STOP HS2 – Joe Rukin
With the General Election in full swing, sometimes when politicians make statements, you find yourself with a sudden urge to punch the face on your TV screen, or throw your computer out of the window for telling you such rubbish. One such incident happened yesterday, as on the day of the SNP manifesto launch, both David Cameron and George Osborne tried to make out that if the SNP hold the balance of power, there would be no HS2 station in Crewe, which would cost the area a billion pounds.
Making a speech in a state-owned train maintenance depot, albeit owned by the German state, Osborne said Crewe could lose the HS2 station because of the SNP, which is just wrong on so many levels.
First of course is that as far as we are aware, there is no Crewe HS2 station, well at least officially. Whilst we keep being told that ‘no decision has been made’ on whether there would be a station near Crewe, Stoke on Trent, or neither, the reality is that a station no-one has ever costed or been consulted on a mile or so south of the current Crewe station is on the cards, it’s just that no-one has been willing to confirm it yet.
So obviously with there being an election coming up and next to no Conservative votes to be found in Stoke, David Cameron decided to ditch due process and told the Crewe Chronicle: “
MPs need to fight for resources and make the case in Westminster for their constituencies. Edward has worked hard for Crewe and Nantwich, and the results have been fantastic: HS2 is now coming to Crewe, with a new station, and six years early at that.”
Accepting that Cameron has decided on Crewe, and lets just reiterate it’s not Crewe, but the green belt at Basford, what about that SNP ‘threat’? Well, it seems George & Dave had failed to spot what their manifesto actually says:
“Alongside the development of High Speed Rail from London to the Midlands, we will seek a commitment to deliver High Speed Rail between Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of England as the first stage of a link connecting Scotland and the north of England to London. High Speed Rail should be constructed both from the north down and from the south up.”
Now we don’t know about you, but we fail to see how that could possibly be interpreted in a way that could lead you to draw the conclusion that that would mean no station for Crewe.
Finally, there is the idea that having a new station a couple of miles away from the current Crewe station is worth £1bn. This isn’t an official Government figure, but one which has been made up by people lobbying for the station, and like most of these figures ‘made up’ is the only way to describe it. The reality is clear. If having rail transport links means economic growth and prosperity, then Crewe, a railway town, would be one of the most prosperous places in the country. The fact isn’t should be the only proof needed that HS2 won’t deliver on the promises being made, and the best case scenario if a station were to be built, that Basford might find itself becoming a London commuter suburb.
There is one thing of course that both the Conservatives and the SNP can agree on, they have agreed on, but of course neither are saying. That is, whether you are looking at building a new station in Cheshire or a new link to Scotland, the cost of HS2 goes up.
This factor is of course crucial, because the one thing that the SNP, Lib-Dems, Conservatives and Labour all seem to have missed is that the public don’t want it. The latest polling shows that with the current official £50bn cost of HS2 (which is based on 2011 prices), only 22% of the public want it. The polls show that as the costs increase, the approval rating plummets below it’s already rock-bottom levels.
And that is maybe the biggest problem with what is being said by all these parties, somehow as they continue their bubble-like existence they are convinced HS2 is a vote-winner, when it absolutely, definitely is exactly the opposite, whether that is in Crewe, or indeed Scotland.
FEB 9, 2015
Sent: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:47
Subject: Simon Jenkin’s and prosperity for the provinces
I agree wholeheartedly with Simon Jenkins (23rd October) that there is a ‘gulf between the prosperity
of London and the provinces.’ But I take issue over the use of the term ‘the provinces’ as these are All
of Britain save that small spot of dense urban population way down in the bottom right hand corner of
the UK – viz the Rump of Britain – London. By classing All of Britain (save London) as ‘the provinces’
this degrades All of Britain to an afterthought, belittles it and does explain the attitude of the movers
and shakers who live in that small spot on the southern fringes of our United Kingdom.
I live in Cheshire in the Tatton constituency. As far as I am concerned Cheshire is in the centre of
Britain, in the heart of Britain and North Britain starts at Lancaster and ends at Shetland and I
certainly don’t view George Osborne as a Northern MP.
We need to get our rulers and policy makers focused on policies and spending for All of Britain.
Take for example high speed rail – an announcement on the route is expected on Monday 27th
October from Department of Transport and HS2 Ltd. How does one limited distance rail line to
London benefit all of Britain at a cost £50bn and rising. To put that cost in context – £8bn is not
available for NHS but a £45bn bailout was available to the Royal Bank of Scotland and an extra
£1.7bn EU demand is currently being quibbled over by Britain.
In Cheshire HS2 won’t meet our transport needs or boost our local economies or local connectivity.
Rail travel is appalling – an hourly service from Northwich to Manchester, only 20 to 25 miles away,
takes over an hour on crowded two carriage trains – this is typical of the 21st Century travel speeds
and quality of service on offer all over Britain. As well as my MP George Osborne why not ask another
local MP Graham Evans, who is Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail,
how specifically high speed rail will improve the local commute from Northwich to Manchester.
What All of Britain does actually want and is especially wanted in my part of Cheshire is a thorough
over haul of the existing regional travel infrastructure – not just another duplicate line sucking more
and more folk down to London. Let’s have an overhaul of those many, many, many short to medium
distance journeys to and from and through our 90 or so British regional cities and major towns. The
regional commuter and cross city travel infrastructure – road and rail – needs sorting out. It needs up
dating, it needs speeding up so that the surrounding commuter and satellite towns and villages and
rural areas can benefit economically from their proximity to their local major urban centres. HS2 is an
unwanted and inappropriate infrastructure project.
I want to see my patch of Cheshire get an increase in prosperity, an increase in travel connectivity
and an increase in economic opportunities with or without HS2. Cheshire is on the fringes of some
very major British economic centres – they may be nearby but travel to them is horrendous. Check
out the traffic volumes on the A556 dual carriageway from Northwich to the M6 at Junction 19. Or ask
the folk of Holmes Chapel near Junction 18 of the M6, who have for years struggled with traffic though
the town centre squeezing and scrapping past the church but can’t get a bypass. Our mid Cheshire
road traffic examples are duplicated all over Britain from Inverness to Exeter from Ringwood to
All of us in Britain need ‘provincial’ investment, ‘provincial’ planning, ‘provincial’ policies and
‘provincial’ political control – turn the political focus and investment spot light away from that tiny
bottom right hand corner of the UK towards All of the UK.
A new training college for HS2 rail engineers will be split between Doncaster and Birmingham, the government has revealed.
The National College for High Speed Rail will train staff working on the HS2 link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
The college, due to open in 2017, will be based at Birmingham’s Science Park and Doncaster’s Lakeside Campus.
Derby and Manchester were also shortlisted as possible sites.
Birmingham, previously unveiled as the construction HQ for the project, was chosen for its “location at the heart of the high-speed rail network”.
Doncaster was selected for its “excellent links to established rail industry businesses”, the government said.
London Crossrail boss Terry Morgan will chair the college’s governing board alongside representatives from Birmingham and Doncaster.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the HS2 project would create about 2,000 apprenticeships.
“The opening of this national college will also ensure that we have a pool of locally-trained workers with the right skills to draw upon for future projects,” he added.
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said she hoped the college would create a “new generation of engineering and manufacturing” in the town.
“It will offer local people, including our school leavers, the chance to gain high-level engineering skills leading to well-paid jobs that are in high demand,” she said.
Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore welcomed the announcement and said the fact the college’s governing board would be based in the city was “hugely encouraging”.
“This gives the city a real advantage and will be a boost to Birmingham’s economy and that of the wider region,” he said.
Shadow universities minister Liam Byrne said the college announcement was a “big step forward” for Birmingham, but HS2 remained a “mixed blessing” for the city.
He re-stated his objections to a planned high-speed maintenance depot on the former LDV factory site in Washwood Heath.
The land was previously earmarked for an industrial development that could support up to 7,000 jobs. The proposed depot would create about 650 roles, according to government plans.
“Now we need to complete the picture and press on to relocate the job-killing marshalling yard planned for Washwood Heath,” he said.
The decision on the new colleges was announced at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
Earlier this week anti-HS2 campaigners erected a white elephant in protest outside the conference venue.
Chancellor George Osborne re-stated the party’s determination to press ahead with the rail link, despite objections about the project’s cost and fears its construction will damage countryside.
A poignant letter from a resident of Lymm
2nd July 2014
To whom it may concern, HS2, we never asked for it, we don’t want it, who does?
Up until January 2013, life seemed really good, we lived a happy contented life, my partner and I had carved out a life for ourselves that was stress free and a life that we were in control of for the most part. Then came the announcement on the television of this planned high speed railway that was to cut through the local area. But where exactly? For a couple of days we knew nothing and then came the compulsory purchase letter – I was physically sick with worry. It was as if we were being bulldozed right there and then. How could we have not known about this? No one had asked us, the nation hadn’t been asked if they wanted a high speed link, surely this is all just a horrible nightmare?
So what now? Well it feels like we are serving some kind of indefinite life sentence. Not knowing if we’ll eventually get released without penalty (HS2 will not happen), or we’ll be released minus a few limbs, because if HS2 goes ahead and we have to move, then it will be life changing for us. This might sound dramatic, but I’ve lived here all my life, my paternal Grandparents bought the property, we have no wish to move, this is my history and I would like it to be our future. I know every inch of these lanes, they are just as much a part of me as my skin.
My maternal Grandparents and uncle live at the other end of Wetgate Lane, the HS2 line would divide us. My Grandparents rely on me for my support and I duly give it, they’ve been there for me my entire life. I really want to be able to care for them for the rest of their life’s. I have great relationship with my Uncle, I help him on his farm and he helps me on mine. No amount of compensation could ever recompense me if I lost these family ties through HS2.
I’m often asked what we would do if HS2 gets the go ahead. I really don’t know and to be truthful I try not to think about HS2, because we could plan for it and it might never come, so what a waste of my time that would be. I try not to think about HS2, because it would cause me to worry and I don’t want HS2 to damage my health in any way. We feel powerless about the situation HS2 has put us in, and this is not us, we have never let ourselves feel vulnerable, but the blight of HS2 makes us feel like victims.
We are self employed, working from home. We like to be in charge of, and responsible for our own destiny. Having HS2 lingering over us, means we can’t make any future plans. We couldn’t think of making any changes/developments to the farm, we are reluctant to spend any money on the property be it building a barn or garage, or updating the bathroom, even spending money on the garden. Indeed the smallest thing like we’d love to build a dojo (training room) for our free/leisure time, on our garden, this idea is futile now.
I work the farm everyday of the year, the outdoor life here goes to the very essence of me. I’m working in my Grandparent’s footsteps, it’s my only connection to them, as they died before I was born. I want to carry on with what they worked so hard to create, I’d feel like I was letting them down if I didn’t.
What annoys us, is when we hear about compensation from HS2. Financially, everything seems to be on their terms, I believe we’ll all be hugely out of pocket. But more importantly, they don’t have a clue on the emotional suffering that is being caused right now. If the high speed line gets the green light, the potential mental damage that we’ll experience doesn’t bear thinking about. How can they make amends for such destruction?
HS2 has robbed us of our aspirations and dreams, we can decide our own future – we haven’t got one! We are dictated to by people who don’t know us, or our neighbours and the intricacies of our lives, nevertheless our fate lies in their hands. I can’t believe for one moment they give us a second thought.
- The Observer, Saturday 15 March 2014 21.11 GMT
Far more people back the idea of improving rail links between northern cities than support the proposed £50bn north-south HS2 project from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
A new Opinium poll for the Observer, published ahead of a key report on HS2 by its new chairman Sir David Higgins on Monday, finds that only just over a third of people (36%) back the government’s current proposals, while 30% oppose them.
By contrast, 64% back improving existing connections between northern cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds – with just 4% opposed.
Some 44% would back building a high-speed network to link the northern cities, against just 14% who do not support the idea.
Work on phase one of HS2 will not begin until 2017 and the London to Birmingham line will open to passengers in 2026. Under current plans, the routes north of Birmingham, to Manchester and Leeds, will not open until 2032-33.
When asked if they backed the existing schedule or would like to see work on both the southern and northern phases start at the same time, 11% backed the former option and 43% the latter.
The coalition says it is committed to HS2, despite strong opposition in many Tory seats through which the new lines will run. Labour also supports it but says there can be no “blank cheque” and has placed a maximum price tag of £50bn on the plans.
The poll shows that Labour has maintained a five-point lead over the Tories, with both parties up one on a fortnight ago. Labour is on 35%, the Conservatives 30%, Ukip 16% (-3%) and the Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 10%.
Labour leader Ed Miliband’s personal rating has improved to -14% from -17%, while David Cameron’s has remained the same on -10%. Nick Clegg’s rating has improved, though from a very low base, with his net approval rating rising above -40% for the first time since March 2012 to -39%.
Opinium carried out an online survey of 1,971 GB adults aged 18-plus from 11-12 March. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.