The day after a Telegraph/ICM showed that 68% of the public think HS2 should be scrapped, or at least paused while alternatives are assessed properly, the Prime Minister is using his visit to China to try and secure Chinese involvement in building HS2.
Before setting off on his trip last week, David Cameron told the Chinese media: “I’m very interested in what’s happening in terms of high speed rail in China. It seems to be an absolute high speed revolution taking place. In terms of HS2, I very much welcome Chinese investment into British infrastructure.”
Whilst Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier said: “The two sides have agreed to push for a breakthrough and progress in co-operation in the areas of nuclear power and high speed railway.”
Over the last decade, China has built thousands of miles of high speed railways across its vast interior, but the programme has been beset with safety problems, high-level corruption and financial problems due to the majority of the general public not being able to afford to use trains. In that time, the Chinese have built a vast industry which has no other option but to tout for business internationally. Any Chinese involvement in building HS2 will undermine previous assurances that HS2 construction and development would help growth in the UK.
Today, the Liberal leaning CentreForum think tank has criticised, calling it an expensive pet project that “should be canned”, warning that current schemes are “unrealistic and unaffordable”.
Research associate at the think tank, Quentin Maxwell-Jackson said;
“I’m clear that pet projects such as HS2 should be canned. We can’t afford them. Smaller less glamorous projects will give us better results, and we’ll get them much faster and more cheaply.”
This follows on from a Telegraph/ICM poll, published on Sunday, which showed that just 3% of the public expect HS2 to be delivered on time and on budget, with only 21% agreeing with Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that it is “essential” for Britain. 68% of voters want HS2 to be scrapped because it is too expensive, or put “on hold” while alternative plans are drawn up.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“The idea of Chinese involvement in HS2 blows apart any idea that it is about creating British jobs, and underlines the fact that HS2 is all about the vanity of politicians. David Cameron has said he wants to learn from the Chinese high speed rail project, but we doubt he will be interested in the abysmal safety record, the high-level corruption or the fact the project is a financial basket case because no-one can afford to use it. Yet again, the public have been asked for their opinion and have overwhelmingly said, ‘Stop HS2’, but the Prime Minister isn’t interested. David Cameron is hurtling at high speed to a spectacular train wreck, but he just doesn’t seem to care.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said:
“Early on, the claim was that building HS2 would get Britain high speed rail expertise to sell abroad. Instead it seems David Cameron’s current plan is to let China build HS2 for him. If the public thought HS2 was necessary that would be one thing, but as the latest polls show, the public oppose HS2 and think it should be scrapped.”