On Thursday 18th November, it is widely expected that part of the Eastern Leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds will be cancelled along with HS3, part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposal. Instead, it is expected that money will be invested upgrading of existing lines, reopening of old ones and some electrification projects, though there is currently the potential for the announcement new lines with lower specifications than HS2 to run along parts of the proposed route.
Ahead of the announcement, Stop HS2 spokesman Joe Rukin made the following statement, which is available in video format via this link: https://youtu.be/lHxLdGR4CNA
“Right from the very first meetings I was going to almost a decade ago in the East Midlands and Yorkshire, I was telling people that this was the least likely part of HS2 to get built, because it was the most pointless part of a completely pointless white elephant, by the time they got round to it, the entire budget would have been blown down south. And due to the widespread subsidence in former mining areas along the route which HS2 Ltd hadn’t bothered to survey, a high speed railway of the proposed specification simply could not be built without costing billions and billions more than the back of a fag packet budget.”
“The cancellation of the Eastern leg of HS2 is vindication of everything we’ve been saying for a decade, that you can deliver more benefits to more people more quickly for less money without the massive environmental impact by upgrading existing infrastructure, reopening old lines and providing sustainable local transport, because that’s what people need, to get in and around the towns and cities where they live and work, they don’t need a fast train for at cats that only ever got this far to prop up the powerful lobbyists from the construction industry.”
“The opportunist spin from today is going to be that cancelling the Eastern leg of HS2 is a betrayal of the North, but it is absolutely not. If you want to level-up, or rebalance the economy as they used to put it, the very, very last thing you would do would be to make it quicker and easier to get down to London, because that’s where all the economic benefits would have gone. If you want to help the North of England, or indeed any region, you spend that money there on developing the transport systems that ordinary people will use every day and have been crying out for improvement on decades. For a couple of percent of the cost of HS2 you can replace 11 miles of missing track between Skipton and Colne and reopen the Woodhead tunnels which gives you two new lines across the Pennines, and that is surely what a Northern Powerhouse is all about.”
“When politicians vote to spend billions and billions on projects like Crossrail and HS2, they don’t realise or didn’t care is that they’re not voting certified engineering solutions that had been thoroughly checked with viable budgets and timescales, they’re voting on outline plans. We’ve seen it with HS1, we’ve seen it with Crossrail and now with HS2, at Euston they’ve finally admitted after ten years of wishful thinking that the station cannot be built to specification in the land available, we’ve already started to see to pollution of the Chiltern Aquifer that supplies drinking water to London and we’re hearing that the engineers have finally cottoned on to the fact that the tunnel under Spaghetti Junction might not be doable. All of this massively puts the cost up, and on Phase 2 they’ve tried to prentend massive problems aren’t there and hope they’d go away, because there are massive issues with subsidence, first in the Cheshire Brine Fields, which you can go round, but in the former mining areas in the East Midlands and Yorkshire there is subsidence everywhere, you can’t miss it and it had always been the case that they simply could not build a railway to the proposed specifications in those areas.it has taken them a decade to admit it.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, speaking ahead of the announcement, said,
“We’ve seen it numerous times, that reviews of HS2 consistently either upped the budget or dropped parts of the project. If they’ve mashed together parts of Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and other projects, they’ve simply come up with another way of hiding the deep problems of HS2.
“Now that they are putting spades in the ground, it is becoming abundantly clear that they can’t build HS2 with the specifications dreamt up by London based politicians. What they should have done is cancel the project in its entirety so they can make the improvements to local and regional transport that ordinary people want.”
How right Penny and Joe are. Anyone with half a brain , a calculator and a theodolite could have worked out that this project was not viable eleven years ago. This should not be a case of “I’ve started so I’ll finish “ whichever way you look at it , it is wrong and should be cancelled in its entirety. Give the north the east west connectivity they want and give the south their green and pleasant land back.
As a Toton resident, my take on the IRP:
a) The government claimed that HS2 was needed because the East Coast Mainline couldn’t be upgraded without causing massive disruption. (The government’s disruption estimates were challenged and found to be made up.) Now the ECML is being upgraded to give similar performance to HS2.
b) The government claimed that HS2 was needed because there was no spare capacity on existing lines. Now all the extra HS2 services will be running on the existing lines to Nottingham & Derby. Capacity found.
c) I raised the problems of Nottingham/Derby rail shuttle connections to Toton (& their funding) and A52 road traffic in many discussions with HS2 engineers & was stonewalled. Not their problem. Now these are the reasons given for moving the station to Parkway.
(I’ve written the above from memory. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to correct me.)