Today (15th November 2016 at 7am), Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the route for what has become known as ‘Phase 2b’ of HS2, from Crewe to Manchester, and from Lichfield via the East Midlands to Leeds.
Along with this announcement, the Government are keen to say the project will create jobs, and the number of trains could increase, but in this they have finally confirmed plans to cut the number of current inter-city trains, severely disadvantaging many places which are currently through stops on the routes to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
In their press release, Government have confirmed their intention to reduce current inter-city services: from London to Birmingham from 3 to 2, from London to Manchester from 3 to 2 and from London to Leeds from 3 to 1.
This announcement comes just week after the ITV Tonight programme conducted a survey which found only 15% of people feel that HS2 is worth the official £56bn price tag and only 11% people thought the high speed rail link would benefit the majority of commuters.
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager responded:
“Government are simply trying to con the public that HS2 is needed for capacity reasons, to create jobs and rebalance the economy. HS2 delivers capacity where it is needed least, but is being justified with grossly inflated passenger forecast, as happened with HS1 which is only carrying a third of the projected passengers, which the National Audit Office say will cost the taxpayer an extra £10bn.On top of that, the Government have finally come clean in admitting ‘freeing up capacity’ means for many cities ‘losing the trains you already have’, as the HS2 business case demands £8.3bn worth of cuts to existing services.”
“The idea that a £56bn project would create just 25,000 jobs in construction at a cost of over £2m per job is abysmal value for money, and all international evidence shows any economic benefit wouldn’t be felt in the Midlands or North, but in London.”
“If the HS2 figures are as far out as the forecasts for HS1, then they’ll need a £500 million per year subsidy, for something that will only benefit the richest in society.”
“HS2 is being built for one reason only, because the multinationals who have been lobbying for this white elephant for ten years see HS2 as an opportunity to run their own gravy train”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“The government is proposing spending £56 billion or more on a railway line most people don’t want and that won’t benefit the economies of the Midlands and the North.
“What’s more huge parts of the earlier proposals have already been dropped. Plans to connect HS2 to Heathrow and to HS1 have long since been dropped, meaning that any hopes of getting from Manchester or Leeds to the Continent by train are impossible. There have been numerous redesigns of Euston, adding to the uncertainty.
“Meanwhile projects like the electrification of the Great Western Line have been delayed.”
“Anywhere where there are gaps in the line is continued uncertainty for people affected. Phase 2 was announced in early 2013, and these people have been living in limbo for nearly four years.”