The HS2 Ltd answer for everything

HS2 Ltd was set up to develop the case for high speed rail in the UK.

Not to look into capacity problems on the railway, not to look into the north-south divide, not to find low carbon transport options.  It had one purpose – and after looking into high speed rail, HS2 Ltd came up with a high speed rail answer.

One of the employees at the HS2 consultation roadshow in Euston on Thursday confirmed this to me. But it’s in the documents anyway.

This ties in with Alison Munro’s oral evidence at the Transport Select Committee last year. During a discussion of transport priorities, she refused to compare high speed rail with other forms of transport.

All of this shows that they found the answer, now they are looking for the question.

If we want an answer to questions about rail capacity, we should be asking for the best solutions for rail capacity problems.

If we want an answer to questions about low carbon economies (HS2 Ltd say the proposed railway is carbon neutral), we should be asking for solutions that are based around building a low carbon economy.

If we want an answer about reducing the north south divide, we should be asking for solutions about the north south divide.

Instead the Labour Transport minister, Lord Adonis, asked a question about high speed rail, got an answer about high speed rail.

And now the current government in not looking for answers to real problems, instead they are looking for excuses to build HS2.

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20 comments to “The HS2 Ltd answer for everything”
  1. Gary,Some of us were indeed on the March for the Alternative,and,in fact, interviewed by ITN.Two of us linked up with Unison as we’re members (albeit retired) and when asked why, replied “to draw the contrast between profligate spending on an elitist project,and savage cuts to services that so many benefit from – such as the threatened closure of our local library.”The March drew many people who’ve never done so before – from children to pensioners,and even a dog.Not sure what he was protesting about.

  2. how would you propose to have a low carbon economy then ? stop everyone travelling ? all modes of rail including hs2 have lower emissions per passenger then do planes or cars, which normally carry only one person. and the speed of hs2 is required to bring about modal change. so it follows that if you get people out of cars and short haul flights and onto rail that you will reduce carbon emissions whilst still allowing travel.

    if the total travel market including rail expands then at least those using rail will be creating less emissions. and the extra capacity of hs2 will mean that the rest of the network will be able to accept more traffic that the roads are carrying at the moment.

    and to be fair to hs2 ltd they havent made any claims that hs2 will significantly reduce emissions but it is worth noting that even in the worst case scenario any increase would be minimal. in my opinion the emissions reduction capability of hs2 is being undersold. i say this because in the last year whilst road and air travel were down, rail travel on an overcrowded and therefore overpriced railway increased significantly.

    • HS2 expect 65% of their passengers to have moved from classic rail and by their own traction energy predictions will be using nearly twice the amount of electricity per seat km than an extended Pendolino. My maths makes that a 30% CO2 increase

      Jim Stear (Greengauge 21) has previously presented that there would be no business modal switch where the rail journey was more than 3 hours (London – Edinburgh / Glasow is 3½ hours per consultation doc)

      From those two I don’t believe that there will be any CO2 reduction in operation let alone enough to account for the construction.

      Note every cubic metre of concrete is assessed as equating to nearly 6 tonnes of CO2 emitted

  3. Ok Penny ……on the 24th March , you informed all readers of this website that there is a TUC organised march in London on the 26th March, and the stopHS2 campaigners were attending. In your own words you asked ” to come and join us ”

    Its now the 26th March………can you inform us if campaigners are indeed there……

    You yourself have created a topic on here this morning entitled ” HS2 answer for everything ” – is it safe to assume that you are not attending the march?? Bearing in mind you did say ” come and join us ” ???

    Where are the T&Cs which state moderation attributes?? If they exist and I have overstepped the mark , then I can only apologise……..but I cant actually see them ?

    • Gary, on the 24th March, we published an article about the march which was clearly labelled as “This is a guest post by Madeleine.”

      • Indeed it does say that Penny ……under your name.

        So can we expect to see a report on how it went today ?? Some photos maybe ??

        And where are the T&Cs for this site ?

        • Moderator – can you edit more of Gazza’s posts please – they make for particularly boring reading…in fact as soon as I see his name I switch off. We know his game, so take it all with a bucket full of salt.

          Well done to all who went to London today. I’m all for sorting out the mess that Labour has left this country in. Cutting is one thing, but then in the same breath wasting this money is plain obscene.

          • What is my game? And why would moderator want to edit my posts?? Is it because I m highlighting facts for which you cant deny?? Lets not forget you had to apologise to everyone.

            Labour left us in a mess??? Hmm thats interesting…….considering that Gordon Brown stepped in and pumped billions into our banking system to stop it from imploding…..

            Fact is we are in a situation which has its roots in events a couple of years ago Mr Owen………

  4. In a way this merely reflects the approach taken by StopHS2.org

    Your campaign is only interested in a single goal – to stop HS2 from going ahead – quite naturally your entire narrative is focussed exclusively on this outcome so talk of North South divides, rail capacity issues, indeed any aspect of the debate surrounding this vexed topic, which is necessarily complex, is superfluous to (your) requirements

    The raison d’etre of this site is STOP HS2 so you are also guilty of the exact same fundamental flaw in your reasoning process – your campaign is an answer looking for a question?

    Do the words Kettle, Pot and Black spring to mind?

    • I would just highlight that I posted a comment on this particular thread earlier on ……but it has been scratched off here awaiting moderation. I would also point out that it is a simple posting containing no profanity or similar. Would whoever is moderating ( I assume Penny ) kindly unlock it……it doesnt do your campaign any favours if you decide a comment from someone who is for a new rail line doesnt conform to non existent terms and conditions…..

      Are there any Terms and Conditions to posting on here???

      • Yes, we did moderate out your comment, because it was not at all related to the post you were commenting on.

    • There is a fundamental difference between Stophs2.org and HS2 Ltd.

      HS2 Ltd is spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money promoting a specific scheme which will cost the country billions if it goes ahead. They are backed by the Department of Transport and various government ministers, with all the resources that implies. And their CEO refuses even to discuss whether she thinks it is a spending priority!

      The public are being denied a public inquiry, which is the norm for such large scale infrastructure projects.

      HS2 Ltd have come up with an answer to a single question, and that answer is now being promoted as an answer to a number of other complex issues – but they weren’t asked to look into these other issues. HS2 Ltd acknowledges HS2 won’t help produce a low-carbon economy, the Public Accounts Committee have suggested other ways of dealing with capacity problems etc etc.

      So Stophs2.org is highlighting these alternatives to HS2, and is making sure that there is a debate about them.

    • So Gordon Brown is to be seen as a great chancellor and PM is he? So much so that Ed Balls had to apologise this week for Labour’s failing to see the financial crisis coming. Never mind, spend the billions the country doesn’t have. De ja vu?

      I was hoping for greater things when Cameron was elected, but oh no, who do we get for this momentous brief, Hammond. So tactless a person, that he recently commented “…that people committed suicide on the railway tracks at Wimbledon with ‘monotonous regularity’, causing inconvenience by affecting the reliability of the service”. Fit to be an MP? Fit to run Transport? I don’t think so.

      • Depends on what your definition of great chancellor and PM is……..but of course that sort of title is only applied retrospectively, the nature of the beast being that any current incumbent of the post will always be viewed as unpopular by the great unwashed. As far as I m concerned, I tend to look at the decisions made at the time which bore fruit at a later date…….since the Thatcher Government of 79 onwards, parties have become much more aligned, its no suprise we have a hung parliament nowadays.

        I mentioned the decision by Gordon Brown to pump billions into the banking system. In fairness, it was a no brainer……notice how Cameron was very quiet when that happened. And I m not sure where I actually said Gordon Brown was a great chancellor and PM……..you must be seeing things that aint actually there……In fact I ve just realised why you asked the mod to edit my posts, you must be having problems actually understanding words bigger than 4 letters Mr Owen!!

        • Please note this is a website for discussing matters about HS2. General discussion of politics is clearly off-topic.

    • Dear Peter,
      I don’t think anyone needs to be ‘looking for a question’ as this campaign is solely about stopping HS2 (the clue is in the name) but what is the problem with that? People campaign about all sorts of things (rainforests, dolphins, death penalty, …) and if they can persuade enough other people of the case then things change – in this country we no longer kill criminals, my tuna contains mostly tuna and my dining table did not require the death of an orang-utan.

      Yes the rail network and its effects are complex and wide-ranging. But you are quite wrong to imply that anti-HS2 people are unaware of that, indeed most of the work done on this site and others is specifically addressing the many issues – these are critical not superfluous. It would make a pleasant change if these issues were the major subject of debate, however since HS2 is not only far from being some sort of ‘fix-all’ solution to the country’s problems but not even the best solution to rail problems I suspect ‘nimby’ comments will still be the major contribution from Mr Hammond. Pity.

      • Andrew makes a good point. The quality of argument is disappointing. The proponents use hyperbolic words to describe the benefits of HS2 – ‘transformational’, ‘essential to Birmingham’s economic success’ (what about Cardiff, Plymouth, Southampton, Cambridge?), ‘address north/south divide’ (if this is the case why didn’t the motorway network do the trick?), and, best of all, ‘equivalent to the arrival of trains in 19th century’. Wow! (if we want a new network how about fibre optic for all?). The Minister calls opponents nimbys and says we have to keep up with Europe. All European countries with HSR are much bigger than us with large HSR subsidies.
        I am not saying that all the hyperbole is on one side but it would be marvellous if we were able to have a debate about the real options for improving our future. Dare I say some options may not involve enormous investment in rail – at least not for one line.

    • By its content the Treasury “Green Book” is relevent to Appraisal and Evaluation of Government Transport Interventions,

      In the introductions are the fundamental questions as to
      What are the outcomes and objectives of any scheme?
      Are there any better uses of the resources?

      Indirect mention is made to improving employment, reducing the North – South divide and reducing deprivation but there is no mention directly. There is also no mention of any other schemes aiming to achieve the same objectives against which those at whom the consultation is directed can make any comparison of value

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