Today at the Conservative Party Conference, Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that a new high speed railway was essential and he didn’t want to build a Victorian style railway. HS2 copies the first Victorian London-Birmingham railway by using the same two station sites, at Curzon Street and Euston.
In response, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, Joe Rukin said:
“We can’t understand why David Cameron is staking so much on HS2 when so many in the general public and his party have seen it is a white elephant, it is going to prove to be a gross miscalculation.
“Cameron said HS2 will help the economy from being too London-centric. All the international evidence shows that this assumption is wrong. It’s simply a false excuse to justify his personal vanity project.
“When Cameron talks about the Victorian railway, you can’t help thinking he has got it in his head that he thinks Brunel and HS2 is his legacy, which is just scary. The Victorians used cutting edge technology, but this Government is proposing a 19th Century solution for a 21st Century economy, and that is just wrong. If he wants to truly regenerate the Midlands and North, he should think about the fact that in Victorian times most people walked to work because there were jobs in their communities and try and emulate that.”
“No-one is buying the idea that HS2 will come in on time or on budget, even the new Chair of HS2 Ltd, David Higgins has said he isn’t sure it will. On top of that, the official cost of the project went up by £10bn this summer and there is a bill before Parliament asking for an unknown amount of money just to be spent on design, because consultants who recently signed an open letter saying they wouldn’t go over-budget were already over-budget on design work back in January. Far from a land of opportunity, the only opportunity HS2 creates is the opportunity for overpaid consultants to fleece taxpayers for billions of pounds on a project the country doesn’t need.”
“David Cameron has said that cancelling HS2 will be ‘Betraying the North’, but he is betraying the North by promoting a project which will clearly suck more economic activity to London. That is why, after the name ‘HS2’ has become too toxic, that they are calling it a North-South railway, because it’s about getting from the North to the South.”
“The Government is ignoring better, cheaper alternative to deal with capacity and is content to punt this lie that the West Coast Mainline is full. We are all for infrastructure investment, but it has to be the right project. HS2 is simply not the right project.”
“Whenever there is any criticism of HS2 not, the Government put their fingers in their ears. They have now been there so long now that it seems they must be touching in the middle!”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“David Cameron seems completely smitten by HS2. Yes there is a need for more infrastructure of all types, but when a single project will use up a quarter of the infrastructure budget it is vital to ensure that it is the right project. HS2 is simply the wrong project, and should be cancelled as soon as possible
“The existing railways are having more passengers, but the growth in rail passengers is in local and regional travel. Long distance travel overall is falling, and will continue to be replaced by digital solutions.
“The Victorians looked at what was new when Queen Victoria was on the throne, and built that. But rather than looking at the new technologies of the 21st century, David Cameron wants to build a railway because that’s what they did in the 19th century. He says he doesn’t want a Victorian style railway, but HS2 proponents seem very proud that the HS2 stations in Birmingham and London are the same stations as built in 1838.
“London based delegates at the Conservative Party Conference will have had a choice of fast trains from central London to Manchester. Pretending HS2 is a solution for commuter problems shows how out or touch the current Cabinet are.
“What Cameron missed in his speech is that HS2 is hitting jobs today in places like Birmingham, where job creation schemes have been put on indefinite hold. HS2 Ltd have said they expect 20% job losses in existing businesses affected by building HS2.”
Margaret Wallis, Stoneleigh Action Group, said
“How many supporters realise that they will have to walk about 15 minutes from a new station to the old station in Birmingham and Leeds, for instance, before they can transfer to traditional trains.”
Ewen Simpson, Cheshire against HS2 said
“HS2 will be out of date before it is built. That’s because communications technology will advance at an exponential rate, so that a great deal of travel will not occur. There are ideas like the walls of homes and offices no longer being covered in wallpaper and paint but with Communication Screens whereby you could talk to anyone anywhere “face to face” without the need to leave your home.
“David Cameron ignores the poor business case, the sacrifices that a large section of the Community will have to make, the vast land take, the actual and perceived blight, the tax burden on working families, the adverse reports from the PAC, the NAO, the IEA, the New Economic Foundation, the Institute of Directors. They will paint a picture of a Jobs & Economic Bonanza, for which there is no evidence apart from dubious computer modelling techniques. The Old adage ” Rubbish In – Rubbish Out” springs to mind.
“So why not accept that HS2 is not the economic miracle that its proponents claim but that it is a financial millstone that will cost each working household between £3000 and £5000 in a tax burden, depending on which cost estimate you accept.”