There have been several major news stories about HS2 over the weekend.
Saturday’s news was dominated by a suggestion that the Department for Transport had found £500 million to build a stretch of green tunnel near Amersham in Cheryl Gillam’s constituency.
It is not clear where the money would come from. The HS2 proposal will cost £17 billion for the London-Birmingham section – and this does not include the cost of the trains. If the money for the tunnel is new money, it just makes the project even more expensive.
And if it is found from other parts of the HS2 budget, then it means less mitigation for parts of the route further north.
The Telegraph also reported a study by transport economists Chris Castles and David Parish. It says HS2 is based on passenger figures that are almost a third too high, leaving a huge hole in the project’s finances, meaning that the taxpayer could be left with a £8.5 billion “black hole”
Meanwhile the Financial Times reported that the 51M group of councils had asked the Department for Transport for the traffic data on the peak services on the WCML, but their Freedom of In formation request had been refused by the government.
The Financial Times article included the details of an independently verified survey into train occupancy rates from Euston, on two normal workdays, organised by HS2 Action Alliance. This looked at long distance trains leaving Euston, at the evening peak period of 4.30 and 6.59pm The survey showed that long distance trains at these times have occupancy rates which are on average 56%.
That’s the information which the Department for Transport don’t want the public to know.
Since Justine Greening’s appointment as Secretary of State for Transport, Stop HS2 have suggested that she delay her decision on the HS2 proposal, so that she has time to look into the project – including the way HS2 has been developed since it’s inception – and make a rational decision about it.
Unfortunately, although she may be delaying the announcement, it looks like Department for Transport officials are scrabbling round looking for sticky plasters to hide the deeply environmentally damaging effects of the proposed HS2, and hoping no-one will notice that the HS2 proposal has no business case behind it.