Channel 4 aired a Dispatches programme last night which consisted, of knocking copy directed at the HS2 project. Presenter Liam Halligan made a number of highly creative accusations about the project - Paul Bigland has taken them apart in a post which you can read HERE - and in the meantime, Zelo Street has considered the amount of even-handedness one might expect from Halligan - or the lack of it.
High speed rail 10 years ago. So not in the UK, then
To do this, one need look no further than Halligan’s Twitter feed, and what he has decided is worthy of a Retweet. Let’s take, Oh I dunno, how about “independent economist “ John Jessop, who says “Excellent work from @LiamHalligan this evening on the madness of #HS2... economic case is flimsy, at best; invest in local transport instead”. But investing in local transport does not solve the problem that HS2 addresses.
Deanne DuKhan offered “Well done Channel 4 and @LiamHalligan for asking the question the govt doesn't get. What about the rail services people use every day? What about the growth lost due to such poor commuter services?”. In HS2 knocking copy land, people will not use HS2 every day. Also it is not an either/or problem that is being addressed by HS2.
The assumption it was an either/or thing also taxed Nick Murray-Leslie: “Great job -the context of the pain facing commuters against the profligacy and opportunity cost of HS2”. Commuter services in the North of England are in fact in the midst of a series of infrastructure and rolling stock upgrades. Also, Murray-Leslie throws in terms such as “profligacy” with nothing to back it up. Still, onwards and, er, onwards, eh?
A tweeter called The G-Man made a similar mistake to Ms DuKhan: “Great #dispatches show by @LiamHalligan. Cancel HS2 and invest in Northern transport. Politicians seem determined to create a two-tier transport system in this country and want everything to revolve around the capital.” But Northern transport is already being invested in. Otherwise, how would all those Pacer trains be slated for withdrawal by the end of next year?
Robert Endeacott offered “Genuinely not heard one agreeable reason for having HS2. I don't agree with business having priority over the good of the people, or having commercial propaganda thrust in my face that it's 'essential' and what we need. The money already spent is a nauseating waste”. And what money has already been spent on the project? Because if you don’t know, you can’t call it “a nauseating waste”.
Also, it might inform those believing there is no reason, agreeable or otherwise, for having HS2 if the problem that it addresses - network capacity, and especially that available for freight traffic which would be freed up after HS2 opens as far as Crewe - was described. So once again I include the Rail Freight Group’s forecast excess of freight demand over capacity - which is set to be worst on the West Coast Main Line axis.
Moreover, to title the Dispatches programme “The Great Train Robbery” is prejudicial in the extreme. Halligan has already demanded right of reply to someone else’s comments about him; perhaps Channel 4 would now give right of reply to the allegations - and, indeed, omissions - that he has presented about HS2.
Then, perhaps, we can have an informed debate. I’ll just leave that one there.
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