Dr Philip Lee, Conservative MP for Bracknell, explains in his local paper why he voted against HS2 at the second reading of the Hybrid Bill.
Decisions about public spending of this magnitude should be based on what will most benefit our country’s future and I do not believe that fast rail tops this list.
Our national priorities should be informed by a vision that will rocket us into a more competitive world; not one that leaves us chugging along as we are, albeit 10 minutes faster.
We need to focus on giving our country an edge and delivering world-leading technology and innovation. My main concern is that HS2 is a project of the past, not the future.
In short, I believe that the future is about the fast transmission of data, not people. Phase two of the plan is not due to be completed until 2033, by which time the planned high speed rail will be outdated technology.
I would put all the following ahead of fast rail: securing reliable, domestic sources of energy generation in the interests of national security; a fleet of new acute regional hospitals supported by community hospitals as the only viable way to save our unsustainable health system; a new national hub airport which can guarantee that Britain is capable of doing an increasing amount of business in a global marketplace; ensuring every home and business in the country has access to superfast broadband.
These are the national strategic projects in which we should be investing our finite and precious public resources.
Not in an anachronistic train line….
This is absolutely correct.
By the time we get to 2033, train tech will be outdated technology. We will be travelling ‘virtually’ everywhere, eliminating much of the need for business travel – and let’s face it – this is purely what HS2 is about. Where travel needs to happen, I believe we’ll see a return to personal travel, albeit on a zero-carbon basis.
The time to build high speed rail was in the 80s and 90s, just as our European partners did. We missed the opportunity. Now’s the time to innovate again – just like we did way back in Stephenson’s time.