back to article Gov must put superfast broadband along HS2 rail line, says Parliament

The government must do more to ensure high speed broadband arrives alongside the controversial £80bn High Speed Rail line, a Parliamentary select committee has warned. The HS2 project, which promises to increase rail capacity between London and the West Midlands, is also intended to deliver broadband benefits into more areas …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They want to put trunk network lines alongside HS2. That is not a lot different from what C&W did a couple of decades ago in the days of British Rail.

    PUtting 4G towers alongside it is also a good idea.

    However this won't be the panacea that some people might think.

    A good proportion of the route will be in either Tunnel or Cutting. Unless those towers are up high they aint' gonna get many customers.

    This is excuding the radio network that they will have to install to get WiFi on the trains in the first place.

    Why would you want to pay for data (over 4G) when the trains are supposed to have free WiFi?

    Sounds like some really joined up thinking.

    SOP for Governments the world over really.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: So...

      Yes, I'm sure the reason that you've got crappy broadband in your remote Scottish village (or inner city area, for that matter) is because there just isn't enough fibre capacity between London and Birmingham.

      1. theModge

        Re: So...

        But....the wealth bar-stewards living in lovely villages between Birmingham and London need something to buy them off. Not that this will be enough for that. However the trains themselves need decent data connections, so the infrastructure has to be there, so it would seem foolish not to use it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        yep. Bit of a false headline really. This is backhaul nothing to do with getting "high speed broadband" to places without it, the "final mile" is the issue NOT backhaul. Total load of old spin to try and justify HS2 again.

        *note* Track at Dawlish in Devon STILL not sorted out despite promises that a solution of the total pile of shite train line in to West Devon and Cornwall would be sorted. What a surprise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          Not just Dawlish.

          A chunk of the line between Dover and Folkestone fell into the sea around Christmas. It'll take 6 months.

          In the meantime, large chunks of Kent have had their rail service screwed-up because of it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So...

            yeah but the thing about Dawlish is ITS THE ONLY LINE. Up until a couple of weeks ago the Government wouldn't even commit into funding a study in to it! let alone sorting the actual problem out.

            Think of the improvements that could be made to the whole network if it had £34bn spent on it, instead of one length of track to enable you to get to London quicker!

        2. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

          Re: So...

          Still, at least it's reassuringly expensive.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      PUtting 4G towers alongside it is also a good idea.

      Why? The whole flawed, comically fictitious "business case" for HS2 is based on the stupid, nonsensical assumption that business travellers' time spent on the train is totally wasted by virtue of inability to communicate. If HS2 has good connectivity, then it's whole raison d'etre disappears, in an Escher-esque impossibility loop that could fracture time-space itself.

      When was it that the Tory party became wedded to grandiose and wasteful public spending on vanity projects? I suppose around the time it became the Etonian Twats' Champagne Socialist Party.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: So...

        >When was it that the Tory party became wedded to grandiose and wasteful public spending on vanity projects?

        Around the time the beneficiaries of all the grandiose and wasteful public spending started promising to give some of the money back to the Tory party in election years.

        This has been happening for decades. HS2 is the most high profile example, but far from the only one.

        I don't expect HS2 to be finished. If bits get built at all, they'll skip the railway stage - "uneconomic" - and immediately be pensioned off as the UK's longest and most scenic cycle path.

        Considering that the budget for HS2 - or H2S, as it should probably be called - is going to be the far side of £50bn, and the UK's broadband investment is barely going to tickle £2bn, it's easy to see how good the gov is at planning for the future.

      2. PNGuinn
        Thumb Up

        Re: So... @ Ledswinger

        Upvoted for "Etonian Twats' Champagne Socialist Party."

        Lousy acronym, though. Etcssssp. It'll never catch on.

        1. annodomini2

          Re: So... @ Ledswinger

          @PNGuinn, it's so they can pronounce it correctly when they're drunk.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        "Why? The whole flawed, comically fictitious "business case" for HS2 is based on the stupid, nonsensical assumption that business travellers' time spent on the train is totally wasted by virtue of inability to communicate"

        That's not true is it? The business case is based largely on it being the cheapest and quickest way, by far, to add capacity to the existing north-south routes. HS2 takes the very fast trains which take up a lot of space (due to safe braking distances) away from the traditional lines and creates far more space for freight and passenger traffic. Our railways are currently full.

        1. theModge

          Re: So...

          Our railways are currently full.

          That is the problem it addresses. The speed issue is a distraction.

    3. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Not forgetting all the equipment needed to ensure all those annoying essential mobile phones work inside the tunnels.

      I used to enjoy being unavailable when commuting on the tube,..

  2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

    There is good coverage at each end of the line, and passengers will get there 20 minutes sooner...plenty of time to go online and catch up with emails before going about their business

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't that roughly the amount of journey time that will be saved compared with the existing Virgin trains?

      Personally I take the Chiltern line up to Birmingham. Not as fast, but it's a nicer journey.

      I think they should spend the dosh on improving the wifi on existing routes and removing phone signals altogether. So you can send an email to say sorry, I'm on the train. Can't talk. The wifi would of course have to fluctuate between zero and full bandwidth every 10 seconds to ensure that Skype etc don't work.

      Then I could do my emails/read the paper in peace.

  3. JimmyPage

    Maybe, just maybe

    if broadband provision was markedly better, there would be less need for HS2

    I have a sneaking feeling that the world of work in 2032 will be a generation different to now.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe, just maybe

      I think that your chance of promotion will be dramatically higher if you've bought your boss a drink after a round of golf/women-in-business-seminar/5-a-side even in 2032; so there will still be demand for a service to get you physically to the bar.

    2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Maybe, just maybe

      "if broadband provision was markedly better, there would be less need for HS2".

      There's already no real business case for HS2. It was 'justified' in an age before 3G phone signals never mind 4G. The business case written for HS2 concluded that travellers using the current line were unable to work, therefore with a faster train they'll be unable to work for a shorter time. Then came 3G, 4G, power at the seats and on train WiFi. If the whole thing were looked at afresh the report would conclude that travellers can work just fine on the current fleet, are never out of contact the whole way and so spending £50bn to save 20 minutes is a preposterous idea.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    ...find another justification for the Birmingham Airport to London link.

  5. m0rt


    HS2 is the biggest load of codswallop this side of mid 20th century smoking advertising.

    Great - just further drain the rest of the UK to London. It sure needs it. I can get to Euston from Stafford in 1:20 on a train. Quicker than I can get to anywhere else in a 50 mile radius of here.

    Fookin idiots. The lot of 'em. Even if they say 'Oh but we can carry freight'....well whoop di do. Thing is, what you going to do to allievate the traffic at the other end to pick said freight up?

    By the time they finish the fooker, self driving cars will be more plentiful (and don't get me started there either!) and the traffic management systems will handle these better and hs2 will be converted into a giant cycleway where we will find nomadic hipsters wandering freely looking for Northern chamberpots to sell back 'ome.

    London is just one big feedback loop.

  6. romanempire


    Dumbass white elephant!!!

    Upgrade West Coast mainline to 4 tracks at least as far as Manchester so that current fast (enough) inter-city trains can be kept separate from slower local trains. Probably cost half of HS2 and use balance to get rest of country fibre-to-premises which would reduce need to travel.

    But what do I know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Humbug

      They should also re-open the Great Central. Plenty of infrastructure already there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Humbug

      "Upgrade West Coast mainline to 4 tracks at least as far as Manchester so that current fast (enough) inter-city trains can be kept separate from slower local trains. Probably cost half of HS2 "

      HS2 is quicker and cheaper by far. Upgrading the E or WCML would cause decades of disruption and cost far, far more. Both north/south main lines are absolutely full, day and night. Significant changes would greatly reduce the amount of capacity available until completion. It's much easier to build a new railway than it is to turn an existing railway into a new railway while still using it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thing that really confuses me about the HS2 project is that there seems to be a strange assumption that it won't be just as badly operated as every other train line in this country.

    A train leaving every 4 minutes! Travelling at 250mph! The people who came up with that have clearly never travelled by train in England. It's utter fantasy.

    Like every other train service in this country it will be an absolute shambles. There will be long delays. The trains will trundle along slowly and keep stopping. The only difference is it will allow commuters to arrive late for work from further away.

  8. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Given the speed and capacity of the trains...

    ... wouldn't loading the train with recorded media provide a higher bandwidth than fibre? Admittedly the ping times would be poor...

  9. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    The people who will be able to afford the HS2 fare will probably charter a helicopter instead of taking a train.

  10. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Commercial viability, WTF?

    If it was commercially viable, government wouldn't need to provide either incentives or encouragement.

    So what's this viability test all about? Is *government*, well-known for being the most economically clueless part of any modern state, really trying to lecture private enterprise on the important of (wait for it) "making a profit" ? What next? A bill providing educational services to grandmothers who have eggs going unsucked?

  11. Commswonk Silver badge

    Ah... it makes sense now.

    Well well well; until today I was unaware that broadband was delivered by train.

    On reflection it explains quite a lot of things. My understanding has been expanded by an order of magnitude.

    1. PNGuinn

      Re: Ah... it makes sense now.

      Oh yes, trains have carried carrier pigeons for ages and ages. Didn't you know?

      But at those train frequencies I'd expect the ping times to be just about usable for work but impossible for gaming or pr0n.


  12. batfastad


    It looks like we'll be buying a new train set that noone wants or needs. And noone can do anything to stop it because... democracy dear boy.

    Let me summarise the business case:

    "£35bn. It's not maglev. It won't even be high-speed relative to the French high speed upgrades planned to be completed by 2035. Helping people get from somewhere that's not London, to London, 15% faster. £35bn."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sigh

      its not even £35bn is it! going to be Wayyyyyyyyyyyy more than that when it finally arrives (about 5years late and 4X over budget)

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    HS2. The solution to today's transport problems delivered in 2032 (possibly).

  14. Andrew Jones 2

    Can't afford NHS or Education, can't afford a UK wide fibre network - but apparently we can somehow afford a high speed rail network that no-one can afford to use, and will be in the news quite often because of snow on the line, leaves on the line, tracks that can't be used because it is too hot, submerged lines due to "unprecedented" flooding, and worker strikes. Awesome! Money well spent.

  15. Asterix the Gaul

    HS2 is, like PFI, uncontrolled immigration et'c,another New Labour scheme that was completely unfunded by government.

    New Labour introduced the above on the back of an envelope,the Tories never opposed any New Labour scheme that was unfunded,when they gained power, they ran with those NL schemes, knowing that TAXPAYERS money was funding PRIVATE business, whom the Tories support & the KNEW that they would make the POOR pay for that funding shortfall through benefit cuts et'c.

    This ultra-fast-broadband wheeze, is just another NL scheme that will be paid for by the poor, a 'white elephant', just like the other ideas.

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