Some recent news items

Some recent articles about HS2:

HS2 faces ‘secret’ downgrade, claim MPs Birmingham Post 9th February

An MP has demanded that Ministers reveal the full route of a £33 billion high speed rail line, after Department for Transport documents showed plans for services north of Birmingham had been quietly downgraded.

Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) said: “We are being asked to make decisions about high speed rail without being given the full facts.”

SAVING MINUTES BY TRAIN by Robert Butler January 30th 2012

Two weeks ago a political columnist suggested there were two David Camerons, the rural one and the urban one, and the urban one was winning out. The two other most senior figures in the cabinet—Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, and George Osborne, the chancellor—were resolutely urban.

This observation was prompted by the news that the government had come out in favour of HS2 (or High Speed Two), a £33 billion rail link from London to Birmingham, which would divide at Birmingham, and head on to Manchester and Leeds. The new route would save 20 minutes of journey time. It would also  damage beautiful stretches of English countryside.

Carla Carlisle on HS2 in the Spectator – “Carla can’t find anyone who is pleased by the plans for HS2, another project she suspects will be unlikely to come in on budget”

But, in the end, there are no small lies. I don’t know anyone who believes that HS2 will regenerate the North (it’s obvious: more residents in Birmingham will commute to London). Nor do I know anyone who wants HS2. Train travellers have simpler desires: a guaranteed seat when they buy a ticket (more trains); reliable trains (fewer signal failures); cheaper tickets. More and better, not faster.

I don’t know anyone who believes that the 20 minutes (the 49-minutes figure is another lie) that will be saved on a trip to Birmingham is more important that the rare and irreplaceable countryside that will be torn up for years and years. Worse still, I don’t know anyone who feels that they have had a say in this. Democracy is a rock. Chip away at it-rubber-stamp mega-projects that no one votes for, no one votes on-and democracy begins to crumble, turns to gravel, then to sand. We become a nation of cynics, who figure it’s not worth voting.

HS2: The Right Project, in the Wrong Place

The High Speed 2 (HS2) project has been criticised for spending eye watering sums of money during a time of minimal growth and Government austerity. Worse, it’s badly targeted.

A recession which might be argued is just the latest dip in a long period of decline.  The nations who emerge from this crisis will cut their debts, but they will also make well targeted investments in skills and infrastructure.  Unfortunately HS2 as planned is far from well targeted.  It emerges from a London centric groupthink that believes economic success turns on the ability to travel to London twenty minutes more quickly.

HS2 – Camden residents tell government: ‘Not so fast!’

Park Village East resident Marion Kamlish said she wanted the same action that saw RBS boss Fred Goodwin lose his knighthood taken against Lord Adonis, the Labour peer who first drew up HS2.

She said: “He calls himself Lord Adonis of Camden Town – that moniker should be taken away from him immediately, in light of what he wants to do to our area.”

Liverpool will be ‘collateral damage’ as Manchester becomes economic powerhouse in high-speed railway war

LIVERPOOL will be “collateral damage” in the government’s determination to make Manchester an economic powerhouse, one expert has warned.

John Tomaney, the professor of regional development at Newcastle University, has investigated the impact of high-speed rail on areas of France and Spain.

Last year, he caused a stir when he told MPs that 250mph trains were likely to widen the North-South divide, because investment and jobs would be sucked from “peripheral regions” to a “dominant capital”.

Now Professor Tomaney has warned that Liverpool could be left trailing in Manchester’s wake, if the government presses ahead with the plans revealed by the Post today.

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