TRANSPORT SECRETARY GAFFE ADMITS HS2 IS BAD IDEA, AS GREENS & UKIP COME OUT AGAINST HS2.
Campaigners against HS2 were delighted tonight [10th September] as Secretary of State for transport, Philip Hammond told Prince Charles, who was amongst the attendees at the IBM START Conference: Business Summit that having one of the most expensive railways in the world was not acceptable.
During his speech, Hammond said of the current railway system; “We have one of the most expensive railways in the world. More expensive to build, more expensive to operate and more expensive to ride on than any comparable system. That is not acceptable.”
He continued to say;
“So a sustainable railway isn’t just one which is safe, which is reliable and which is electrified to reduce its carbon footprint. It must also be one which offers value to its passengers and is deliverable with levels of taxpayer subsidy which are affordable in the long-run.”
Stop HS2 Acting Convenor Joe Rukin said;
“This is unbelievable. Whilst trying to sugar-coat HS2 with nice words, Hammond is actually making our case for us! At £160m per mile, HS2 would be the most expensive railway in the history for the world. Like HS1 in Kent, it will make massive losses and cost a fortune to use. He’s said this is not acceptable, so he should bin the plans right now. He is saying that the taxpayer subsidy should be affordable, but even on a 60 year forecast, with grossly over-optimistic passenger numbers, it is planned to lose £12bn. The reality is that it will cost much more after the cost of the Heathrow and HS1 links are factored in, and that like HS1 will lose loads more money than forecast as the business plan has been done on a fag packet.”
The Green Party are set to debate changing their policy on high speed rail to oppose HS2 at their conference today [11th Sept], and spokesman Professor John Whitelegg, who gave evidence against the M6 Toll and has proven to be right, told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire;
“The Green Party has traditionally supported investment in rail services. What we’re now discovering is that HSR is incredibly expensive. The idea that you can get people out of aircraft by giving them high speed trains doesn’t work. It’s irrelevant to the needs of the vast majority of the population, most of us will never use high speed rail. Now we know it is going to do an incredible amount of environmental damage. Hugely expensive chunks of motorway or high speed railway line don’t actually do the job people say they will do when they are proposed. I don’t like the idea that more and more and more of us are going to rush backwards and forwards to London. Why do we need to spend this money to cut probably 25 minutes off the journey time from Birmingham to encourage more wealthy people to travel to London?”
UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass, a member of the EU transport committee who will attend a Stop HS2 event in Warwickshire today, said;
“I just think this is an unnecessary project which destroys the countryside for the sake of saving 30 minutes. It is going through areas which should be protected, not destroyed. This isn’t Spain or France; we just don’t have the room for another railway line, especially one as wide as a football pitch tearing through the countryside. Why are we doing this when people need to work where they live, not all be sucked down to London? If this happens we’ll have people commuting even further distances and we just don’t need it.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- STOP HS2 is the national group campaigning on behalf of anti-HS2 action groups up and down the proposed route. See http://www.stophs2.org. The key message of Stop HS2 is “No business case, no environmental case, no money to pay for it”
- Phillip Hammonds speech can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/speeches/hammond20100910
- For comment from Stop HS2 contact or Joe Rukin on 07811 371880.
- Mike Nattrass MEP will attend a protest walk on 11th Sept to be held from Offchurch to Ufton Woods in Warwickshire from 9am to 6pm. The press are invited to Welsh Road Farm [CV33 9BG] at 11am where farm machinery will be set up to show the height and width of HS2. For more details contact Mike Geddes on 07827 274626 or Joe Rukin 07811 371880. http://www.offchurch.org.uk/high-speed-2.
- Also on Saturday 11th, two walks will be held in the Chilterns, starting at Amersham station (HP6 5AZ) at 10am. Both will follow the route of HS2, with the long walk following the Misbourne Valley to Great Missenden and the short walk going to where a tunnel entrance will be. For more details contact Carol Rainsford on 07736 106101 or Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880. http://www.chilternsociety.org.uk/hs2/sept2010-sponsored-walk.php
- John Whitelegg is a Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at York University’s Stockholm Institute of the Environment. He can be contacted via the Green Party Press Office on 020 7561 0282 or
- On Wednesday 8th September, the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd released some proposed details of route realignment on their website:
- STOP HS2 campaigner, Lizzy Williams is walking the entire length of the proposed route during September. Lizzys itinerary (subject to change) and her progress along the route of HS2 and public events can be found at http://www.walkhs2.co.uk
- On Friday 10th, Lizzy Williams will have a ‘homecoming’ reaching The Inn in Greatworth (OX17 2DT) at 6.30 where there will be a meeting of the South Northamptonshire Action Group, which she chairs at 7.30. This will mark the halfway point in her walk. For more details contact Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880.