If you’re wondering whether HS2 is a Zac Ephron spin off, believe me you’re not alone. Sadly it is actually the planned High Speed rail link designed to expedite our connections with the continent. If you haven’t heard of it, please read on – this is not a NIMBY post, HS2 will affect all of us….
Before we move on, I’d better admit that I didn’t know until recently what HS1 was – it was the channel tunnel link. Here’s the wiki entry for more info. Wiki also has an entry for HS2 with some details, this is it. It shows the proposed route – phase one is from London to Birmingham but it will spur and continue up the length of the country – as well as lots of data on who will be affected and the criteria for the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS).
At the moment there are no plans or funding for HS2 to link up directly with the Eurostar. The new government has been pushing for a Heathrow link up but this is not on the agenda, although might become a possibility in the next phase. Ultimately the plans are for the line to run the length of the country, spuring at Brum to go to Leeds and Manchester then on and into Scotland stopping only at major cities in order to achieve the time savings and enable the planned speeds of 250mph.
The ESTIMATED cost of HS2 is £34billion. This is to take the line up to Edinburgh and branch to Liverpool and Glasgow, but not to link to HS1. In the meantime there is also the ongoing cost of consultation to factor in, and pressure groups are estimating that might cost £1.15billion over the next 5 years. NetworkRail has estimated the ROI of HS2 at 1.6 times over 60 years – and this doesn’t take into account the cost of capital. This is NOT a project that will produce a return in either the short or medium term, and maybe not even in the long term.
There are lots of local pressure groups protesting the HS2, many because of the detrimental effect that it will have on their immediate vicinity, and it will. Approximately 600 homes will be demolished and 21,300 homes will experience a noticeable increase in noise as well as obvious effects on their value and quality of life. Many of these are rural homes, where families live away from the advantages of the urban environment and are compensated for this by the relative peace of their surroundings. HS2 will destroy this.
It’s much more that that though. Of course no one wants to lose their home, or have an area of natural beauty torn up and replaced by a 100 metre wide scar carrying double decker monsters at 250mph, but Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary has already stated that he’ll ignore any complaints based on a NIMBY attitude and I’m not here to debate that. Those opposed to the HS2 have based the argument on more fundamental principles. Essentially the HS2 proposal fails because there is:
- No Business Case
- No Environmental Case
- No Money to Pay For It
This is not a party political debate, in principle all three parties have signed up to the HS2 and if it goes through construction will start in 2017 and trains will be running by 2025. In a week where the Government has announced sweeping cuts to Child Benefit to ensure that they don’t have to cut £1billion from the education budget, there are obvious questions about how the country might expect to find a minimum of £34billion to fund HS2…
What can you do?
You can read more about it and make up your own mind
You can sign the Stop HS2 petition
You can join a Facebook pressure group
You can lobby your local MP to speak on your behalf
Last week I joined local protesters in Buckingham when Philip Hammond attended a closed meeting there to discuss the HS2. Despite the fact that he pushed through a last minute change of time and venue plenty of people turned out to register their disapproval. John Bercow, Speaker of the House and Buckingham’s MP summed up after the meeting – here’s what he said for anyone who didn’t make it:
John Bercow Summary – Audio File
One of the key points is the need for national communication. The whole country will pay for this project and we will all be affected in different ways. Take the time to find out more, make your decision and take action.