On day two of the Judicial Reviews being held into HS2 at the Royal Courts of Justice, it has been revealed that the proposed link from HS2 to Heathrow airport would have a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 0.3:1, meaning that for every pound spent the country would only ever get 30p back. This information comes straight from those running the project, as it was part of an internal memorandum from HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Alison Munro, sent in November 2011, which was obtained under disclosure. In the memo, Munro added that she did not believe it was possible to get make the Heathrow link show a positive return.
This information formed part of the evidence submitted from Nathalie Lieven QC, acting on behalf of 15 of the local authorities comprising 51m. She went on to read out evidence given to the Transport Select Committee by previous Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, who had stated that the DfT would no longer even consider projects with a BCR less than 1:1. Lieven also pointed out that in relation to Heathrow, based on HS2 Ltds own projections, an average of only 102 passengers are due to travel on HS2 trains to Heathrow, with only 14% actually intending to go to the airport itself, with the other 86% intending to go to West London or Reading.
The main part of evidence heard in the court from 51m today concerned the irrationality of the decision to proceed with HS2, which besides looking at the way the Heathrow spur link had been bolted on as a misguided afterthought, concentrated on the impacts in Camden.
One of these matters was that if HS2 were to hit passenger projections, Euston station would simply be unable to cope and that, as Mayor of London Boris Johnson has stated, it could necessitate the building of ‘Crossrail 2’. The inability to disburse passengers at Euston could mean people waiting as long as half an hour for the tube and could cause problems on the entire network with too many people trying to get back to Euston, and it was argued that it was simply irresponsible to HS2 to proceed without considering effects such as these. The other matter concerning Camden and the irrationality of HS2 are the plans to use the North London (overground) line to link it to HS1. This would have severe effects both for the current line and Camden which have not been considered.
The day ended with David Elvin QC outlining the beginning of the HS2AA environmental case, stating precedential implementations of the Strategic Environmental Assessment regulations, which campaigners believe the Government has breached.
Today, David Prout has been appointed by the DfT as Director General, responsible for the implementation of HS2. Prout currently of Director General at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;
“Today we have seen many of the things highlighted that just show HS2 makes no sense at all, and is just being driven through by people who have decided it is a good idea, don’t care about the facts and ignore the reality of their own idiocy. We have said for years that if the HS2 passenger forecasts are right, which we sincerely doubt, Euston will not be able to cope with dumping and extra 100,000 people a day in it, but the Government didn’t listen.”
“When HS2 was first announced there were no plans for links to Heathrow or even HS1, so these things were both afterthoughts. Now it turns out that linking to Heathrow via the branch line suggested will mean the taxpayer will throw away 70p in each pound spent on the link and on HS2 Ltds own figures only 14 people per train will actually want to go to the airport anyway, just what the hell is the point of that? We are all amazed that no-one in Government has realised how totally barmy the idea of putting HS2 trains on the North London Line is. Besides the fact every single bridge in that part of Camden would have to come down because HS2 trains will be too wide for the current ones, they seem completely uninterested in the fact that thousands of Londoners rely on the existing service.”
“It is completely bizarre that the Government have decided to appoint their localism mandarin to push through HS2, as the two philosophies are completely inconsistent. Localism is meant to support and encourage local people getting involved and having a say about what happens in their community. HS2 is about destroying communities, ignoring anything anyone who has something has to say and dismissing naysayers as nimbies.”
The hearing of the five Judicial Reviews is expected to last until Tuesday 11th December, with a ruling to come early in 2013