Philip Hammond’s statement – what we think

Philip Hammond’s statement is on the Department for Transport website – this is what we think.

Philip Hammond says
“One of the Coalition’s main objectives is to build an economy which is more balanced both sectorally and geographically, that will deliver sustainable economic growth while delivering on our climate change targets.”

However, HS2 Ltd themselves do not say that HS2 will contribute to meeting these targets.  Instead HS2 Ltd say “The impact of HS2 on carbon emissions is both complex and highly uncertain. There are effects from the operation and use of HS2, and also from its construction (embedded carbon). The overall impact will depend on the decisions and actions of a wide range of people beyond the control of HS2.”  Main report p179

HS2 Ltd’s conclusion is that “Overall this suggests that the impact of HS2 on carbon emissions will be between an increase in emissions of 26.6MtCO2 and a reduction of 25MtCO2 over 60 years. ”  And then they say this represents a mere 0.3% of the UK’s transport emissions.

In other words, HS2 won’t have much of an effect on climate change targets, and if it does have an effect, it might make it harder to meet them.

Philip Hammond says
“we must provide attractive alternatives to short-haul aviation…”

However, short haul flights have been falling over the last few years.  Domestic air passengers numbers to Heathrow are falling, and the number of UK airports with scheduled flights to Heathrow has also reduced.   A mere 8% of HS2’s passengers would transfer from flying.

Philip Hammond says
“…while addressing the issue of scarce rail capacity between the city centres.”

The case for HS2 is based on a massive growth in demand for rail.  However,as  the Public Accounts Committee recently reported the rail industry should be “restraining the tendency to seek solutions through growth.”

Philip Hammond says
“Our proposals would provide an unprecedented increase in capacity”

However, Philip Hammond clearly thought that growth in travel might be a bad thing when he gave Norman Baker a remit for ‘non-travel’.

Philip Hammond says
“With regard to a link to HS1”

If HS2 Ltd were seeking to build an integrated high speed network,  a link to HS1 would have been part of the design from the start.  The after-thought nature of this link has left Labour MP Frank Dobson concerned that his constituents in  Holborn and St. Pancras will be squashed between two High Speed railway lines – HS2’s original proposal which stops at Euston, and the afterthought to St Pancras.

Philip Hammond says
“In total, around 50% of the preferred route proposal published in March has been amended in some respect.”

Many of these changes are extremely minor tweaks – for instance he refers to changes to the route around Hartwell House.  However the railway is only moved a matter of metres – but closer to over 2000 homes in Fairford Leys village, on the outskirts of Aylesbury.

Philip Hammond says
“When the consultation is launched, I will also publish a revised business case;”

The existing business case is very weak.  If HS2 Ltd’s predictions for passenger demand increases are slightly out, the business case collapses.  But their predictions of passenger increases are around twice the forecasts produced by the Department for Transport.

Philip Hammond says
“it is my view that a high speed rail network would deliver a transformational change to the way Britain works and competes in the 21st century,”

However as Professor Henry Overman, of the London School of Economics, said to the Transport Select Committee

“One of the problems is that people tend to take their pet project and basically try to justify support for it, on the basis that it will be transformational, and many of these claims for projects that will be transformational do not materialise once we go ahead and invest large amounts of money.”

Philip Hammond says
“The consultation exercise we will launch in the New Year will be one of the biggest and most wide-ranging ever undertaken by Government”

In the past, the public inquiry process ensured there was a full debate and adequate scrutiny of ambitious projects like HS2.

The old public inquiry process was sometimes inefficient.  However with the Prime Minister already announcing that HS2 will happen, can we really believe there will be any reasoned debate or scrutiny of this project?

In short, Philip Hammond has added nothing to the debate for this ill-thought out project.  He has trotted out the same old excuses, but the truth still remains.  There is no strategic case, there is no business case, there is no environmental case…

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5 comments to “Philip Hammond’s statement – what we think”
  1. Due to illness yesterday and car not starting due to illness/cold I could not make it, nor to Wendover today.

    I am producing a doccumentary on the High Speed Rail, for my dissertation. (I am a university student at Buckinghamshires New University), I am looking for people to interview at their homes or in their town/village centres.

    I already have many people to speak to, many of which are being most helpful. If you would like to get involved don’t hesitate to contact me via:



    SMS Message/Telephone: 07746760078


  2. The preposterous thing (or one of them) is that the business case – by Hammond’s own admission yesterday – is based on the full national routes up to Leeds and Manchester… but the consultation and Hybrid Bill are only to be based on the detail of the route to Birmingham. How, in procedural, logical or any other terms, can the government approve the first leg of the route if it won’t by then have assessed whether the full route on which the business case relies is sensible, beneficial, or even technically feasible?

  3. During Christmas it would be very helpful if all families discuss HS2 and then hopefully vote on the petition site. To stop HS2 we need 100,000 signatures for this to be discussed in parliament.

    • If your family lives away from the proposed route of the line, even better. And if your friends and family in unaffected areas are willing to write to their MPs, that would be really helpful as well.

  4. Good initial summary! why not issue as a press release adding that Hammon’s statement is just a PR gimmick. Apart from new maps, it achieves nothing without the Environmental Statement as we have little further data on which to riase objections. Pity Hammond won’t be in Wendover today to hear the noise demonstration!

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