Over the last few years, the Stop HS2 campaign has had to contend with proponents saying many things which sound like they might be true but aren’t. We were told HS2 was green, when it most certainly isn’t. We were told that HS2 will rebalance the economy and cure the north-south divide, when every bit of international evidence there is shows it will turn that divide into a chasm. We are now told HS2 is needed for capacity and the West Coast Mainline is full, when not only does the evidence show the WCML isn’t full, but it’s inter city routes are the last place on the network where capacity is needed.
Patrick McLoughlin has continued this tradition this week with two statements which stand up to no scrutiny whatsover. It was put to McLoughlin that the Black Country would lose services and have slower London trains he said:
“I don’t think there will be any loss of service. We are not building extra capacity to take away existing services. We’re building it to enhance existing services. Some passengers will want to use the new trains and the new link between north and south. This is about improving and expanding capacity.”
This represented a massive change of track from McLaughin’, what before was ‘freeing up capacity’ – which for anyone paying attention means ‘losing the trains you already have’, have now become ‘enhancing existing services’. The reality is of course that this is completely untrue. The Hs2 Ltd document showing the ‘freed up capacity’ which would come under HS2 is very clear. The current Virgin service to London from Wolverhampton, which calls at Sandwell & Dudley, shows 20 services per day. After HS2 this drops to 16 with two extra stops, clearly giving the Black Country slower and fewer London trains.
The other incident of making it up as he went along was when McLaughin-Boy said: “Sometimes you can’t get that on a benefit cost ratio analysis. When you look at the benefit/cost ratio for the Jubilee line in London it didn’t stack up but if it hadn’t been built nor would Canary Wharf have been built.” Now this wasn’t changing what is proposed, but actually re-writing history.
The reality was that the construction of Canary Wharf began in 1988 and the Jubilee Line extension was only authorised in 1990.
Bernie Douglas, who was working on the project at the time said “I was managing moves into Docklands from about 1989 and big firms like Price Waterhouse, Cable & Wireless and Citibank had decided to move there long before the JLE was agreed. There was a bus called the Dockland Clipper which provided a service before the DLR – known as “The Toytown Railway” was built. It was the DLR which was the catalyst as it showed commitment to the Docklands area for many of our clients.”
But who cares about the facts? As far as McLoughlin is concerned, it sounds like it might be true, and he needs anything which sounds good at the moment.