Corbyn: “I want guarantees” that HS2 won’t lead to rail investment cuts.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has given the clearest indication since he was elected as to where he stands on HS2. Speaking to Building.co.uk (registration required to view) after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin had ‘unpaused’ but delayed the Midland Mainline and Transpennine electrification projects last week, he said:

“I’m open to persuasion on increasing rail capacity. I’m concerned – and I want guarantees – that it [HS2] isn’t going to lead to removal of capital investment in the existing rail network and the need for improvements to it.”

He went on to highlight other rail investment priorities, which he felt should not be threatened by the HS2 spend:

“Rail infrastructure in the north, particularly the east-west rail link from Manchester to Newcastle and Midland Mainline, and railways north of the central belt in Scotland because we have a very serious imbalance. Likewise railways in the South-west beyond Exeter – the Devon and Cornwall lines are very slow and they need a lot of upgrading.”

The concept that spending on HS2 would limit the number of other projects which could be funded during the build has long been of concern. In June 2012, the Major Projects Authority report on HS2 stated:

The Department [for Transport] believes however that the costs of this project [HS2] are so large, and over such a long period, that it will not be able to afford it alongside all its other likely spending commitments.”

Echoing what he had previously told the Camden New Journal, he went on to express concerns about the disruption building HS2 would cause at Euston station:

“The disruption is enormous. There is a problem with the capacity of the Victoria line to cope with that number of passengers all being pushed down on to those platforms. The Victoria line, like the Picadilly line, already has a problem of too narrow platforms and despite it running 39 trains an hour – which is amazing – but it can’t go beyond that, you physically could not go more than that number of trains per hour so you’re at capacity level there already. So I think there’s a bit of a discussion going to go on about whether you use Old Oak Common [as a terminus] or not.”

However, despite the fact HS2 has yet to have its’ third reading in the Commons, after which it will have to be debated by the Lords, he repeated his previous stance that: “It’s likely HS2 will be underway by the time we go into government in 2020”

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“It is a breath of fresh air to have a party leader who is actually trying to assess what the real-world implications of HS2 would be, opposed to simply swallowing the spin put forward by proponents. It has been clear since the outset that spending such a vast amount of money on HS2 would only mean other, more deserving projects will be squeezed out, and even the Department for Transport have admitted that HS2 could suck up all the rail investment money.”

“Following the on-off and now delayed status of some rail upgrades, there is still the Hendy report to come which will surely cut back on other projects. In this climate, we simply cannot see Mr Corbyn getting the guarantee he seeks.”

“With the costs of HS2 set to spiral when they are finally worked out on current prices, there is no way other projects can be guaranteed. We welcome the fact Mr Corbyn is seriously looking at the implications of HS2, and remind him that if he finds the project to be deficient, it can be stopped when the bill comes back for third reading.”

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2 comments on “Corbyn: “I want guarantees” that HS2 won’t lead to rail investment cuts.
  1. The comments by Crobyn are double sided spin. He is caught in contradictions of his patrons. Not turning out to be an agent of change for the better. More interested in subscriptions and growing the membership than taking a position to obtain the guarantees. He is a bet hedger on voters not on infrastructure priorities. No evidence of Corbyn putting his hustings projections into action. May be a disappointment within the year.

    • “..maybe a disapointment within the year.”

      That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it .

      But say, is there ANYONE you would trust , anyone that is who might have the slightest chance of following what you want?

      In times of difficulty and uncertainty, people may yearn for a strong uncompromising leader…but if one should be found and gain control, then all too often they themselves become monsters.

      Be careful what you wish for.

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