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Campaigners angered by ‘disgraceful’ decision on HS2 consultation

Philip Hammond with HS2 protesters in Lichfield

Philip Hammond with HS2 protesters in Lichfield

Campaigners fighting to stop a high-speed rail line through Lichfield have accused the Secretary of State for Transport of back-tracking on plans for a public consultation.

Secretary of State Philip Hammond had previously suggested that there would be a chance for discussion on the issues surrounding the HS2 line.

However, he has now said that the consultation will be based on the assumption the line is needed – a decision campaigners have described as “disgraceful”.

Mr Hammond said:

“The consultation next year starts from the premise that the Government believe that a high-speed rail network will be in the United Kingdom’s interest, but it will consult on issues to do with the design of that network, the route and the details of the proposals for the London to Birmingham link.”

His comments have angered protesters who believe a wider scope for discussion is needed to allow them to fully air their concerns about the proposal.

Stop HS2 spokesperson Joe Rukin said:

“This u-turn is absolutely disgraceful. There are massive holes in the business case for HS2 and we have been preparing our responses to the consultation for months.

“We have carefully prepared our arguments based on the facts, and the facts show the business case for HS2 simply isn’t there. Mr Hammond knows that, he knows that a public consultation would tell him that, he knows there are now more questions being asked about the figures and the need for HS2, so he has now scrapped this part of the public consultation.

“This shows that this is a done deal as far as he is concerned. The Secretary of State clearly isn’t interested if there is a business case, if there is a need for HS2, or if there is the money to pay for it. Like a petulant child at Christmas, he just wants his train set.”

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43 Comments

  1. Freddy

    1st November, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    More transport infrastructure that isn’t roads on the way and the added bonus of a tantrum from the less forward looking amongst us. Happy days.

  2. Windsorian

    1st November, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Personally I cannot understand what objectors to High Speed Rail are complaining about. We have already had a full public consultation into the principle – it was called the General Election in May this year. Oh Yes, each of the 3 main political parties all included support for HSR in their General Election manefestos.

  3. peter

    1st November, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    so,we were disenfranchised,unless we had a green or ukip candidate1

  4. Freddy

    1st November, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    The Green party support HS2 in principle but have concerns over the planned route.

  5. peter

    2nd November, 2010 at 10:30 am

    The Greens also have reservations about the environmental impact of the new trains,as new research has shown that they are ,at best,”carbon neutral”,and ,at top speed,will be more polluting than cars.The national grid,we’re told,is creaking;the new lines will have to have generators along the route to supply the extra power needed.In addition to ugly pantographs,we face the prospect of having a mini power-station at the bottom of our gardens!Joy! Peter

  6. Edward

    2nd November, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Peter, that is not the case at all, and a recent myth based on distortion of facts. where did you gain your information from? I will then reply.

  7. Windsorian

    2nd November, 2010 at 1:23 pm

  8. Freddy

    2nd November, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I think what Peter is doing is distorting something on the Chiltern Green Party site. They suggest the speed should be reduced to 200mph rather than 250mph as it would use less energy, allow a less straight route and only add 5 minutes to the London – Birmingham journey time.

    As I posted before, the Green Party, despite Peters claim broadly support the HS2 scheme.

  9. Rose

    3rd November, 2010 at 2:04 am

    Massive cuts in public services and building programmes, but hey, we still have this huge amount of money to put towards a shiny new train line. So that’s all right, then, we have something positive to look forward to. This proposed new line would serve nobody between London and Birmingham unless they live within 15 minutes or so of one of the 4 stations. HS2 considered an intermediate station at Bicester, but decided against it because it would make the journey slower. What is this obsession with speed? Isn’t a train line supposed to serve everyone, not just city-dwelling business people in a hurry? Better for their carbon footprint to stay put and use internet technology. My sources, by the way, are current timetables and HS2 Ltd submission on DfT website or CD – if you haven’t read it, pro-HS2ers, please do so, and think very carefully about the claims put forward.

  10. Andrew Gibbs

    3rd November, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Let’s not forget the point of this article, which is the disgraceful act of having a consultation that does not in fact aim to consult on the fundamental question! Assuming HS2 is such a good thing then I don’t see why the government should need to avoid having it’s proposals put under full scrutiny – given the cost of the project this should be demanded by all right thinking taxpayers whether they are pro- or anti- on the concept.

  11. Chris

    3rd November, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Rose, most of the expenditure on HS2 wont happen until Crossrail is finished, and for a similar yearly cost. Scrapping it wont save any services, and if we can afford Crossrail we can afford HS2. For those that cant see the point – forget about speed. Its a by-product – ITS ABOUT CAPACITY. If you take away most limited or non-stop trains from the WCML, and with phase 2/3 the MML, ECML and Chiltern Mainline, you benefit EVERYBODY who uses those lines by giving more room for stopping and semi-fast services. With more room for freight you also benefit people who use the countries main arterial roads… thats pretty much everyone accounted for, even if you dont believe in the wider economic benefits.

  12. Edward

    3rd November, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Very well made point Chris.

  13. Andrew Gibbs

    4th November, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Same arguments for HS2 that sound good, but don’t stand up to even rudimentary scrutiny (which is why a ‘robust business case’, shifts to ‘essential part of the green economy’, then becomes ‘revitalising the north’, becomes ‘well we’re building it anyway so let’s have a consultation on what colour to paint the trains”)
    On the specific points of Chris – If the key argument for HS2 is capacity then HS2 is not needed as there are other methods that can achieve the required capacity that are cheaper, quicker to implement, and less environmentally damaging. And to say that HS2 somehow benefits everyone is clearly nonsense – satellite cities (Wolverhampton, Coventry, etc) without direct access will not directly benefit and in fact HS2 documents show they will have a worse service to London (e.g. 1 per hour service instead of the current 3/hour). The effect on motorway usage is at best to take 1% of traffic – will anyone notice? What about East Anglia or Wales and the South West – how are they benefiting? They’ll also be paying for it though!
    As a country we may be a bit broke, but that does not mean we cannot or even should not be borrowing to invest for the future – indeed we must. But there are many possible projects and areas to invest in and we cannot have everything. While clearly these investments should include transport infrastructure, it is vital that this is in schemes that generate real benefits and real return on investment, not on puffed up hype and speculation extrapolated over 70+ years. Have we learnt nothing from HS1? Who would invest their own life savings in HS2 shares?

  14. Chris Smith

    4th November, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I believe that all 3 political parties agreed on the Iraq war too – enough said. If this scheme is such a good idea how come that HS1 has been halved and sold off at a third of the build cost? How often do you have to repeat a mistake before you learn.

  15. Jerry Marshall

    4th November, 2010 at 10:32 am

    The reason why we need an consultation and the Government want to avoid it is that the HS2’s National Interest case is misleading. Benefits are inflated by an assumed demand 4x that of Network Rail and assuming time on trains is wasted. Costs do not include finance costs and operator profits. It is assumed there will be no competition. The ‘BCR’ is not 2.7 as claimed, using Treasury rules and industry forecasts its 0.28. That means that of the £1000 every household contributes, £720 will be thrown away. Hammon knows the case is weak. I’ve gone through it with them. After that he changed the basis of the consultation and started talking about the benefits in much more general terms!

  16. Laura Schlotel

    4th November, 2010 at 10:32 am

    There is no business or green case for HS2. It is ridiculous to assume those who are against this outrageous white elephant are opposed to progress. Some estimates give the net benefit ratio as low as 0.04! There is the justification for spending over £30billion.

  17. Chris

    4th November, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    “If the key argument for HS2 is capacity then HS2 is not needed as there are other methods that can achieve the required capacity that are cheaper, quicker to implement, and less environmentally damaging” ….such as? Bottlenecks on the existing railway network need to be sorted out, but that isnt going to produce a long term solution in the way that a high speed network will – unless you really think another WCRM-type upgrade will be ‘cheaper, quicker and less environmentally damaging’. You might be on your own with that one…

  18. Kyn Aizlewood

    4th November, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I think this is a highly cynical approach to consultation. The so-called business case prepared by HS2 Ltd is full of holes and daft assumptions. I guess it would be an embarassment to government to have to explain to voters why they want to spend huge amounts of our money on a service that even HS2Ltd reckon will require huge subsidies – government borrowing or higher taxes – and is really only of benefit to people living in Birmingham and london. So offer a micky mouse consultation instead… another example of Big Government steam-rollering a Big Idea through, paid for with our money.

  19. Andrew Gibbs

    4th November, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    For alternative to HS2 see http://www.hs2actionalliance.org/powercms//files/cms_files/Osborne%2016%20Sept.pdf and links within.

    Or if you prefer this information from the ‘professionals’ look at http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/alternativestudy/pdf/strategicoutline.pdf – of course in this version they dismiss the alternatives as not providing significant reduction in journey times but as “ITS ALL ABOUT CAPACITY” I guess they will have to change their opinions now…

    Maybe we indeed need another rail line, but this does not demand a costly 250 mph straight line through unspoilt countryside. I don’t think I’m on my own with this opinion – see for example http://www.cpre.org.uk/news/view/709

  20. Windsorian

    4th November, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    In 1865 Britain introduced the ‘Locomotives on Highways Act’.
    Better known as the ‘Red Flag Act’. The act stipulated that all mechanically powered road vehicles must:
    ■Have three drivers.
    ■Not exceed 4 mph (6.4 kph) on the open road and 2 mph (3.2 kph) in towns.
    ■Be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag to warn the public. In 1896 the act was withdrawn and the speed limit increased to 14 mph (22 kph).

  21. Edward

    4th November, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Sorry for those of you protesting against hs2, but your claims don’t stand up at all. Many of you use older 1990’s demand for travel data and ignore new very supportive research on both the business case for high speed rail and the green case, which gets greener with every new R/D high speed train built and further re-newable energy planned. No one has yet explained why Europe and the rest of the world are already using high speed rail and also planning many more route miles or brand new high speed railways. In countries both large and small. Must be such a bad idea then? lets build even more though. Of course it’s a good idea. High speed rail is now seen worldwide as the ‘only’ way to face many population growth/capacity/travel issues and in a far greener way than ever before. HS2 may have no ‘direct’ benefit to those along the proposed route, but that is not it’s purpose. Some (or most, as seen to date) are missing the point of HS2, as Chris already explained in his post so well.

  22. Andrew Gibbs

    4th November, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Why the need to belittle anyone who dares to express a different opinion to yours?

    Not everyone who questions HS2 is a luddite or NIMBY, the same as not everyone in favour is working for Arup or Birmingham airport (I hope). If HS2 could be built tomorrow for a pound, or even in 7 years for a few billion then its benefits would be much clearer and I would support it wholeheartedly! The current plan not only sounds like the wrong answer, but even sounds like the wrong question – hence the need for a proper (dare I say grown-up?) consultation including all the options. Only those who fear the light of informed debate need to push through arbitrary decisions made behind closed doors.

  23. Andrew Gibbs

    4th November, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Edward – always happy to learn, do you have any links you can post?

  24. Windsorian

    4th November, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    For anyone interested, Hammond made a statement today, just posted on the DfT website, which includes references to the consultation:-
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/speeches/hammond20101104

  25. peter

    4th November, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Edward is not only wrong,but offensive….this is not the continent of Europe,but England;and some of us passionately believe we should preserve what’s left of our green and pleasant land for future generations.We invented the railways,and have an existing network which could be improved and brought up to capacity;old,abandoned links could be restored.I’ve lived by a railway line all my life.It was built as the shorter route from Paddington to Birmingham ,and proudly announced at its opening,”2 hours,non-stop expresses”It also had a local service,and much freight.Since the 1960’s it’s been sadly allowed to decline.Now ,the government wish to use the corridor for HS2.The outcome,if passed ,would be utterly devastating:demolition of private property,appalling noise,destruction of wildlife habitats,and the end of tranquillity to the neighbouring ancient woodland and bird sanctuary (a government and EU recognised “site of special scientific interest”.V,high speeds are totally unnecessary and unnacceptable in our small island.To save the environment,we should even question the need to travel so much!Bring back,in this time of austerity,the old wartime slogan:”IS YOUR JOURNEY REALLY NECESSARY?” Peter

  26. Freddy

    4th November, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    For those of you against HS2 the reason I (and many others) dismiss you out of hand is you’re doing precisely what you’re accusing Hammond and the government of.

    The only thing any of you knew about rail travel before HS2 was the location of Trent Valley Station. Now this line is on the cards suddenly you’re all experts. The selfish basis for this sudden interest is transparently obvious. You don’t care how good or bad an idea it is, you don’t want it and you’ll cling to any old cod science or set of statistics that appears to support you position. Some of you will even lie and claim that organisations that support the scheme are opposed to it.

    You’re entertaining though and for that I thank you.

  27. Chris

    4th November, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Andrew, tell me what YOU think the alternatives are and explain them so i know you actually understand them. I cant be bothered with an action group that in the first sentence of ‘alternatives’ talks about lengthening current WCML trains to 12-car length – they are already about to be lengthened to 11-cars with extra sets – that isnt going to cut it till 2025, let alone after! The WCML, as well as the ECML and MML needs long term capacity improvements. The conclusions about the ‘value’ of extra capacity are simply stupid, as is the assertion that the capacity will be used to run competing services – freight and semi-fast/stopping services are both valuable and hardly count as competition. The whole section is nonsense, a pathetic attempt to make it look like a conspiracy and with seemingly no reference to the much greater benefits of the Y-route.

  28. Chris

    4th November, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    ..i should add that while the reason for HS2 is indeed purely capacity, as people keep mentioning it also needs a viable business case. The more attractive the journey time and the higher the capacity the better the business case – its that simple.

  29. F. Ward

    4th November, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    The government is trying to make us believe that we will all benefit from H. S 2. No,it will cost every household £1000 and only a very few will benefit i.e. those living in London and Birmingham.What about the rest of us in this democratic society ?

  30. peter

    4th November, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    So,more unpleasantness and sweeping generalisations from Freddy!Perhaps you’d care to be more specific,and name those you accuse of lying,who could then meet you in court.Have the courage of your convictions.Incidentally,I’ve been a lover of railways for over 70 years,but not had the pleasure,or otherwise of seeing Trent Valley. Peter

  31. Chris

    4th November, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    F.Ward, do motorways only benefit those who drive on them? Do airports only benefit people who fly from them? Does the current railway network only benefit people who travel on it? They all have a wider economic impact, as will HS2 – thats undeniable. Some people question whether that impact is great enough to justify the cost, but the wider impact is not in question.

  32. Andrew Gibbs

    4th November, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Ah Freddy, bless. If only the greens would actually say what they really think about HS2 perhaps we could stop second guessing them and move the discussion back to why the government is not going to allow a full consultation. But for what it is worth in
    http://www.greenworld.org.uk/page248/page248.html you see the essential dichotomy they are facing – of course they want the low carbon public transport utopia (as do I) that high speed rail appears to offer, but they get a lot more reserved as soon as it comes to the specifics of HS2 [and please take this next comment in the humourous spirit intended] as this is comparable to offering bacon sandwiches to starving vegetarians! Maybe they will choose one way or the other come the ‘great consultation’. The point is also made in http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/train-cash-could-have-been-better-spent-say-greens.html that you can do other things with the money.

    And on the gaping void that is the business case – sure, the more people take the train the better that case gets, but a better phrase would be ‘the less bad it gets’, as even on HS2s most optimistic passenger figure speculations and 60 years of running the scheme does not get close to breaking even.

  33. Andrew Gibbs

    4th November, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    And to Chris – we agree for once! But how to determine if those wider economic benefits justify the cost? Perhaps there should be a consultation that does not ignore this question!

  34. Freddy

    6th November, 2010 at 5:30 am

    The government is not providing a full consultation on HS2, outrage! These fine campaigners aren’t really just spitting their dummies because they’re in a tiz about the potential effect on house prices. They’re defenders of democracy.

    Remember when the energy review was pre-framed to favour nuclear in 2005? Were and Chris and Peter were swinging around the rafters with Greenpeace while Blair tried to make a speech to the CBI or launching a campaign to right this democratic deficiency? No. Did they protest at the exclusion of the Trident submarine replacement from the defence review? No.

    That’s because they couldn’t give a monkeys about any of the high minded principles of democracy or accountability they’re banging on about here beyond how they can be used in their hugely entertaining tiz about a railway and the potential effect on house prices.

    Give it up, as a group you have zero credibility. Everyone can see you for exactly what you are.

  35. peter

    6th November, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Your comments,Freddy,are offensive and contemptible.You know nothing about me and yet you persist in slander.Needless to say I shall be unsubscribing from this blog,and you can stew in your own juices!Peter

  36. Tom

    6th November, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Peter, don’t let yourself be wound up by Freddy. Freddy asks in a recent posting on Twitter to 66usual (Steve, you’ve been found out too): Do you think they realise I know nothing about HS2? Yes, it’s just too obvious Freddy. And we also realise your t-shirts are rubbish and that you’re a sad character (haven’t you got better things to do at 5.30am?) There is a serious debate to be conducted about HS2 and Freddy isn’t part of it.

  37. Tom

    6th November, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Actually Freddy, we have more in common than you think, bun fights aside. Can you do a deal on StopHS2 t-shirts for us? Wer’e not all ‘indignant middle class nimby’s’ (misplaced apostrophe there Freddy) that you say on Twitter you enjoy baiting. Most of us think that the £30billion being spent on HS2 would be better used to avoid the worst of the Tory cuts that feature so prominently on your website.

  38. BrownhillsBob

    7th November, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Nobody has been ‘found out’, except those blowing hard here about that which they have little clue about besides their own prejudice and self interest. Freddy has made you all look daft, and the funniest part is that you can’t see it.

    You don’t need knowledge to yank the ropes of the Nimby contingent, they’ll bark at anything looking remotely like opposition.

    I remember Lichfield being called to arms over the BNRR, but because it missed the City you were all curiously silent then.

    Bob

  39. 66usual

    7th November, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Found out about what Tom?

    And why are you getting personal about Freddy? That hardly contributes to the quality of the debate.

    I’m the first to admit I know nothing about trains, mass transport, or HS2. I was however enjoying he discussion and debate, and learning something about it

  40. stymaster

    7th November, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Good technique: someone disagrees with me, so I’m off. Too close for comfort?

    For the record, I have my doubts on HS2s benefits (journey times to London are already quite low), but I’ll bet mny would be less vocal if it was a bit further away…

    I happen to think Freddy’s tshirts are rather fine…. I don’t agree with all of them, but there’s some gems.

  41. Andrew Gibbs

    22nd November, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Referring back to a much earlier post which must have only just popped out of moderation: ‘extra capacity’ does not in itself have a value, it provides a benefit if (and only if) it gets used for something useful. Which takes us back to the question of forecasting – if all the new freight and local services appear then the capacity has a value, if the forecasts are optimistic then so is the value.

  42. Kn Aizlewood

    22nd November, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I dont believe for one moment that the country needs to run 14 high speed, super large trains a day each way between Birmingham and London, now, in 15 years or probably ever. Its a PR exercise to present a Grand Design. However, if they did, the business case prepared by HS2 Ltd says that the people who would use those trains would only pay about half the cost in their ticket price. Most people, who will never use a high speed train, will pay the other half out of taxation. Is that fair? Are these journeys so important that passengers have to be heavily subsidised for them to use the HS2?

    The experts at HS2 Ltd, using DfT webtag methodology, answer this through a Cost Benefit Analysis that values the time spent on a train as zero; if you spend less time travelling, you can be more productive with the rest of your day, whether on leisure or business. So can someone explain to me why it is either fair or reasonable that the government of the day, whom we elect, should see fit to spend £ Billions of taxpayers -our – money subsidising large numbers of EXTRA journeys into London, that are assessed as, literally, a gross waste of time i.e. of nil value. How is more people spending more time collectively doing a nil-value activity, in the ntional interest?

  43. Chris

    23rd November, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Thats true, but capacity is already an issue, and i’ve yet to see anything that would suggest otherwise pre, or post, 2025. It would be foolhardy to look at the congested north-south mainlines, the huge growth figures achieved (especially with Virgin’s Very High Frequency timetable), the minimal effect of the recession on said growth, and the disruption and impact of the WCRM…and decide that incremental upgrades are the way forward.