SNAG News

« Back to previous page

29/07/2013
Trainspotting Part HS2: Coalition grandstanding returns to haunt them


The Leader

Trainspotting Part HS2: Coalition grandstanding returns to haunt them

By: The Leader
Published: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 05:00 GMT Jump to Comments

The Coalition needs to come up with something more immediate than HS2 in the quest to "rebalance the economy" and "secure the country’s future prosperity”, says The Leader.

Pity poor old HS2. Friends of the nascent high-speed rail link joining London, Birmingham and Manchester are more and more difficult to find.

It was not always so.  Only six months ago Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin shared a hymn sheet as they announced the plans for Phase 2 of High Speed Two.

Singing, for once, in close harmony the Coalition asserted the government’s commitment to "investing in the infrastructure that Britain needs to compete and succeed in the global economy".

"Britain must seize the unparalleled opportunity presented by High Speed 2 to generate jobs, rebalance the economy and secure the country’s future prosperity," the Prime Minister said. Fine words, though he almost certainly did not mean to suggest that the building of a new railway line over a period of 20 years was our only hope of rebalancing the economy and securing the country’s future prosperity all by itself. Did he? Well did he?

On the same January day the Minister ordered the Department for Transport (DfT) to look into whether the project could be fast-tracked so that the second phase of HS2 would be completed ahead of the scheduled completion date of 2032.

The DfT has become something of a media whipping boy of late (cf. West Coast rail franchise debacle #whoispayingforthiscockup) and this task sounded very like a pre-packed ready-cooked opportunity whereby the DfT could attempt a reconstruction of the collapsed embankment of its reputation.

Now most if not all of the assumptions that underpinned the case for developing HS2 have been shown to be at best dubious and at worst utterly mistaken. Everyone from Matt Ridley (writing in The Times) to my grandmother (speaking from the grave) have come up with shopping lists of other and better things to do with the billions (and billions) that HS2 is going to cost.

Like the Channel Tunnel and many another grand vanity projects before, HS2 (if by mischance it actual goes ahead) will bankrupt the government and/or the companies that fund the development. And the project will deliver sweet FA by way of benefits for the businesswoman or man on the 07:45 Birmingham to London breakfast special.

The city administrations in Birmingham and Manchester will bleat pitifully about the cancelation of the 2032 high-speed train from Boris Ville but they are wrong. The West Midlands and the North West do indeed need investment but it will be more helpful if it happens now and is spread over a more realistic, wider, range of less grand projects.

If Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and McLoughlin want us to forget and forgive their self-aggrandising bombast of six months ago they would be well advised to come up with something more immediate and more useful in the quest to "rebalance the economy" and "secure the country’s future prosperity”. And, like the rest of us, they will have to be satisfied with their name on a bench at the cricket club to secure their lasting fame.

WHO WE ARE WHAT WE ARE DOING MEETINGS
THE GOVERNMENTS CASE FOR HS2THE HIGH SPEED RAIL SYSTEMROUTE 3 & MAPSNEXT KEY STAGESPROPERTY BLIGHTENVIRONMENTAL BLIGHT
LEADERSHIP & TARGETSTHE MYTHS EXPOSEDWILL IT AFFECT YOU?
GET ACTIVE & INVOLVEDDONATE
STOP PRESSNEWSEVENTSSNAG NEWS