A letter to Jeremy

Stop HS2 has received this letter, which has been sent to Jeremy Corbyn from Barry Gibbs;

First, congratulations on your party’s performance in the recent General Election; hopefully with one more push we will witness the return of a Labour government in the not-too-distant future.

Secondly, I want to comment on the inclusion of the HS2 Bill in the Queen’s Speech this week.  As the son of a railwayman, I am a passionate advocate for rail travel, but I am vehemently opposed to this vainglorious scheme which, as you know, would cost the tax-paying public a huge amount of money which could be used to assist in your aim of ending austerity and improving essential public services.  Whilst your party has in the past voted in favour of HS2, I believe that your own position in this regard is at least ambivalent and, now that we have a new parliament, I would urge you to reconsider Labour’s position.  This is a project which would produce at best only marginal benefits for a privileged few, would cause enormous disruption in its construction and the costs of which are likely to continue to escalate.  

As regards the wider issue of rail investment, I am of course wholly supportive of the expansion of the network and would applaud your ambition to bring the railways back into public ownership.

8 comments to “A letter to Jeremy”
  1. Update our existing system and please drop the overpriced HS2. Will cause chaos, destroy wildlife habitat and will only BENEFIT THE FEW AND NOT THE MANY. Please scrap it and use the money where needed to end austerity. Waste of money IMHO!

  2. Never too late to stop….weddings are sometimes bravely cancelled, often regrettably not.

  3. Jeremy Corbyn supports HS2, there is no ambiguity about his positions. His support for HS2 is party because of the number of jobs that will apparently be created by this unecessary, costly, and environmentally damaging vanity project.

  4. About time people were reminded of this exchange when Hammond was transport sec.

    Q553 Julie Hilling: One of the criticisms that people are making is that this is just going to be a rich person’s toy and people of low or moderate means will never be able to travel on this. Can you reassure people that it is going to be a railway for everybody and what will happen about regulating fare prices, etc.?

    Mr Hammond: Uncomfortable fact perhaps No. 1 is that the railway is already relatively a rich man’s toy-the whole railway. People who use the railway, on average, have significantly higher incomes than the population as a whole. That is a simple fact. The assumptions underlying the pattern of use of HS2 assume similar pricing to the West Coast Main Line, which, as I have said before, ranges from eyewateringly expensive to really quite reasonable if you dig around and use the advance purchase ticket options that are available. Therefore, the assumption is that the socioeconomic mix of passengers will be broadly similar to those currently using the West Coast Main Line.

    There is another point here which I think we have to be absolutely clear about. If you are working in a factory in Manchester you might never get on HS2, but you will certainly be benefiting from it if the salesman and sales director of your company is routinely hopping on it to go and meet customers, to jet around the world from Heathrow in a way that brings in orders that keep you employed. So the benefits of greater connectivity, the benefits of bringing businesses closer to their markets, the benefits from released freight capacity and moving goods efficiently around the country, do not only accrue to the people who will actually use the railway. They accrue to some people who will never even get on the railway. They certainly accrue to people who will use services on the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines that would not have been able to be provided if we had not been able to move the long distance city to city traffic on to a high speed railway. It is a complicated model and the ripple effects will spread across the whole of the economy in ways that it would be foolish to even try and pretend we can wholly predict and quantify at this stage.

  5. I am of course wholly supportive of the expansion of the network

    Except, it would appear, when the planned expansion just happens to be in your immediate vicinity?

    I’m intrigued to understand how you expect expansion of the rail network to happen without construction of new lines – you could of course create additional capacity in the existing network by constructing new tracks in parallel with the existing lines but there are a few rather large problems associated with such a strategy;
    1. You can’t operate services on the existing lines (bang next door, ie. within a few metres) for obvious safety reasons so that would mean closing down entire sections of the existing network for periods measured in years (now, perhaps you can recall what happens when a track possession over a long bank holiday weekend takes place – then imagine the chaos and disruption accruing to the travelling public resulting from repeated episodes of two and three year closures!)
    2. The existing network doesn’t conveniently run just through relatively unoccupied countryside – it also threads it way (often by means of quite narrow cuttings) through heavily built up areas – so, how do you propose to four track those sections without huge disruption?
    3. Even if you went down this route, the speed of the new, still very expensively constructed (but possibly less than HS2), tracks wouldn’t be much greater than the existing network due to simple laws of physics – you can’t go round tight bends too fast!

    So the UK ends up still outlaying huge wads of publicly funded expenditure to improve and increase total capacity, resilience and efficient operation of the rail network, but the gains achieved are drastically less than those resulting from new tracks constructed on a “virgin” pathway – yes, those who currently reside in close proximity to brand new lines like HS2 would be spared the undoubted disruption to their lives but only at the expense of transferring that very same disruption to other neighbourhoods somewhere else, nowhere near them – but of course that’s the real (but hidden) agenda here, isn’t it?

    • Where I live in Wales, I have to drive 30 minutes to even get to a railway station and from Aberystwyth you can only go north before you can get to a station in England to go south.

      The Beeching cuts split Wales in two, North-South. To us the advantage of saving 20 minutes on a train journey from London to Birmingham is completely academic.

  6. I agree with Barry Gibbs. What is more all the major contracts are going to countries not in the uk E.G China, Japan, USA, Germany, France to mention just a few. Not a lot of British business is interested and there is no business investment in the project. All investment is by us the Taxpayers and how many of us will use it. Most commuters use the routes that exist from Marylebone or Euston to Birmingham joining or leaving the route on the way. Still it is only costing £2 billion a year at the moment but it will be £3billion a year in a year or so once construction starts.

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