The Hansard record of Tuesday’s Westminster Hall debate is now online. Here are just some of the points made:
Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) said that a number of lessons needed to be learned from High Speed 1. The new service should not be introduced at the expense of the existing service – services from Gillingham to Victoria and Canon Street had been cut. In addition he said that HS1 fares in Kent had gone up by 30%.
Steve Baker (Wycombe) called for an official environmental impact assessment of the preferred route to be made available well in advance of the planned consultation, “so that interested parties can fully digest its findings.”
He also said that a noise assessment is needed – listeners at the rally on Great Missenden were shocked at the recording played there, and this reinforces the need for HS2 and the DfT to provide proper analysis of the noise that HS2 would create.
Steve Baker also compared European rail journey times from the capital to the five largest cities. “For instance, the average journey time in the UK is 145 minutes. It is 151 minutes in Spain, 184 in Italy, 221 in France and 244 in Germany.”
Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab) called the proposals “daft and expensive”, and criticised the choice of Euston as the terminus. He added that the major 19th century railway projects either went bust or were fraudenlent, or both.
Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con) said that in Rugby, 50 businesses heard the case for high-speed rail but many “left the presentation unconvinced and unsatisfied as to its merits.”
David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con) wants a spur to Warrington and Preston as soon as possible.
Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) (Con) said
“We run the risk of an enormous and costly error in this country if we do not get the details right …. Frankly, we get one shot at making the project work and, vitally, if it is to succeed, it must be done on the strongest evidence and commanding broad-based support in the country.”
Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) (Con) and Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) were concerned about the location of the Y shaped juction, which was likely to be either in his constituency or the next one. The uncertainty was worse then knowing and made the point: “There are people on a route that appeared briefly on one map-with a dotted line that disappeared from subsequent maps-who were effectively blighted, but who were unable to take part in the exceptional hardship scheme or any other compensation scheme. They are blighted through uncertainty, not through an actual line on a map.”
Dan Byles also had concerns about the way the Exceptional Hardship Scheme was being run, suggesting “that to a large degree, the panel is making it up as it goes along”.
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I watched the debate on the BBC Parliamentary channel; very interesting, but I was disappointed that no one responded to the MP who said that the noise of HS1 is hardly audible above the traffic noise. As I understand it, much of HS1 is built close to the M20, not across open countryside as is proposed for HS2. A good point was made by Frank Dobson (I think) that if there is an incident between Birmingham and London, once the Y network is in operation, the whole thing will grind to a halt.