As the dust settles following todays Labour leadership results, the only thing most people who read the Stop HS2 website will want to know is; What does this mean for HS2?
Well the fact that it seemed everyone running for the leadership, besides Liz Kendall, was against HS2 seemed to get Patrick McLoughlin spooked, who went so far as to write in The Telegraph to have a go at them. The reason he was worried about Corbyn was that a published draft of his ‘Northern Future’ document said the Tories “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”, however this line did not appear in the final version of his document.
Corbyn went on at a later date to say that he was worried that HS2 might get prioritised ahead of more important projects, such as the part of the ‘electric spine’ from Nuneaton to Southampton, which it surely will do when Sir Peter Hendy reports back on the viability of Network Rail projects.
However, his most recent statements were that it would be ‘too late’ to cancel HS2 if he were Prime Minister. Whilst that might be true, he doesn’t seem to have spotted that HS2 will have to come back for final approval in the commons (before going to the lords) well before that. Given that he’s had a busy few weeks, we’ll maybe let that one go, but what is clear is that a concerted effort to supply him with the facts is now needed.
New Deputy Leader Tom Watson seems more decisive though, as he ‘positively abstained’ when the HS2 Hybrid Bill came to second reading, saying:
“I’m still not convinced that this £50 billion worth of infrastructure investment will benefit many people in the Black Country. The Government has not given any guarantees that there will be improved frequency and journey times so I’m not prepared to sign up to it just yet.”
“I do believe in investment for additional capacity in the railway. I’m just yet to be convinced by this particular project.”