The Government have today, Thursday 24th July, have responded to the HS2 Growth Taskforce’s recommendations, which were published in March.
In a response that agrees with the HS2 Growth Task Force that local plans should be set up, the government fails to allocate any new spending for this. Local resources will be expect to be used include from existing budgets. There will be no money from central government. In a worrying development, the government, who sold HS1 to a foreign pension fund, says they will help local delivery bodies identify sources of investment from overseas.
The report refers to an as-yet unpublished report compiled by respected academics, who looked into way transport investment effects economic performance. Campaigners say this report will undermine the case for HS2 further, and are calling for the government to publish it immediately. It is expected that this report will be released at the same time as the long-awaited results of the Phase 2 consultation, effectively burying it. Littered through the document are references to numerous other plans which the government are drawing up, with many expected to be published in Spring 2015, around the time of the next General Election.
In addition the report confirms that the government hoping to be able to use HS2 for freight, which is at complete odds with the plans before Parliament and successive statements from HS2 Ltd and various Secretaries of State for Transport. When HS1 was built, similar assurances that it would not carry freight were given, but of course it now carries freight. If HS2 were to carry freight, this would have to happen exclusively between midnight and six a.m., when no passenger services are running.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“We’ve said all along that just building a new railway won’t work. What’s now clear is that the government agree that as well. If each of the cities that are getting HS2 stations was asked whether the best use in their area for billions from central government was another fast railway to London, the chances are they would have had better ideas. Instead local areas are being asked to find funding to develop plans that fit in with the government’s £50 billion vanity project.”
“Local people were told by the Secretary of State in 2010 that HS2 would not be used for freight. If freight uses HS2, this will extend the times that the line is in use, adding further misery to people affected by the line.”
“HS2 was announced by the unelected Labour peer, Lord Adonis, shortly before the last general election. It looks like the Tories are planning to copy his example and time announcements around next year’s general election.”
Speaking about the unpublished economic study compiled by Professor Tony Venables, Professor Henry Overman and Dr James Laird, Penny Gaines added,
“We’ve seen the government quick to publish reports which big up the case for HS2, no matter how dubious the methodology. Clearly the Government think this study shows that their grandiose claims for HS2 are unfounded, and wants to bury it in the middle of a whole load of other reports. We call on the government to publish it immediately.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“The Government is telling cities which will get HS2 stations, to ‘go forth and regenerate’, seeming to think that having a plan for regeneration is all they need, and that the money to deliver their plans will somehow magically appear. We have always said, if you want to regenerate the North and the Midlands, forget building HS2, spending money regenerating the North and the Midlands, because if you spend £50bn on a faster train line to London, that money won’t be there.”
“The fact that the Government are still planning to use HS2 for freight is at direct odd with the plans before Parliament which include no plans to use HS2 for night-time freight running. It’s clear they are trying to con the public and the Select Committee currently hearing petitions, because it is clear they want there to be night freight running, but if they had put that in the current plans, it would mean more noise mitigation would be needed.”