The news that occasional London mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has decided he is against the HS2 high speed rail project may have surprised some, but only if they are from out of town – or more specifically not watching events in London’s western suburbs.
Bozza has decided that he will only go along with HS2 if it passes under those suburbs, rather than through or over them. He has also suggested that new capacity will be needed on the Tube network, even though it is estimated that HS2 will not increase demand on that network by any more than 2% at busy times.
So why the apparent volte face? Well, for starters, this is nothing new: back in May, Bozza was making similar noises during a visit to Ruislip, telling that “we need to block it, we need to change the route”. The tunnelling proposal is just more of the same.
So why go to the trouble of “leaking” a supposedly private letter just to restate what was already known? Ah well. In the intervening period, Ken Livingstone also visited those western suburbs, and new more friendly Ken declared that “the Government must ... rethink the current plans for the new rail link”.
This is, in essence, just part of campaigning for next year’s mayoral election. Bozza has decided he needs to differentiate himself from his jolly good pals at Westminster, and also has to keep up with new model Ken in the PR arms race. So the news is that there is no new news.This should be borne in mind when Bozza’s leaked letter is held up as some kind of clinching moment by the anti-HS2 brigade. It is no more than business as usual.