Guesswork over high-speed rail

From: Philip Davies

Nether Edge

In last week’s Telegraph (July 21) you published a letter (well, not actually a letter: it was written to accompany an “enclosed freepost postcard”) from our council leader asking us to support high-speed rail.

Unfortunately, as usual from politicians, it was made up of guesses dressed up as statistics (“up to 50,00 jobs”; “for every £1 invested, £2.60 will go back into the public purse”) and implausible promises (“potential for fares to drop” and “link the major northern cities with... the Continent”).

Now perhaps Julie Dore knows more than she is letting on – perhaps there is already a commitment to build the line through Sheffield (and a firm date for construction), and perhaps there are also plans to build a high-speed rail link from the proposed terminus at Euston to the existing international line at St Pancras.

But if neither of these materialises, we in Sheffield will always be better off travelling to the Continent via the existing line to St Pancras.

As for the rather short time saved getting to Birmingham or Leeds, this will probably be outweighed by the higher fares.

I’d actually be in favour of a sensible high-speed route from St Pancras through Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield, with a reopened Woodhead line to Manchester and another line on to Leeds, serving a bigger population than the existing plan does, and genuinely allowing us in the north to get direct to Continental destinations.

So instead of this silly “yes”/”no” campaign, can we ask our local politicians to lobby for a sensible new high speed route instead of this daft one, which is, frankly, a waste of money.

Meanwhile, if Ms Dore wants a really fast connection to London maybe she should revive our city airport, which a previous Labour administration gave away for next to nothing.