Passing thoughts

One of the issues that has occupied the thoughts of some of those who would be forced to live with HS2 is what happens when two trains, travelling in opposite directions, pass. Those concerned about this matter point, in particular, to fears that the resultant noise will be dramatically increased.

Whilst acoustic science has a bland, and superficially reassuring, explanation of the results of such an occurrence, I am able to reveal to you an alternate, and much more imaginative, interpretation of the outcome following my viewing of a movie DVD recently.

The film in question is I Wish, or Kiseki (奇跡) for the Japanese speakers amongst us, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, a star amongst the current crop of Japanese movie auteurs. The main plot of the film is the belief held by a group of schoolchildren that when two 160-mph bullet trains – yes only 260km/hr, a whole 100km/hr less than planned for HS2 – pass each other the force of the conjunction is so great that some kind of supernatural field is generated that has the power to make the wishes of those who witness the event come true. The kids, each with their own desperate wishes, play truant and travel to be present when the event occurs, and to shout out their various requests, which are largely drowned out by the noise of the trains.

One of the children has the body of his recently deceased pet dog in his knapsack, and it is all too evident that his wish for life to be restored to the beloved mutt has not been granted. His decision to take the body home for burial in his garden appears to signal the acceptance by the group of cold realism over fantasy, and the children’s realisation that high-speed trains do not have the magical power to make wishes come true – this, unfortunately, appears to be a lesson that our political masters have yet to learn (at our expense).

On the evidence of the scenery in the film, there’s little magic either in the cold realism of Japanese high-speed train architecture. You may be able to get a sense of the desperate brutalism of the forms, and their domination of the landscape, in the still from the film reproduced below. However, to get a full appreciation of the awfulness, I think that you need to see the movie, which is something that I heartily recommend anyway, as it is a gem of a film.

We can only hope that HS2 Ltd does better when it comes to structures for the UK railway, but I don’t have much expectation that what we see emerging in our own countryside will be any less of an eyesore.


One of the stalwarts of the HS2 Select Committee has been Ian Mearns MP, whose ebullient and humanitarian contribution to proceedings, and his obvious incisiveness, have been much valued. It seems that his qualities are also appreciated by his fellow MPs as he has recently been elected by them as Chairman of the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee. Whilst congratulations are most definitely in order, I presume that the additional responsibilities that have resulted from his elevation from participant in to head of this important select committee are the reason behind his recent “discharge” from the HS2 Select Committee. I fear that the fortunes of HS2 petitioners will be the poorer for his departure.

I cannot, however, say the same for the other departing Member, Yasmin Qureshi. She has not really played an active part in the deliberations of the Committee, and has not even been present at all sessions held since the general election.

Three new MPs have now joined the Committee; they are Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cons, The Cotswolds), David Crausby (Lab, Bolton North East) and Mark Hendrick (Lab Co‑op, Preston). So after 450 petitions having been heard over 92 days, the Committee moves forward with half of its Members starting from scratch. It could only happen at Westminster!




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