Osborne boots HS2 links to Manchester, Leeds & East Midlands into long grass.

Today the Government will announce they will submit legislation to Parliament to build part of Phase 2 of HS2, but only as far as Crewe. What is now to be called ‘Phase 2a’, is now expected to be delivered by 2027, but bringing forward the completion date for just 40 miles of track will surely raise questions as to whether if HS2 is built, it would ever get further than Crewe.

It is being said that HS2 trains would be able to join the West Coast Mainline and provide reduced journey times to Manchester and Glasgow, however, this was already planned for as part of Phase 1, with HS2 linking to existing tracks at Handsacre in Staffordshire.

It is well-known that there are significant geological problems associated with the proposed HS2 route North of Crewe, which is currently planned to cross the Cheshire brine fields and active sinkholes. This route has a kink at a cost of £600m that takes the line through the brine fields, but away from the more affluent areas of George Osbornes’ Tatton constituency, which led him to be labelled locally as “The six-hundred million dog-leg man”.

In a similar vein, many areas of the proposed Eastern route of HS2 through Yorkshire and the East Midlands are subject to severe mining subsidence, which questions the viability and proposed cost of the rest of the route, which is now scheduled to be made two years after it was due to be published.

A consultation on Phase 2 of the proposed route of HS2 was completed in January 2014, and at the time results were timetabled to be published in ‘Autumn’. This deadline then became ‘Autumn 2015’, and now for the Eastern route and the Western route North of Crewe, the Government have pushed this back to making a decision in ‘Autumn 2016’.

The Government are keen to say journey times from London to Glasgow could be reduced by 48 minutes, but in October 2013, a Government-sponsored report said that the city could lose up to £77m per year as a result of HS2 being built, despite the reduced journey times to London.

Last week, the official cost of HS2 rose to £55.7bn, it was revealed that 46 staff at HS2 Ltd are paid more than the Prime Minister, and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found HS2 Ltd had committed several acts of maladministration, including an attempt to blackmail a resident in Staffordshire.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“The supposed ‘fast-tracking’ of the route to Crewe, coupled with the rising costs of HS2 and real problems with the practicality of the rest of the proposed route, will surely lead many to conclude HS2 would never get further than Crewe. Far from showing a commitment to the North of England, going ahead with this proposal punts the links to Manchester, Yorkshire and the East Midlands firmly into the long grass, and if being a rail hub equaled economic prosperity, Crewe would already be the most prosperous town the the country.”

“HS2 is abysmal value for money, and the increasingly dogmatic support for this white elephant and its’ spiralling costs is completely unfathomable. The costs of HS2 went up 11% in the Autumn Statement and with trains not due to run for over another decade, who knows where the cost of this vanity project will end up and what else will have to be cut to pay for it? A responsible chancellor would be asking serious questions about whether HS2 is really worth it, not chucking more money at a boondoggle which would only benefit the richest in society. This is simply rewarding chronic mismanagement, and signalling that there is no need for budgetary control when it comes to HS2.”

Penny Gaines Chair of Stop HS2 added:

“HS2 is clearly a white elephant.  Transport in the North does need improvement, but it isn’t the links to London which are holding back the economies of the North.  It’s the ability to cross the Pennines, it’s getting into city centres from local towns.  This is where the money needs spending on transport, not on one big showy railway line.”

“The government were originally going to announce the whole of the Phase 2 route to Leeds and Manchester, in Autumn 2014.  Apart from a small section between Birmingham and Crewe, they are not going to announce the route to Manchester and from Birmingham to Leeds until Autumn 2016, two years after their original timetable. They were not only widely overoptimistic with their timescales, but they also made huge, incorrect assumptions about the ground conditions in the areas they wanted to railway to pass through, and now they can’t make the pieces fit.”

“The government should make the decision to cancel HS2.  There are far better uses for the money, which will have far better long and short term results.”

“The people in charge of Network Rail when the now-delayed electrification programme was being developed are now in charge of HS2.  They made a mess of that, and now they are making a mess of HS2.”

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12 comments on “Osborne boots HS2 links to Manchester, Leeds & East Midlands into long grass.
  1. Can someone please explain how knocking half an hour off the time between London and Birmingham will contribute 15 billion pounds to the economy!! This is a basic simple question which no one seems able to answer. At £55bn how on earth can this be credible never mind cost effective?

    • Hi David
      We’ve been asking for the last 5 years and never get an answer which isn’t gobbledegook or spin.

      It was developed on the back of a fag packet and you can bet if business was made to pay directly towards it they would drop it like a hot brick

    • No-one has any idea how much the Y i.e. Phase 2 will cost as surveys have already shown that there are old mine workings, and sink holes which will need to be assessed fully. At the least, it is misleading to quote £55bn. as the final cost, but that is how this nonsense was passed through parliament, shades of Iraq with trusting MPs being misled yet again. The so-called benefits (BCR) still include the fib that many businessmen don’t work on trains. There is no likelihood that UK business will fund this nonsense, if the Chinese do there will be a hefty payout, but the main perpetrators will have left the scene. A new IMPARTIAL poll would likely show more opposition, does anyone believe the £55bn. figure, remember in an official answer HS2 Ltd. has already spent £1.25bn., only another £54bn. or so to go….

      • We should challenge business to tell us why a train will create thousands of new jobs other than those paid for by the taxpayer
        Perhaps on open letter to a national paper or via a TV or radio interview

    • David, John,

      If you two really and truly still think that the whole scheme- whatever its cost- is just about “knocking half an hour off the time between London and Birmingham” , then I can only conclude that you have been in a deep slumber for the last five years…

      Whatever your conclusion, however sincere and convinced you are in your point of view, just to keep on repeating the same old mantra while disregarding any contrary opinion or evidence, pretending it never existed…it may make one feel better, but in the light of Government intransigence, it does not make a ha’porth of difference.

      Stop pretending. Get real.

      • Frankly, I don’t see the point of your posting, there is scant evidence that HS2 will ever pay its way in any sense, drawing repeated attention to its many shortcomings cannot do any harm, rather the opposite. Everybody knows this “Govt.” has its head in the sand and its fingers in its ears, since we are all paying for this NONSENSE, the more publicity on the eventual cost the better, keep repeating £134bn…..

      • I’ve really no idea why it’s necessary as there have been so many reasons offered and abandoned.e.g. Speed,capacity,solve north south divide,links to hs1,avoids need for Heathrow 3rd runway etc.
        You mention evidence so please produce it as to date I’ve seen none but just heard opinions

        • JOHN, Thankyou for your prompt response/s.

          Surely, the essence of a new HS route ts that it should be a bypass- as I have tried to suggest on a number of postings- a bypass aligned and positioned to avoid inherited bottlenecks and which. unlike the existing lines, does not need to accommodate local stopping traffic and slower freight services.
          If you increase the number of stopping services so as to address increasing demand for commuters, then you reduce the available paths remaining for non stop services.
          When Virgin were allowed to increase thei long distance services, it squeezed the paths available for local trains in the West Midlands commuter belt.
          Transfer the long distance trains to a new pair of tracks and you release track capacity for other trains- in the same way that city centres can be eased by diverting long distance ‘through’ traffic onto a road bypass.

          You can opt for an enlarged existing route- difficult and disruptive as has been demonstrated in recent and present times, especially in urban populated areas – or else attempt to reclaim former routes where they exist in the right place.
          The remaining option is to build anew … which gives the engineers the chance to build ‘state of the art’ for the next century.

          This is what they have been commisioned to do by the government and ,despite judicial reviews,petitions,objections in the House, local protests up and down the line and much debate,still the project moves forward…whether we like it or not.

          Is it too late now to concentrate on pressing for improvement, for greater access for refining the prject, even if that means a whole string of further amendments (!), rather than endlessly beating our heads against a wall?

  2. Yet more divide and conquer scaremongering I see?

    I don’t trust George Osborne either but can’t you do any better than your bog standard narrative of shambolic desperation?

  3. Pingback: Osborne boots HS2 links to Manchester, Leeds & East Midlands into long grass - Warrington Stop HS2

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