I absolutely support Dr John McCormick (Friends of The Scotsman, 12 July) in his call for the HS2 rail line to reach Scotland. I am a supporter of HS2, although I recognise concerns about costs and countryside intrusion.
Some leeway should be considered regarding the HS2 line’s maximum speed and route perhaps to avoid any cost escalations and excessively adverse environmental impacts.
Nevertheless, there are serious concerns about capacity on existing trunk railway lines connecting London to the Midlands, northern England and Scotland.
These are apparent to me as a regular sleeper train user from Inverness to London Euston, where serious delays can occur to this service if we miss our arrival slot into London owing to intensive use of the line by services into and out of Euston every morning. Moreover, on a recent Sunday steam excursion train on the East Coast line, we stopped to take on water halfway between York and London.
In the space of ten minutes, we saw three express trains and one local train, all on the one southbound fast line – on a weekend, so how busy can it get during the week?
The HS2 opponents state that it would be simpler to upgrade existing trunk lines. How can this be done on budget and time, without causing massive and expensive disruption to rail travel? The West Coast modernisation during the late 90s-early 2000s proves the unworkability of that approach. Irrespective of advances in technology, passenger and freight usage of rail is still increasing to levels which will make any rail frequency and journey time improvements very difficult in the UK without major network expansion.
A new line linking London, the North and Scotland is a necessary part of any rail network improvement, in parallel with existing line improvements. Rail connectivity between England and Scotland is increasingly important in light of environmental, air/road congestion and oil price concerns relating to air and road travel.
It is not helpful or appropriate to focus all rail improvements in London at the expense of regional sustainable development. Besides, here is a challenge to HS2 opponents – don’t knock HS2 unless you can come up with serious workable alternatives which bring about major rail improvements!
Mark W Norton
I have finally got over my inertia to respond to Mr Gordon Casely’s regular outpourings of grief in your columns about rail travel in Scotland.
As a seasoned traveller on ScotRail trains throughout Scotland over many years, I see the picture very differently.
The railway we have now is vastly superior to anything we have had in the past 50 years, and the contribution of the Scottish Parliament since its formation in helping us reach this enhanced state needs to be recognised.
We have more trains, which are faster, cleaner and more comfortable than any of their predecessors.
Credit should also be given for the ongoing station and line re-openings. The upgrade of the 158s used on some Highland routes a few years back transformed the rather dreary interiors and provided greater leg room on most seats.
This was a transformation that deserved more compliments than it publicly received.
Furthermore, Mr Casely’s criticism of the 170s lacks any sense of balance. I should also add that my experience of dealing with ScotRail staff has been excellent.
There is much greater focus on customer service than in the past.
Yes, there is always room for improvement, but we should be prepared to applaud what has been achieved.
It is rather sad that Mr Casely is unable to recognise some of the positive aspects of the rail revolution in Scotland instead of continually carping from the sidings.