HS2: white elephant to red arrow


HS2, our spanking new 225mph railway, is turning into a dog’s breakfast. Specified as a coherent system, successive cuts have destroyed the original vision and are in danger of leaving us with an £80 billion white elephant, with far too much capacity in some places and untreated bottlenecks in others.

Consider the breathtaking palace taking shape at Curzon Street in Birmingham. Astation with seven 400-metre platforms for what is currently pencilled in for two trains an hour to Old Oak Common. A competent operator could run such a service off one platform.

Meanwhile, north of Handsacre, where the new line is now scheduled to end, the longstanding bottleneck persists at Stafford. Here, a bypass line was proposed 20 years ago but never built because HS2 was set to come to the rescue. All the freight and regional passenger services supposed to take advantage of the capacity freed up at the southern end of the West Coast main line will have to squeeze through onto an already-crowded two- and three-track section between Colwich and Stafford.

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