Monthly Archives: September 2013

HS2

Living in Surrey I can’t see that I will gain much benefit from HS2: the line to Birmingham will not be open till 2026 when I will be nearly 60, and phase 2 is due to open to passengers in 2033 when I will be in my mid-sixties ad unlikely to be taking advantage, if that is the right word, of its services on a regular basis. What I can say confidently is that I have absolutely no personal interest in it, as the line will go nowhere near where I live and if I want to make use of it I will have to go to London on the local branch line, cross to Euston and join it there.

However, in recent months I have taken a number of train across the UK. I went up the East Coast main line to Berwick upon Tweed; the journey took 3 hours 40 minutes and was quiet and comfortable. By booking in advance I was able to travel first class for £90. A few weeks ago I went to Liverpool, This time I travelled standard class, the journey took 2 hours 10 minutes and was also quick and comfortable. On Monday I am going to Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. The journey will take 2 hours 8 minutes.

At the moment I require a lot of persuasion that the billions of pounds of public money about to be poured into HS2 represents a good investment. Some journeys will see a significant reduction in times and the developers say that ticket prices will not carry a premium. But the present service is actually very good and from an entirely selfish point of view, would the money not be better spent upgrading the commuter network into London which in many places is slow and overcrowded?

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Apology: busy!

Regular readers will have noticed that I have been rather quiet lately – nothing since the end of June. It’s not as if there’s nothing to write about – politics has become interesting again, nationally, with Red Ed deciding that what Britain needs is some good old-fashioned socialism. Sounds like a core vote strategy to me: – I am going to put a bet on a Conservative led government after 2015, and that’s despite the fact we are behind in the opinion polls and need to lead by 5% on the current skewed boundaries just to get a majority of 1. Ed is rattled and knows he ought to be 10 points ahead by now.

I have had a busy summer: work has been making more than its usual demands, and I managed to fit in two holidays. Firstly, a week walking with the boys along St Cuthbert’s Way from Melrose Abbey to Holy Island and then 10 days in Italy with my family. Two observations: because Henry VIII did not rule in Scotland their ruined abbeys are in a better condition than ours. I would recommend anyone to visit Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Kelso; they all stand comparison with Rievaulx and Fountains which are England’s finest. There also didn’t need to be much appetite for independence near the Border.

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