So far in the manifestos…

With the emphasis from the Conservative campaign on the economy, one would expect the current Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to be on top of his brief with the figures.  But in an interview with the Today programme this morning, Hammond lopped out £20 billion off the cost of HS2, saying that it would be £32 billion, instead of the real current figures of £55 billion.

Of course, when Hammond was Secretary of State for Transport, the HS2 budget was £32billionish: but there have been three Secretary of States in Transport since him, and the HS2 timetable is getting delayed.  The single HS2 Phase 2 bill should have been presented to Parliament by now, with construction on Phase 1 already started.  Instead, Phase 2 has been split into two, with delays there, and Phase 1 contracts are still to be awarded.  The budget for HS2 has also massively increased to £55 billion, but no one – except possibly Philip Hammond – expects it to stay that ‘low’.

Not surprisingly, the Labour have used the mistake to criticise Phil, issuing a press release about this, and the fact that Theresa May refused to confirm that Hammond will stay Chancellor after the election. Westminster rumours have already been circulating that he’ll be out of the Treasury if May wins big. Maybe he’ll be back in Transport?

Meanwhile both the Labour party and the LibDems have issued their manifestos.

We haven’t got much more to say about Labour’s, as their plans for HS2 were almost identical to the draft leaked last week – it repeats the plan for a Labour government to build HS2 into Scotland.  They also promise to borrow an extra £250 billion for a National Transformation Fund to spend on “the huge potential of every part of our country”.  The thing is HS2 to Scotland has not been costed, but with HS2 Ltd apparently working to internal estimates of £200 billion its entirely possible that such a fund might be entirely spent on HS2.

The LibDems have also got plans for HS2.  Their manifesto ties it in with other rail projects:

“Pursue the electrification of the rail network, improve stations, reopen smaller stations, restore twin-track lines to major routes and proceed with HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2, including development of a high-speed network stretching to Scotland.”

Of course, the money for HS2 was meant to be easy to find, coming from the same pot as Crossrail after that was finished.  But with the probability of Crossrail 2 going ahead, that money won’t be available for HS2.  And it will be interesting to see what happens with the ‘HS3’ plans: under current thinking from the ‘speed’ has been dropped for a more conventional speed railway.

The other point to make is that HS1 won’t be part of any UK ‘network’ .  The plans for HS2 were originally issued without a link to HS1, and although this was retrofitted for a while, it has since been dropped.

2 comments to “So far in the manifestos…”
  1. HS2 does not lay the foundations for creating the county communities to build the housing in places where people can commute to and from. HS2 got this wrong and the nation cannot afford to squander £100 Billion on a partial plan without the ability to services intermediate stations. Leadership is about persuading people to follow that use facilities and benefit from the additional services. The project went wrong by not being based on communities for people to live in and commute to and from. The three party leaders are not demonstrating sound planning capabilities of those people who made Milton Keynes into a thriving community and earlier evolved Barry and other new towns since. The greatest mistake the UK has made for the most money. Lets change this mistaken rail plan to a communities and commuting plan before the nation runs off the rails with higher and higher debts from the election of 2017. MPs are acting rashly in haste not wisely. Please think again all parties.

    Thorough analysis of what can be achieved has arrived at the following outcomes:

    The HS2 and house/community building and the costs of wrong approach to this railway/route and a nation requiring more money for essential services have not been integrated by Government.

    People believe that for a new route to encourage housing and community growth and commuting from those communities to and from the key cities HS2 does not work as it does not have sufficient tracks and does not have planned locations of communities with station to which a rail route can join thousands of people to jobs and homes.

    There is a network performance study that HS2 Ltd should have done, but never bothered to do so. It demonstrates HS2’s comprehensive failure across the entire national network. Of particular interest in the North it shows how HS2 completely fouls up the Northern Powerhouse with a score of minus 5 out of 10 for transpennine links in the National Connectivity Assessment for HS2.

    It also addresses the ‘State of the Union’, looking at how much HS2 will damage existing intercity links to Scotland, and how much alternatives to HS2 should improve them.

    An audit trail of what High Speed UK been telling to the Government for several years. The Government has been told exactly why the HS2 route through the Chilterns is not an appropriate alignment. The Chilterns prevent four tracks being constructed economically. The lack of community planning is a most fundamental failure by the Government not integrating the Communities and Local Government not working with the Department of Transport and Counties. The result is a line separated from community developments. Enhance the connectivity and improvements to Network Rail not HS2.

    Support integrated community and commuter planning for local benefits not HS2.

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