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Campaigners hope lobby day will see greater scrutiny of rail scheme

A Stop HS2 placard in the shape of a white elephant

A Stop HS2 placard in the shape of a white elephant

Campaigners battling to stop a high-speed rail line through Lichfield have said their visit to Westminster to lobby MPs gave decision makers food for thought.

Members of the Lichfield Action Group joined the Stop HS2 campaigners to raise their concerns about the line to MPs, including members of the transport select committee.

They also heard from speakers, including former executive director of the Strategic Rail Authority, Chris Stokes, who said:

“A year ago if you had asked me I would have been fully supportive of HS2, but to echo John Maynard Keynes, when the facts change, I change my mind.”

Professor Mike Geddes of Warwick Business School added that HS2 was the wrong way to regenerate the north of the country.

Joe Rukin from Stop HS2 – one of those who organised the event – said he hoped some of the issues highlighted would lead to greater scrutiny of the scheme.

He explained:

“The problem with high speed rail is that it sounds like a really good idea. Like Chris Stokes, I thought it was at first, but then I took the time to find out the facts.

“The Lobby Day event was all about getting those facts across to Members of Parliament. It is fair to say that the ones who were hearing those facts for the first time were truly shocked and this will lead to greater scrutiny of the £34bn project.”

Andrea Leadsom MP, who hosted the event, added:

“I am really pleased that people got the chance to air their views to a number of members of Parliament and Minsters. There were some excellent points made in the presentations which raise significant questions about HS2.

“Britain is too small and congested an island to accommodate such an insensitive project.”

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2 Comments

  1. Chris

    27th October, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    What are these ‘facts’ then that have changed their mind? I must have missed the figures for a huge slow down in rail growth in the next 20 years that will make the extra capacity unneccesary….

  2. Edward

    30th October, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Joe Rukin, you need to come down to earth and leave those flying pigs behind. You would need many thousands of pounds to take HS2 to judicial review, that is, if you could get your points raised and justified with clear cut proof in the first place, in order to engage the very expensive professional support required.
    We all respect everyone’s right to protest, but your Stop HS2 website claims and supposed facts about HS2 and existing HS1 are pure fantasy and contain nothing but distortions and denials of facts, coupled with a total lack of knowledge regarding rail infrastructure matters in general.
    Thankfully, a much larger section of our country IS very aware of the many positive ‘academic researched’ worldwide accepted facts about high speed rail, it is NOT the entirely negative image, you and your group portray. Especially very recent, highly respected research on the transport comparable, low carbon aspect of high speed rail. Energy needs now discovered to be 30% lower than previously only estimated. Results achieved by actual energy consumption load testing, on board high speed train traction sets, whilst working a number of high speed services. Very precise equipment was used. High speed train energy needs are falling with each new generation of high speed electric trains built. Future high speed train energy requirements, are expected to be up to 40% less than current traction operating today, although faster. Also, proof at last, of high speed rail economic benefits from a London School of Economics intensive 65 page study just released. With reference to now ancient claims, that broadband/internet/telecoms will stop us all travelling in the future (first heard about 30 years ago). A brand new ‘carbon rebound’ study, states ‘working from home’ uses around 30% more home energy and is therefore NOT carbon friendly. Travelling into work using ever greener modes of transport like rail, is preferable. I would suggest it is you and your protest group that require a convention to educate each other, not MP’s and David C. Most involved with HS2 will be well aware of the latest research released, despite you and your groups apparently blinkered views.
    Accept facts or not, our UK railways are starting to become full, with ever increasing use each year. Rail use has doubled since 1980 and continuing this trend now. Many independent observers expect this year on year increase of around 4 – 8% to continue into the 2020’s before slowing down. Many mainline routes like the WCML are set to become full to capacity by 2020.
    Reasons? Just look at the worsening congestion and state of our roads plus the now forever rising cost of a fuel that won’t last for ever. Times are changing fast. Railways worldwide, powered by increasing use of renewable forms of energy, are now seen as the only way forward. Hence the massive expansion of railways all over the world now taking place, or being planned. I note other protest groups appear to be now starting to accept the increasing likelihood of HS2 being built, and starting to change their priorities towards HS2 route mitigation. This is a wise move and will prove to be far more productive and useful, than fighting a new railway supported by a larger section of the country, who ARE aware of the huge extra rail capacity now required and accept researched facts concerning its proposed operational purpose. You now risk isolation from other HS2 protest groups, who very rightly want to minimise as much as possible, the impact of HS2 on those along the final route, before running out of time to do so. HS2 could now progress much quicker than many realise. At least it would appear HS2 and the government are willing to listen to peoples local concerns and suggesting amendments along the preferred route.
    It would also be wise for your group to join this consultation process now and next year.
    You have as much chance of an HS2 judicial review as a chocolate fireguard stopping the Icelandic volcano erupting again.