Lib Dem FightBack

Opinion: Time for Lib Dems to ditch HS2 for alternative HS1 extension

P1090440With a recent COMRES poll showing 52% of the public are against the current HS2 plans and with 70 seats and 600,000 Lib Dem voters affected, I sat down one day and decided to find a better scheme. One which did unite the north of Britain to London and the South, one which didn’t cost the earth, one with a minimal human impact and one which actually linked up with HS1, Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel – none of the things HS2 can boast off, but all of which an extension to HS1 would. My scheme would be faster, cheaper and better than HS2.

I remind fellow Lib Dems, that while the party strongly supports high speed rail that HS2 was neither in the 2010 manifesto, nor the route spelt out in the Coalition Agreement. In supporting the current scheme we are backing a ruinously expensive toxic amalgam of Labour and Conservative ideas.

In April 2014 I had drawn up a route of 182 miles which passed through the lowest population areas, linking London Stratford International to Leeds New Cross. The scheme would cost only £16 billion compared to the £42 billion and counting HS2 costs.

Because it’s shorter, and passes through more countryside than HS2 it’s average speed would be higher than the 170 mph of HS2 and the Leeds-London journey would be only 59 minutes. Phase 1 could be built before 2020 with phase 2 going direct to Edinburgh by 2024 or before. HS2 makes a mistake not to include Scotland.

The Stratford International station already links to HS1, and was used with great success in the 2012 London Olympics with the Javelin Service. HS1a will deliberately miss out Birmingham and Sheffield. The first does not need high speed to London, the second close enough to the Leeds hub. Phase 2 would also include a Leeds-Manchester link a boost to Northern growth.

I strongly believe HS1a as an alternative can give the Party a scheme which will win us a million votes instead of risking 500,000 votes and allow us to use the £26 billion savings in other priority areas. The outline plans can be viewed here.

* Jonathan Pile contested Wakefield (Crofton,Walton & Ryhill) in May 2014, is a signatory to and Acting Coordinator of LibdemFightBack.

photo by: Truthiness 

HS1a - A Liberal Democrat alternative proposal for consideration for the 2015 Lib Dem Manifesto as an alternative to existing HS2 route and Costs.

A High Speed Alternative to HS2 - an extension to HS1 - Linking London Stratford International to Leeds in 59 minutes

About Us

We are independent advocates of an HS2 alternative - "HS1a" -would cost less than HS2 (£16billion versus £80 billion), be faster London-Leeds journey time in 59 minutes compared to 88 minutes for HS2 and link up with HS1 and the Channel Tunnel.

We could have all the benefits of HS2 with none of the drawbacks and less thanhalf the cost.

No tunnels, no huge compensation bill, 500,000 of households unaffected (unlike HS2).

HS1a could connect with HS3 linking to Manchester and northwards to Scotland.

Contact us now!

The Route

Our route runs only 182 miles direct London-Leeds (compared to the 256 mile route for Leeds-London under HS2). The route heads north from Stratford International through Essex, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire to the planned HS2 station at Leeds New Cross. It connects with the HS1 line at St Pancras in the same way the Olympic Javelin service operated in the 2012 Olympic Games. 

The Speed

The 182 mile track will run through low population density areas, so will run faster than the average HS2 London-Leeds journey speed of 170 miles per hour, so we estimate a minimum journey time of 59 minutes is achievable.

The Cost

Our scheme is projected at a Cost of £16 billion plus rolling stock, compared to the £42-80 billions of HS2. Moreover it might see a London-Leeds High Speed route operational by 2020 - six years ahead of HS2, subject to local referenda and planning approvals. Clearly a HS1 extension will cause need for extensive and generous compensation and mitigation but the total cost of this will be a small proportion of the perhaps £14.5 billion required by HS2

Phase 2

Phase 2 could link  Manchester, Newcastle and Scotland by 2024.

Economic Benefits

HS1a - would cost each UK family only £570 compared to the estimated £1500 from HS2. Moreover many of the projected job creation opportunities in the  Leeds Economic region (perhaps 13,000 jobs) would not involve the heavy burden of taxation and national debt required by HS2 .It is felt that the £14 billion saved as against HS2 might be better used to cut income tax , corporation tax and fuel duty to further boost economic growth.


"HS1a " - is a proposal placed by Wakefield based Liberal Democrat businessman  Jonathan Pile in an email to all  Liberal Democrats MP's on  April 13th 2014 for consideration for the 2015 General Election Manifesto, also to the Social Liberal Forum.  All support is welcomed for this scheme from other parties and industry groups. HS1a is also a core proposal of Lib Dem Fightback formed in June 2014 to campaign for a revertion to the 2010 Manifesto, a change of leadership and greater democracy in the party. 47% of Liberal Democrat voters oppose HS2 in recent polls compared to 41% in support. 

There is no connection to HS1 Ltd and all mentions to HS1 are made in open domain under public rights of freedom.

(C) Jonathan Pile 2014