The Anonymous Widower

Rumours Grow Over Future Of HS2

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This is the first paragraph.

The future of HS2 appears to be increasingly in doubt, as reports suggest that the forthcoming Oakervee Review will axe Phase 2b between the West Midlands and Yorkshire and possibly cancel the project entirely.

The article also says this about the first phase of the project.

Another possibility is that Phase 1 between London and Birmingham could be built more cheaply by lowering the maximum speed from the presently-planned 250km/h. Such a reduction would reduce the new line’s capacity and lengthen journey times but still ease the pressure on the West Coast Main Line, where paths are in short supply.

There are three suggestions in these two paragraphs and before I discuss them, I’ll detail the various phases of the project as they are current proposed.

The Phases Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will be two phases with the second phase split into two.

  • Phase 1 – London and the West Midlands
  • Phase 2a – West Midlands and Crewe
  • Phase 2b – Crewe and Manchester and West Midlands and Leeds

The plan improves links between London and several major cities in the Midlands and North.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

I am a great believer in holistic design and in the economies of doing several similar projects together or in a well-defined sequence, that delivers benefits in a stream.

For that reason, I believe that the equally-important Northern Powerhouse Rail should be designed in conjunction with High Speed Two, to achieve the following objectives.

  • A better railway, that connects more towns and cities.
  • A phased delivery of benefits.
  • Possible cost savings.

This report on the Transport for the North web site which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, advocates a much better approach.

  • High Speed Two would go from Crewe to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would go from Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • There would be a double junction at High Legh between Liverpool and Manchester, that connects the two routes.
  • London and Liverpool services would use the Western end of Northern Powerhouse Rail from High Legh.
  • There would be improvements East of Leeds to connect to Sheffield and the East Coast Main Line.

This map shows the high speed railways between Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Warrington.

I discussed, what has been proposed by Transport of the North in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

Cutting High Speed Two To An Affordable Budget

I’ll take the three suggestions in the Rail News article.

Suggestion One – Cancel The Project

This is actually the second suggestion, but I think the article kills it in the second paragraph, that I quoted, when it says that High Speed Two is needed to ease pressure on the West Coast Main Line.

Cancellation would probably be a vote loser and a big stick with which to beat Boris, if he brought forward any environmental proposals.

I doubt cancellation will happen, unless we get someone like Nigel Farage as Prime Minister.

Suggestion Two – Cancel Phase 2b Between The West Midlands And Yorkshire

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would offer a lot of improvements, which are shown in purple.

There are also these projects that will improve trains to and from Yorkshire.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • A possible connection between Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two at High Legh.
  • Midland Main Line upgrade with 125 mph bi-mode trains between London and Sheffield.
  • 140 mph running on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster and onward to Bradford, Hull, Leeds and York.

I’ll add a few more flesh to the points.

High Speed Two To Hull

If High Speed Two connects to Northern Powerhouse Rail at High Legh it will join everything together.

  • High Speed Two trains would run between London and Hull via Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Very expensive infrastructure would be shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Leeds and Manchester would be just twenty minutes apart, with trains from both lines on the same tracks.
  • Hull station has the space to handle the trains.

Combining the two routes should save billions.

Midland Main Line To Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Wakefield And Leeds

This is already ptoposed for the Midland Main Line.

  • New stations will be built at Rotherham and Barnsley.
  • Four fast trains per hour between Sheffield and Leeds can be delivered.
  • 125 mph bi-mode trains to Yorkshire via the East Midlands.

But what about the following?

  • Could the Erewash Valley Line be used instead of a new High Speed Two line between the East Midlands and Sheffield?
  • Could the Midland Main Line be electrified and upgraded to 140 mph running like the East Coast Main Line?

Similar connectivity to that of High Speed Two can be created at a lower cost.

Cancellation of the Eastern Leg of Phase 2b would mean there would be no improved link between the West and East Midlands.

Perhaps, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, would run only to the proposed East Midlands Hub station at Toton.

Increasing Capacity On The East Coast Main Line

In Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster, I did a crude calculation to see how many extra trains could be run between London and Doncaster on a digitally signalled 140 mph East Coast Main Line.

This was my conclusion.

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

That is certainly worth having.

Extra trains could be run between Kings Cross and Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Estimated timings would be eighty minutes to Doncaster and under two hours to Leeds.

Suggestion Three – Reduce Speed In Phase 1

There is always a tendency for project promoters to make sure their project is the biggest and the best.

There will be an optimum speed for a London and Birmingham high speed line, which balances benefits, costs, noise and disturbance. One politician’s optimum will also be very different to another’s.

Such parameters like operating speed and capacity must be chosen with care.


I believe, that we need the capacity of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail  to move passengers and freight.

So we should design them together and with other improvements like the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.



October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

High Speed Two And Brexit

This article on the BBC, is entitled HS2: High-Speed Line Cost ‘could Rise By £30bn’.

Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have said in the past, that they are minded to cancel the project.

But surely Boris and Nigel believe that we’ll all be better off under Brexit, so we will have the money for the NHS, kicking the foreigners out of the UK, building a wall to stop the emigrants walking across the Irish Border and High Speed Two.

They can’t have it both ways!

Or is it that both wouldn’t be seen dead on a train?

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Science Has Dim View Of Brexiteers’ Brains

The title of this post is the same as that as an article on Page 3 of The Sunday Times

This is the first three paragraphs.

It is a belief that some pro-Europeans already hold dear, but a group of scientists now claim to have confirmed it: Brexit voters are less bright than remainers.

Researchers gave 11,225 volunteers psycholigical tests before the referendum and asked how they intended to vote. Results suggest that leavers tended to be less numerate, more impulsive and more prone to accept the unsupported claims of authoritarian figures.

“Compared with remain voters, leave voters displayed significantly lower levels of numeracy and appeared more reliant on impulsive thinking.” said the researchers, based at Missouri University.

Nigel Farage is quoted as saying the research was “divisive and arrogant”.

Some would say those two words should be applied to him.

March 10, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Farage Gets Kicked In The Nigels!

I don’t like anti-immigrant politicians, as if people like Farage had been in charge in the eighteenth century, I wouldn’t exist in my current form, as two of my ancestors arrived then, and would probably have been left to drown if he had.

So it was with great pleasure that I have seen the odious Farage kicked strongly in the Nigels, by the good voters of Thanet South.

May 8, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Is Nigel Farage Like Joan Rivers?

Having seen and read a lot about Nigel Farage, I sometimes think that what he says is not unlike things said by Joan Rivers.

But there’s a big difference! Joan Rivers based a lot of what she said on things that most of us think, but she was not expecting to be taken seriously, except as a comedian. Nigel Farage on the other hand, although he bases his statements in a similar way to Joan Rivers, very much expects to be taken seriously.

I didn’t watch Farage’s performance on Question Time and his confrontation with Russell Brand, but the reports I’ve read, reinforce my conviction, that Farage’s policies are not for me.

I hope that in a few years time, we’ll all be able to look back on Nigel Farage and his politics as a hiccup in history.

If he makes us think the unthinkable in sorting out our serious problems, like obesity, poverty, pollution, smoking, health, illegal drugs climate change, child protection etc., the hiccup will have been a good thing.

A lot of the old ideas have failed, so we’ve got to consign them to history and move forward.


December 13, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Nigel -There Are Trains To South Wales

Nigel Farage is blaming his non-appearance at an event in Wales on immigration causing the jams on the M4. He said this on the BBC.

It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four. That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be.

Obviously, if he travelled on the excellent train to Wales, he might have had to talk to some immigrants. Like I did on another train, where I chatted for an hour or so, to an Italian businessman, who moved here thirty years ago and married an Englishwoman a few years after.

I think I’ve met planks of wood with more real intelligence than Farage.

December 8, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Farage On Breastfeeding

Nigel Farage has been giving his views on breastfeeding, on his phone-in show on LBC. The BBC reports it in full and says this.

“This is just a matter of common sense isn’t it,” he added. “I know particularly people of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it”

As a member of the older generation, I don’t feel awkward and embarrassed by breastfeeding.

But Mr. Farage and his outdated views certainly embarrass me!



December 5, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Sense On Farage Versus Clegg

I didn’t watch the debate last night, as I was watching the football and trying to make sense of my tiger photos.

This morning, I’ve read the report in The Times and especially the comments from readers. The latter are probably summed up by this one.

Good strategy of Tories and Labour to keep out of this playground spat.

Farage looks like (is) a man offering simple solutions to complex problems, which is appealing in a protest vote like the Euro elections, but he has nothing to say about actually running the country as potential PM, so will not get far in a GE when people really are paying attention and are worried about jobs, health, education, etc.

Clegg used it as an attempt (failed) to look statesman-like, but few have his appetite for more Europe, and even he didn’t seem convinced by his own arguments. He is a man whose time in the limelight has been and gone. Not many people will remember his name in a decade.


So it might well be that most people actually saw Farage versus Clegg as entertainment or perhaps a dangerous freak show.

April 3, 2014 Posted by | News | , , | 1 Comment

Farage Is A Putin Admirer

According to this story in The Independent, Nigel Farage is an admirer of President Putin. Here’s the first paragraph.

Nigel Farage has named Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admires. He praised the Russian president’s skills as an “operator”, citing his “brilliant” handling of the civil war in Syria.

I can hear the loud noise as many of those who died years ago, who felt that Stalin was as dangerous as Hitler, are spinning in their graves in unison. My father, who was very much against dictators of all political persuasions, is calling me through the genes.

March 31, 2014 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

Farage Says Yes!

Nigel Farage of UKIP saying that the UK should accept more Syrian refugees is a bit of a surprise.l  Here’s an extract from a report on the BBC.

The UK should take in some refugees from Syria’s civil war, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has said.

He told BBC News that Western countries should agree to take an allocation, but he did not specify numbers.

I wonder what his typical supporter thinks of this statement!

December 29, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment