HS2 It’s time to think again

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Let Your MP Know About HS2

As you will be aware, there is a new Secretary of State for Transport. There are also at least six cabinet members who are sceptical about HS2. It is therefore time to remind your MP that they should be speaking out about why it is time to cancel this project.

Please email or write to them about the need to cancel HS2.

Below are 10 points for you share with your MP about HS2.

  • Our new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, told the Transport Select Committee that HS2 was a “rich man’s toy” back in 2011 when he was Secretary of State for Transport, which hardly fits the new Prime Minister’s vision of being a Government for everyone, not just the privileged few. He also told that same Committee that if the benefit cost ratio were to fall below 1.5, then he personally would give it some ‘very close scrutiny’. Since then costs have risen inexorably while benefits have spiralled down.
  • HS2’s original strategic objectives of connecting to Heathrow and HS1 have been abandoned.
  • Achieving HS2’s initial design speed – 360km/hr – is becoming ever more clearly problematic, with issues concerning ground stability unresolved.
  • This project was promoted on green credentials – despite their blatant implausibility given 95% of HS2 passenger journeys involve increased carbon emissions, and speed, both requiring more energy and having more adverse environmental impacts.
  • Switching the justification for HS2 from the ‘benefits’ of ultra high speed to increased capacity flounders against the hard reality of passenger loading figures – industry counts show passengers barely occupy 60% of seats in peak hours on Virgin West Coast Trains.
  • It is hard to believe the claims of the HS2 cheerleaders that the West Coast Main Line will be full within the decade, when there is so much spare capacity now and there are so many cheap ways that capacity can be increased (less first class, longer trains, tackling the few pinch-points on the West Coast Main Line).
  • Making Euston HS2’s London terminus poses seemingly insurmountable problems, never mind that it would create years of chaos for daily commuters, as well as the local residents and businesses.
  • This is a project that Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said would cost just £15bn. The last official forecast put it at five times that.
  • For the fourth successive year, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (previously the MPA) has rated the HS2 project as ‘amber–red’. The National Audit Office still question HS2’s sense and achievability, a position echoed by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.
  • Evidence from other countries suggests that if there is a regional economic benefit to be gained from HS2 then London is more likely to be the beneficiary than the North/Midlands. If we want to regenerate the North, then develop HS3, not HS2.

In simple  terms, HS2 will not address the most pressing issues on our rail network which are the overcrowded commuter trains into major cities where more than 150,000 passengers stand on trains during the morning peak on every working day.

Please ask your MP to speak out about HS2.



Copyright © 2016 HS2 Action Alliance, All rights reserved.


The National Audit Office has today (Tues 28th June) delivered its’ third report on HS2, which admits the cost of Phase 1 of HS2 has risen by £3bn just since November and that £9bn worth of cuts to the project are being considered. The report can be found here (pdf). In a scathing analysis, the NAO have stated:

  • The 2026 target opening date for phase 1 is at risk.
  • By May 2016, HS2 Ltd had the capability it had planned to reach in July 2015, but did not pass review point 1 owing to concerns about cost and schedule.
  • At the 2015 Spending Review, the estimated cost of phase 2 exceeded available funding by £7 billion.
  • A review commissioned by the Cabinet Office has identified potential savings of £9 billion, £2 billion of which have been secured.
  • There is a risk that the combined impact of cost and schedule pressures result in reduced programme scope, and lower the benefit cost ratio.
  • The £55.7 billion funding package does not cover funding for all the activity needed to deliver the promised growth and regeneration benefits which is the responsibility of local authorities. There is risk that these benefits will not materialise if funding cannot be secured.
  • Effective integration of HS2 with the wider UK rail system is challenging and poses risks to value for money.

The report also raises questions about what the actual official cost of HS2 is. Following the Autumn Statement in November 2015, it was revealed that the official cost of Phase 1 of HS2 was running at £24.3bn, however todays report states Phase 1 is currently forecast to cost £27,384 million (£27.4bn)”  This would suggest a cost increase, just on Phase 1, of over £3bn in the last seven months.

Last month, it was revealed that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood had been called in to HS2 to mount an investigation into whether it is possible to cut the ever spiralling cost of the project. It has been speculated that his review was looking at getting rid of the proposed Sheffield Station, the link from Crewe to Manchester, and that the London terminus could be Old Oak Common, not Euston. It is hard to see how £9bn could be cut from the final bill of the project, without most of those options being seriously considered.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:

The National Audit Office has raised serious questions about the timescales for HS2, the increasing costs, reducing benefits and that parts of the project are still unfunded, but none of that should be a surprise, as this has been the story with HS2 since the start.” 

“Of most concern is that it is absolutely clear the costs are still control, and the NAO state the Cabinet Office have identified potential savings of £9bn. If this leads to the speculated outcome of the western side of HS2 only running from Wormwood Scrubs to a field outside Crewe, after links to Heathrow and HS1 have already shelved, you really have to ask if there is any point to it at all anymore. The Government must come clean right away about what level the forecast cost for HS2 is actually at, and what the scope of HS2 being considered now actually is.”

“This is another in a long line of devastating reports about HS2, which in the past no-one has listened to. We can only hope that with a new Prime Minister on the cards, someone will finally pay attention and cancel this white elephant.”

Stop HS2 Chair Penny Gaines added:

“As the report says there are still big question marks over the timetable for HS2.  There are some obvious issues over their timescale, such as the Phase 2 decision which is already two years late and counting, and on Phase 1 the delay to reaching Review Point 1. Even HS2 Ltd are only 60% confident it will open in 2026.”  

“What is most astounding from this report is that over 7 years from when HS2 Ltd was set up, the Department for Transport still does not know how HS2 will work with the rest of the rail network.  And yet this is a fundamental issue with the project. Get it wrong, and many of the supposed benefits of a new high speed railway will turn to costs to the conventional railway.”

“With the Referendum result, there will have to be changes to the government’s priorities.  The new Prime Minister, whoever they are, should have a searching look at the many critical reports over the years, and cancel HS2 as soon as possible.”

The Guardian

 An excellent article, to read this, please go down to the Latest News at the bottom of the Home page and tap on the link.