Corbyn and new high speed rail

On Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn published his plan for a publicly owned railway system.  Alongside a range of measures like plans for ‘better terms and conditions for rail workers‘ and ‘cheaper and more easily understood fare tariffs’ he also says that he wants to ‘stimulate the economy by increasing investment in new high speed rail, creating jobs and connecting more towns and cities‘.

What is less clear is why he has adopted this position which not only contradicts with reports from two weeks ago but also contradicts his own voting record.

According to the Guardian two weeks ago that a draft of his Northern Future document said that the Conservatives  “have suspended the much needed investment in rail infrastructure in the north to fund HS2, a project with the aim of turning our great regional cities into dormitories for London businesses.

In the event, the “Northern Future”  made no mention of high speed rail or HS2.

Corbyn’s voting record is clear: he shows no enthusiasm for HS2, having abstained from the Hybrid Bill vote at the second reading in April 2014. What’s more he voted against the High speed rail paving bill in 2013.

His change of stance has not been prompted by the attitude of either Labour voters or Northerers. According to polling done on behalf of the Sunday Times, only 29% of Labour voters are in favour of HS2, and similarly only 29% of northerners support HS2.

What is clear with the tremendous £50 billion price tag just for High Speed Two, its hard to see how the rest of Corbyn’s plans, with better local transport and widespread electrification, could be put into place as well.

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5 comments on “Corbyn and new high speed rail
  1. I wondered when reality was going to hit home?

    The sudden break out of fantasy notions amongst the STOPHS2 columns, at the prospect of Corbyn’s investituture as Labour leader, has been a source of much mirth.

    Quite apart from a rather large obstacle provided in the form of a newly installed Conservative administration, intent on pressing full steam ahead with HS2, the idea that Corbyn would suddenly ditch suport for HS2 was ultimately quite laughable, given the fact that it does represent a rather large tranche of investment in the North of England.

    Corbyn wants to see high levels of investment in public transport – what does HS2 represent; high levels of investment in public transport – it might not be the kind of investment STOPHS2 activists want to see but that minor flaw is surely irrelevant?

    The most likely outcome should Corbyn achieve a position of influence, would be some refocussing of certain elements of HS2 to encourage economic development in the north at the expense of London and the South East – the main thrust of HS2 policy would remain in-situ, Corbyn or otherwise?

    • Still waiting for details on ANY impartial pro-HS2 report.
      Apart from revelling in other’s misfortunes, what else have you to contribute?
      HS2, despite only 22% public support, continues to be pushed ahead, mostly due to political chicanery. You must have been disappointed in the likely extension of the tunnel through the Chilterns, with possibly more to come.
      Major infrastructure spending should be appropriately targeted, not just as a whim from bumbling amateurs. HS2, whatever happens, remains a nonsense as so many independent reports have warned.

  2. If he voted against the paving bill in 2013, what more do you want? We all want new high speed rail but that’s not the same as supporting HS2. Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot!

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