Lord Berkeley is chairman of the Rail Freight Group in the UK, a board member of the European Rail Freight Association, involved on both the All Party Parliamentary Rail and Cycling Groups, was a public member of Network Rail, and worked on the Channel Tunnel. If the HS2 Hybrid Bill select committee had listened to anyone, it should have been him.
However, as he writes in the House of Lords blog, Lords of the Blog, they didn’t. While his article focuses on Euston, the same attitudes occurred again and again on other issues. Berkeley writes:
“Euston Express is disappointed that the Commons Select committee chose to ignore the inaccurate evidence given by HS2 about our Euston Express scheme….
“It was disappointing that the Committee chose to rely on HS2 views without properly considering challenges to their assertions. For example, for Euston Express: HS2 stated that GC (continental gauge) lines were a requirement all the way into Euston, but then admitted that this was incorrect.
“They stated that Euston Express scheme was more expensive than HS2’s own AP3 scheme at Euston, but then could not (and still cannot) substantiate this with any significant evidence on the station scheme.
“The Committee, in its Report para 222, states that E Ex ‘would require high levels of night time construction in a residential area’, whilst appearing to ignore the very much greater disruption, no doubt day and night, from the HS2 scheme from demolishing many properties to the west of the station and approaches, around 2 m tonnes of excavations to be removed by up to 1000 trucks a day for three years…
“Sadly, I conclude that the Committee in many instances failed to give proper time to hearing evidence and challenging the promoter. Let us hope that the Lords Select committee behaves better!”
Of course, the HS2 scheme for Euston is dire, even if you like HS2. Taking 17 years, all the current scheme will do is tack on HS2 to the existing station: to improve that would be left to Network Rail sometime after 2033.
Lack of lay mp transparency and adhoc coverage of points and arbitary involvement of mps all demonstrate questions about limiting use of such a process in future when so many are impacted by a PMs idea not meeting criteria for such vast public debt funding.