2024 Manifesto Roundup

With a couple of weeks to go before the general election, all the major parties have published their manifestoes. Here is what they have to say about HS2 or railways more generally:

Labour:

There is no mention of HS2 in the manifesto.  There are other mentions of railways and “slashing red tape” to make “major projects faster and cheaper” .

Labour say that they will reform the railways and bring them into public ownership.

More generally on infrastructure they say:

“Labour will end this chaos by developing a ten-year infrastructure strategy, aligned with our industrial strategy and regional development priorities, including improving rail connectivity across the north of England. The strategy will guide investment plans and give the private sector certainty about the project pipeline. We will work closely with business to map and address the delivery challenges we face. We will create a new National Infrastructure and Service Transformation Authority, bringing together existing bodies, to set strategic infrastructure priorities and oversee the design, scope, and delivery of projects.

“The current planning regime acts as a major brake on economic growth. Labour will make the changes we need to forge ahead with new roads, railways, reservoirs, and other nationally significant infrastructure. We will set out new national policy statements, make major projects faster and cheaper by slashing red tape, and build support for developments by ensuring communities directly benefit.

Conservatives:

The Conservatives scatter mentions of HS2 through their manifesto, though mainly to say what they will do with the money they aren’t spending on Phase2:

p 4 “Invest £36 billion in local roads, rail and buses to drive regional growth, including £8.3 billion to fill potholes and resurface roads, funded by cancelling the second phase of HS2.”

p 17-18 “We will spend £36 billion of HS2 savings on transport projects that will benefit more people, in more places, more quickly. Every penny saved in the North or Midlands will be spent there. Savings from our new plan for Euston, which will see 10,000 new homes built, have freed up £6.5 billion for transport across the rest of the country.

“Labour has no plan. They neither support the second phase of HS2 nor our alternative package of investment, meaning they won’t back schemes their own local leaders say will transform their areas….

“Deliver our plan for Northern Powerhouse Rail bringing more frequent trains, more capacity and faster journeys. We have committed £12 billion on top of our HS2 savings to deliver the section of Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Liverpool. Savings from HS2 enable us to fund electrification to Hull and build a new station in Bradford….

“This comes on top of £44 billion of funding for Network Rail over the next five years and our investment in the Transpennine Route Upgrade, laying the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail. We will complete HS2 between London Euston and the West Midlands and support the growth of the rail freight sector.”

p57 “Reliable transport links are critical for thriving local communities. The £36 billion of savings from HS2 will transform local and regional transport, benefitting more people, in more places, more quickly. But we will also take immediate steps to help people now. Buses are overwhelmingly the most popular form of public transport, in both urban and rural areas. “

p74 “As a result of our decision to cancel the second phase of HS2 and invest the savings into local transport projects, we can commit £1 billion for the electrification of the North Wales Main Line and ensure Wales starts receiving Barnett consequentials for the projects funded from HS2 savings in England.”

LibDems:

LibDem Manifesto here: On page 81 it says:

  • “Delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail to connect cities across the North of England.
  • “Reviewing the Conservatives’ cancellation of the northern leg of HS2 to see if it can still be delivered in a way that provides value for money, including by encouraging private investment, or if an alternative is viable.”

Green Party:

Green Party Manifesto here, with a downloadable versions here.  Even the long version here does not explicitly mention HS2.

There are several rail related policies (p31)

“Green MPs will push to: …Bring the railways back into public ownership…”

“Privatisation of the railways has failed – we have all experienced the decline in the standard of services, strikes and growing dissatisfaction. The railways should be the backbone of a sustainable transport system. Elected Greens will push for:

  • Investment in a modern, efficient, publicly owned railway, with affordable fares.
  • Greater investment in more rapid electrification so the rail network can be powered sustainably.
  • A national strategic approach to identifying those lines and stations which could be re-opened. This should be led by regional and local government to ensure the most benefits.
  • Train companies to be gradually brought back into public ownership, as existing contracts expire and rolling stock which is currently owned by leasing companies needs replacement.

Reform:

Reform Party Manifesto can be downloaded from here, full document here

CRITICAL REFORMS NEEDED IN THE FIRST 100 DAYS:
Scrap HS2

Save £25 billion by scrapping the rest of this bloated vanity project.

Policy overview

The LibDems, Conservatives and Reform have clear policies about HS2 in their manifestos, with Reform promising to scrap HS2 as one of their first actions.

The Green Party have had a long term policy of opposing HS2 and this manifesto does not change that.

The lack of a Labour policy on HS2 is a example of their “ming vase” strategy in this election: they are not actually saying what they will do in office. However “slashing red tape” on planning may end up being “reduce local consultation programs” on the next large infrastructure project

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