Letter to the new Transport Minister

Letter to Baroness Kramer, new Transport Minister, sent last week.

Dear Baroness Kramer,

Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of State for Transport.

I am writing to you as Chair of Stop HS2, the national grassroots campaign group against HS2.

Our concerns can be summarised by a statement from the recent Public Accounts Committee report, that the case for HS2 is being made “on fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life.”

The recently published KPMG report, extolling the benefits of HS2, is a good example of thus. Although it was published this September, the report is based on the August 2012 economic case for HS2. The report includes the Heathrow Spur, even though the development of this was “paused” in January.

Many northern supporters of HS2 are enthusiastic about the possibility of direct trains to Europe, via a link from HS2 to HS1. However the same route was proposed to join the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to the West Coast Main Line, but proved unsuitable. In July, the chair of London Assembly’s Transport Committee described the proposals for this link as “unacceptable” due to the effects on the North London Line.

The passenger numbers of HS1 are a third of the original forecasts (two thirds of revised forecasts). This was because the proponents ignored potential competition from alternative methods of travel. In the case of HS2, the proponents are ignoring the effects of videoconferencing and digital technologies. Teenagers can skype their friends from home computers today, and will expect to use these technologies in the workforce, just like people use mobile phones now. Digital technologies are much more environmentally sustainable, and encouraging their use will have an effect on all forms of travel.

Although there is growth in rail journeys, this is in commuter and regional journeys. Long distance travel across all modes is falling but HS2 only adds long distance capacity, and will do nothing for commuters into northern cities until Phase 2 opens, due for completion in 2033.

Stop HS2 would be delighted to have a meeting with you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Penny Gaines

Chair, Stop HS2

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