Last August, the convocation of right-wing Ron Hopefuls otherwise known as the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog told their readers “Government Launch Review Into Scrapping HS2 … Shapps Launches HS2 Scrappage Review”. Transport Secretary Grant “Spiv” Shapps was one of their own. He, surely, would take the axe to the project so despised by all those right-leaning Astroturf lobby groups.
High speed rail. But not in the UK
The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, the CPS, IEA, ASI and the rest had passed the severest of adverse comment on HS2; as it was a large infrastructure project called “Public”, they were ideologically committed so to do. “The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has this morning announced there will be an independent inquiry into whether HS2 should be scrapped, with a decision made this Autumn on whether the ludicrously expensive project will continue” told The Great Guido, trowelling on the pejoratives as he went.
So we were also told “The review, chaired by civil engineer Douglas Oakervee and deputised by HS2 critic Lord Berkeley, will look at whether the most expensive infrastructure project in Europe should continue, the benefits and impacts on the North and London, affordability, efficiency, deliverability and its relations with Boris’s planned Northern Powerhouse Rail”. And then came the lying.
“In the meantime, work on HS2 will continue in a more limited capacity”. Bullshit. Work would continue full stop. There was also time for another howler: “Hopefully this review will be the end of the line for Osborne’s vanity project”. HS2 had stuff all to do with George Osborne’s legacy, or that of Andrew Adonis. Or that of David Cameron.
So it should have come as no surprise when the findings of the report, as the BBC has reported, meant “A draft copy of a review into the HS2 high-speed railway linking London and the North of England says it should be built, despite its rising cost. The government-commissioned review, launched in August, will not be published until after the election”.
There was more. “Members of the panel which produced the review have told the BBC that the draft recommends that HS2 should be built with only relatively minor alterations … The document says that even the most controversial stretch of the railway - linking west London to central London - should go ahead”. So the London terminus will be Euston.
Having been led to believe there was a chance of HS2 being axed by the bellicose and misinformed - like the Fawkes rabble, and ignorant loudmouths like Liam Halligan, who was allowed to front a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on the project - the right-wing press has been bitterly disappointed today. Like the Murdoch Sun, with “Leaked report urges troubled HS2 should get the go-ahead despite costs soaring to £88billion”.
Mail Online has added “The document warns that without the high-speed rail link 'large ticket prices' would be needed to put people off travelling at peak times. There are also no 'shovel ready' alternative investments that could be made in the existing network to provide for much-needed additional rail capacity”. It is exactly as I predicted after the review was announced. Shouting “troubled”, “expensive” and “vanity” is not good enough.
The problem that HS2 addresses still exists, and no other credible solution has been put forward. So HS2 it is, the debate is over, and construction will proceed. End of story.
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