Today, Monday 9th September, the Public Accounts Committee have published their second highly critical report into HS2, the proposed high speed rail line from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Despite the fact that the PAC are just another independent body who are criticising HS2, with no axe to grind besides trying to stop the Government wasting money, Government are set to completely ignore everything they are saying, and will ‘relaunch’ the project this Wednesday.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, Joe Rukin said:
“There have been so many independent organisations, who have criticised HS2 for no other reason than to try and stop Government wasting billions of pounds on a project the country doesn’t need in the last month, that it is becoming very difficult to find a new way of saying: ‘That’s another body agreeing with what we’ve been saying all along’. The problem is that the Government just do not want to listen. Now that every argument they have put up for building HS2 has been destroyed, they are ready to invent some new ones. It doesn’t matter if it is the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Institute of Directors or even Treasury officials trying to explain that HS2 is a bad idea to the rump of politician. Trying to get the point across to a pig-headed Government is like talking to a brick wall.”
“Ignoring all the well thought out criticisms of HS2, and serious warnings that taxpayers money will be wasted and costs will go up, Government is now set to try and rescue this drowning man by inventing loads of economic benefits which are magically going to come from nowhere, just because it is faster on the train to get to London from a handful of cities. It doesn’t matter that any regeneration will need investment on top of the £50bn price tag, or that all the international evidence shows HS2 won’t create jobs, but move them round the country, especially to London. Nothing seems to matter to them besides trying to convince people that HS2 is ‘essential’, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and the savage cuts to public spending everywhere else.”
“The other argument the Government will try and defend HS2 with is to now say it is all about capacity, despite the facts that there are better, cheaper ways of providing capacity, the proposed route of HS2 is the last place capacity is needed, and that the forecasts used to say the West Coast Mainline is going to soon be full rely on an out of date, discredited forecasting model, which over estimates long distance passenger growth and isn’t used for anything anymore, except justifying HS2.”
Stop HS2 Chair Penny Gaines said:
“The Public Accounts Committee report has not a single good thing to say about HS2. They point out the Department for Transport’s case is based on ten year data. Just like Stop HS2 has been saying for the last three years, the Dft’s case ignores modern travel habits, where business travellers work on trains. In addition, the PAC report points out that costs have spiralled and benefits fallen. The Dft has consistently ignored the costs to existing businesses of the disruption caused by building HS2 and the government has dismissed the concerns of ordinary people who will be directly affected. We are told the Prime Minister has personally ordered a fight back on HS2. We hope he actually takes note of what this report says and cancels HS2.”