Today the ‘Independent’ Transport Commission, who list the instigator of the HS2 project Lord Adonis as a patron, have produced a report which concludes HS2 will not be a white elephant, based on no empirical data whatsoever.
Instead of looking at facts and figures relating to previous high speed rail projects, the ITC decided to conduct interviews with people who think HS2 would be a good idea, after which they concluded HS2 is a good idea. For example, the ITC interviewed 9 people from ARUP, who not only sponsor the ITC but have been awarded tens of millions of pounds worth of contracts developing HS2 so far, as well as 3 people from Birmingham Airport who also sponsor the ITC and would benefit financially from the taxpayer-funded HS2 project.
The ITC decided to conduct their study because they were concerned “how the public and media debate over high speed rail (HSR) in Britain was being conducted”, but their report, ‘Ambitions and Opportunities: Understanding the Spatial Effects of High Speed Rail’, involved not of looking into the actual data and economic facts of these projects, and concluded after conducting interviews that because there have been some redevelopment s near some high speed rail stations on the continent, it therefore follows that HS2 is a good thing.
The report also emphasized the need for connectivity. However HS2 does not connect to HS1: it crosses, but does not connect to the East-West railway between Oxford and Milton Keynes (planned to extend to Bedford and Cambridge), nor does it have any interchange with the Chilterns Line which it runs close to, and with the exception of Euston and Manchester Piccadilly, HS2 is not proposed to stop at existing railway stations.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“This entire report is completely based on anecdotes, hearsay and conjecture. Whilst there are lots of pretty photos of railways stations, there is not one solid piece of empirical evidence in what is 92 pages of waffle. The ITC said they produced this study because they were concerned how the debate on HS2 is being conducted, but by producing this report, they have sunk the debate on HS2 to a new low.”
“In producing a report which contains no real-world data whatsoever, the ITC have only highlighted exactly what the problem is, that those in favour of HS2 use grandiose words and make exaggerated claims without the facts to back them up, because all the facts show HS2 is an economic basket case that is just not needed.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 added:
“This report is a biased whitewash from an organisation which is funded by groups which vocally support HS2 already. It talks about the need for connections between HS2 and the existing rail network, but HS2 has no connection to HS1. It effectively blames the failure of HS1 stations in Ebbsfleet and elsewhere on having the wrong type of local authority.”
“In a slap in the face to the many communities blighted by HS2, it talks about the need for civil society to get involved in planning for HS2. Meanwhile, the Department for Transport is sitting on the results of the Phase 2 consultation, with no plans to publish it until next year and HS2 Ltd staff, the Department for Transport and other proponents of HS2 belittle the concerns of communities who are affected. But the report declined to look at the effects of HS2 along the route, other than a patronising reference to HS2 being able to provide drama to the landscape.”
“This report is just another attempt from the proponents of HS2 to cobble together apparent support for this failing project.”