“HS2 is a disastrous white elephant” declares Green Party Transport Spokesperson Rupert Read today, selling the pass before he even gets past the title: something that hasn’t even seen start of construction cannot yet be so judged. The standard of his argument does not improve: at no point does he even begin to address the problem which has led to HS2 – network capacity.
High Speed Rail. But not in the UK
Moreover, Read relies on the fraudulently inflated estimates of the IEA for his figures, which must be a first: Greens relying on right-wingers who couldn’t give a flying foxtrot about, well, Greens. Zelo Street has already dealt with Richard Wellings’ deeply flawed analysis (see HERE and HERE). The estimated cost, I would remind Read, is just under £43 billion, including a 50% contingency.
Read tells that HS2 will be “a train service for the rich”, thus also chiming the propaganda of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, another right-leaning Astroturf lobby group who don’t give a fig about Greens. And look: “Phase 1 taken alone is estimated to return only £1.40 on every £1, whereas a 2012 DfT report suggests expansion of the West Coast main line would return £6.06”.
Expansion how, exactly? And where is the reference to this mythical report? And then – oh dear: “HS2 is intended as purely a passenger service, it would not carry freight. Any benefits accrued from getting vehicles off the road, including the reduction of negative externalities from carbon emissions, are thus seriously diminished”. CAPACITY IS FREED UP ON EXISTING LINES FOR FREIGHT.
So it can be seen that this is not a serious analysis, as is confirmed by “commuter trains leaving Euston for the North are currently mostly empty”. Commuter trains, those run by London Midland, leave Euston at peak times with STANDING ROOM ONLY, and precious little of that. Try again: “It is only the expected volume of commuters to London that will make the service economically viable”.
Please, Greens, address the question - this question
Commuter services will continue to be run, as now, on existing lines. HS2 will take longer distance services off those lines. Once again – fortunately I never tire of wheeling this out – I refer Read to the Rail Freight Group prediction for 2030, showing excess of demand over capacity for freight paths. But let’s cut to the main event, and ask how Read and his fellow Greens plan to address the issue.
“The simple truth is that we will not improve the North with an infrastructure project focused on London, but by improving connectivity within the North of England itself”. HAVEN’T YOU HEARD OF THE NORTHERN HUB PROJECT? “Completion of the East-West link ... linking Oxford and Cambridge”. ALREADY BEING PLANNED. How can a party be taken seriously when its members can’t bother researching first?
I thought the right-wingers were bad enough. The Green Party is matching them.