First Report from the HS2 Lobby Day – please contact your MP

The Lobby Day yesterday was very successful, attended by a range of MPs and Peers from all the main political parties. There were also ordinary members of the public – including people from areas away from the current proposed route who wanted more information about HS2.

In the question and answer session, Andrea Leadsom, MP, was asked what people who are concerned about the downsides of the HS2 proposal could do to raise it’s profile in Parliament.

Andrea was quite clear. She said that she and some of the other MPs do what they can to talk to MPs in the member’s tearooms and at other occasions to explain the problems of HS2.

But she said there was a key thing that ordinary people could do. And that was to get their friends and relatives across the country to raise the issue with their own MPs. The more people contacting a Member of Parliament, the more likely that MP is to take an interest in the proposal and look at the details of HS2.

Andrea suggested that we should point out that HS2 will cost £1000 per family, but that the wealthiest would use it most. She said it was “completely not egalitarian” and that “now is not the time to be asking everyone to dig deep” to pay for the proposed railway.

Of course the financial cost of the railway is not the only reason to be opposed to HS2.

Steve Roddick’s speech covered a number of the environmental downsides of HS2. These include the destruction of 300 acres of woodland, including 72 acres of ancient woodland, which simply cannot be replaced by planting new trees. HS2 will affect 160 wildlife sites, including 10 SSIs. Steve reminded people that HS2 is carbon neutral.

Steve pointed out that the environmental costs are not included in the economic case. This in spite of many of the so-called economic benefits of HS2 being intangible.

We will be posting more information about the Lobby Day. But in the meantime, please follow Andrea’s guidance and get your friends and family around the country to contact their MP to let them know the downsides of HS2.

21 comments to “First Report from the HS2 Lobby Day – please contact your MP”
  1. Vtiman I am sure that visiters to this country would like to actually see the countryside.A person who travelled on the French High speed train said it was just a blurr..I know i would find that extreamly boring.

  2. and apart from anything else you guys want it both ways – you complain that only the better off will use it and that it isnt egalitarian buit then complain about the amount hs2 will cost !!! how much more would it cost every year if the fares were subsidised instead of at least covering operating costs ? someone has to pay for the cost of the railway be it via subsidy and higher taxes or higher fares or a combination of the two. without the huge capacity benefits hs2 will bring to the entire railway network the pressure on fares will always be upwards as people are priced off the railway.

    remember the existing lines will still be there and likely be cheaper then hs2 fares. you dont have to use hs2 to benefit from it. and as far as affordability and the frear that hs2 will suck all the railway funds, we have had the announcement of more electrification and east west rail – EWR – which will benefit the chilterns. and further investments are planned. there should however be an interchange station where EWR crosses HS2 to give access from bedford / milton keynes / bicester / oxford etc.

    • …. and the Bedford / MK / Oxford project has a BCR of over 6 — now that does look like something very well worth doing compared to the slender return on HS2 and it’s vast outlay.

      • Looks like the new Bedford / MK / Oxford line will also go down through Bucks along the old railway line and past Quainton, Aylesbury and Wendover then on to Marylebone.

  3. funnily enough since the benefits of hs2 exceed the costs by a two to one margin even before the wider benefits are considered, the average household will be £1OOO pounds better off not worse !

    • Completely wrong vtiman !

      Revenues ( less operating costs ) cover only one third of the capital outlay — and that was calculated when we though GDP growth would be 2.5 % plus per annum. Most of the “benefit” comes from intangibles like “time saved” and that benefits only the people who use the line ( although not to the extent claimed ).

      So no, on both counts the average family in the UK is not better off.

      • i said that i would expect the fares to cover the OPERATING costs of the line which is the norm with hs lines. i dont know why a benefit to cost ratio of at least 2 to 1 is considered poor especially when it doesnt include those wider economic benefits which are tangible and real and if we use the case of hs1, are in the billions ! but i suppose you will just ignore these benefits to try to prove your point.

        if it is okay for you to say hs2 will cost the average household £1OOO then it is equally okay for me to point out that the £1OOO will in fact be a benefit. EWR indeed has a very high ratio and it is only right and proper that it is going ahead. the high ratio is probably for the bedford oxford stretch where the track and right of way exist although will need rebuilding completely. i guess you are okay with the wider benefits of this line ! and that you accept it will help increase capacity too ………

        • You actually said the average household will be £ 1000 pounds better off. That clearly implies cash in pocket which isn’t even close to being true.

          There are estimates of Wider Economic Impacts in the governments BCR analyses but these are decidedly unproven and could hardly be called tangible. Definition — 1 ) perceptible by touch , 2 ) definite, clearly intelligible, not elusive.

          If you want to base your case on HS1 you are on a hiding to nothing. Lower than expected volumes, a bust operator, lots of relocating companies and a shiny new shopping centre ( albeit a very nice one ) by the Olympic Stadium .

  4. …And in 10 years time (or 2016 I thought spend was supposed to start) the country will still be borrowing over £54billion more than it collects in taxes and the country will have a national debt of £1.4trillion; with unemployment likely to be north of 3million.

    So the situation will actually be far worse “in 10 years time”, not better. So count ’em Peter!

  5. “Andrea suggested that we should point out that HS2 will cost £1000 per family, but that the wealthiest would use it most. She said it was “completely not egalitarian” and that “now is not the time to be asking everyone to dig deep” to pay for the proposed railway.”

    Absolutely “now is not the time and guess what, HS2 isn’t NOW anyway, it’s ten (count ’em) years hence!

    • Thats not correct-£1 billion will be spent this parliament if it goes ahead much of it on consultants and who knows what will be budgetted for in the next Parliament

      • @John

        Actually my claim is largely true – the figure I’ve seen is closer to £750 million during the lifetime of this Parliament but we won’t split hairs over the difference – but whichever is more accurate it is just a fraction of the 32 or even 17 billion, which is the figure often quoted as though it is being committed/spent right now, during this period of austerity and public service cutbacks

        You’ve also carefully forgotten to mention that a large portion of this sum is funding property buy outs for those individuals most acutely affected – you remember surely, those people who find themselves unfortunate to be right next door or actually on the planned route – they surely deserve decent treatment and adequate compensation so they can move on in their lives – would you have it that they simply have to exist in limbo for X years whilst this issues is debated endlessly in order that the govt can claim no money has been spent on the project prior to a final decision being taken – you can’t have both sides of the argument!

        • peter -wherever they decide to build a high speed line it will effect some people who understandably will not want the line built near them so we will just repeat the exercise over again.

          if some savings could be made by reducing the projected speed i think that should be considered. and if another route is seen to be better so be it but how many routes are we going to try to select ? and the idea of using existing motorway or rail corridors assumes that they are all straight with no gradients and that they somehow dont also cut through fields and towns and villages. a twin track railway is between 1O to 25 metres wide no matter where you build it. a field alongside the m1 or m4O may not have the beauty of some parts of the chilterns but it is still countryside.

          the truth of the matter is that of all the transport alternatives electric rail of any speed is more efficient and less polluting then are cars or short haul flights. so if we accept that people will want to travel on business and pleasure and other reasons we need the capacity whilst recognizing the environmental consequences of travel.
          i think we forget how valuable tourism is to the uk economy.

        • I certainly havent forgotten those people whose lives have been blighted by the incompetence of all concerned with drawing lines on a map without any discussion or personal contact.

          I am also concerned about those people north of Birmingham who are still in the dark about the route and those on Labours ‘new’ line on a bit of paper with no detail

          However we will have to cope with the consequences and whatever the sum is it would be much better spent elsewhere

          • @John: “I am also concerned about those people north of Birmingham who are still in the dark about the route”

            errrrr………I am one of those people north of Birmingham but unlike most I have at least informed myself about this project – doubtless in the Spring of 2012, there will be numerous letters in my local paper (Wilmslow Advertiser) from disgruntled indivduals who suddenly claim expert status in the various technical fields involved in this project, refuting the need for this new line and asking why they weren’t informed about it before – the reality of course is that these individuals are not experts, just ordinary people who don’t bother to inform themselves about most things until it actually affects them.

            Even though the line is coming relatively close to me (phase 2 cannot avoid passing through George Osborne’s Tatton Constituency) I can readily perceive its nett benefits to UK PLC. Unlike you I am prepared to accept that investment in transport infrastructure does have a payback over time, which I why I reject your generalised assertions. The utterly negative and blatant scaremongering pervading the anti-HS2 campaign illustrates why the process of consultation you seem to imply is wholly impractical – can you imagine the scenario (you could make a Monty Python type sketch following the script); HS2 Ltd official drops into a village hall close to the proposed route and casually invites the reaction of the community – if this person actually got out of the room unharmed they’d count themselves lucky. Needless to say any such method of consulation would result in 99.9% of all major infrastructure projects getting absolutely nowhere!

            • the reality of course is that these individuals are not experts, just ordinary people who don’t bother to inform themselves about most things until it actually affects them. – can you please explain how this would not include you?

            • @nameless – it seems to have escaped your notice so I’ll make it abundantly clear to avoid any potential misunderstanding.

              I’m not claiming expert status, unlike many high profile anti-HS2 campaigners. I’ve informed myself about the scheme and on that basis I have formed a view on the merits and drawbacks (yes of course there are negative impacts resulting from a scheme of this magnitude) of HS2 and on balance I believe that the nett benefits flowing from implementation of HS2 are strongly positive. Obviously someone who resides in very close proximity to the preferred route will have a very different perspective and I respect their right to hold that view and be compensated accordingly if no meaningful form of mitigation is possible.

              The fact remains that I believe a scheme of the nature proposed is required and it has to go somewhere so there will be some people negatively impacted. The fact also remains that the numbers affected in this manner will be relatively small, compared with the enormous long term benefits delivered by the project, to the many. You don’t share that view and it’s your right to express it.

              What you must also accept is that Britain is a Parliamentary democracy and at the last election the policy of High Speed Rail was set out by the mainstream parties, three of whom enunciated clear support for this idea – please don’t try to say that because the actual route wasn’t mentioned this gives you a get-out clause because Route3 was in the public domain prior to the election.

              Those same three parties gained the active endorsement of 88% of the electorate voting. Therefore the plan has been granted legitimate public support and so it will proceed. It really is time for this harsh reality to dawn amongst the anti-HS2 community and rather than continue with their head in the sand approach, it would be more worthwhile to engage constructively in how best to mitigate the local environmental impact and maximise any benefit for the area – perhaps such an approach adopted from the outset might have seen a station serving the Chilterns/Oxon sub-Region incorporated into the proposed plan?

            • @Joe

              If you do have experience of UD, you’ll know that their campaign focuses on the Democratic Renewal agenda – in other words, how the UK’s democratic framework functions (or fails to). In that respect HS2 isn’t relevant because it is a specific policy outcome rather than a topic related to constitutional debate, a symptom rather than a cause.

              HS2 might be claimed to represent the tension between local and national aspirationsdemands, so from that angle the manner in which the UK is governened is relevant. I support the notion of a radically decentralised Britain (A Federal Britain in fact) but that outcome, even if was delivered, would still result in the aforementioned tension so I fail to see how the principles enshrined within the UD Constitution conflict with HS2 policy – maybe you’d like to point out where this problem arises?

            • Regular users of this site will be surprised to learn that Peter Davidson is not claiming expert status. But it must be true. He can’t possibly be an expert if he comes out with the statement ( as he did on the Telegraph blog yesterday ) about HS1 that … ” to date it has delivered £ 20 bn in measurable economic benefits “. Is this a mistake or disinformation. Care to have another go ?

              The experts are the leading transport economists and former PWC partners who pointed out the massive black hole in the HS2 economic case .

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