This is a guest post by Julius Hogben and originally published at West End Extra.
O my neighbours on the Queen’s Park Estate I say: “You’ve always dreamed of going to Birmingham half an hour faster, haven’t you? Last night you woke up the whole street at 3am screaming: ‘I want to go to Birmingham half an hour faster, whatever the cost!’”
The HS2 project is preposterous.
We need more investment in our existing railways and a far-seeing integrated transport system, not the National Bankruptcy Express, ready in 2033.
Time isn’t money, as HS2 insist. Trains have already caught up with the 21st century. You can use broadband while travelling, maybe you can type a report on your laptop or even speak to a colleague on a mobile device.
HS2 have got their sums wrong.
Their figures and forecasts are inaccurate, their generalisations worse than misleading.
HS2 fail to provide vital information. Where’s the link to Heathrow and HS1? Where are the electricity savings from this supposed carbon neutral project? Where’s public demand for a train service that depends on costly business travel fares when technology is changing the way everyone works?
Average UK train times between the capital and major cities are already far faster than elsewhere in Europe. We don’t need HS2 to catch up with Europe.
From HS2, we get nothing but hollow reassurances, questionable forecasts and no concern about the threat to people’s properties, peace of mind and the natural environment.
The current estimated cost of the project is £32billion, but costs are ballooning.
Euston station, with its overcrowded Underground connections, would likely need to be linked up to a new Tube line. It’s a snip at £6-8billion.
Surprise, surprise: HS2 has not factored this into its costs. Who, then, would pay? Somehow, TfL, a third of whose budget is already allocated to HS2 support. What will happen in central London with eight years of transport disruption around Euston? What on earth will happen to the thousands of people in Somers Town when this area is torn apart by the huge new station ?
The HS2 project comes at a time of savage cuts to essential services.
This is the largest and most expensive engineering and building project the country has ever seen.
It will grievously affect a massive corridor of communities from London to Birmingham and beyond.
In the absence of an effective consultation process, many of us are getting our voices heard, from Stop HS2, HS2 Action Alliance, 51m, to our own North Westminster Stop the Tunnel group.
How is it that such a huge project, affecting so many communities, with defective planning and a flawed consultation, can proceed without a public inquiry?
We in North Westminster deeply resent the HS2 project’s advance through a non-accountable quango.
HS2 executives didn’t bother to notify local residents, as we are finding so many who have no idea up to now about this project. HS2 executives didn’t bother to attend two recent local government consultation meetings: Westminster’s Buildings and Development Scrutiny Committee public meeting on June 7, and the Greater London Assembly Transport Committee public meeting on July 14.
There are two reasons for this. First, they have no answers to embarrassing questions. Second, like Rebekah Brooks and the Murdochs of this world, the HS2 executives’ contempt for elected representatives and for ordinary people is blatant: we make big business decisions, we have the power, we do as we want, we know better than you, we are untouchable. This makes radicals more activist and non-radicals engaged. It offends equally Conservatives, Labour supporters and Liberal Democrats who are already voicing dissent within their ranks. It offends everybody. Camden Council have come out against HS2 – we’re hoping others will do the same.
Now is the wrong time for this. Big businessmen and politicians and others are being called to account. The HS2 project is the biggest scam since the South Sea Bubble. We urge everyone to support the Stop HS2 campaign at the very least by signing the online petition. Stop HS2!