Wales and HS2 Again

Last month, Stop HS2 posted “What’s wrong for Wales with HS2”. Yesterday Welsh electrification and HS2 was discussed during Welsh questions in Parliament yesterday:

Great Western Main Line

….Owen Smith: Will the Minister ask the Secretary of State whether she would be happy to resign over the failure to deliver the electrification of the railway to Swansea and the valleys, as she is happy to resign over matters in her constituency?

Mr Jones: Given that the hon. Gentleman is so geographically challenged, it is perhaps no surprise that, during the 13 years of the last Labour Government, not one centimetre of electrified line was created in Wales.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): Unlike my colleagues from Wales, my constituents in Bristol will benefit from the electrification of the Great Western main line. However, there will still be real problems of undercapacity on the line. May I urge the Minister when he talks to the Department for Transport and when they negotiate the new franchise to consider those issues, too?

Mr Jones: Yes, but I would mention to the hon. Lady that, in fact, as a consequence of electrification, the journey times from London to her constituency will be reduced by 22 minutes. I hope that she welcomes that.

HS2:

12. Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): What assessment she has made of the potential effects of High Speed 2 on the economy of Wales. [61875]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mrs Cheryl Gillan): The Government are currently consulting on a new national high-speed rail network. That is part of a wider programme of modernisation of the rail network, including electrification of the Great Western main line to Cardiff.

Susan Elan Jones: I have heard of trains cancelled because of snow on the line and leaves on the line, but never before because of the Secretary of State on the line. The high-speed rail link, HS2, would bring great benefits to Wales, but our Buckinghamshire-based Secretary of State opposes it. If our Secretary of State will not stand up for Wales, why does she not resign?

Mrs Gillan: I thank the hon. Lady for her close interest in my career. The Government are having an open consultation on HS2, and now that she has expressed such a great interest in the subject, we will expect her representations.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister seems to have made up his mind about HS2, before the consultation closes: Afternoon press briefing for 28 June 2011

“Asked if the PM thought that people living along the HS2 route were all ‘well off nimbys’, the PMS (the Prime Minister’s Spokesman) said that the Government policy was to press ahead with HS2.”

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22 comments to “Wales and HS2 Again”
  1. I do hope this hasn’t come as a shock to most of you.
    http://www.birminghampost.net/news/west-midlands-transport-news/2011/06/30/david-cameron-insists-campaigners-won-t-halt-high-speed-rail-65233-28974839/

    Our Prime Minister said yesterday, “Clearly we have got a huge budget deficit, bigger than Greece this year, and we have to deal with that…..That has meant we’ve had to make efficiencies in some Government spending, we’ve had to make efficiencies in local government spending, we have had a public sector pay freeze.”
    BUT
    “Opponents campaigning against a planned high speed rail line between London and Birmingham will not be allowed to block the scheme, the Prime Minister has pledged……. insisted the Government would not waiver, saying: “I’m committed to HS2. I think it’s right that Britain gets on board the high speed rail revolution.” And he promised that the line would reach the North-east and North-west after the first London to Birmingham stage was complete.
    This is the man remember who has just cancelled our aircraft carriers and a few weeks ago had to borrow a spy plane to protect our ships in Libya.
    I hope you can realise now that the consultative document is just that, a consultation. Basically it is another, ‘Yes I hear what you say but……..’ (The Film Brassed Off is a classic example.)
    We will never ever know how many returned the consultative document, and how the replies to the specific questions would be graded if at all. It has always been a publicity exercise and again I quote
    ““Opponents campaigning against a planned high speed rail line between London and Birmingham will not be allowed to block the scheme, the Prime Minister has pledged”
    The only way to achieve our objective .Petition Petition Petition.
    The vast majority in this country would vote against such huge expenditure when there are much more pressing needs affecting our lives at the moment.
    This is the only site that I know of where those opposed to the expenditure of HS2 can voice their concerns and seek ways of getting national opinion to be shown to be with us, and to be blunt I think we are being badly let down and diverted from our true objective. It has clearly been hijacked by a few very vociferous and well informed ProHS2 people, to engage us in distractions. This site must be used specifically to discuss methods of how to get the attention and signed support of the general public if we are to get anywhere.
    There are ways and means by which this can be done, but unless this site is moderated and not allowed to decay into minor squabbling we have no chance. If the Birmingham Post isn’t a wakeup call to everyone, and most importantly to you Penny we might just as well walk away now because without the petition we will get nowhere.
    I don’t know if there is a dead line for the petition and earlier this week I wrote to the Speaker asking clarification on the procedures regarding the passing of HS2, and as promised when I get feedback from the Unions and WI, I will keep you informed.

    • We must do everything we can to prove the Mr Cameron wrong.

      “Clearly we have got a huge budget deficit, bigger than Greece this year, and we have to deal with that…..That has meant we’ve had to make efficiencies in some Government spending, we’ve had to make efficiencies in local government spending, we have had a public sector pay freeze.”
      The central government is taking local government spending and public sector pay, to pay for a £33bn business class train that will wreak untold damage to the environment.

      • “The central government is taking local government spending and public sector pay, to pay for a £33bn business class train that will wreak untold damage to the environment “.

        Luke – if that were to be happening within the space of this partliament, you would have a point.

        But you know, I know, and as do all the intellectual readers and contributers on this site know that is clearly untrue.

        The financial challenges that David Cameron is referring to are here and now in this parliament over the next four years. You know that.

        The main bulk of the expenditure on HS2 phase 1 (17bn) will be effectively from ca. 2020 to 2026 with the next tranche (from 17bn up to the 33bn) in following years. You know that too.

        So lets not try to deliberately conflate the numbers. I thought you were better than that.

        • The only thing we know is what we are told, and that is in over 10 years time we are to spend £2 billion a year for the next 20 years on a new railway line and are expected to believe that the £2 billion we spend in year one will have the same purchasing power in 20 years time.
          No sir, anyone who makes a financial commitment with that assumption does not live in this world of austerity and eventual inflation, and has no right to pontificate on how we should use our somewhat meagre resources.
          We might live in the country and not aspire to wearing a bowler hat and umbrella but it would be foolish to look upon us as country yokels with no common sense.
          as Reggie Perrin’s boss CJ would say “We haven’t got where we are today by squandering our money.”

    • John I think you are absolutely right. I’ve been following what has been going on with this website for a long time. The whole no campaign needs much more visibility particularly in those areas north of Birmingham who won’t get a consultation of their own. I am from that part of the world and am very concerned about the impact this project may have and for no real benefit. I say petition petition but with more visibility. Any ideas anyone?

      • You could begin by ensuring that your posters actually portray the fearsome HS train .

        For months some posters ind car stickers appear to show a rather elderly TRAM.

        “STOP the METRO”, perhaps, but it hardly adds credibility to their cause if they seem not to know the target!

  2. the point is that she is standing up for what she believes is best for her constituents (wrongly in my opinion) re hs2 but doesnt seem to be doing much for welsh transport interests. funny that she says she will resign because of a railway issue (hs2) near where she lives but wont resign for the interests of wales (electrifying cardiff-swansea)

    i think the swansea-cardiff issue is trying to get the welsh themselves to fund it in some way as england are paying for the rest of it. but it really doesnt make sense to drag diesel engines and a large amount of fuel all the way from london to cardiff to save the relatively small amount of electrifying to swansea.

    be interesting to see if her hs2 position would change if that electrification were agreed. unfortunately most of the large cities and hence population of the uk is concentrated in the south east, the midlands and the north west ie england north of the channel and (mostly) south of the pennines. therefore this is the area high speed rail must serve.

  3. This is nothing more than a bit of political mischief making.

    The Labour party are trying to make out that that there’s a conflict of interest between Mrs Gillan’s constituency obligations and her ministerial responsibilities. Part of the ongoing Westminster bish-bash where one side is constantly trying to score points over the other side, and the media loves to report it.

      • Come on this is political.
        Adonis put HS2 forward and the Conservatives were mug enough to take it on board. ‘Look at us . we’re hot stuff and how can you say we aren’t the greatest. We can’t just match you we can do one better.’
        Well done Adonis you pandered to that huge arrogant ego and they took the bait. They are reletively safe, they as individuals probably won’t be in the same position of power to have to pay for it. Like ‘you’ they could be leaving a legacy of imminant bankruptcy. The problem is we little folk would be left spending a fortune on a white elephant. Who won the election on this count… How naive can these so called intelligent people be.
        What suckers! I’ll no doubt be dead by then. Gord help you!
        PLEASE WAKE UP! It’s nothing to do with reason, it’s egos that make decisions that they won’t have to be accountable for.

        • Saying Labour (Adonis) put forward HS2 and the Tories were mug enough to carry on with it is a gross misunderstanding of what actually happened. The Tories were the first ones to proposes it. They started by investigating Maglev and then fairly quickly dropped that and started campaiging for high speed rail. Labour, in my opinion to their shame, were rather late to the game and realised high speed rail was a popular option that was being taken seriously by business and public alike.

          Yes, Adonis started all the full-scale development work but, really, any new route (high speed, conventional or road) to the west midlands is going to go through the Chilterns (like the West Coast mainline, the Chiltern line and the M40). Would new conventional lines really be more acceptable? I doubt it. The Tories also said they’d cancel Heathrow expansion which they did, but the effect of this is a requirement for capacity elsewhere, so you have HS2.

          The Tories have simply gone ahead with what they said they would do. Believe me, I’m no fan of the government, but they’ve never been anything other than upfront about this.

  4. I still say that nimby is a rude wood!

    But how will Wales benefit from HS2?
    Isn’t the electrification to Cardiff a separate issue?
    Surly it if possible to have one without the other?

    • @Luke: Isn’t the electrification to Cardiff a separate issue?

      errrrr……..yes, of course it’s a separate issue but since when has that stopped the anti-HS2 brigade from dragging any vaguely related rail issue into the mix, simply in order to stir the pot and sew seeds of discord to further their narrow aims?

      • The MP’s are deliberately associating HS2 with electrification in Wales, so that’s why it’s relevant. I don’t know why they are doing that, but they’ve probably seen some of the recent press coverage and want to hitch their cause to Stop HS2. Shows how well the Stop HS2 are doing, making it a cause that other people want to piggyback on.

        • @Joanne: The MP’s are deliberately associating HS2 with electrification in Wales, so that’s why it’s relevant. I don’t know why they are doing that, but they’ve probably seen some of the recent press coverage and want to hitch their cause to Stop HS2

          You don’t seem very well attuned to how UK political élites function?

          You said it yourself, MPs are delibrately associating HS2 with electrification in Wales. They’re doing that to score cheap political points, ie. drive a wedge between those (exclusively Conservative) MPs in the Chilterns who find themselves in an uncomfortable position, courtesy of vociferous local campaigns in their individual constituencies, and the well publicised official policy of the party they represent. That’s how the UK’s adversarial (driven by First Past the Post) political culture works. Put your opponent on the back foot so you can dominate the day to day (public/media) agenda. ie. your own, at the expense of your rival – simply really.

          So in fact, the issue of Welsh electrification is utterly irrelevant because it adds nothing to the real debate about HS2 and its potential worth to the wider UK economy.

          • Interesting point – don’t think the vote for PR was particularly high in the Chilterns. So, adversarial first-past-the-post is what you have, with Cheryl Gillan in a very awkward position whicih I suspect she will reverse at some stage.

  5. “HS2 would bring great benefit for Wales”. erm…………………..how?

    I find it incredible she thinks that Wales would be better helped by spending 33 billion pounds on a scheme that will have no positive effects whatsoever on her constituency than by building new schools and hospitals! We know the business case is flawed, but saying that HS2 is justified because it will be good for Wales? Now that is something else.

  6. Have they moved Wales with out anyone knowing. The propsed route of HS2 is from London to Birmingham, last time I checked that is North and not West. The electrification is to Cardiff and not to Swansea as that is where most of the people in Wales live. Swansea is only a small city so why waste monies for very little return. WE are going to need this monies to pay off all the nimbys.

        • …….well I can get into North and Mid Wales by stepping out of my office, walking 30 seconds into Birmingham New Street Station via the WCML. No need for me to go to Chester

      • The electrification is to Cardiff NOT north wales. so HS2 does not have a think to do with wales but we could alway build an HS2 to there is you like. Again is the electrification does not go ahead we could use the monies to help pay of the old nimbys is there big houses. We need HS2

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