EMBARGO 23RD MAY 12.01am

Today, the All Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail published their report, which unsurprisingly says that HS2 must go ahead, as the alternatives are inadequate.  Their main conclusions are a simple case of lies, damned lies and statistics, whereby they have used general figures and problems across the entire rail network, which will not be solved by HS2 in an attempt to justify HS2.

Their main conclusions and the Stop HS2 response are as follows;

  • The rail network is close to being full. At the current time, we are hitting passenger projections that were predicted in a decades’ time.”

Some lines are full, especially in the South and SW. The Reading – Paddington line is 200% loaded at peak time. HS2 goes no-where near this. By contrast, studies have shown that the West Coast Mainline which HS2 is designed to relieve is only 56% loaded at peak time and the promised extra carriages provide even more capacity.

  • “Growth has continued despite the recession. The railways are seeing substantial growth at over 5% even in the midst of a recession.”

The immediate reason for this is record petrol prices, and the figures are already coming down. As the Public Accounts Committee were adamantly attempted to get DfT officials to recently admit, the greatest growth is in regional traffic, as well as discounted fares. Skype, Webinars and web meetings will also take off if ever decide investment in encouraging more people not to travel is a priority and we catch up with our international competitors on Internet speeds.

  • “Alternatives to HS2 will not meet demand. These alternatives, known as Rail Package 2 or 51m’s “Optimised Alternative”, are unable to meet peak demand, and would do little to help local services or freight.”

This is nonsense even on the DfT inflated demand figures. Investment in rail should be where it is most needed which is not the West Coast Mainline. The majority of train users are local passengers which will not benefit from HS2, while the planned Felixtowe-Nuneaton lines frees up freight demand in the southern section of the WCML

  • “Risk of under-providing is greater than over-providing. The risks to under-providing capacity are severe, and are far more serious than the risks of overprovision.”

Evidence from nine out of ten rail project across the whole of Europe show that governments over forecast demand, by an average of 100%. These claims were made when  HS1 was built, which is currently running at just one third of the original passenger forecasts.

Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;

“It is no real surprise that a group of out-of-touch MPs who would see their journey time to London cut, think mistakenly that there will be benefits to their areas, and are heavily influenced by the businessmen who directly benefit from the construction of HS2 think that building it is a good idea. This report is a sham, it was a foregone conclusion, it is shamelessly selfish and ignores the facts. Much like the Department for Transport, they had set out what they wanted to find before they even started. For anyone who doesn’t think this is spin, they should look at the fact that the groups official ‘secretary’ is listed as Lucy James from lobbying firm Westbourne Communications. All this report does is highlight the need for supporters of HS2 to spin away the reality of the situation.”

“The reality is that the expected economic benefits of HS2 have halved, the Treasury has been slow to release money for HS2, the Major Projects Authority have put HS2 on red-amber alert, the Transport Select Committee said there were a host of issues they wanted resolving which haven’t been and just this week said there is ‘no transport strategy’, the Public Accounts Committee used words like ‘Bonkers, Biased and Potty’, saying they were ‘Gobsmacked’ at the passenger forecasts, and the National Audit Office is just about to start a study after producing two which were heavily critical of HS1. There are also a multitude of serious economic organisations which have come out against this boondoggle.”

“The bottom line is with HS2, Should we build it because there are people who blindly want it no matter what the cost to the nation, or should we not build it because of the people who have actually looked at the cost, the benefits and the alternatives properly and said that the cost of HS2 is simply too great and not in the national interest?”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said;

“It’s no surprise that the All Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail concluded that high speed rail was the answer to the inquiry they set up.  However, the writers of the report appear to have looked at the issue through the limited view a very narrow set filters, and compared a very limited number of alternatives. They – and the Department for Transport when developing HS2 – are completely oblivious to the growth in telepresence videoconferencing, which is leading to a fall in the total number of long distance journeys over all modes of transport.”

  1. Given that the hierarchies of all the main parties support HS2, it is no surprise the All Party Parliamentary Group has arrived at this conclusion.

    It would be difficult for politicians to detach themselves entirely from the central ambitions of their parties and if all concerned are on the same train, so to speak, they will all arrive at the same station.

    Perhaps it demonstrates the need for entirely independent groups – outside of politics – to examine the validity of spending taxpayers money on huge infrastructure projects. And to avoid the possibility of partisan politicians catching the wrong train.

  2. They say “The rail network is close to being full”

    Where is the evidence?

    Did they have the WCML peak loadings that we have not been allowed to see?

  3. I will be long gone by the time the Manchester extension of HS2 passes within 5-8 miles of my home in Cheshire and have little in common with the oft disparagingly described NIMBYs of the Chilterns – so why should I care?
    It just sickens me that MPs and others so smugly buy this pipe-dream as they regularly fall for slick but false arguments such as “Iraq”. It will of course be the chance of a lifetime for many a budding civil engineer and marketeer so there will be many set to “gain” from it – £32bn fills a lot of pockets.
    Philip Hammond was previously ‘minded’ to connect Heathrow to the West and Wales in both directions. If this were done, it would allow a large slice of the country, including Midlands and North West, easy access to Heathrow, by bypassing London stations.
    With Crossrail, the load on Paddington could be greatly reduced and it would also take pressure off WCML into Euston. However, despite access to Heathrow being supposedly a key driver for HS2, none of this can be considered as it reduces the importance of the London hub.
    George Osborne is said to be holding back on funding. Well, he was in China a while back when he proposed that their massive sovereign wealth fund could be put to good use investing in UK infrastructure. They would certainly not accept a base-rate level of return and would no doubt expect a big say on the supply of just about everything – as well as demanding a very long lease. So far, everyone is very quiet on this potential but it will surely soon be announced as a great “partnership of equals”.

    • I thought anti-HS2 campaigners were concerned about wasting taxpayers money – which is precisely what a public enquiry will do

      The Hybrid Bill process is designed to enable those opposed to voice their case directly to our law makers – petitions lodged will be subject to public as well as Parliamentary scrutiny

      This Hybrid Bill process is the medium through which your opposition should be registered – your call for a public enquiry is a thinly veiled attempt to add yet another obstacle/delaying tactic

      • The money spent on a public enquiry will be a tiny fraction of what will be spent if HS2 is built……I am still astonished that this project is being considered in the current environment, huge spend for unclear benefit in the long term future….if we need to promote growth then we need shorter term projects that provide UK jobs

        • You’re astonished @hsno because you’re residing in the bubble of unreality constructed by this website and its fellow band of travellers.

          Meanwhile back in the real world, the case for HS2 goes forward.

          Those opposed to HS2 (the vast majority for very obvious reasons of self-interest) will have an opportunity to put their case during the petitions stage of the Hybrid Bill. There is also the little matter of Judicial Reviews to consider, assuming they are allowed to proceed?

          There is ample scope for dissent about HS2, Lord knows the anti-brigade are shouting very loudly – it is impossible for them not to be heard!

          • “Those opposed to HS2 (the vast majority for very obvious reasons of self-interest) will have an opportunity to put their case during the petitions stage of the Hybrid Bill. There is also the little matter of Judicial Reviews to consider, assuming they are allowed to proceed?”

            I think you’ll find there are very obvious reasons of self-interest among those who support HS2.

            • @Geoff

              I can only comment on my own reasons for supporting HS2, which are very simple.

              From a wider perspective, I want my Region (NW.England) and its inhabitants to benefit from the connectivity and enhanced economic activity flowing from HS2.

              From a personal perspective, I’d like to avail myself of the train services construction of the new line will facilitate

              That’s it.

              Those opposed to HS2 will have ample scope to voice their arguments through the two mechanisms I’ve outlined. A public enquiry is a) a waste of taxpayers money (rehashing the same debates that will unfold during the Hybrid Bill and Judicial Review processes) & b) just another delaying tactic

          • So to bring us all into your bubble of reality please publish as a minimum–

            the MPA amber/red report
            WCML peak loading data
            total cost to build HS2 to Edinburgh and Glasgow
            the vision of what the world of work will look like in 2026 and the competitive advantage that HS2 will give us


          • I think the bubble of unreality is those that think that spending 16 billion
            For a non stop train between London and Birmingham will somehow reduce all the
            Overcrowded trains up and down the country.

            • Can I add another bubble of ‘unreality’ that is unfortunately REAL:

              Thousands of people have recently lost and are loosing their jobs in industry, businesses, farming, policing, civil defence, education, health services, social services throughout the country.

              HS2 will give a different thousands of people jobs building a fast train for wealthy people to travel on.

              HS2 Limited say that when it is finished IN MANY YEARS FROM NOW there is supposed to be a magical expansion of tens of thousands of jobs. Will these be jobs for those people I mentioned above who have lost their jobs, or for the extra people HS2 is going to speed in from abroad?

  4. Quite clearly the economics of rail travel as it stands are up the creek. If train companies are requiring large injections of public money to upgrade infrastructure then they are clearly only just keeping their heads above water, and that’s WITH the revenue generated by the system running at over-capacity in the peaks. If HS2 does what is proposed, then it’s just more of the same. If it will reduce crowding on the WCML, then the WCML is surely going to get disproportionately more expensive or unprofitable.
    The TOCs need to come back into national ownership and overcrowding in commuter belts addressed. The data being used to support this scheme are being wrongly applied. It’s like trying to fix a fuel leak with a new exhaust system.

  5. Once again I am encouraged to believe that in order to prevent this monumental waste of public money, HS2’s opponents will need a great deal more than a solid rational argument against it. Outweighing the embarrassment likely to be experienced by politicians, as a result of having to backpedal on signed deals and probably an unseen number of ‘nods and winks’ to big party donors, will require something of the magnitude of a global depression to render it unaffordable. But wait a minute!

  6. And how could we possibly doubt the wisdom, scrutiny and integrity of an All Party Parliamentary Group?

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