Stop Hs2 founders, Lizzy Williams, Penny Gaines and Joe Rukin went to Westminster yesterday for the Transport Select Committee Enquiry into Transport and the Economy. Joe Rukin was there to give evidence on behalf of Stop HS2. There were also a number of other witnesses from organisations ranging from the CBI to VisitBritain.
One of the questions that the Select Committee asked was “if you could spend £30 billion on transport, whether you would choose HS2 first”.
Witnesses listed a range of spending priorities, from relieving congestion in cities, to road projects, to other rail projects like Crossrail and Thameslink. The only person who thought HS2 was top priority was the mayor of the London Borough of Newham, and even he linked it to other changes in the existing rail network.
In particular, Alison Munro, from HS2 Ltd, was asked whether HS2 was an isolated project, or whether it was being looked at “as part of a broader econmic plan” . It was clear from her answer, that HS2 Ltd were solely focused on a new high speed rail line, and hadn’t considered the range of alternatives for transport spending.
So when you get told that businesses want infrastructure and that means HS2, you are being misled. Businesses do want infrastructure, but they prioritise a lot of other projects before the building of a new stand-alone high speed railway.
Edit: for those who like to check for themselves, the uncorrected transcript of the session can be found on the Parliament website here.