This is by regular guest contributor, Madeleine Wahlberg.
We will soon post up a series of blogs on how HS2 fits in with the European Commissions transport policy known as TEN-T. But in this crucial week before Thursday’s vote on the Paving Bill, here are some quick points that could persuade MPs not to vote for more money for HS2. Here is a quick summary of the current proposals http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-897_en.htm
• HS2 is covered by Core Corridor 8 which goes from Cork/Belfast to Marseilles. Each of the Core Corridors will be led by a Co-ordinator appointed by the EC. The various countries that the route goes through will just be “stakeholders” on the EC ‘Platform’ or governance forum.
So you can ask Conservative MPs whether they think it wise to spend £50 billion on a route that will be handed over to be run by the EC. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that money on parts of the network that will remain within the domain of the UK government? And how does their support for HS2 square with Cameron’s intention to repatriate powers from Europe?
• TEN-T policy includes that the entire Core network will be privatised (some countries still have bits of nationalised rail). Also there will be a split rather like we have in the UK, between contracts for the network/tracks and contracts for the service of running trains. Additionally, the Core routes will be separated from the rest of the network (‘Comprehensive’ network) as they will be run by that EC Co-ordinator.
So you can ask Labour MPs how they can square their preference for renationalising the railways with their support for HS2 (which, functioning as part of EC Corridor 8, will privatise all Core routes). And you can ask them how their stress on the need to integrate the whole network, will square with their support of HS2 – which will be run by the EC independently of all the classic services, and based on trans-national priorities not national priorities.
• HS2 has not been forced on the UK. It is the Government that decided on the route and the hyper speed approach. So it is a bit revealing that the TEN-T maps that were decided on about a week ago DO NOT SHOW THE ‘EAST Y’. That means the East Y is not priority for the UK Government and therefore not priority for the EC TEN-T policy. In my book that says a lot about the Government’s real commitment to taking HSR to Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds. So much for jobs for the North. Sorry Yorkshire but actually you are not on the map! You will find a map as a pdf at the bottom of this http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kallas/headlines/news/2013/10/ten-t-corridors_en.htm
So you can ask MPs of all parties – do you think that the commitment to jobs in the North is worth the paper it is written on if the Government hasn’t actually even included Yorkshire on the map of Core routes?
Remember that MPs are not likely to know anything about the impact of TEN-T policy. And the few who might have heard of it are not likely to be up to date with the radical changes that went through last week.
So you can tell all MPs ‘if you don’t know how TEN-T policy will be impacting on HS2 then wouldn’t it be wiser not to vote on spending more money on HS2 until you do know what you are doing?’