic development as a justification for the project. It does not stand close scrutiny and with spiralling costs now becoming clearer alternatives such as the upgrading and electrification of much more of the national railway network and re-commissioning closed lines appear as better value for money.