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Sunday 28 November 2010

Alliance Of No Action – 3

Another day, another perusal of the case put by the HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), and the discovery of yet more holes in their arguments. Moreover, those supporting the HS2AA cause, explicitly or otherwise, include at least one name that their publicity could well do without.

Proudly linked from the HS2AA website is a Maily Telegraph article by one Andrew Gilligan, the hack whose presence will not be gracing BBC News and Current Affairs any time soon, following his less than convincing performance in front of the Hutton enquiry, which contributed to the Corporation losing its Director General, along with a slice of its credibility.

Gilligan’s piece is a hatchet job on the Kent domestic services on High Speed 1 – the line from St Pancras International to the Channel Tunnel. In it, he turns on the hyperbole by asserting that operator Southeastern has “sabotaged” the existing service from London to places like Ashford in Kent. He further states that the fastest off-peak service to the latter used to take an hour, but now takes 80 minutes.

A scan of the timetables shows that, in the past, there was indeed one train an hour taking an hour for the journey. There was also one train an hour taking 67 minutes. Now, there are two trains an hour, both taking 67 minutes – this is a like for like comparison of journeys from London Bridge to Ashford International.

Where the 80 minute claim comes from is not clear: perhaps Gilligan had a problem transcribing his notes. He could easily have consulted the National Rail journey planner. And what bearing it has on commuters, who don’t travel off-peak (the article purports to show the inconvenience of commuting on HS1) is not clear.

What is clear is that citing a hack who can’t get his facts straight is not going to help the cause of the HS2AA. I did say holes in arguments plural at the top of this post, but that will have to wait until later, when I’ll look at the HS2AA figures on the primacy of London over the rest of the UK, the amount of space a high speed line might take up, and the noise it might make – or not.

Meanwhile, no dissent from my earlier findings on the HS2AA report (HERE and HERE) has been seen or heard. Draw your own conclusions.

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