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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