FURIOUS today to discover that the multi-user SUSTRANS Trail at Hassop has been earmarked for development as a rail line. There are proposals for construction to start from as early as 2026 as part of a £4.8 billion investment, according to Carlton Reid on Forbes.com.
The Hassop line alone would cost 200 million to open as a railway and it cost just 3.7 million to open as a multi-user SUSTRANS greenway which, to my mind, has been a much better investment. Why oh why must we continue to throw bad money after good?
Talk about a pandemic of bad ideas! In Forbes, Reid implores, “Cycling Groups Do Not Slam Rail Line Conversion Proposal for Iconic Cycle Trail.”
My view is not simply NIMBYism. It’s common sense.
Let me tell you a few things about what it’s like on the ground around here…
The Hassop Trail SUSTRANS route is THRIVING. At weekends, trail users are almost queuing to get along, it’s heavily used throughout the year bringing some 330,000 thousand visitors a year. It’s creating a green tourism that employs a HUGE number of workers in the region and it’s set for more even more growth… Which won’t happen if the trail is lost.
So let me consider that the poor people of Manchester and Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent DO need better transport links. It’s pretty easy…
IMPROVE WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE!
We have the Trans-Pennine Express… which links up Sheffield and Manchester. It’s slow, over-crowded and has the MOST APPALLING rolling stock I have ever seen. Seriously! Two ancient pacer units, God-knows-how-old… 40+ years? Many more carriages are needed for this link.
SORT THAT OUT AS A MATTER OF URGENCY.
What’s more Mr Transport Expert, a little Geography lesson for you… the trail itself is situated NOWHERE NEAR “Manchester, Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent”. It’s in THE MIDDLE of the Peak District National Park, between Bakewell and Buxton.
Say you wanted to get from Stoke-on-Trent to Sheffield by train? You could do that by picking up a high-speed connection on the western side of the Pennines, via Stockport on the Manchester to London line. Connections between these places ALREADY EXIST but they’re on 3 POINTS OF A TRIANGLE, NOT LINEAR. Just so you know.
One can’t help but imagine there are MILLION, if not BILLION-POUND “KICK-BACKS” on this proposed development. Look at the PPE money awarded to Liz Truss… Yes, Forbes and white collar crime. We northerners and provincial plebs have got our eyes on you!
Those of us who actually LIVE in the poorer parts east of Sheffield, we’re ALREADY DEALING with the loss of our environment due to HS2. And we’ll not benefit from that either.
HS2, ANOTHER GARGANTUAN WASTE OF MONEY.
If you MUST… do HS2 first and implement the simple changes you’ve failed to make on the Trans-Pennine line.
Better still. OUTSOURCE Government Departments and decent jobs to the north. THAT would be a VIABLE WAY of bringing social, economic and environmental benefits to our region and, God-knows, our country because we’ve got a lot of brains up here that are being seriously under-used. You know… We could even work on-line?
WHO ARE THESE BILLION POUND TRAIN LINES FOR ANYWAY?
Getting to London by train is WAY BEYOND the reach of most ordinary people and families. Take the cost… I’m a single parent. Taking myself and two kids to London would cost FIVE TIMES as much as driving in my tiny car.
Basically, we don’t go to London anymore. We used to go when the kids were younger and I went as a child with my parents… I’ve been there from Manchester and Sheffield, from both sides of the Pennines. But not in recent years. You want to know why?
TRAINS HAVEN’T GOT ANY FASTER OR CHEAPER in 30 to 40 years!
If you MUST “solve the north/south transport problem”, GIVE US, the little, ordinary, impoverished, the opportunity-deprived people of the inaccessible North, ACCESSIBLE PRICES!
The only northerners who use the train regularly from these areas are single people, theatre-goers, business people, MPs or the likes of Cavendishes of Chatsworth house. I’m not joking. Getting off the train is the only time I’ve ever seen toffs and the afore-mentioned elites.
OH, SO THAT’S WHO IT’S FOR! LONDON-CENTRIC GENTRY WITH COUNTRY ESTATES!
I haven’t even really started on the pro-cycling or green lobby YET… I’ll do that another time… Or the fact that the public pays for the line and private operators like call the tune… and they’re always complaining about profits anyway.
You’ve not heard the last from me on this. You’re a transport expert? I don’t think so. The LAST THING this country needs right now is more bad ideas, lies and DISCONNECTED thinking.
PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
If it’s broken, sort it out…