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HS2 campaigners to give evidence to Transport Select Committee

Campaigners fighting to stop a new high-speed rail line through Lichfield have been asked to give evidence to the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee.

Members of the Stop HS2 group will speak to the Transport and the Economy inquiry on November 30.

The committee is examining the spending, administration and policy of the Department for Transport.

Stop HS2 spokesman Joe Rukin said:

“We welcome this opportunity to present the facts to the Transport Select Committee and find it extremely encouraging that, following the success of the Stop HS2 Lobby Day in Parliament last month, that such a high level respected committee is taking the opposition to HS2 seriously.

“The Committee want to know if the appraisal process for transport projects is fit for purpose, and HS2 presents the perfect case study showing the decision making process is totally flawed.

“In the evidence we have already submitted we have shown that HS2 has been justified by inflating passenger demand, including unrealistic benefits, stretching the rules on costs, assuming no competitive response, ignoring shifting trends, ignoring all detrimental effects, overstating the economic benefits, ignoring the environmental impact and ignoring the alternatives.”

The campaigners will be giving their evidence on the same day as HS2 Ltd.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.


  1. Chris

    15th November, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    As has been proved countless times, the ‘decision making process’ for transport projects is biased against them. The fact that HS2 has such a good cost-benefit ratio speaks volumes.

  2. Edward

    16th November, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Will be the usual distorted facts, massaged myths, scare tactics, misconceptions and very dated research in all high speed rail areas, presented yet again by the ‘lets try and pull the wool over their eyes’ tribe. Of course the Transport Select Committee will also have access to up to date evidence to the contray, that anti HS2 protesters sweep under a carpet that’s getting rather bumpy now and tripping them up.

  3. Edward

    16th November, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Having just read Joe Rukins High Speed Rail carbon ‘report’ on his stophs2 website, I am appalled at this chaps total lack of understanding over railway matters and the operational aspects of HST’s. The following, from his carbon report is a classic case…..”The other point is a lot of people think they know what a railway is. You’ve stood on railway platforms, you can see how big it is, that’s what you are expecting but that’s not what HS2 represents. The engineers at the technical seminars last week admitted it’s only going to be 22m fence to fence, as opposed to 25 original . Now 22m is the same as 6 lanes of road. Six lanes. They wouldn’t be pressed on the no vegetation zones, umming and erring about whether they’re going to happen and how big they are going to be, but the technical appendix states that you are looking at 25m of no vegetation zone on either side, because at 250mph trains create a massive wind vortex behind them. You suck up all the leaves and all the branches and drag them behind so you can’t have that close by.

    You are looking at turning from green into grey a 72m wide strip. Potentionally up to18 lanes of motorway if you want to put it into context, The pitch at Wembley is 69m, less then the 72m.

    The best way of describing it is that this is a runway not a railway. The only difference being is that a runway might be less environmentally damaging.”……….What a load of rubbish……to be polite. It is not us that need to understand ‘what a railway really is’, but you, Joe Rukin and your followers. I would also strongly advise ‘not’ to make use of the ‘Cato Industry’, they are nothing but a ‘pay to say’ group funded by the anti-rail, pro-car, pro-oil movement, as a background web search will confirm.

  4. Chris

    17th November, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Perhaps Mr Ruskin should have a look at this… Really looks like an 18 lane motorway doesnt it?

  5. Joe Rukin

    17th November, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Windsorian, Edward (or should I say Chris Howe?),

    I suggest that insetad of, like Mr Hammond, making broad statements which sound like they should be right, you might actually try reading little things like the HS2 technical appendix which things like the no vegetation zone come from.

    Chris, the deicision making process is biased against things like HS2? Maybe you should try reading the 2006 Eddington Report – he seemed to find exactly the opposite;

    “It is critical that the government enforces a strong, strategic approach to option generation, so that it can avoid momentum building up behind particular solutions and the UK can avoid costly mistakes which will not be the most effective way of delivering on its strategic priorities.”

    “The risk is that transport policy can become the pursuit of icons. Almost invariably such projects – ‘grands projets’ – develop real momentum, driven by strong lobbying. The momentum can make such projects difficult – and unpopular – to stop, even when the benefit/cost equation does not stack up, or the environmental and landscape impacts are unacceptable.”

    “The approach taken to the development of some very high-speed rail line options has been the opposite of the approach advocated in this study. That is, the challenge to be tackled has not been fully understood before a solution has been generated. Alternative options do not, therefore, appear to have been fully explored so it is not clear what the highest return solution to a problem would be; nor indeed is the challenge clear.”

  6. Windsorian

    17th November, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Joe Rukin, I see that once again you are having trouble with your spelling “insetad” , “deicision”, etc. Perhaps the Editor of this Blog will note that contary to Mr Rukin’s claim, I have made no broad statements on the HS2 subject; all I did was post the hyper-links to the Commons Transport Committee website.

  7. Asellus aquaticus

    17th November, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I’m not taking sides on the H2S debate here, but in the interests of good manners I think you should know that it’s considered very bad manners to criticise typos on a blog thread, Windsorian.

    I wouldn’t normally have bothered to mention it, but given that on a closely related thread on this site, you have repeatedly spelled our location as “Litchfield”, I think you perhaps need the reminder…

  8. Windsorian

    17th November, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    @ Asellus aquaticus. In haste on a related blog I did indeed mis-spell Lichfield, and had the good manners to apologise. However this was not good enough for Joe Rukin who used the matter to attack me personally. I note that no comment has been made of Mr Rukin’s bad manners, so I presume that you are one of his supporters ?

  9. Edward

    17th November, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Firstly Joe Rukin, you are one of the worst offenders for making broad statements, including scare tactics that may bite you back hard one day. I have studied HS2 technical documents (including the recent documents) in depth. Much of HS2 running through open country will be 22 meters wide from boundry fence to fence, as clearly stated within. This will also be the case on suspended above ground sections of the proposed route. It is cuttings and embankments (to include no vegetation zones) that will be wider than 22 meters, although each section will vary depending on depth and height respectively. Local soil conditions will also govern width of cuttings and embankments. Some may have to be wider than others. Therefore, sweeping claims from HS2 protesters that this new high speed line will create a huge and constant over 100 meter wide ‘scar’ across the country, is totally false. HS2 will be built in exactly the same way as HS1 through Kent. With regard to your other points, there are now other papers released that suggest the business case for HS2 may well be understated and the economic benefits of High Speed Rail now proven. Please see the LSE, BCC, and KPNG studies. Rail use is also rising sharply again (by almost 10% since July this year alone), as it has now done every year since the 1980’s. Why our railways are running out of capacity and a new line required to address the problem and relieve the increasing pressure.

  10. Asellus aquaticus

    17th November, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Not at all. In fact I’m happy to play no part in what has seemed like a playground argument from all sides, and I’d end up criticising too many if I started commenting on the insults hurled from both ends of the playground..

    However, even as an innocent bystander, the irony of your particular criticism was too rich for me to pass by. :)

  11. Tim

    18th November, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Without wishing to deflate anyone’s ego, and I am full of indebtedness to Joe for his effort, is it not time to admit that a layman presenting to the Committee is raher like a lamb to the slaughter? There are others who do this sort of thing for a living who are technically very well suited to present a rational, justified and objective case. Why, oh why, after months of hard slog, has it come to this? Shouldn’t someone amongst the action groups be big enough to take the right decision now before we all lose our opportunity to make a real mark?

  12. Windsorian

    18th November, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    For anyone interested I’ve checked with the House of Commons information office and the Committee meeting should be broadcast live via the internet on “Generally, all public proceedings of committees are broadcast live. Most committee proceedings are broadcast with pictures in either full television quality or in webcam video – some meetings are broadcast as audio-only if filming facilities are not available in the room being used”.

  13. Tom

    18th November, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    There are similarities in the style of comments made by Windsorian, Edward and Chris that suggest they’re one and the same person. The same Chris Howe, resident of Neston, on The Wirral, (could explain the mis-spelling of Lichfield) whose petition is magically growing at the rate of four a week. To be fair it has got supporters from Norfolk to Cornwall – yes one from Norfolk and one from Cornwall. Oh and one from Pennsylvania, USA

  14. Andrew Gibbs

    18th November, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    II’m not a quantity surveyor but the picture (linked above by ‘Chris’) of ‘Train amid daisies’ looks like about 2 acres of land that can no longer grow crops, be crossed by man or animal, or indeed be used for any productive purpose. And should HS2 go ahead that few hundred meters would be repeated many hundreds of times across some of the finest agricultural land of our country. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

  15. Chris

    19th November, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Oh please, you cant dislike HS2 for the effect on the Chilterns then argue that it destroys agricultural land. Shall we bulldoze all those hedges then? Eliminate every last wood and copse? Forget about providing field margins to promote wildlife? All wasted land, far in excess of anything HS2 will require. Railways provide vital habitats across the country, and with the need for the area either side of the line to be free from large vegetation wll provide a unique wildlife corridor.

  16. Andrew Gibbs

    19th November, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I’m confused of your point? These things are not mutually exclusive – the potential effect on the Chilterns is so obvious that it does not need repeating, and expressing concern at the loss of farmland further up the line seems to be clear enough? The ‘dead zone’ of a railway margin is clearly not completely dead (which is why I would have to agree that the comparision to a motorway is not a good one), but then neither is some grass and shrubs behind a fence exactly a valuable nature reserve let alone vital – you’re not going to see many Muntjacks roaming, and every few minutes the bee and butterfly population are going to end up a smear on a windscreen. It certainly will be ‘unique’, but not in a good way!

  17. Chris

    19th November, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Andrew, the great value of such land alongside railways is well known, especially for smaller species of plants and animals which benefit greatly from the lack of disturbance from larger animals, farm machinery etc.

  18. Windsorian

    19th November, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I think @Tim made a valuable point that the Transport Select Committee are a hugely knowledgable body of MPs, who will not take grandstanding lightly. They are well used to the issues and will have undertaken endless site visits, before, during and on completion of major infrastructure projects.
    The usual policy for bodies appearing before the committee, is to make a written submission in advance, and then at the oral evidence meeting for the main individual(s) to be questioned closely on the subject of “the proposed HS2 line and what effect it may have on the UK economy”.

  19. H T Harvey

    22nd December, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    The Transport Secretary Announce the route – hooray. No
    doubt we will be subject to even more repeat after repeat of the
    fantasy, spin, half-truths that permeate the letters from HS2
    (Lloyd and Bray letters both of whom could benefit of attendance at
    sessions of the radio programme ‘They’re sorry but they haven’t a
    clue’ (apologies to the BBC) it may give good practice for the
    future in presenting a factual case devoid of repetition. In fact
    HS2 will have TWO Birmingham stations – Interchange (by the
    Exhibition Centre 38 minutes to London) and Fazeley Street in the
    City centre (49mins to London). A 15 min car journey and most of
    your misled supporters could be in London. The journey time could
    be further reduced to 31mins by changing at Old Oak Common for
    significant parts of the capital. These are the start date timings,
    220mph, 250mph at least would reduce times yet further. HS2 report
    researched a ‘brand new classic line’ and found it would be 30%
    slower, have 35% less capacity and with disproportionate costs
    compared to HS2. improved rail technology/maintenance, appropriate
    earth noise bunds, raised parapets, tunnels and cuttings, few rail
    joints with improving efficiency will all reduce noise levels but
    fail to mention it. HS2 plans show from Burton Green to Interchange
    HS2 approximately 50% of the line is in cuttings of varying depth.
    Six trains per hour off peak per hour do not stop at Interchange
    with any trains 00.01-05:00. Compare this with 24/7 noise from M42
    or 15 planes per hour from the airport. Transport corridors are of
    almost any width and hardly ever dead straight. Both M6 and WCML
    are in the same transport corridor even though M6 crosses the WCML
    15 times in less than 200 miles. The M42 (A42) links M5 to M1 and
    crosses the WCML and is hardly in the same transport corridor
    except for a short length. Crossing other transport infrastructure
    does not prevent HS2 following existing corridors. They say the
    ‘West Midlands would lose out to London, become less attractive…
    standards will fall …… ‘ hardly praise for Businesses leaders,
    employees and others in the West Midlands who must have groaned
    when they read the defeatist, derisive statements as to the
    competitive ability of the regions population. I would back the
    West Midlands against London and SE anytime. HS2 will assist the
    region, not only to hold on to jobs and business but also attract
    them from London and the SE. The region will beat the competition.
    You insult us all. HS2 will provide the means to enable the regions
    competitive ability to shine. ORR figures June 2010 show in the
    recent past rail passenger growth rates averaged 5% per annum. The
    current year show 9% with some long distance routes achieving even
    higher figures. On this basis HS2 estimates of ‘rail growth assumed
    to be 3.3% a year) … that there is no growth beyond 2033’. Newly
    opened rail lines show higher passenger figures than forecast using
    the DfT model. Factor in a treasury optimism bias of 60% then a
    public or privately funded returns of £2.7 for each £1 spent are
    very realistic. If as suggested in one report the terminal stations
    could be developed by private consortia along the lines of airport
    terminals then Mr Branson would do well to set up a consortia to
    build and operate the route. Profits are assured and the faster
    more reliable service would provide better returns than an upgraded
    WCML The Birmingham Post editorial quoted actually went on to
    support HS2 in line with most towns and cities all make strong
    representations to have the northern extensions built at the same
    time as the London to Birmingham section. Opposition to HS2 comes
    mainly from those along its immediate route who see no benefit to
    themselves but prefer to ignore the real benefits to others and to
    the nation as a whole. This is hardly surprising and understandable
    but self-defeating keeping us all in the past rather moving forward
    to the future. Lets stop talking and build HS2 and its extensions.
    Delay costs money and jobs.

  20. K Jackson

    27th February, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    There are obviously several sides to this argument. But a number of things seem to be overlooked.
    1. What is the value of quiet? And what impact will the noise have on tourism which is a major industry for the UK and especially for areas like Lichfield and the Chilterns. I went walking recently to a beautiful place in Midlands but I have to say it was only beautiful until the trains went past which completely ruined the ambiance. 
    2. Why do we assume that passenger numbers will keep increasing when the number of people working from home is increasing?
    3. Why do we consider it a good thing to enable people to commute from Birmingham to London on a daily basis? (they will be able to go from Leamington to London anyway in an hour on the Chiltern Line for much less cost anyway). 

  21. Chris

    28th February, 2011 at 11:36 am

    1. Its the Chilterns. HS2 isnt going to stop it being the Chilterns. The M6 hasnt destroyed the Lake District, the noise from the WCML hasnt turned Berkhamstead into a ghost town and neither has HS1 ruined the corridor it runs along. If the sound and vsual barriers are placed correctly much of the impact can be reduced to an acceptable level – it will still be there, but so will all the other railways, roads, power lines etc. 2. Because there’s no reason to think it will have a major impact on numbers – the recession has barely dented passenger growth, which compared to the last 50 years is a very omninous sign when you consider the likely increase in cost of road transport. 3. HS2 IS NOT JUST BRUM-LONDON! HS2 wil speed up journeys to a wide range of destinations including Liverpool and Glasgow, will in future speed up Manc/Leeds travel even further, could take trains away from the ECML and WCML allowing more direct London trains, the WCML will become more of a commuter operation (like Waterloo-Southampton) with little interference from limted-stop long distance services and increase freight. It will enable more people to commute across the midlands – helping people from London work in Brum and vice versa is but a fraction of the wider benefits all of which help the economy. I’ll state this again – HS2 wil not operate in a Vaccum, people will benefit who may never set foot in a high speed train.

  22. H T Harvey

    28th February, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    75% of the line in Solihull is at or above ground level
    HS2 has to be straight cannot avoid towns/landmarks in cuttings or tunnels – 95dB noise level NEAR track (note the word near)
    Noise will NOT be 95dB two miles from the track. HS1 has received no noise complaints in over two years HS2 with the benefits of technological advances trains will if anything be quieter
    HS2 route diagrams show From Burton Green to Coleshill over 60% of HS2 is cutting with 7% on viaduct. The line will be invisible to at least 90% of houses in Burton Green/Berkswell/Balsall Common/Hampton in Arden due to land profiles, trees and cuttings. As for Lavender Hall Lane; it has few properties and descends a rather steep woooded hill towards HS2, (in a cutting at this point) and crosses OVER HS2 on a bridge.
    The properties at Berkswell station will be most affected but the existing rail line carrying high-speed trains and freight already affects them. HS2 compensation would be a good way to escape both to a far quieter life in one of the villages.

  23. Chris

    28th February, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    There’s a great article on the BBC website about noise from HS2 - – “Broadly speaking these trains are no worse than the noise from a highway and generally more acceptable in that the noise is not continuous, whereas the noise from a highway is a constant buzz throughout the day and often throughout the night as well.

    “I’m not saying these trains are completely soundless and won’t cause some sort of disruption, but it can be managed and it can be managed rather easily.”

  24. Chris

    28th February, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    There’s a great article on the BBC website about HS2 and noise – the summing up at the end says it all… “Broadly speaking these trains are no worse than the noise from a highway and generally more acceptable in that the noise is not continuous, whereas the noise from a highway is a constant buzz throughout the day and often throughout the night as well.

    “I’m not saying these trains are completely soundless and won’t cause some sort of disruption, but it can be managed and it can be managed rather easily.”

  25. Andrew Gibbs

    28th February, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Running HS1 nearby existing motorways has been successful in masking the noise of the trains there, but this is of little help to HS2. Not only would the HS2 trains be running faster but they are also running mostly through fields with not even a decent bit of dual carriageway for company (‘HS2 uses existing transport corridors’ is one of the many cynical lies in the HS2 campaign).

    I see as well that HS2 continue to use ‘average’ noise, despite the World Health Organisation clearly stating that this should be used to “measure continuing sounds, such as road traffic noise … However when there are distinct events to the noise, as with aircraft or railway noise, measures of individual events such as the maximum noise level … should also be obtained”. A brief but very loud noise every few minutes is far more noticeable than a continuous ‘murmur’ of equivalent average noise. But let’s ignore this detail for the moment – if noise is so easy to manage why are there 4700 homes in the DfT report that will face noise above the WHO recommended levels?

    Of course all the talk of noise is just a distraction to the real problem with HS2 which is that it does not meet any of its purported aims: it will never pay for itself, it is not in any way ‘green’, and will not solve the north south divide. What it would do is give politicians something to pose in front of, give rail companies another source of endless tax payer cash handouts, and leave the country further in debt so that some people can choose to commute from Birmingham to London rather than from somewhere closer.