Walking the route, capacity and the Independent

Last Friday, Joe Rukin set off from Curzon Street to walk the north-east route of HS2. We’d kept the plans a bit quiet, in case he got to Day Three and decided he’d done enough. However, if you’ve subscribed to our mailing list, you will have read that he is now past Toton station, and in fact is across the River Trent.

Joe is keeping a video diary of his journey, and uploaded Day Four to our Youtube channel earlier:

In it he talks about capacity, which is once again the current argument for HS2. Whilst Joe talks about why building HS2 will not do much for releasing capacity, the Department for Transport has today announced the franchise winner for the West Coast Main Line, and also announced that there will be another 263 services a week from December 2022.  This just proves a decade of arguments from HS2 are essentially hollow.

The other news is that Joe wrote an article for the Independent, which was published on Monday in their Independent Voices section: I have spent a decade fighting HS2, and the arguments to support it keep getting worse.

PS You can keep up with Joe’s progress on Twitter, and also see longer videos on Youtube and facebook.

HS2: Still on Track?

On Thursday, ITV Central broadcast a special programme ‘HS2: still on track’. Luckily for people outside the Central region, they’ve put it on youtube.

Along side Joe Rukin, Brent Poland from Erewash and the Wildlife Trusts and others affected by HS2, they also interviewed Mark Thurston and would have interviewed Grant Shapps, the new Secretary of State for Transport, except he declined the chance to talk about HS2.

Mark Thurston’s interview was notable for his refusal to say how much HS2 is expected to cost, even though he admitted being in talks with contractors on the cost since last year.

HS2 fails to measure up.

While proponents of HS2 try to pretend that the environmental impact of HS2 isn’t that big, Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin measures up exactly what the impact will be.

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HS2 Gagging Scandal Intensifies

After Rail Minister Nus Ghani had categorically told him that no HS2 staff have ever signed agreements with confidentiality clauses, Ivan Lewis MP was rather less than impressed  when a written answer from her counterpart in the Lords, Baroness Vere, showed there have actually been 47.

Naturally, Lewis was not too impressed on this and on the day that parliament broke up for summer spoke about HS2 twice. First was to ask the Speaker what the procedure for getting Ghani back to explain why she misled parliament, and the second time he made it clear that the whistleblowing  scandal at HS2 Ltd is not going away.

Proof, if it were ever needed, that HS2 are illegally destroying nests in nesting season.

HS2 continue their ecocide just outside Balsall Common as they widen a road to facilitate green belt housing developments for future London commuters around the ‘Birmingham Interchange’ parkway station. You know, the one the former chief engineer said would lead to the creation of a new city between Birmingham and Coventry. Sign the petition to get them to stop work until their actually get the full go-ahead here.

Leadsom: £12bn ‘could have been spent on HS2 already.

In a remarkable turn, former Leader of the House long time critic of HS2 and Conservative leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom MP, has told LBC that she hasn’t come right out and promise to cancel HS2 is because £12bn ‘could’ have been spent on the project so far. The MP says that HS2 should be reviewed on a value for money basis, with the suggested costs being a massive departure from the £5bn CEO Mark Thurston stated has been spent so far a fortnight ago.

Whilst Thurston says HS2 Ltd have spent around £5bn, it is accepted that this figure does not represent overall spend so far on the project as buying land and property for the line is the responsibility of the Department for Transport, at least in accounting terms. Whilst it has been widely reported that the estimated cost of buying land had been grossly underestimated, this could not account for a £7bn shortfall on its own, especially as much of the land HS2 require for phase one has been seized without payment.

Another possibility is that Government feel they are liable for the full value of one or more of the two-part design and build contracts, even though the build part of them should not legally kick-in until the project were to get Notice to Proceed. If that were the case, that would be very, very suspect.

The other reason is that Mrs Leadsom might be wrong, but the way she very deliberately said that it ‘could be’ £12bn and she wasn’t sure if that figure was ‘out there’, suggested it had been discussed at Cabinet, but not yet made public. HS2 officials have of course denied this.

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