House of Commons vote on HS2 paving bill shows clear disconnect with public mood

On the day when a Yougov poll shows that the public mood is against HS2, MPs vote for a unlimited blank cheque to spend on high speed rail. The vote was 350 Ayes to 34 Noes.

Following a week when the government pulled out all the stops to incite the public to support yet another HS2 ‘fightback’, with scare stories of years of disruption on the railways if HS2 is not built, a Yougov poll showed that 53% of the public opposes HS2, with 40% of the public preferring increasing existing capacity ‘even if this requires long term disruption to weekend train services’ to building HS2, the more expensive option.

Speaking after the vote, Penny Gaines chair of Stop HS2 said

“In a week when the Government has pulled out all the stops in an attempt to bolster the case for HS2, it is not surprising that the blank cheque bill was voted through. We thank all of those MPs from around the country who voted against the Paving bill.

“What is more telling is that on a policy that officially the three main parties support, there were so many MPs staying away from the vote. We know that some of the MPs who voted for it, did so in the erroneous belief that without the Paving Bill there would be no compensation for affected residents.

“This is no clear mandate for going ahead with HS2, however the government will chose to spin it.

“What’s more, the Government is losing credibility. By trying to claim that speed is irrelevant but that any new railway has to be high speed, ordinary people are realising that HS2 is a shiny new toy for politicians egos, not a realistic answer to current transport issues.”

Joe Rukin, the Stop HS2 campaign manager said:
“The number of MPs who stayed away from this vote shows the battle for HS2 is far from over and today’s result shows the hybrid bill is in for a rough ride.

“We’re disappointed that while lots of MPs have said there is no blank cheque for HS2, that is exactly what they have voted for.

“The latest yougov polling shows that HS2 is just another example of the disconnect between politicians and the public with only 27% of the public supporting Whitehall’s white elephant. They are not buying the spin that upgrading existing lines would be too disruptive. The public want value for money and rail services they can actually use.”

14 comments to “House of Commons vote on HS2 paving bill shows clear disconnect with public mood”
  1. David Cameron says the people against hs 2 are putting our country at risk ,what a load of crap this man says ,The people who are against his vanity project are trying to save billions which will be spent on his train set which only his rich friends can afford to use and will be of no benefit to most of the people in the uk .if it is such a great idea why not let the private firms build and pay for it .And why are his own
    MPs blackmailed into voting for it to tow the party’s line .the man will realise when we all get him out of office and this Concorde plan is scraped

  2. I read in the mail this morning that thePM wants to cut the costs of hs2 ,God help us all .first cut the compension to house owners a the route ,take the land along the route for nothing ,slash the forest budget to replace trees .David the best way to save money is to stop building your project now no one wants it .if you can not afford to build it properly then scrap it now

  3. Boris Johnson needs to make his mind when it comes to hs2 one minute he wants it the next he wants to cancel it .the other thing is the interest rate is this going to stay for the life time of building hs2 If it is not this alone will be pushing the budget way past the budget of 42 billions

  4. But the budget is only the existing Crossrail budget transferred fron one big infrastructure spend to another that’s why it will take so long to build, it’s not new money or extra money diverted from elsewhere its money thats already in the rail infrastructure pot that’s already not being spent elsewhere.

    The lack of understanding about upgrading existing lines is where the anti lobby is shooting itself in the foot. It’s not Government spin its the view of professional railwayman not armchair critics. I for one do not want the ECML, MML and WCML wrecked for years to come so the anti lobby can be proved wrong I know the answer already, the desperation to find an alternative to HS2 is clouding rational thought.

    • Not this garbage again
      Here are the facts on crossrail funding
      The funding framework for Crossrail was put in place in October 2007 when the Prime Minister announced that Crossrail’s cost will be met by Government, the Mayor of London and London businesses.

      Following the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, a funding envelope of £14.8bn was agreed to deliver the Crossrail scheme in its entirety.

      The key elements of the funding package are as follows:

      The Mayor of London, through Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), will contribute £7.1bn. This includes a direct contribution from Transport for London of £1.9bn and contributions raised through the Crossrail Business Rate Supplement (BRS), section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

      Crossrail farepayers will contribute towards the debt raised during construction by TfL.

      Government will contribute by means of a grant from the Department for Transport of £4.7 billion during Crossrail’s construction.

      London businesses will contribute £4.1bn through a variety of mechanisms, including the BRS.

      Over 60% of Crossrail’s funding will come from Londoners and London businesses.

      Network Rail will undertake works costing no more than £2.3bn to the existing national rail network raised through projected operating surpluses from the use of Crossrail services.

      There are also considerable additional financial contributions from some key beneficiaries of Crossrail:

      The construction of Crossrail is part funded by the City of London Corporation, which has agreed to make a direct contribution of £200m and in addition will seek contributions from businesses of £150m, and has guaranteed £50m of these contributions.
      BAA has agreed to a £230 million funding package.
      Canary Wharf Group has agreed to contribute £150m towards the costs of the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station at Canary Wharf. Canary Wharf Group will also design and build the new station.
      Berkeley Homes has agreed to construct a station box for a station at Woolwich.
      The £14.8 billion funding envelope for the project is a fully inclusive cost, allowing for both contingency and expected inflation.

    • So Durst you will just leave the WCML, ECML and MML to rot and never spend another £ on maintenance or upgrade? Seems you are just confirming the point made that HS2 will suck the life blood out of the existing railway.

      • Jayne- HS2 construction is scheduled to start in 2017 in the middle of Control Period 5 when a whole host of rail schemes across the UK are being funded and done simultaneously with HS2 including electrifying he MML north of Bedford, then there all the Control Period 6 work that’s already being scoped out. Is an industry employing over a hundred thousand people and employing professional railwayman who spent their entire carers in rail being delusional then? No doubt Stop HS2 will say yes but professionals in the rail industry scoff at many of the arguments of Stop HS2 as ill informed armchair critics with no real knowledge of what the situation really is. Trying to dismiss every argument for HS2 maybe a deliberate tactic of total negative opposition but it ends up being silly and counterproductive when you look like you dont know what your talking about.

        If HS2 really is sucking the life blood out of existing rail then why has the Welsh Government committed to funding the South Wales Metro project simultaneously which costs more per head than HS2 does?

        • Dusty/Durst, you seem to have plenty of time to respond where you believe you can pick a hole in an argument but I see there’s no response to John’s above detailed revision of govt’s oft regurgitated “ ….we’re spending all this on Crossrail and all these other projects”. They cleverly lump it all together with already paid for work as though it’s all in the future to produce inflated headlines for the media (and yourselves) and so deceive the disinterested masses. With a 10,000 mile network, much of it neglected, the existing plans, maybe good in themselves, are inadequate and unambitious for Britain. For example, the recent Atkins report refers to £7bn spending for as yet undetailed and uncosted ‘plans’ which NR has to develop – how negligent is that? You can’t just blame NR when all their top personnel are moving to HS2 – ‘it’s Government what done it, stupid!’ (to quote a headline of the future).

          It’s a shame all these MPs didn’t sit in their armchairs with their tablets and view in detail what HS2 does to the countryside, instead of relying on DfT/HS2 ‘facts’, an innocuous looking Y on a small map of England and a gaggle of clichés, before voting to squander billions more even before it’s supposed to get the go-ahead. Holes in their argument? –It’s riddled.

          As for your “I for one do not want the ECML, MML and WCML wrecked for years to come so the anti lobby can be proved wrong (??) I know the answer already, the desperation to find an alternative to HS2 is clouding rational thought”. Double negatives can be confusing, can’t they (or is it can)?
          There is no desperation to find AN alternative because there are dozens – it’s just that govt wants something extra fancy to distract us all from reality. WCML and ECML will not be wrecked by HS2 but south of Stoke on the former and York in the East will be under-utilised with up-grades a thing of the past.

          • Well done for challenging DtC.
            Yesterday I reviewed all his Stop HS2 comments and came to much the same conclusion. I suppose it is the enigmatic soubriquet which sounds hip and yet the comments are not.
            I’ve noted that ‘capacity’ has become the new buzz word in management speak. Yesterday it was applied both to failing banks to enforced pension enrolment as a means of justifying expense and financial diversion from those that earn it to those that provide professional ‘service’ and development.

            More worrying in the context of DtC is the Higgins led government backed Network Rail debt mountain.
            This debt is a significant risk to NR itself (and more so as interest rates rise they have the same rates as the Gov).
            but the losers would be the public who act as guarantors. Bit like HS2 ltd.
            from their website today
            “we are a private company operating as a commercial business”
            “Debt Issuance Programme
            We have been raising bonds in the capital markets since 2004 to fund capital expenditure and to re-finance existing debt. We are a AAA-rated issuer with a direct and explicit UK Government guarantee”

            (UK is now rated AA+)

            Much of HS2 connectivity,parallel growth etc rely on NR and these and other centralized debts (giving regional development grants)
            The non HS2 alternatives, are on the basis of DfT evidence, likely to provide 30-40% greater cost benefits than HS2.
            It is important when considering HS2 that we view the line only benefits and not the add on desiderata including city centre development etc that is independent of HS2 and is as likely to occur if financed wherever the finance is placed.
            The benefit of non HS2 plan is that many more cities are interlinked. The addition of a slo mo central line plan(5bn) would easily improve capacity and freight.

            The rest is snouts in troughs and international ‘endowment’ contests. ‘My network is bigger than yours’.
            Learn to live with a slower but beautifully formed one Dave, one that already has a national consensus.
            No need to try and whip up false national concensus (through partisan threat and denigration) as evidenced today .
            Stealing through blight and not compensating to gain (what is on record as being) a political prosthetic does not seem right or fair.

  5. MP judgements are disconnected from 21st century state of affairs in UK. There has been shifts in UK operations, population, preferences and needs. Motoring and road transport are clearly ahead of rail for any journeys short and long. A road rail north south link along The east of England is 50 percent below two separate routes. One corridor with three cross branches. HS2 Y is wrong shape and it doesnot meet multimodal corridor needs or southern end congestions of road and rail. Poor proposal from the dft which could have been and should have used sense in providing for next 100 years. Vote shows little benefit from self interest group votes.

  6. Frank Dobson argued well for his constituents but he was divisive in terms of HS2 victims which was a shame as to date he had earned my respect
    Many areas will be facing more that six years of disruption not just Euston.
    . However his argument re differential compensation did not actually link to the known facts. This really means that the issue of compensation should be based on evidence for all individuals.
    London prices are higher FD highlighted the replacement costs of 1 bedroom flat.
    In parts of london the train will move slowly and the noise will be much less he argued all noise was noise.
    Sadly his own argument undermines part of his tenets.
    Construction problems (noise dirt traffic etc) are not properly compensated at the present time and the numbers effected run into the millions as the recently revealed HS2 ltd maps reveal.
    In open countryside the very fast train noise is going to be very bad especially given the frequency of service.
    People purchase in the country for peace and quiet in their lives. The capital depreciation and blight in the country already extends to 1KM from the line and value depreciation is far greater than in London in this regard as well.
    The blight does not extend Ikm from the line in London.
    HS2AA have revealed these figures in their compensation paper.
    My view is that all victims of the scheme deserve respect. This was not the attitude represented by their Rt Hons.
    The re-emergence of envy politics was shameful.

    I do suggest that people read the excellent HS2AA doc and also send in their phase 1 compensation (survey 2) to HS2 ltd.

    Overall the performance in the House revealed that the three parties have not reflected public opinion, nor effectively interrogated the project. The reading of tabled amendments were interrupted often with repetitive verbose HS2 laudatory statements which meant that many amendments were not read. This seemed deliberate. The consequences were foreseeable to those in the House. Time ran out. The members debated their own financial and legal interests. The victims were the victims of HS2.
    There were some very unpleasant direct political attacks on residents of Bucks that were
    quite prejudicial and there was obvious glee from some members on both sides that the bucks bourgeoisie would suffer. There was a complete disregard of the AONB. The discussions on the environment and the DES showed the general parliamentary lack of understanding. The confusion re HS1 route and how it protected the environment (Kent rutes) and the reality of HS2 route continued and was used as propaganda The very long process of the route revision/decision of HS1 (it was originally to run through South London) was not even noted.
    The fallacious argument re the Chilterns AONB and the M40 was perpetuated, The AONB and its legal protection was established after the motorway. That the M40 damaged the Chilterns is not justification to damage it further and when the asset value of an AONB is better known and should have Govt protection.

    There was even an ingenuous reference to lawns from a member some of whose constituents homes are multi million pound mansions. Injudicious,showed lack of understanding of the economics and suffering, divisive and partisan. Lost my respect.

  7. Well it might be that HS2 is not the big issue in the constituency post bags for the vast majority of MP’s meaning its not the big national issue that the campaign and certain sections of the media portray it as. Lets face it HS2 is somewhat of an irrelevance in Plymouth and Kings Lynn. After all its only costing £2 Billion a year and that’s just the current Crossrail money transferred once that (London) project is complete.

    The disruption to existing lines is not spin but the opinion of professional railwayman anyone who traveled on the WCML at Weekends in he early 2000’s can tell you about it. Whilst the campaign wants to Stop HS2 it should not be about stopping HS2 at any cost and impacting negatively on others.

    Labours (Balls) flirt with opposing it looks over as Labour in the North has fired warning shots across Milibands bows, grass roots Labour want it.

    Tomorrow David Cameron will announce the death of the Barnet formula when accepting a lot of the Silk Commissions report on Welsh devolution so no more will screaming cost increases in Wales off the back of HS2 be possible. Indeed in Wales the Welsh Government has just committed to the South Wales Metro proposals which will spend on a per head basis more on public transport infrastructure in Wales than is being spent in England on HS2. No one shouted theirs no money or HS2 is starving the existing network of money.

    The days of the BBC being sympathetic to Stop HS2 appear numbered the Editor of RAIL Magazine has written an open letter to the Board of the Governors complaining about anti HS2 bias at the beeb, I suspect with one eye on the future of the license fee unbalanced reporting will be frowned upon.

    • Chris, Nick or whatever your name is. Have you not seen the latest YouGov poll ?

      40 % prefer upgrading lines ( even is there is considerable weekend disruption )
      19 % think there is no need for an increase in North South rail capacity

      only 27 % prefer HS2

      That means the ratio of those against HS2 to those in favour remains more than 2 to 1 which is statistically very significant, despite the massive PR barrage from the government and the industry. I guess after 4 aborted goes and endless changes of emphasis the public just doesn’t trust the government any more ( if they did in the first place ).

      But that isn’t the whole picture. HS2 itself will cause considerable disruption for years to people using Euston and at various other points on the line. Also to tens of thousands of residents along the ill-chosen
      route. You could certainly put forward the argument that the major part of the pain should be borne by those who might gain in the end ( ie rail users ).

      But there is an even bigger point you don’t appear to have grasped. Upgrades can be done incrementally, ie as and when needed ( with a lag for sure ), whereas big bang HS2 is designed to give us 3 x certain capacities which it is very doubtful we will ever need.

      I can fully understand the Rail Industry ( and the construction lobby ) wanting as much spending in their area as possible compared with mental health services, social care, fire service, armed forces, power generation ( HS2 monies would secure more than 20 % of our power generation ! ) etc etc. But I’m afraid Rail Magazine writing to the BBC sounds like an under-pressure football manager moaning about the referee who didn’t award him a dodgy penalty.

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