I don’t know if the Government is paying Pete Waterman to be it’s PR Manager for its plans to build a high speed rail link so that we can all get into London quicker and spend our money there, but if he is then Mr Cameron should be asking for his money back!
The performance by the eccentric millionaire on today’s BBC Breakfast News Show can only have helped those opposed to the scheme. What the presenters presumably hoped would be a reasonable discussion became a blazing row between Waterman and the HS2 opponents – with the ex-record producer launching into a tirade of anger, shouting ‘rubbish’ as the other side tried to speak.
Personally I’m firmly on the side of sustainable rail investment. But we need a proper and sensible discussion on this. I’m yet to hear any decent argument for HS2 when the railway network all over Britain is crying out for investment. Train times to London are already well down – you can comfortably get from Preston in Lancs to London in 2 hours – which makes a day visit perfectly practical. Yet it takes almost the same amount of time to get from Blackburn to Liverpool, and almost an hour to make the fairly short trip from Blackburn to Manchester.
The basics are there – by spreading the £17 billion it is claimed HS2 will cost, across the rail network we could have a truly fantastic service – faster trains all over the country, better stations, and perhaps a halt to ever increasing fairs. All of which would help the economy in general – as opposed to putting a bit extra onto the economy of the capital.
Everyone in every region knows of a local railway that can be improved so it wouldn’t take much research on the Government’s part to work out how else it could spend the money. As things stand I won’t be backing HS2 but I am backing Jack Straw’s bid to get the Blackburn to Manchester track doubled – allowing half hourly services instead of the current hourly arrangement. And I support schemes such as reintstatement of the Todmorden curve and the re-opening of the Skipton to Colne link. The Government should show a bit of imagination – rather than the old fashioned London-centric model they are using.