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Stop HS2 campaigners accuse the Government of blackmail over threats of improvement works

Amid reports that the alternative to HS2 is improvements to the existing rail service, Stop HS2 campaigners have accused the Government of blackmail to save the £50 billion vanity project.

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“The Government are complaining that the railways are nearly full and the only option is HS2. The big flaw in the Government’s argument is that Phase 1 of HS2 won’t open to the travelling public until about 2027, meaning that there would be no change for passengers until the middle of the next decade. But building HS2 would cause years of disruption at Euston, and other places on the rail network as well as chaos along the route of HS2, with roads being diverted during the build and in some places permanently shut.

“However Network Rail aren’t planning to do nothing. They’ve already announced planned closures on the West Coast Mainline for 2014. It looks like they are positioning themselves to be able to blame others for any problems during these improvement works.”

“With the growing skepticism across the political spectrum, it looks like the Coalition government are trying to blackmail HS2 doubters with threats of improvement works on the classic network. What they are really saying is that support for David Cameron’s vanity project means the existing railway will be neglected.”

Deidre Vernon, of Burton Green Action Group said
“What about the disruption HS2 will cause? Building HS2 will affect road, footpath and waterway users. It will cause loss of homes and businesses and disruption to communities, including demolition of village halls, and schools. It will blight property in surrounding areas, damage farmland and destroy woodland. There will be massive disruption at Euston. The list is endless and in areas, the disruption will be happening continuously for years. It can’t be compared to streamlining existing routes.

“Drop HS2 and improve internet connections along with incentives to live local and work local. That’s all better for health and family long term well being.”

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager said
“The alternative to HS2 which has been suggested involves addressing 4 pinch-points on the existing railways. It’s highly disingenuous for the government to say it will take 14 years to make these changes. We simply don’t believe it.

“People will cite the WCML upgrade program. But the vast majority of that upgrade was essential maintenance.

“Yet again the government are not comparing like with like, forgetting all the disruption that HS2 will cause. That’s not only where it links to the existing rail network, at Euston, Manchester Piccadilly, Lichfield Church Fenton and elsewhere. But there will also be years of traffic chaos. Building HS2 means moving the M1 in two places, moving the M42 and road carnage around the M6 and M42 where the proposed Birmingham airport station will be built.

“Yet again the Government have been misleading the public and failing to tell the full story when it comes to HS2.”

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18 comments to “Stop HS2 campaigners accuse the Government of blackmail over threats of improvement works”
  1. So MPs of all parties overwhelmingly supported the HS2 Paving Bill. Never has so much been got so wrong by so many.

  2. The arguments against HS2 are not always entirely coherent but the contra claims are often more than sucks-cinct.

    Anyone who thinks voting out the pro’s or that, by supporting Labour, there will arise the saviour is in cloud-cuckoo land.
    The vested interests rule: Lib/Con government teams up with ultra left (joke) Manchester. HS2 builds a tunnel into Manchester (we pay) while Manchester has virtually no disruption but manages to fund the new station(s), on the back of massive redevelopment (zero cost to Manchester) – your gardens = our jobs (for the boys) – it’s a ‘we win and we win again situation’.
    When Cheshire says it doesn’t want the tunnel spoils dumped there so that HS2 has to go through ‘at grade’, I wonder at Manchester’s response.

    • You are highlighting the inequality in the design brief and plan between phase one and two.
      This has a political basis.
      Phase one is straighter and environmentally more damaging.
      The impact on Tory seats has been cynically, statistically and ruthlessly determined the losses (collateral) will be limited.
      No front bench party it would seem values the largely conservative working poor and middleclass populations that this represents.
      This I am informed was demographically determined and other routes disregarded as being politically more complex.
      The AONB is sparcely populated and ‘rural’ in nature.

  3. This government is running rough shod over all the people on the route for hs2 .I do hope all the people stick together and give them a good thrashing at the general election .and get them out of office .They are just like bully’s if you don’t like it tough .The Labour Party have a good chance to win if they come out against hs2 all they need to do promise the labour councils along the route some cash to build some new homes and enterprise zones which they will jump for because it can happen now not in 25yrs time so come on the two eds and come off the fence I think that if stop hs2 should have words. With them and tell them about how many votes they could get if they were to come out against hs2 project and keep on telling them of any increases in land and extra costs .We have no luck with the others so we all have nothing to loose

  4. John Webber is quite right to point out that HS2 replaces ECML and WCML. The HS2 business case is that, in order to fill it up from the start, and don’t forget, even from completion of Phase 1, it will serve Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh (using classic compatibles), HS2 will take 60% plus passengers from the existing services.
    So the bottom end of WCML will become a subsidiary line (back-up for HS2 problems) and effectively a commuter line for places as Northampton and MK. Even the DfT admits that 80% of this southern section’s passengers are pure London commuters – so why not build them their own commuter line with Crossrail 2.
    As for the new Atkins report:
    ‘Gosh! It costs half the price – but we need more investment not less and we would be able to use existing train sets when all we want the latest state of the art (ten years on) from Germany, Japan, France or China!’
    ‘And they only work weekends – but we need more full employment which HS2 gives as well as a total build time of 16 years!’
    ‘And these enhancements to West, East and Midlands main lines are “likely to require some demolition of residential and commercial properties at specific locations” – ok, we should not have made BR sell off all that adjacent land and allow new build up to the remaining lines – so we must stop these anti-HS2 nimbys causing others such wilful blight!’
    ‘And all you achieve is the same capacity increase as HS2 – I ask you, where’s the logic in that?!!!’

  5. Ed should ask the councils if they were given the option between hs2 or a few billion .I bet I know the answer .So come on don’t give in to blackmail do what’s right sand save the country from this waste of billions of all our taxes and spend it on projects that bennifits us all not just the rich .We are all counting on to put a stop on hs2

  6. Eds answer to the councils should be if you had the 50 billion would you spend it on hs2 the answer would certainly be no .They only want this project because it’s the only thing on offer so the rest of the country can pay for it .they are not bothered about the cost it’s free for us . This project as come down to blackmail and should be canceled now and the money spend on projects to bennifit us all not just the few If labour can’t see this then my vote goes to ukip so come on labour don’t give up on the people counting on you to stop hs2

  7. HS2 won’t help the West Country, North Devon in particular. A journey to London is difficult to say the least. Our only train service, the Tarka Line between Barnstaple and Exeter, is overcrowded with people having to stand for the whole journey. If the government has money to spend on new rail lines, spend it in Devon.

  8. They have at last admitted upgrades could be done .As a fraction of people travel by train than by road. Compared to the chaos that would be created by the rail and road problems that will blight huge areas of the country should HS2 be built on a weekly basis for years. Also the disruption would no doubt be covered by increased coach provision.This would be preferable than destroying ancient woods and the countryside in general.Any politician that does not think that does not love his country and should not be an M.P.

  9. MP Voting against the HS2 Paving Bill 3rd Reading permits better scrutiny of the different select committees to resolve the diverging opinions.

    Network Rail £20B and the HS2 £70B have overlapping costings and much of the Network Rail work is required and planned in the ORR programmes for current network changes.
    For many millions of people the nation should not act rashly for so few lavish beneifts with so many millions of people disappointed by unwise MP acts when the opportunity to spend spend spend is presented.
    Wisdom from several select committees and learned bodies suggest Phase 1 of the HS2 route is a very expensive route for no local and county benefits.
    The Network Rail proposal requires ORR scrutiny to determine what is needed for better rail network operations first.
    A one line each way HS2 phase 1 is not effective as it is subject to the slightest late engineering works, storm tree fall or loss of traction wire contact.

    Please ask your MP to show the ability to demand better planning than seen currently from both HS2 and Network Rail.

    Slowing down the current work without rescoping of the remit and clarifying possibilities is required with so much improper political lobbying.

    • Yes, John; to a degree it is- that is, it is intended to divert some long distance services which at present occupy East and West Coast train paths but don’t serve intermediate stations.

      Just like a road bypass seeks to remove through traffic from congested areas, a new set of tracks provides an alternative ,clear of slower stopping trains.Separate the different traffic kinds and then you can then increase services so as to maximise the use of the available track paths .

      (Farm tractors and push bikes are banned from motorways and local buses generally don’t use bypasses)

      It is track paths,rather than the number of seats or number of coaches, which is the heart of the present pressure.

      A metro system like London’s Jubilee Line can run a train every three minutes – because all the trains are travelling at the same speeds and all stopping at the same stations- in effect a sort of pipeline. But if you try to run a mixture of faster and slower trains with different stopping patterns, all on the same tracks, then you must lose capacity and frequency of service on any route -or part of a route- which is already full.

      Is Chriseaglen’ concern that HS2, should the government persist with it , has insufficient tracks?

      Is he suggesting that at least some sections should be four tracked?

      Of course, that might make it possible to provide one or more intermediate stations, at which a few trains could stop- thus helping to eliminate the cry of “all the pain for no gain” (- and even then,the formation would still not have as wide as a motorway!)

      • Longer trains give you not just more seats but also more efficient use of train paths.

        Sounds like you want longer trains and a separate , cheaper freight route.

        • Yes,a new freight route is one suggestion that has resurfaced recently here, on this site and elsewhere.
          So has the idea of re examining the rebuilding and reopening of more of the old Great Central…possibly the two plans could be combined- but the snag would arise once more, as it did twenty years ago when suggested by the then Central Railway, that most people woulden’t consider having a purely freight railway built or even rebuilt near theml Only the possibility of a line that they could actually use could convince them of any merit.

          Remember that Radio 4 ‘Any Questions ?’ from the Stafford area a few months back, when the team were pretty scathing about Hs2?
          A show of hands by the audience was almost unanimous in agreeing that they didn’t want the line built through their area.
          But then the Chairman posed the question “what if a station were to be built in your area?’
          A second show of hands voted two thirds in favour!

          Once again, it’s a case of wanting a ‘gain’ to offset the ‘pain’ regardless of any overall national benefit and even before considering the economic plus and minus, one can see their point of view.

          • I think the people of Burton Green ( yes, I know its not on the GCL ) would prefer a Freight Line to a High Speed line ( that they can’t use either ) where trains blast past every 100 seconds !

            So the question is , how does the cost stack up alongside £ 50 billion ?

      • How can it possibly replace the wcml or ecml with so few stations !! The arguements I hear touted by policiticans have so many gaps in them there’s a gale blowing through. It will not provide extra capacity where it is really needed for all those commuters who face daily cramped journies. Of all these politicans I’d really like to understand their usage of the rail network.

        • Wendy, never mind the wind,do you really suppose that any new route is going to “replace the WCML or ECML”?

          If you have a train that doesn’t stop until say Birmingham International, then so far as commuters out as far as Milton Keynes or Rugby are concerned, or those travelling on the two track section into Birmingham, then that fast non stop service is merely taking up a path which might otherwise improve their choice of train or chance of getting a seat-(so as to have a choice to work, or not ,once on board!)
          If that fast virtually non stop train can be diverted on to another line or other route, “HS” or otherwise, then everybody wins- the fast service isn’t delayed (as was frequently the case with the Eurostars when they had to contend with the congested lines in and out of London before HS1 was completed) and the stopping services were not in such competition.

          On the WCML, Virgin increased some of their services from two to three an hour; presumably they felt that it would be commercially worthwhile, but many people have suggested that this has placed stopping services at a disadvantage. Furthermore, attempts to introduce several new and desirable direct services from beyond the West Midlands have been refused by the Regulator on the grounds of insufficient ‘paths’.

          To provide a decent alternative to yet more road traffic, with inevitable congestion at the destination,not to mention the problem and expenseof parking once you get there, commuters in Britain have come to expect a frequent train service. But you can run only run so many trains big or small ,over any given piece of track.
          If there is a market for long distance services, with few if any stations en route,then it makes sense to separate these trains from the slower traffic, so as to maximise the available paths. Once beyond the congested sections, then it may be desirable for the new route not only to connect, but for trains to continue, on beyond ,using the existing lines, as is the case, for example in France.

          • Many thanks @John Webber for this succinct explanation of what is, a relatively complex concept.

            Too often in the HS2 debate, here and elsewhere, we hear the knee-jerk response of “just add some more trains – make them longer – make them double deck”, without any actual forethought about how those additional services will be accommodated?

            It is this issue that remains central to the debate

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