Planes, Trains… and the HS2

Transport, Travel & Tourism Blog

Lynn Tweedale

Whilst we’re on the subject of trains, is it just me, or is anyone else getting frustrated with the train travel experience around London? Whilst arranging to meet a colleague in London last week, he was under the misconception that ‘as a Londoner’ it’d be a quick pop out of the office compared to his trip to the capital from Manchester.

It’s no surprise to many of us, we automatically grin and bear the two hour trip to the city, but I can’t help but wonder how, as a capital city, can it take so long to get from Heathrow on ordinary (non Heathrow Express) public transport?

I agree with John Grant of OAG Aviation when he says “the UK must integrate air and rail, or we’ll all be left behind.”  But it goes further than pure integration – it’s also the cost of UK trains, when compared to flights.  There have been occasions where it’s been cheaper and quicker to fly to my Manchester colleagues.

There is the promise of HS2, but, as someone that was involved in the Cross-Rail discussions a decade ago and am still waiting…I’m somewhat un-presuming on timescales.

Call me sceptical (perhaps you’re getting to know me too well by now), but will HS2 actually compete with ordinary trains and air travel?

It’s reported that travel times from London to Manchester are set to fall from 128 minutes to 82 minutes, but it was announced yesterday (24th March) that the HS2 will now not link up with the Eurostar for continental links, and with the Heathrow Spur on hold until the 3rd/4th runway debate is resolved, the interconnectivity argument is already being compromised.

It’s argued that tourism will flourish in locations not previously thought of – simply due to the faster travel times.  But realistically will half an hour here and there boost tourism if the price of the ticket isn’t equally reduced?

It is the longer trips that will benefit from high speed travel, such as Scotland or for European visitors to arrive via the Eurostar.  High speed rail travel doesn’t see benefits on shorter journeys as a relatively large proportion of the trip is taken up just getting to and from the hub in the first place.

With the continental link now defunct, HS2 has no chance of competing with air travel to European markets.

With 18 years until the HS2 is due to be up and running, we do have some time for proper planning for the influx of snapping cameras…but by then Boris Island may also be our hub and we’ll be on the HS7 link train to get to HS2…



  • High Speed Travel
  • HS2
  • Rail Investment