Stop HS2 response to McLoughlin speech.
Today at Conservative Party Conference, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin claimed that HS2 was essential and that he would ensure it comes in on time and on budget.
In response, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, Joe Rukin said:
“No-one is buying the idea that HS2 will come in on time or on budget, not even the new Chair of HS2 Ltd, David Higgins, who said he isn’t sure it will. On top of that, the official cost of the project went up by £10bn this summer and there is a bill before Parliament asking for an unknown amount of money just to be spent on design. That’s because the consultants, who recently signed an open letter saying they wouldn’t go over-budget, were already over-budget on design work back in January. Even here in Manchester, the City Council recently publicised what they want to do to Piccadilly Station for HS2, which proudly said would ‘cost billions’ but they they hadn’t got a budget.. Where is that coming from?”
“David Cameron has said that cancelling HS2 will be ‘Betraying the North’, but he is betraying the North by promoting a project which will clearly suck more economic activity to London. That is why, after the name ‘HS2’ has become too toxic, that they are calling it a North-South railway, because it’s about getting from the North to the South. Many of the delegates to the Tory Conference will have come up on Cross Country Voyager Train, one of the worst excuses for a train there is on the network with 4 carriages leaving so many people standing, even on weekends, as I was. Try telling those passengers, who will get nothing from HS2 that longer trains are not needed to alleviate capacity constraints, when so many passengers are facing crush-hour conditions at the moment”
“Whenever there is any criticism of HS2 not, the Government put their fingers in their ears. They have now been there so long now that it seems they must be touching in the middle!”
Stop HS2 chair, Penny Gaines said
“It’s easy to say the words on time and on budget, but it’s much harder to put them into practice. If the government were at all confident in the ability of HS2 Ltd to build this railway, they would not be putting through the HS2 Paving Bill, which gives a blank cheque book to HS2.
“But whatever happens, the incoming chair of HS2 is already planning his exit strategy. He has said he doesn’t expect to stay in the role for more than two years, and that he doesn’t know if the existing budget is realistic. However as he is the fourth chair of HS2 Ltd since 2009, he is just copying his predecessors by planning his escape, with enough time to dump any problems on his successor.
“The big question is not whether HS2 can be built to any arbitrary budget or by any specific date. The big question is whether HS2 is the right thing to build – and the evidence is that it is not. We call on the Conservative ministers to step back and look closely at HS2, and then cancel it.”