Taxpayers Alliance deliver another devastating blow to “Essential” HS2, as new chair appointed.

John Prescott with Archie Taylor and Deanne Dukhan at Labour Conference 2013. Photo by Joe Rukin.

John Prescott with Archie Taylor and Deanne Dukhan at Labour Conference. Photo by Joe Rukin.

Yet another report has been produced reiterating arguments which have been put forward by the Stop HS2 campaign for the last three and a half years, this time from The Taxpayers Alliance. Just before the publication of the report, Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander claimed that HS2 is “essential”, but former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott said the line “Will do nothing for the North”, telling Stop HS2 campaigners at Labour Conference that it was a “Rubbish Idea”.

In other news, David Higgins the CEO of Network Rail has been appointed as chair of HS2 Ltd.

Commenting on this appointment, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:

“While David Higgins has been at Network Rail, their profits have dropped and their debts have increased to even more unpayable levels, so he will fit in perfectly at HS2 Ltd. This is exactly the sort of ‘expertise’ we have come to expect on this project.”

The report from the Taxpayers Alliance states:

  • HS2 is not needed to increase capacity on the West Coast Main Line
  • Dozens of towns and cities would receive a worse rail service if HS2 goes ahead
  • Capacity on the WCML could be increased far more quickly and cheaply

The TPA report can be viewed here.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, Joe Rukin said:

“We have always said that there are better, cheaper ways of delivering capacity on the rail network which would deliver that capacity across the network, benefitting more people and delivering those benefits more quickly than HS2. Why these are ignored in favour of HS2 is, as Ed Balls said, pure political vanity and pride. Proponents of HS2 have always wanted to keep quiet the fact that 32 towns and cities will have fewer trains, slower trains or no trains at all to London if HS2 goes ahead, so it is great that the TPA has shone a light on this issue. It is quite clear, ‘freeing up capacity’ can only mean ‘losing the trains you already have’. “

“With the political consensus continuing to break down, it is disappointing that Ministers are sticking with the tired rhetoric that this boondoggle is essential. Schools are essential. Hospitals are essential. Dozens of other services which are facing cuts are essential. A flashy boy’s toy which will only benefit the richest in society while everyone else pays for it is not essential.”

“This just another independent analysis which shows the Government are making up the case for HS2, supported by a strong vested interest lobby group. The response yet again is to stick their fingers in their ears. They have had their fingers in their ears for so long now that they must be touching in the middle!”

Stop HS2 Chair, Penny Gaines said

“Stop HS2 have pointed out time and again that the business case for HS2 depends on a huge reduction in services on the existing railways.  For the majority of people who actually travel on existing railways, HS2 will mean a poorer service than at present for most commuters and rail travellers.  It’s time the government stopped trying to pretend that HS2 is needed and started looking at where the real problems in the railway network are.”

“With the comments earlier this week from a range of senior Labour politicians, including Ed Balls and John Prescott, there is no longer a guaranteed political consensus.  Rather than trying to speed through the democratic process and race through the hybrid bill, the Government should take the chance to look again at this £50 billion project.”

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5 comments on “Taxpayers Alliance deliver another devastating blow to “Essential” HS2, as new chair appointed.
  1. David Higgins of Network Rail is being trumpeted as the new HS2 guru, previously British Olympics guru. Didn’t the cost for our Olympics rise from an original estimate of £2.5 billion to around £9.3 billion? Where do they find them?

    • Am I right in thinking David Higgins will be the fourth Chair of HS2 Ltd? For a company that has been around for only four and a half years this seems a bit of an excessive turnaround at the top, and hardly a vote of confidence in the company from those who know what is really going on behind the scenes.

  2. For 600,000 a year as an expat ‘commenting’ on English not British environmental concerns[ his notions of advancemen tand National interest necessarilty have to be viewed through the lens of self interest and unhealthy political investment.
    Who is Higgins in terms of English self determination and indeed United Kingdom interests?
    He is an Australian making his money over here………. he cannot deny his vested, mercenary interest.
    The Olympics were in fact an over budget failure and the interanational HS1 station (at huge cost) does not connect up with HS2
    Rent a CEO?
    His notion the speed of implementation can be advanced in more in keeping with the rape of Australasia than consideration of the damage to SSI and AONB in fragile England. . Australia has a poor record of of ecology over capitlalist development of natural assets (and their destruction).
    We are now at the most significant and fragile consideration of the English countryside. CPRE lost the plot when they
    advocated HS2. Now their national face cries crocodile tears of their administrative and political failings.
    At National level they betrayed the wisdom and concern of the shires, doubtless linked to the personal relationships of their executive; now their “ambitions have been shot down”their shire bodies viewa have been validated.
    The National Parks are now are risk forget the Chiltern AONB………………….
    It is a capitalist playground……..
    My view is as long as the Cotswolds were where this Notting Hill New Cons crowd held their shire of preference (and have their country homes abd us preserved)t hey will develop with their ‘friends’ all the most lucrative areas. The Chilterns were acknowledged by the Victorians as worthy of whole sale preservation. It is only the Neo Cons who now use Victorian robber rail baron values to advocate for their destruction after a hundred years of careful preservation.
    The coalition will spin whatever lies preserve their own (undisclosed interests) ambitions.
    Some where and some how their friends will be making “shed loads of saving’……..on rightful planning considerations ( ie their profit) .
    It is time for ‘honest communication’ to quote Higgins and indeed for a frank discussion of the tangible non population benefits of the scheme

  3. Wonder when Sir David will mention the many thousands of people blighted by this white elephant
    I am not holding my breath!

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