Cameron’s HS2 fightback continues

David Cameron’s fightback on HS2 is expected to continue with a speech at the CBI conference today. This is part of a last ditch attempt by the government to shout down opposition to HS2 and bolster support for the plan, after so many commentators saw through the spin in last week’s Strategic Case for HS2.

With statements from Patrick McLouglin that building a fourth London-Midlands railway was “one of the most potentially beneficial, but also challenging infrastructure projects on the planet”, the hyperbole around HS2 gets even more stratospheric.

At the CBI conference today, David Cameron is expected to accuse people opposed to HS2 of “playing politics with Britain’s prosperity” and “betraying everyone north of Watford”.

With opposition to HS2 being 55% in the Midlands, according to YOuGov’s poll last week, 53% in the North and 64% in the Scotland, it’s clear that ordinary people “north of Watford” don’t want HS2.

15 comments to “Cameron’s HS2 fightback continues”
  1. So according to this morning story in the telegraph the hs2 budget is all ready running over ,Ido hope that stop hs2 are going to keep up the pressure on letting the Labour Party know the facts and bring Ed Balls out to keep costs of this project out in the domain

  2. The Capacity Argument.
    It is argued that HS2 is needed to provide additional rail capacity.
    It does seem unlikely to me that the prediction for a date so far in the future will be accurate.
    However, assuming that it is correct, surely that additional capacity could be supplied more quickly and at a much lower cost by providing a line using conventional technology which would surely do much less damage to the environment.
    I’d like to see that option discussed.

    • @B Sutclif: “I’d like to see that option discussed.”

      It has been discussed, at length

      Suggest you check out the Transport Select Committee HS2 hearing (from last year). The cost of a High Speed line was calculated at 10-15% more than a conventional line – the benefits accruing from a High Speed line, compared with its conventional speed counterpart, were much greater than this differential – hence the decision to go for a High Speed line option

      • An interesting comment from a guy who said not so long ago that HS2 had “precious little to do with journey times”.

        The “benefit” of a High Speed Line compared to a conventional line comes almost totally from the value of “time saved” from shorter journey times ! Costed in at a high enough hourly rate , of course , to more than cover the extra £ 4 bn to £ 8 bn cost of the HS variant. That’s using the figures suggested in your comment — the GCL idea has a much bigger saving than that.

        No allowance either in the HS2 costings for the environmental impact of a straight line route through green belt that makes no attempt to follow an existing transport corridor. ( Interesting that it does acknowledge that Noise will be a problem though).

        But that isn’t the real point.

        You will be aware that the proportion of people who either want to upgrade existing lines or don’t think any capacity increase is needed compared to supporters of HS2 is currently more than 2 to 1. Whilst predicting 14 years of weekend closures ( but not mentioning the chaos at Euston and across the land from building HS2 ) the latest dodgy dossier from the government did at least acknowledge that upgrades were an option.

  3. Re Paul’s “economy wrecker” posts that he’s received,has anybody else noticed the sudden amount of pro HS2 “You’re wrecking Britain’s future” comments suddenly appearing on news sites, eg recent Telegraph articles
    Dirty work afoot , perhaps ?

    • My thought was that it was co-ordinated response through the various HS2 ltd social media operatives and acolytes (the same old voices on this and other sites) to tie in with Cameron’s speech. Have spent a few days tracking all the news and blogs.

      It appears to be the new variant on lawns v jobs PR machine. We were promised a new campaign so here it is; as long as we are all aware that it is fantasy PR rather than factual or evidence based. I think this variant is even more invidious.

      Doubtless the same Demographics and pop stratification was behind this socially divisive and anti-democratic stance. Cameron seemingly likes to to bully& divide and rule the populace and his own party. He aims to still the voice of dissent not by decent argument or debate but by ‘social’ control and propaganda. This can prove dangerous to societal cohesion and can have effects that are long in fermentation and in peoples memories.
      Especially as this divisive ploy that has been applied to immigration,benefits, housing, planning, europe etc.
      Interesting to see the electoral demographics the Cons are chasing. The rest don’t matter.

      One can be anti HS2 and for the economy and the whole UK not just the North.
      The Focus on North as opposed other regions and countries of the Union relates to the Con party agenda.

      HS2 as planned is based on a land and socio-economic ‘grab’ without compensation, major ecological destruction and fantasy finance.
      There is never only one way. The problem with HS2 ltd and the Government is that their stance is one of will, autocracy and authoritarianism rather than negotiation and democratic reflectiveness. The ‘anti-lobby’ bill is yet more erosion of rights.
      The Paving Bill (which many MPs supported ostensibly for compensation of HS2 victims) debate was mired by lack of discussion on compensation, the reliance on a flawed BR critique of the alternatives,a minister who ramped his budget 3 fold and assured parliament on the basis of this and a KPMG report that pumped the value 6-8 fold. Cameron’s speech was written to soundbite the crest of the PR wave.
      None of that was accidental, nor was the timing. It was superbly orchestrated propaganda the aim of which is
      political obfuscation and and undeclared socio-economic redistribution of private income and assets.
      Much of it will line the pockets of lobbying interests

  4. McLouglin’s comments about Jubilee / Canary Wharf is particularly annoying. Even if it were true, there’s no doubt that people will economically make the best of things, in this case, building a financial centre where a new train line has made a convenient place. We only have one version of history, what actually happened, and we can’t know what ‘making the best of things’ would have entailed if the Jubilee line hadn’t been built, maybe something even better would have happened, and it probably would have because as he said, it only had a BCR of 0.5 or something. All he’s doing is making a crap argument for ignoring cost benefit analyses, and as far as crap arguments go it’s got to be one of the worst a politician has ever made, and it’s a very sad state of affairs that he hasn’t had to resign for making it, or at least spend a day in the stocks where people can throw rotten fruit at him. Sadly, it’s in his interests to make crap arguments, he’ll do very nicely out of plying that trade.

    • All this fuss about the ‘chicken and egg ‘ relationship between Canary Wharf and the Jubilee line underground…

      Reading the obituary to Paul Reichman, the property developer and co-founder of Olympia and York, it seems that both the Transport Secretary and those challenging his version of the story are both right- at least in part!

      Before “Docklands”, what was there?

      As the Millwall and West India docks closed and the wharves and marine repair yards went out of business, much of the Island, lying in the loop of the River and almost cut off from the rest of East London by the line of the A.13, was more and more isolated, still with a considerable population but with much of its former industrial activity in decline or lost. The little railway that once linked it to surrounding districts had closed decades earlier and the connection was just a bus route roughly following the course of the Thames,around the southern margin .Even while the docks were still in use,for some years the only way of crossing the Island involved a footpath perched on an empty lighter which had to be moved each time a vessel passed the’ cut’.

      The gamble Reichmann made was to take up the idea of creating a new financial centre away from the traditional heart of the City -and in spite of initial disinterest and opposition from the City institutions, partly because it was seen as being remote and isolated … (tourist maps usually stopped at Tower Bridge and certainly didn’t show anything beyond Greenwich)

      “Reichman befriended Margaret Thatcher…who agreed to provide generous tax benefits…He was determined to make the scheme financially viable.
      In the early years many derided the schemeas a white elephant …that lacked character and, more importantly, decent transport links
      If workersremained sniffy about the Docklands Light Railway,the Jubilee line underground extension in 1999 changed the game entirely” (David Teather, writing in the Guardian,5.11.2013)

      The banks began to migrate to the new’ London City-East ‘;including HSBC, Citibank, the Financial Services Authority and finally Barclays and the whole area became opened up to both visitors and workers alike as the ‘tube crossed and recrossed the Thames linking the two banks of the River as never before.
      The Dome, now housing the ‘O.2’ arena and new housing developments and visitor attractions,marinas and shoppimg developments, restaurants and cafes are now served not only by the Jubilee, but also by the original, new and extended routes of the enlarged Docklands Light, which itself crosses the Thames to both Woolwich and Lewisham and connects London City Airport and the Bank, the Olympic site, HS1 domestic hs services to Kent and the main line to East Anglia at Stratford.

      Much of this is new- some routes use formerly underused or abandoned lines- and beyond this, Crossrail is steadily making its way to create yet further connections.

      The infrastructure and connections have made it possible to open up much of the East and to handle (just) the thousands who throng the stations and trains for much of the day,

      If the generous provision of frequent trains and the number of escalators seemed unduly lavish when the Jubilee extension opened just over a decade ago, now, at peak times you can see just how wise it was, as yet more developments rise in these distrcts reborn. Without these transport links this could not have continued to evolve.

      • Very simplistic notion.
        A predominantly private financed venture compared to public financed risk taking.
        HS2 also relies on a land-grab unlike CW which was the development of a brown field site.
        Would HS2 work if proper compensation and environmental planning/mitigation was undertaken?
        Like HS1 CW went bankrupt and the profits emerged after the ‘compensations’ that occurred.

        It would be useful to see what the lobbying and actual costs of this CW development were to the nation and how much public money lubricated this project and how much direct gain there has been as opposed to gains that could have been equally achieved for other schemes that lost out on the central funding.
        Infrastructure to Canary Wharf had some significant direct private funding unlike HS2 which is to be entirely supplied by the taxpayer.
        The same income stream guarantees the mounting ‘private’ rail debts that are eroding the bottom line of the company.
        Rail is also publicly subsidized which distorts its economic role.

        Canary Wharf actually bankrupted the Reichman family global empire, it was sold and then repurchased by Reichman.
        Again the financial specifics of the “success” are likely to be unique not generalizable to HS2 which is much more speculative and risky which is why is has not attracted the massive reserves held by commercial institutions.
        HS rail is globally ‘risky’.
        And how does the specific expansion of the prime London market actually link to the regeneration of specifc Northern cities who will compete with London and other regional cities? The Oak Common development is the likely winner.
        Where is the evidence for the need for so much regional office space/business/industrial parks?
        Some may accrue from the projected population figures, albeit these show that the main growth will be in retired/youth demographics not workers.(hence the concern)
        What is actually needed is the development of mixed urban communities with affordable rental properties, schools and hospitals together with non service industry.
        HS2 per se will not deliver this; the epi-development might. The money (which will be vastly more that the cost of HS2 in itself) could be spent on more organic and more nationally widespread schemes to deliver a more equitable boost to the whole country.
        It is evident from equally expensive ‘infrastructure contracts” and the Portsmouth scenario that Parliament ruthlessly plays politics with whole sectors of the nation based on politics not need, worth, track record or long term vision, the over-riding interest is speedy,badly planned, political expediency.

        • Thankyou for your response, Paul, though I’m unsure as to what it is that you find “simplistic”.

          Is it my attempt at a ‘potted history ‘ of the Isle of Dogs from the latter decades of the 20th century, as I understood it, or was it my conclusion that the whole area had been transformed,in so many ways and in many ways for the better, from new transport links and connections and consequent direct access in all directions.

          Do you dispute that what was formerly a declining area, largely unknown to most people -even to most Londoners,has been opened up to become the vibrant place it is today?

          My contention is that the development and regeneration justified and demanded the improved transport links, and that the developing transport services encouraged further development and investment. Without the development, encouraged by the “new town” status and powers of the Docklands Development Authority, the improved transport would not have happened when it did. Without the improved transport links, the developments would have become choked and stalled.
          Redevelopment and public transport complemented each other.

          It had long been recognised that East London, both north and south of the River needed better connections, especially cross river links.

          The beginnings of the Island developments, together with the planned regeneration of the Greenwich peninsular with the “Dome” as the centrepiece and focus for 2000 and also residential development around the former Surrey Docks further west,justified the huge investment in the Jubilee line extension, which now provides connections with every other Underground line and many direct interchange opportunities with the ‘integrated ‘Overground’ and several mainline termini. as well as Docklands Light Railway branches, and terminating at the Stratford transport hub

          You suggested that alternative and, by implication, better solutions might have succeeded without huge public sector funding- have I understood you correctly?

          But I don’t recall anyone falling over themselves to offer rival schemes.

          As for the statement that the centre piece Canary Wharf “actually bankrupted the Reichmann family global empire…” David Teather states “…In the early 90s there was a property crash that toppled Olympia and York.The company had also diversified into other businesses…, and borrowed heavily to do so, which Reichmannlater admitted was a mistake…”
          It would seem that these fresh subsequent speculative over extensions, not the Wharf itself , were the cause of the the company’s downfall.

          A final thought; You mentioned the “Portsmouth scenario”.

          Perhaps a more far sighted government/ Treasury? M.O.D. could have foreseen that if a recent order for a pair of Royal Navy supply ships /tankers had been placed with a Clyde yard, rather than the contract going to Korea “a better value for the taxpayer”, the continuity of production could have been maintained and Portsmouth might have retained the patrol vessel order and the social and financial penalty caused by the loss of jobs and skills at the dockyard could have been prevented.
          Short term savings can prove expensive in the longer term.

  5. Nowhere in any statements on the cost of HS2 is the compensation for affected property shown. My calculation of the blight compensation to the estimated 175000 properties outside the 120 metre band with a blight loss is this.

    The blight in my village is anything between 10% and 100%. Assuming this is replicated along the line and you use the nominal UK property value of £270,000 each, giving an average loss of say 45%, the compensation bill works out at £121,500 per property. The total would be 175,000 x £121,500 giving a bill of £21,262,500,000.

    Cameron won’t want that added to headline figure will he?

    He is trying to rob tax payers along the line to be fair to tax payers who are not. Will he or can he get away with it? My guess is he will try unless one hell of a fuss is made.

    • If you are right MrCollins stop hs2 should be collecting all this type of data and sending Mr E Balls copy’s so we can build a case against hs2 with the costs

  6. Re: At the CBI conference today, David Cameron is expected to accuse people opposed to HS2 of “playing politics with Britain’s prosperity” and “betraying everyone north of Watford”.

    ” People who are against it, in my view, are putting our country’s future at risk, they are putting the future of the North of England at risk”

    Prime Minister David Cameron on HS2


    Divide and rule, it is a morph of the lawns v jobs argument.

    it is also setting up divisive and potentially dangerous dynamics.
    Its origins as a political tool lie with fascist perjorative labelling and objectification through blame.
    Scapegoating in word.
    Shame on the Coalition.

    Well before long the coalition will change the law so this will be declared High Treason or Subversion as they did with peaceful protest and seeking of Judicial Review or Councils opposition to their will.
    The tumbrils will roll and the Nimbys, Luddites aka environmentalists and sundry dissenters will be taken to their place of execution or they will be fed to the enraged mob.

    • Word of Caution

      Following Camerons Speech and continuing my challenging of HS2 on another site
      I received my first HS2 ‘hate’ ‘economy wrecker’ posting directly linked to Camerons deliberate propaganda
      and divisive strategy of setting the country against itself.
      after a lyrical defence of the economy of rail it ended with an ominous and entirely misplaced sentiment

      ” [listen] to the CBI speech “……….”stop trying to wreck our economy we need HS2”

      what next bricks through my window and setting fire to my place of worship?

      I await the reports to the Commons Committee on the economic case today.

  7. He just doesn’t understand that cutting the budget does not cut the cost
    Once the first bulldozer turns up on site all bets are off
    We must be told what the budgets are now for compensation and mitigation

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