HS2 – Those Who Have to Pay Still Aren’t Buying It

From 51M on 5th May

The last week has been very much in keeping with the high-speed rail project. In Parliament MPs gave strong support for HS2 but at the same time survey results published by YouGov showed that public opinion remains firmly against the scheme. Despite the soaring rhetoric from its advocates the public still aren’t buying it.

Almost half – 48% are opposed to HS2; 30% support it; while 22% don’t know. To the question – do you think the new high speed rail link will have a positive or negative effect on the North of England – 9% said negative; 35% said positive; and 46% said it won’t make much difference. So little more than one in three believe the North will benefit.

Whatever the justification for this vast project supporters are putting forward at the time – and that tends to change, taxpayers understand the fundamental and inescapable fact that it’s them who will be funding the £50bn bill. This total that is expressed in 2011 prices. Applying inflation and interest payments, then the figure could exceed £73bn.

As Cheryl Gillan MP pointed out at on the eve of the Commons vote, the cost of connecting the HS2 stations to the existing infrastructure is not included. There is also no allowance for the cost of property blight, put at £12bn by some estimates. Another significant cost is the work needed at the London end of the line. Solutions such as Crossrail 2 or major underground improvements at Euston will run into billions of pounds.

If the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd were hoping to find savings on mitigation and compensation, the recent report of the Environmental Audit Select committee offered the prospect of exacting scrutiny in this respect as the project proceeds.

Once HS2 is operational the taxpayers’ exposure may not end there. Fifteen years after opening, HS1 was carrying 9 million passengers a year – compared to the original forecast of 25 million. One reason for this has been the response from ferry operators competing for passenger business. A similar competitive response may be experienced with regard to HS2. The project’s business case assumes fares will not reflect premium pricing. On such a basis, the impact of competition from other train operators may mean subsidy becomes unavoidable.

HS2 is ready to leave the station but the taxpayer rightly remains very reluctant to wave it on its way.

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One comment to “HS2 – Those Who Have to Pay Still Aren’t Buying It”
  1. Please make your mark to save your home and farm and community from the HS2 losses and impacts. One week to put forward a petition to make the Select Committee very aware of what this HS2 causes you concern about and the specific measures you want to see changed which HS2 would not address. The atached can be used to add your impacts to clause 8: IN PARLIAMENT
    HOUSE OF COMMONS
    SESSION [2013–14]

    HIGH SPEED RAIL (LONDON – WEST MIDLANDS) BILL

    Against – on Merits – Praying to be heard By Counsel. &c.

    To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.

    THE HUMBLE PETITION of [Name of individual(s)]
    SHEWETH as follows:-

    1 A Bill (hereinafter referred to as “the Bill”) has been introduced and is now pending in your honourable House intituled “A Bill to make provision for a railway between Euston in London and a junction with the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre in Staffordshire, with a spur from Old Oak Common in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to a junction with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link at York Way in the London Borough of Islington and a spur from Water Orton in Warwickshire to Curzon Street in Birmingham; and for connected purposes.’’

    2 The Bill is presented by Mr Secretary McLoughlin, supported by The Prime Minister, The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Theresa May, Secretary Vince Cable, Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary Eric Pickles, Secretary Owen Paterson, Secretary Edward Davey, and Mr Robert Goodwill.

    3 Clauses 1 to 36 set out the Bill’s objectives in relation to the construction and operation of the railway mentioned in paragraph 1 above. They include provision for the construction of works, highways and road traffic matters, the compulsory acquisition of land and other provisions relating to the use of land, planning permission, heritage issues, trees and noise. They include clauses which would disapply and modify various enactments relating to special categories of land including burial grounds, consecrated land, commons and open spaces, and other matters, including overhead lines, water, building regulations and party walls, street works and the use of lorries.

    4 Clauses 37 to 42 of the Bill deal with the regulatory regime for the railway.

    5 Clauses 43 to 65 of the Bill set out a number of miscellaneous and general provisions, including provision for the appointment of a nominated undertaker (“the Nominated Undertaker”) to exercise the powers under the Bill, transfer schemes, provisions relating to statutory undertakers and the Crown, provision about the compulsory acquisition of land for regeneration, reinstatement works and provision about further high speed railway works. Provision is also made about the application of Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

    6 The works proposed to be authorised by the Bill (“the Authorised Works”) are specified in clauses 1 and 2 of and Schedule 1 to the Bill. They consist of scheduled works, which are described in Schedule 1 to the Bill and other works, which are described in clause 2 of the Bill.

    7 Your petitioner is the {{freehold/leasehold/commonhold} owner} {occupier} of {insert address of property} (“your petitioner’s property”).
    {Part of} Your petitioner’s property is within the limits of land to be acquired and used as shown on the plans deposited with the Bill, and the property is therefore liable to compulsory acquisition under the Bill.
    Your petitioner’s property is {adjacent to} {in close proximity to} the {name of construction site/ construction route} proposed to be used under the Bill. {Therefore your petitioner’s residential property will be subject to intolerable noise/dust/ visual impact/ vibrations for {how long}. {If the Environmental Statement accompanying the Bill states that your property will be affected by noise, dust, vibrations etc- state this}.
    {If HS2 have engaged with you, explain when and how e.g. letter send to property}
    {Explain other ways in which you personally will be affected}

    8 Your Petitioner[s] and [his][her] rights, interests and property are injuriously affected by the Bill, to which your Petitioners object for reasons amongst others, hereinafter appearing.

    9 Your petitioner is gravely concerned about the impact of the proposed working site/ construction route {at the front of their property/adjacent to their property/close to {name}, the open space your petitioner regularly uses} for up to {X months, according to the Environmental Statement}. Your petitioner anticipates that the {property/open space nearby/PRoW} will be surrounded by intolerable construction activity, and seriously affected by {noise, vibration and or dust}. There will also be {serious visual impacts for the occupants of the building/people using the open space/PRoW}. All of this will {significantly reduce the quality of life for your petitioner/make the current business unviable/reduce enjoyment for users of the open space/PRoW} including your petitioner.

    Your petitioner requests that the area is unsuitable for a worksite but that it if it has to be there, then the best means available for minimising {noise, dust and/or vibrations} both during construction and operation are utilised. Furthermore, your petitioner requests that {noise, dust and vibration monitoring equipment is installed at the property {address of specific property} for the duration of construction, and a monitoring programme agreed with the local authority is undertaken}. If monitoring shows that the noise thresholds are exceeded, {works should stop immediately/ noise mitigation should be installed into the property, or the nominated undertaker should arrange nearby temporary accommodation.}

    10 There are other clauses and provisions of the Bill which, if passed into law as they now stand will prejudicially affect your Petitioners and their rights, interests and property and for which no adequate provision is made to protect your Petitioners.

    YOUR PETITIONERS therefore humbly pray your Honourable House that the Bill may not be allowed to pass into law as it now stands and that they may be heard by their Counsel, Agents and witnesses in support of the allegations of this Petition against so much of the Bill as affects the property, rights and interests of your Petitioners and in support of such other clauses and provisions as may be necessary or expedient for their protection, or that such other relief may be given to your Petitioner in the premises as your Honourable House shall deem meet.

    AND your Petitioners will ever pray, &c.

    [Signature of Petitioner in person, or Agent for the Petitioner]
    ________________________________________

    IN PARLIAMENT
    HOUSE OF COMMONS
    SESSION [2013-14]

    HIGH SPEED RAIL
    (LONDON-WEST MIDLANDS)
    BILL

    PETITION OF [Name of Petitioner]

    AGAINST, By Counsel, &c.

    [Name of Agent for the Petitioner, or of the Petitioner in Person
    Address
    Telephone number(s)

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