In an interview with The Independent, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said he wants to ‘fast track’ HS2, saying he would ‘love to’ complete the project in five years, despite construction not even being due to start until then. Speaking of the criticism of the project he said; “All we get is grief. All we get is hassle. But one of the things that government has got to try and do is to look to the long-term future. Whichever route we’re going to put it on we’re going to upset people.”
The Independent also stated that; Mr McLoughlin said critics of the project – who argue that the shorter journey times on HS2 were not significant enough to justify the cost and destruction to the countryside – were missing the point, “There has been a huge change in the way we look at transport since the Birmingham-to-London line was built almost 200 years ago.”
Additionally he told an event at the Conservative conference that he would not review the case for HS2 in light of the franchise fiasco.
Joe Rukin, campaign coordinator for Stop HS2 said;
“It is hard to know where to start with this one. Mr McLoughlin is trying the same old trick, trying to pass us off as just a bunch nimbies and says we are missing the point, but it is he who is missing the point. His Government keeps getting grief and hassle because they are pig-headed about a project which is massively expensive, environmentally disastrous, not what the country needs and will not deliver on its promises. The New Economics Foundation, The Institute of Economic Affairs, The Adam Smith Institute and The Taxpayers Alliance all oppose HS2, and even the Institute of Engineering and Technology have said the plans are fundamentally flawed, but he wants to stick his fingers in his ears and pretend the opposition is all about the route.”
“When the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee is using words like; ‘Bonkers’, ‘Potty’, Crazy’, ‘Shocking’ and ‘Gobsmacked’ about the economic modelling for HS2, how can the Government not listen? The National Audit Office has taken the unprecedented step of investigating this project at such an early stage, and even the Governments own Major Project Authority are unsure about the viability of HS2, but he doesn’t want to accept that is why they are getting grief and hassle.”
“McLoughlin trying to sweep the errors in the WCML franchise under the carpet and saying there are no implications for HS2 is simply irresponsible. There is one thing I will agree with him on though, and I do hope he gets the point; yes things have changed in the last 200 years and we do not need a 19th Century solution to 21st Century needs. He claimed the Ed Balls came out in support of HS2 last week, but what I heard him say is that there was a need for a national infrastructure strategy. That we all agree with, we need a strategy, not an unintegrated standalone project which only benefits the richest. McLoughlin said HS2 would be something for future generations, and he is right, it would be something for future generations to count the cost of and subsidise at the expense of what the country really needs.”