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High Speed UK - Connecting the Nation




CHEAPER

£20bn less than existing plans for HS2 & HS3.




BETTER CONNECTED

Improves 94% of journeys and reduces journey time by an average of 40%.




CLEANER

Saves 600 million tonnes of CO2 and avoids the Chilterns AONB.




SMARTER

Improves regional rail across the UK and integrates with the existing rail infrastructure.

CO2 CONNECTIVITY
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The work of High Speed UK is guided by some of the great thinkers of modern times:

1. “We choose to go to the moon…  not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th US President, in speech at Rice Stadium, Houston, 1962


Anybody with a straight edge and a complete disregard for the UK’s natural environment and landscape can do the easy thing, and design the super-fast, super-straight and appallingly destructive HS2.  But at High Speed UK, we’ve set ourselves a harder task.  Our mission is to use the intervention of new high speed lines not to create an isolated system for the privileged few, but instead to enhance the entire national network, for the benefit of all.  By aligning HSUK with existing transport corridors and accepting a slightly lower maximum speed, we can spread the benefits of high speed rail to a much greater population, and in doing so achieve far greater journey time reductions across the entire national network.  See our paper The HS2 Speed Paradox.


2. “Less is more.”

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect, 1886-1969

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.


3.  “We’ve got to do something… this is something… let’s do it!!”

The Politician’s Syllogism, explained in Yes Prime Minister, 1988 (S2, Ep5)


Without the competence to design a national railway network, or even the understanding of the importance of network, the progenitors of HS2 hardly knew which way to turn when former Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis suggested that the time had come to build new railways.  If we’d written our paper Understanding UK Intercity Connectivity 10 years ago, it might have proved useful.


4.  “Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke, Irish statesman and philosopher, 1730-1797


This is another self-evident truth which HS2 Ltd has failed to recognise, and the best example is offered by proposals for the new HS2 Curzon Street terminus in Birmingham.  ‘Birmingham Curzon’ (to use the current buzz-speak) is to be built on the exact same site that was selected by the London & Birmingham Railway for their Birmingham terminus in 1837.  

During the 17 years that Curzon Street Mk1 lasted the London & North-Western Railway (LNWR, successor to the London & Birmingham Railway) realised just how useless a terminus station in England’s central city was for its national intercity network.  In 1854, in conjunction with the Midland Railway, the LNWR opened the new through New Street station which to this day still comprises the hub of the national rail network.  

Exactly the same logic is likely to apply in the 21st Century.  HS2 Ltd’s Curzon Street proposals are equally doomed to failure, and they will leave the UK with a permanently fragmented national network.


5. “Some men see things as they are, and ask ‘why?’…  I dream of things that never were, and ask ‘why not?’.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th US President, quoting George Bernard Shaw, in speech to Irish Parliament, 1963


It’s necessary to think outside the box.  No-one in previous centuries has either had the vision or been in a position to design a national rail network.  But that’s no reason not to seize the moment when the UK high speed rail initiative presents this opportunity in the present century.


6. “The methods of the great pioneers have often puzzled conventional minds.”

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, voiced by Telly Savalas, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969


We certainly wouldn’t advocate launching an ‘Omega Virus’ upon humanity, as Blofeld intended.  But we sometimes feel his pain, when fellow railway professionals seem unable to comprehend the self-evident benefits of an improved national rail network in which all UK principal cities are directly interlinked by high-quality, high-frequency and high speed intercity services.  But of course, they may well be suffering from the malady identified by Upton Sinclair…


7. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Upton Sinclair, American writer and philosopher, 1878-1968


Upton Sinclair’s words crystallise perhaps the greatest malaise of modern civilised society.  All too often, old-fashioned concepts of right and wrong, and of rigorous technical analysis to select the best-performing option, end up playing second fiddle to the more basic question of:  “Who’s paying my salary?”  And, in the case of the HS2 project, there are all too many people whose salaries are paid, either directly or indirectly, by HS2 Ltd.  Enough said.


8.  “We will fight them in the beechwoods…”

Winston Churchill, UK Prime Minister, in speech to Parliament, 1940.


OK, this isn’t exactly what Winston said.  But we have little doubt that the great man would have used very similar words, had he been confronted with proposals as daft as the proposed HS2 route through the Chilterns – devastating an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and requiring 50km of tunnel to get to Birmingham, when HSUK’s alternative M1 route requires just 12km and completely avoids the Chilterns.  As Winston did say:  “This is nonsense up with which I will not put.”


9. “The aim of the HS2 project is to deliver hugely enhanced capacity and connectivity between our major conurbations.”

Evidence statement given by Andrew McNaughton, HS2 Ltd Technical Director, to House of Commons HS2 Select Committee, 30th November 2015.


Andrew McNaughton’s words are the perfect encapsulation of the objectives of a well-designed high speed rail project.  They set out the twin aims of step-change gains in capacity and connectivity, and they define the primary purpose of new high speed railways in linking the nation’s principal population centres, rather than airports.  These are the principles which have guided the design of High Speed UK, from the very start.  

However, Andrew’s aspiration for “hugely enhanced capacity and connectivity” conceals a highly inconvenient truth;  when considered across the scope of the UK’s national network, HS2’s capacity and connectivity gains are pitifully small, and are dwarfed by the vastly superior performance of the High Speed UK alternative.  For more information, please consult:  HS2 – High speed to Failure.




OUR PHILOSOPHY


“HS2 modelling is shocking, biased and bonkers.”

Margaret Hodge, Chair, Public Accounts Committee


“No economic case for HS2... it will destroy jobs and force businesses to close.”

Institute of Economic Affairs

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