Campaigners say a new report demonstrates that the HS2 project is a “complete and unmitigated disaster”.

An artist’s impression of the HS2 line

The Public Accounts Committee of MPs released the HS2 Summer 2o21 document yesterday (22nd September).

It revealed that the anticipated cost of the controversial high speed rail line – which is set to cut through parts of Lichfield and surrounding villages – had now risen from £55.7billion in 2015 to about £100billion.

Joe Rukin, spokesperson for the Stop HS2 campaign group, said the report threw even more doubt on the overall viability of the line.

“This is yet another well-researched and independent report which shows that HS2 is a complete and unmitigated disaster and ever-expanding financial black hole.

“But it will be at best completely ignored by Government, or at worst it will be deliberately dismissed and wilfully undermined, as has every other report in the past which has tried to tell the truth about this ever-lumbering white elephant.

“It will be of no surprise to anyone that HS2 is getting even more behind schedule, even further over budget, and that there is still no evidence behind all the illusory promises of jobs and prosperity.”

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2

The report said more also needed to be done to engage with communities impacted by the construction of the route.

“HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport also need to do more to address the concerns of people, communities and businesses near the route, and to make sure that the benefits they have been promised are delivered.

“The volume of complaints about disruption and environmental damage from construction is rising and is expected to increase as the programme progresses.

“HS2 Ltd has an opportunity to get on the front foot and engage with communities earlier and more successfully than it has done so far.

“Government has promised a range of benefits in addition to building the new railway, including providing local jobs – yet the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd are unable to tell us how they will ensure these are delivered.”

HS2 Summer 2021 report

Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2, said the report was further evidence that the time had come to put the brakes on the entire project.

“It’s over a decade since HS2 was first announced – in that time we’ve seen costs triple, and the completion date pushed further and further into the future. 

“As the report shows, engagement with other people is dire. It’s not just the communities affected, HS2 Ltd have only had ‘limited conversations’ with the University of Birmingham, which has taken over the failed National College for High Speed Rail.

“Covid-19 has completely demolished the rationale for HS2 – it should be cancelled as soon as possible.”

Penny Gaines, Stop HS2

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  1. I’m wondering who is actually going to use it?? Based on so many people continuing to work at home or partly at home for the foreseeable future.

  2. HS 1 in Kent has never made any money as fares to/from London are min 30% more than normal train service, HS1 service has been greatly reduced as some trains are empty. No shocks that HS2 is financially a disaster. It was David Cameron’s vanity project. The only time HS1has been useful is when Southern Trains are on strike!!

  3. @Flossy – you’ll find it was Lord Andrew Adonis, Labour peer, Transport Minister under Gordon Brown’s Government, vanity project. Cameron & Clegg’s coalition government supported and pressed on with this misguided, ill conceived, destructive and over budgeted white elephant.

  4. In January 2012 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that HS2 would go ahead in two phases and the legislative process would be achieved through two hybrid bills.[14][15] The High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Act 2017 authorising the construction of Phase 1 passed both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent in February 2017.[16] A Phase 2a High Speed Rail (West Midlands–Crewe) bill, seeking the power to construct Phase 2 as far as Crewe and make decisions on the remainder of the Phase 2b route, was introduced in July 2017.[17] Phase 2a received royal assent in February 2021.[18]

  5. No parliament may bind its successors. This is a fundamental part of our constitution. This is how the concept of ‘parliament is sovereign’ arises.
    Whatever Andrew Adonis may have done places a successor parliament under absolutely no obligation to continue with his programme.
    HS2 is solely on the Conservatives. They have the power to continue wasting public money or to stop it.
    No-one else.

  6. Other than the Government, is there anybody out there who actually thinks HS2 is a good idea. I haven’t come across anybody yet.

  7. Q: Who is going to use HS2?
    A: All the people who currently travel on intercity rail services between the destinations served. As there won’t be any alternative – unless you walk, drive, fly or “know your place” and don’t travel.

    All the usual fact free anti-HS2 tropes are being trotted out. Come on NIMBY’s – after 11 years your fact free fatuous arguments are getting a bit worn out. Isn’t it time you thought up some new ones – if nothing else for the comedy value.

  8. None of the high speed rail lines in the world ( TGV in France, AVE in Spain etc) have ever made a profit and are heavily subsidised. Lichfield will gain no benefit from HS2 as it will take longer to get from the city to the Curzon Street station in Birmingham (cross city train and tram) than the journey from Birmingham to London. Business users don’t need the shortened journey time as they work on the train. The only benefit that I can see is that, in theory, it frees up the existing lines for more local trains. Meanwhile, the Streethay slip roads are going to be closed for up to 11 months, which will put significant pressure on roads such as Woodend Lane and Watery Lane.

  9. People must have a short memory to recall we’ve been here before in the 80s with the farcical original Eurostar proposals and failed routing objectives.

    Seven sections of HS2 remain “unachievable” with the Eastern spur to Nottingham more or less scrubbed, which possibly includes the terminal that was planned at Toton. The significant changes in events the past two years and increased economic pressure and taxation hikes makes the relentless push of this whole project outdated for the sake of a few minutes saved on a journey.

    Excluding the huge carbon impact of construction and associated infrastructure, 15,000 aggregate rail movements alone are planned at a time the senior politicians are imposing stricter regulations on the public. The impact on valuable countryside has also been majorly altered from original plans, tunnelling has been slashed to just a handful of locations and replaced with huge cuttings, junctions changed from slow turn-outs to fast with an increased land grab, coppices, hedgerows and wooded areas destroyed overnight, quite literally in some cases. The next time any politician virtue signals about climate progress, put this folly project into context and laugh at them.

    And as for NIMBYs maybe SteveP should come up with something “new” for comedic value too.

  10. I note that none of the comments above make any significant reference to the actual reasoning underlying the need for HS2

    As any regular user of our rail network will appreciate, the impact of covid on rail passenger numbers is already declining visibly, especially at weekends. Within a year or two, the U.K. will return to consistent, year on year, growth in rail usage.

    This is in the context that our main rail lines and major secondary routes are running at or close to maximum train capacity, all or most of the time.

    The rail professionals, who are largely ignored in the HS2 debate, in favour of ill informed, high profile commentators and groups, have now achieved almost all they can to enhance train capacity on these lines.

    The true aim of HS2 is to remove long distance expresses from “conventional” lines and open up capacity for slower passenger services and freight. The scheme will enable the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line to double (or better) their train capacity.

    The opponents of HS2 repeat the mantra that they want more local services etc. This is entirely reasonable and desirable, but there isn’t and won’t be any spare train capacity for such improvements until HS2 is operating.

    Without HS2, any attempts at a modal shift from road to rail or air to rail is simply not possible. The consequences of reducing or cancelling HS2 will include major new road building / road widening schemes, a far greater degree of habitat loss, an increase in domestic flights, serious obstacles to reducing carbon emissions and a rail network that caters more and more for the better off, as long distance travel adopts an airline ticketing system and prices increase to deter / prevent overcrowding

    Accurate data on our rail network and the actual impacts of HS2 are available if the work of the rail professionals (experts – remember them ??) is referred to, instead of wild speculations and inaccurate information, part of which originates with the fossil fuel lobby and climate change sceptics / deniers.

    The U.K. needs HS2, in full and as planned if we are to have any hope of an effective and efficient internal transport system for the 21st century.

    Cancel HS2 now and it will have to be resurrected at some future date, at much greater cost, further delays and, quite possibly, in a far less efficient form.

  11. Second try

    The rationale behind HS2 is to increase train capacity on three main rail routes, including the WCML (serving the West Midlands) and numerous secondary rail lines.

    These routes are currently operating at maximum train capacity. The rail professionals have already used every available option to further increase capacity.

    The only option left is an alternative route (HS2) for long distance expresses, thereby freeing paths on the other lines for better local services and freight.

    Lichfield, for example, cannot have a better train service until capacity is created in Birmingham New Street – the country’s worst rail “bottleneck”

    The alternatives to HS2 are increased road traffic and increased domestic air travel, neither of which is remotely environmentally friendly.

    If HS2 was to be cancelled or curtailed, a similar scheme would inevitably be resurrected at some future date, costing more and, possibly, operating in a less efficient manner.

    There are multiple websites which expand on these points, for example “Greens for HS2”. I recommend checking out these sources of detailed information and explanation.

  12. 8% road to rail conversion, p9:
    The average across all the academic material reviewed there is 7.4%.

    Benefit to Cost Ratio for HS2 very low, @ 1:1 (and with cost overruns, schedule overruns, optimism bias it will drop below viable).

    That means that for every pound spent we might get one back.

    BTW, BCR for a motorway is typically 1:4.6, A road 1:4.2

    Problem for Conservatives is that they used HS2 to get votes and now cannot escape. They should have been much more alert to the red flags that display in all megaprojects, especially rail.

  13. Understand 2040 is the Completion Date. It will be totally out of date by then. Just like when they constructed the two lane motorways. Also many who agreed and supported this project will be long gone.

  14. “Phase 1 is not a standalone project and the only viable business case (ie vfm) is when the (2)future phases of the scheme proceed using current designs”

    Of the said 2 future phases, one was scrapped in last weeks announcement and one drastically altered.

  15. I write in reply to the last three contributions and will attempt to answer the points raised.

    If HS2 could reduce road traffic by 8%, then the U.K. would reduce its carbon emissions by approximately 10 million tonnes per annum – I think that’s a good deal.

    To put this in perspective, the total CO2 emissions from building the whole of HS2 are estimated (by the Green Party who largely oppose HS2) at 1.45 million tonnes.

    I think it is reasonable to suggest that an 8% reduction in road traffic would also reduce road deaths / injuries, other forms of pollution, which cause serious ill health to thousands and the stress / wasted time of drivers.

    The completion dates for HS2 are, I recognise, somewhat ill defined, but the first section (London to Birmingham) is scheduled for 2029 -2032. The additional capacity benefits commence once that section begins operation.

    These will be mostly in the West Midlands (eg the horrible congestion in New Street) and South. Which does raise the entirely valid argument that construction should have started in Manchester and Leeds, where capacity problems are acute.

    I genuinely do not understand the “obsolete” argument. Most of our rail network was built in mid-Victorian times and is still working remarkably well, considering the demands currently being made of it. HS2 will still be (or would have been) delivering extra capacity on the other three main lines many years from now and the trains will still be travelling at 225 mph.

    The Stephensons’ Liverpool to Manchester line still serves its purpose at 190 years of age.

    The business case argument is deeply flawed.

    This is a complex matter, but my understanding is that the DfT case entirely fails to include any reference to the capacity benefits on the other main lines or the cost benefits from reduced road and domestic air travel, eg costs to the NHS.

    As such, it cannot provide the full picture of benefits. How do we estimate the cost benefits of contributing to a reduction in global climate change ?

    I’m now retired but see no reason why I should not make a contribution, however small, to future generations. I have benefitted from the efforts of my predecessors.

    I trust these points help the discussion.

    Regards -Atrax

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