While there has been a lot of speculation in the last week over routes for HS2, both for the unannounced route to Leeds and Manchester and also changes to the published route from London to Lichfield & Birmingham, the Stop HS2 is reiterating that there is only one reasonable course of action, to cancel HS2 as proposed and go back to the drawing board.
Additionally, whilst Network Rail have announced 355,000 extra trains by 2019, they have still claimed HS2 is ‘essential’, despite the fact that the Office of Rail Regulation has aided Arriva in submitting papers for open access operations to the North West on the West Coast Mainline, which, if approved will tear apart the idea that there is no capacity for additional services.
It has been assumed that the delay in announcing the Stage 2 routes for HS2 had been due to waiting for the ruling on the five Judicial Reviews opposing HS2, but this has not stopped leaks and speculation in the press. While transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that ‘any speculation ahead of this would be irresponsible’, speculation has been rife, with the concept of an additional station for Crewe top of the list. In what is no great surprise to anyone who has been watching the progress of HS2 for the last three years, it has been reported that the East Midlands Station will be nowhere near either Nottingham or Derby, but instead at Toton, which Nottingham Post columnist Jeremy Lewis has described as “About as useful as a crystal drill bit.”, a view similar to that of Paul Bromfield MP who said of the proposal for a station at Meadowhall that it would “Undermine our city centre and would be the wrong economic decision for Sheffield.”
Other speculation about the Stage 2 route centres on whether Chancellor George Osborne has insisted that HS2 must miss his Tatton constituency and go into Salford Quays opposed to the centre of Manchester and possibly the airport, but there is still talk that the route of Stage 1 is not right, with a route through Heathrow being touted this week on BBC2s Daily Politics and Dick Keegan, the former director of projects at British Rail saying HS2 should terminate at the HS1 station in Stratford, opposed to Euston.
Joe Rukin Stop HS2 Campaign Manager said;
“The Government are desperate to announce Stage 2 of HS2 to try and muster up more support for their ailing project, but the leaks so far have initiated more opposition than support. If the speculation is to believed, the DfT seem to be acknowledging the problems with Stage 1, that it is too fast and lacks intermediate stations when planning Stage 2. However, the reality is that it doesn’t matter how much the DfT tweak with HS2, it is and always will be the wrong project for the country and too expensive a mistake to make.”
“We agree with Patrick McLoughlin that it is irresponsible to speculate before the official announcement, a fact which seems to have been missed by whoever in his department is responsible for the leaks so far. The Government have to grow up and realise that they were in court last month because of their complete failure to get things right so far, stop playing these childish games, accept they haven’t got things right and go back to the drawing board and actually come up with a real strategic solution for UK transport needs. If the Government think that announcing Stage 2 will mean anything besides the opposition to the project getting stronger, they are sorely mistaken.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said;
“The huge variety of alternatives to HS2 suggested by groups and individuals shows how little consensus there is about HS2. Many of these groups, like the Conservative Transport Group, The Bow Group and Dick Keegan cannot be accused of having a ‘nimby’ axe to grind. Birmingham MP Liam Byrne who was one of those on the Daily Politics is perfectly happy to have a West Midlands HS2 station, but is saying “Not in My Back Yard” when it comes to the maintenance depot at Washwood Heath.”
“In 2010, in the Coalition’s program for Government, the Coalition said it wanted to build a high speed rail network as part of a low carbon economy. Only a few months later, Philip Hammond wrote to MPs to say it was carbon neutral. With the recent mid term review, gone is the rationale to use HS2 as part of a low carbon economy – because it is not a low carbon option. Two and a half years later, HS2 is a project with no purpose other than allowing the Government to claim it is still “investing”.