Philip Hammond’s comment that today’s railways are a “rich man’s toy” caused a flurry of press coverage about HS2 and the railways. Here’s just a few of the things they said:
“He spoke to the Transport Select Committee following his approval of the hikes – which put season tickets up by eight to 13 per cent from January.
“And there was outrage as he claimed rail passengers can afford it because they have higher-than-average incomes.”
“Campaigners from rail workers’ union TSSA were yesterday pushing leaflets through the doors of Mr Hammond’s neighbours in Pimlico, London, and held up placards reading: ‘I’m Alright Jag.’
“While Mr Hammond told the commons transport committee some fares were high, he insisted others were ‘really quite reasonable if you dig around and use the advance purchasing ticket options that are available’.
“Passengers buying a turn-up-and-go ‘anytime’ return ticket between London and Manchester are charged £279 for the two-hour journey. Tickets bought in advance can cost as little as £61.”
“It is unlikely that the socio-economic make-up of passengers would be much different on the new HS2 line between London and Birmingham than the West Coast Main Line, he told MPs.”
“But he rejected calls for the project to be speeded up, saying that building the high-speed network – which would cut journey times from Leeds to London by up to 50 minutes at a cost of £32bn – more quickly would take money away from other transport schemes.”
Coventry Telegraph: Transport secretary Philip Hammond backs HS2 plans (includes picture of us outside Parliament)
Sir Brian Briscoe, chairman of HS2 Ltd: “he said HS2 Ltd had not been tasked with looking at transport alternatives.
“When asked if the line could go slower than 250mph to allow it to miss more properties and valued countryside, the chief engineer insisted 250mph was only a top speed.”
“Mr Hammond, worth an estimated £9million, was giving evidence to the Commons Transport committee about the High Speed Rail network.”
PS Is Philip Hammond envious of our Christmas present to David Cameron last year – a toy-sized toy train.