Is HS2 Justified?

Following the recent Channel 4 Despatches programme revealing the terrible state of existing rail services to and from Manchester especially at peak commute times, with old rolling stock and often only two carriages, people are packed into trains like sardines to and from their place of work or school. There is a desperate need for significant investment to improve existing rail links not just in and from Manchester but other NW & NE Cities of England; including increasing the number of carriages especially at peak commute times.

But where can we find the £millions required for these northern rail links and rolling stock? The answer is simple: by scrapping HS2. The estimated cost of this white elephant vanity project from London to Birmingham is spiralling out of control. It was originally costed at around £32 billion but now some forecasters say the final bill could be in excess of £100 billion, and what for?… a third line between Birmingham and London to arrive between 15 and 20 minutes earlier. And to add to the madness – HS2 Ltd are now looking “to slow the fast trains down to save money” (you couldn’t make it up!). Originally the plan was to extend this ‘High speed but slower speed’ train to Manchester and Leeds, but there are increasing doubts now that this will ever happen.

Originally I am from Little Hulton, Salford, Manchester but mow live near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and in February for the first time BBC Question Time was broadcast from Aylesbury. As HS2 is going to cut right through the beautiful countryside of Buckinghamshire, including the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, not to mention close by ancient towns like Wendover which just happens to be in David Lidington MPs constituency, (de facto Deputy to the PM), it was inevitable that a question would be asked about HS2; in view of spiralling costs and the devastating damage to the English countryside, many towns and villages, not to mention many people forced to sell their homes and farms to accommodate the HS2 route that they just happen to be in the path of. The Question Time Panelists and the audience were almost unanimous in agreeing that HS2 should be scrapped and the £billions saved should be spent on existing rail links to Northern Cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle etc, not to mention other public services like the NHS and the Police, which are all desperate for extra money. The truth is we simply cannot afford to waste £billions of pounds on the HS2 white elephant, which is past its sell by date before even laying the first rails: “With modern Wi-fi connections and smart phone communications etc, arriving 15-20 minutes sooner than existing rail links is completely unnecessary.”

This project is being driven by people with vested interests who stand to make personal fortunes as well as great riches for the companies that have been given lucrative contracts. It seems MPs from all parties haven’t got the courage to stand up to these powerful lobbyists, as many MPs refuse to see the obvious and admit this madcap project should be scrapped before any more £billions are wasted. I encourage readers to write to their MPS and say we need to stop this HS2 madness now. We simply cannot afford it, especially when there is desperate need for extra money to be spent now on existing infrastructure.

How can this project continue to be justified (if it ever was)?