Last week, Justine Greening issues a written statement, outlining the next steps she would be taking about HS2.
You can read the full statement here.
“At the end of this month [March] I will receive HS2 Ltd’s route and station advice for high speed rail lines to Leeds, Manchester and Heathrow….”
The mention of the Heathrow link shows the number of retrofitted ideas that are being added to HS2. From the moment HS2 was first announced there was surprise that the plans did not include a connection to Heathrow. Bolting on a Heathrow link when the first phase route is already fixed won’t produce a good result.
“In fulfilment of its remit, HS2 Ltd’s advice will include options for stations in Manchester, Leeds, South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and at Heathrow Airport, as well as advice on the case and potential locations for additional stations….”
David Cameron has already said that there might be at most one or two extra stations on the entire network. So whatever case a particular town or city has for a station, most people will be disappointed.
It’s also worth remembering that in 2010, HS2 Ltd’s documents said they’d considered a station at Milton Kenynes, and rejected it because too many people would use it. They considered a station near Bicester, but said too many people from Oxford would use it. And they considered a station near Aylesbury, but said too few people would use it. So unless your town or city has precisely the right number of potential users, you’re likely to be disappointed.
“I will consider this advice objectively and in detail over the coming months, and I intend to publish it in the autumn together with a Government response setting out initial preferred route and station options. An important part of this process will be to consider the views of delivery partners in the cities where HS2 stations may be located, including any underpinning evidence which they have identified….”
David Begg, advisor to HS2 Ltd and director of the Campaign for High Speed Rail, has already made it obvious that Nottingham won’t be getting a city centre station, and he strongly hinted that the current plans imply a parkway station somewhere in the East Midlands – but nowhere near Leicester.
“Following publication, the input of interested parties, including MPs and their constituents, will be valuable to help further develop the proposals that will go forward for subsequent formal public consultation. Only once a full public consultation has been launched and completed will any decisions be reached.”
If the Secretary of State for Transport was still Philip Hammond, we might point out that although he has shown some willingness to meet MP’s constituents, he didn’t take any notice of what they said.
However Justine Greening has consistently refused to meet people unhappy about HS2. Instead she has spoken on high speed rail at the Transport Times Conference organised by Campaign for HSR director, David Begg, and chose a new Parliamentary Private Secretary who was already vocal in his support of HS2.
So, no matter how you are affected, if you have any doubts about the HS2 proposal, don’t expect Greening to take any notice of your views.
“When preferred route options are published in the autumn we will consult on and introduce an Exceptional Hardship Scheme to assist property owners impacted by the proposals. Further, in order to reduce uncertainty for those affected by the proposals, and to ensure that the benefits for passengers and business of a national high speed rail network are realised as soon as possible, I have asked my officials to explore options for bringing forward formal public consultation on Phase 2 of High Speed 2 to 2013, and I will set out my proposed timetable later this year.”
Oh and if they do another EHS consultation, this will be either the third or fourth one – it seems the Department for Transport will keep doing EHS consultations until they get the result they want.