Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond will today deliver his plans for HS2, the high speed railway network at Conservative Party Conference, which will require £33bn at a time when the country is facing massive cuts to all public services. This will coincide with Stop HS2 campaigner Lizzy Williams reaching Birmingham as she completes a walk of the entire route of HS2. 

When Williams put the fact that Hammond had recently said in terms of the current railways that it was ‘not acceptable’ that the UK has ‘one of the most expensive railways in the world’ and asked why he though HS1 in Kent is a ‘national success story’, on BBC WM this morning, he said; 

“You don’t measure publically funded infrastructure projects in how much you can sell them for. If you could get a price for them that was more than they cost to build, then the public purse would never have to build them. Governments invest in things that the private sector won’t build.” 

He went on to say attacks on the HS1 business case were unfounded as it had only been operating for a year or so. In this, he seems to have forgotten that private companies did own HS1 but had to be bailed out by Government and that section 1 was opened in 2003 and section 2 in 2007. 

Stop HS2 Convenor Joe Rukin said;

“Hammond is convinced that HS2 will stimulate economic growth and regeneration, but all the evidence points to the fact that if it provides any benefit at all it will purely be felt in London, as it will basically be a fast train for fat cats. Several of us have sent him the study from the University of Barcelona, which looked in high speed rail in Spain, but we are still waiting for him to read it or maybe just understand it. In the same vein, he has dismissed a report from imperial College which says the benefits of HS2 will not be ‘massive’, but will actually be ‘marginal’. David Cameron told BBC WM that he thinks HS2 will ‘benefit everybody’, but what he clearly meant is that it will benefit everybody he knows, not ordinary people who will have to face his combine harvester of cuts.” 

Williams took a detour from her walk yesterday to join the ‘Right to Work’ demonstration against public sector cuts. She said; 

“No-one could accuse any of the marchers yesterday of being nimbies, they were there to protests against the massive cuts we are facing now. We are facing cuts to Education, Health, Defence, Police and Fire Services, I could go on as we are facing cuts to everything, but the Government still think it is reasonable to spend what has now gone up to £33bn on one train line with a dodgy business case. It is ridiculous. Encouraging long distance commuter travelling is environmentally irresponsible and financially absurd, especially at a time when businesses are switching to video conferencing.” 

  1. STOP HS2 is the national group campaigning on behalf of anti-HS2 action groups up and down the proposed route. See http://www.stophs2.org.
  2. Lizzy Williams will be walking from Duddeston Railway Station, Duddeston Road, B7 4ST at 11am. By 11.45, she will be at the corner of Fazely Street and Bartholomew Street B5 5RB, right under the planned platforms 3 and 4.
  3. The demonstration on 4th October will take place the demonstration, at 12.30 in the official ‘protest zone’, opposite the ICC  (next to ‘House of Sport’) on Broad Street, B1 2DR.
  4. There will also be demonstrations on 5th October at; Coleshill Town Hall, 144 High Street, Coleshill, B46 3BG. This meeting is scheduled to run from 11.15 to 12.15, so demonstrators will arrive from 10.45. Lichfield Guildhall, 2-3 Guildhall, Bore St, Lichfield WS13 6LX. This meeting is scheduled to run from 2.00-3.00, so demonstrators will arrive from 1.30.
  5. For more details contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880 or Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880.
  6. For photos from the events, contact Rob Eames at robeames@me.com
  7. Videos from Phillip Hammonds visits in Buckinghamshire last week can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/StopHS2


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