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Now is probably not the best time to suggest allocating more notional expenditure to HS2, but David Roster Phillips is right to lament the decision not to link HS2 with HS1 ( RAIL 914).
It probably stems originally from the poor patronage of the dedicated direct link from the North to Waterloo for connections to HS1 at the outset, but which was subsequently scrapped.
Clearly it was thought that this service would attract a worthwhile flow of passengers, albeit that the prospect of overnight trains had already been abandoned.
However, ignoring COVID for the moment, things have moved on. A massive amount of business has flowed along HS1 since it opened, including the spectacularly successful Javelin services, and it is time for a rethink.
HS1’s advantage over the airlines is that it goes from city centre to city centre. It does not pollute our atmosphere. And given that there is now much greater awareness of global warming and the air we breathe, there is every reason to be confident that through journeys from north of London to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and beyond would result in an impressive return per £1 of outlay.
An HS1/HS2 link would also pave the way for significant reductions in both internal flights within the UK and lorry traffic between Europe and the UK.
The latter, in particular, is a major source of dangerous pollution through Kent, in the Dartford area, south west Essex and beyond.
The Road Haulage Association won’t like being reminded of that fact. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were among those lobbying against the idea of the link in the first place.
Boris Johnson was instrumental in blocking the idea of an HS1/ HS2 link when he was London Mayor, so resurrecting the idea wouldn’t have much support from him. Or would it?