Monday, 27th October 2014: Campaigners today said that the so-called HS3 Northern Powerhouse proposals were a tacit acknowledgement that HS2 would not ‘rebalance the economy’ as the government had previously claimed.
Whilst launching an uncosted HS3 proposal, the Government pointed out the poor quality of east-west links, and said improving these was the key to improving the economy of the north. The Prime Minister said that it would cost £6-7billion if it cost the same per mile as HS2.
This follows the publication of a Sunday Times Poll, which showed that HS2 was the bottom of the list of possible infrastructure projects amongst the British public, and that opposition to HS2 far outweighed support for it.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“Originally, HS2 was supposed to be about speeding up journeys to and from London to revitalise the north. But even the prime minister realises that HS2 won’t do that and HS3 is a smokescreen to hide the fundamental flaws in the HS2 proposal.
“The government say they are looking for ways to reduce the costs of HS2. They already know that high speed rail is more expensive then conventional rail, but rather than asking the question what is the right sort of new connectivity between the north east and the north west, they are assuming that the option to look at must be high speed. The real risk is that by starting with high speed as the answer, they will design another railway that does not solve the issues that there are with transport in the north of England.”
“With the Court of Auditors in France reporting last week that the emphasis on high speed had a negative impact on the conventional railway used by ordinary people, it looks like Osborne and Co want the soundbite of high speed without necessarily building a railway that would be right for the ordinary commuter in the north of England.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“The entire concept of HS2 was a mess when it was first announced, continued to be a mess during development and is still a mess despite the announcement. Changing the mess that is phase two doesn’t change the fact that phase one is still a complete mess, as is the entire concept of HS2.
“We have been saying since the start that if you want to help regenerate the north, you would spend the money there, and the very last thing you would do is make it quicker to get to London.
“Up until now, northern cities have been offered HS2 or nothing, now there is something else on the table, which would actually help the north, support for HS2 will crumble further.
“The proposal for HS3 is a tacit admission that HS2 will not deliver the growth for the North which has been promised and a load of new stuff is needed to make HS2 work, but this will still not provide connectivity and focuses on just two cities.”
With the announcement that the government are setting up a review of the costs and timescales of HS2 and other high speed projects Penny Gaines added
“After increasing the HS2 budget to £50 billion last year, the Prime Minister asked David Higgins to look at reducing the costs of HS2. Instead he said that the budget was right, but that Higgins was dropping the link to HS1 and the work at Euston needed for HS2. Now, at the same time as producing this report, Higgins quietly dropped the Manchester airport HS2 station from the plans.
“HS2 is a project with out of control costs, that will not serve the real needs of this country and that is environmentally damaging. Rather than relaunch it yet again, David Cameron should have cancelled it entirely.”