Philip Hammond subsequently sent a letter to MPs “to set the record straight” – you can download the letter here.
1) We have seen a report that suggests the first phase of the route will cost £34.7 billion. We’ve made it available on our website here.
Philip Hammond’s response says that the first and second phase – to Manchester and Leeds, will cost £33 billion.
Whichever set of figures you decide to accept, it means building just part of the network will cost over £30 billion. And how much more would it cost to extend the railway to Scotland?
This is an eyewatering amount of money, and the country needs to be really sure that the benefits of this massive expenditure to build part of one project actually make it the best use of £33 billion.
2) The Government has been suggesting that building a high speed railway is part of their “low carbon” strategy. We have pointed out on a number of occasions on this website that HS2 Ltd say that their proposed scheme will “not be a major factor in managing carbon in the transport sector” (but might increase carbon emissions).
In this letter Philip Hammond has at last acknowledged what HS2 Ltd have said: the HS2 railway scheme is carbon neutral. But he did not address the issue of carbon efficiency.
3) We said “none of the householders or business owners directly affected by the proposed route have had any form of formal communication”.
Philip Hammond said “the proposed route has been well publicised, including adverts in local and regional media”. Adverts are not formal communications: our statement stands up to scrutiny.
We again ask Members of Parliament – “are you sure in your mind the HS2 project will deliver what it promises? It is a huge amount of money to commit for years to come.”
We would like to re-iterate our invitation to Members of Parliament to the Stop HS2 convention – we would love to see you there. There you will be able to hear alternative views about the effects of HS2, and will be better informed about the issues when, or if, you debate HS2 in the Houses of Parliament.