The high speed rail debate has been rumbling along now for several years, I should know as I have been involved! To be clear, I am absolutely pro-HS2 – i am personally pro HS2 and professionally I am engaged in working to build up support for, and true knowledge about, the HS2 project.
It was with great interest to have just seen this article http://www.expressandstar.com/news/transport-news/2012/08/23/cash-crisis-hits-hs2-protesters/
a cash crisis for the well organised stop hs2 campaign indeed? this came as some surprise. we know that they have been able to afford stands at several political party conferences, huge amounts of literature, full time staff, office accomodation, inflatable elephants, regular travel to London (ironically) and various other sundries.
we also know that the 51M group of councils have pulled together a 7 figure fund – thats right folks, local councils in the current financial crisis have got well in excess of £1m ready to fight the project in the courts!
so are the anti groups cash strapped and destitute? well, we will be seeing a number of them at this autumn’s party conferences on their stand and with masses of literature and t shirts etc. so i wouldn’t be quite so sure about that!
no, they still have access to significant resources, but their arguments are pretty much down a dead end siding and hitting the buffer. the intransigent mantra – no business case (technically incorrect, phases 1 and 2 have a CR of 2.5 before you factor in much wider real economy benefits), no environmental case (well, HS2 can compete with and beat the new Virgin flights between Manchester and Heathrow for starters…), no money to pay for it (the equivalent annual budget for building HS2 is currently being spent on building crossrail) – has never really been developed further as it exposes the premises they have based it on to be ultimately flawed. There is plenty of information available if you check out the go-hs2 website and various others as to why hs2 is so desperately needed for rail capacity for intercity, local/regional and freight services that the opposition case cannot answer whatsoever.
It was welcome to see the London Evening Standard editorial yesterday call for high speed rail to be built as quickly as possible and i strongly echo those sentiments. We are now seeing acceptance that the project is happening and we now need to talk about making the best of it.
The real issue is that the anti campaigners are ultimately mobilised by having a construction site for a number of years followed by a new railway line running close to their homes. That is a real issue and deserves to be recognised and respected fairly and equitably by the Government and HS2 Ltd.
If HS2 Ltd had been better prepared and logical in working with affected communities quickly and efficiently to agree fair and just compensation and mitigation measures, a whole lot of pain could have been avoided and we wouldn’t have such a polarised ongoing war of attrition over this mega-project.