Wellings describes his stance as “Libertarianism and Austrian economics”, which means the upholding of personal freedom - except for Tube staff - and the idea that anything called “Government” heralds the imminent coming of SERFDOM. His relationship with the real world is an occasionally tenuous one, as his recent utterances show.
“Pass the gravy: top officials to join rail executives at #HS2 conference sponsored by high-speed train manufacturer” he warned yesterday. Yes, people in the same industry meeting one another is something truly sinister. That or Wellings is paranoid. And there’s more.
Take “#HS2 opponents call for reopening of Rugby’s Great Central Railway”, for instance. The Great Central was mostly closed in 1966. Much of the route has been built over. Many structures - the viaducts at Brackley and Rugby, for instance - have gone. And, as Paul Bigland pointed out, the paper Wellings quotes failed to check on the source of its report, which turned out to have been generated by a self-employed gardener.
Still, if at first you don’t succeed, try, er, sucking some more seed, eh? “Elephant in the room in @andyburnhammp's rail 'nationalisation' plans is that EU directives prohibit full vertical integration”. One, Burnham is not proposing full vertical integration, and two, even if he were, it is not prohibited by EU directives, which are about separate accounting.
Then comes a little routine hypocrisy: “#HS2 the wrong answer for the West Midlands, says @natalieben. The huge bill would be better spent on local schemes”. Wellings supports the Greens! Oh, hang on a minute, what’s this? “Why Obama's green energy plan could cripple the US economy - article for the @Telegraph blog”. Busted.
Back to HS2 knocking? He sure is: “Plenty of unused capacity on the southern West Coast Main Line”. This recycling of a blog that has already been discredited manages to miss that the study of commuter capacity out of London’s Euston terminus shows no such thing: even if all the trains were made up to maximum length, demand would outstrip capacity by the time HS2 is scheduled to open. And the only way so many trains can be scheduled at peak times is to ban freight movements.
Then it’s on to the ideological flap: “And the huge tax bill/land theft to create Potemkin villages around #HS2 stations?” London’s Docklands, Milton Keynes, Salford Quays, Stratford, and all the others, they don’t really exist. Didn’t you know that?
Oh, and on the subject of “Land theft”, yes, he claims HS2 is all about “Vast government subsidies and land theft on a grand scale”. You mean like motorways? Yes, Richard, the network built on the back of compulsory purchase and Government intervention - the same network on which you want to dump all the freight demand that a rail network without HS2 would be unable to satisfy. What a hypocrite. And what a complete idiot.