HS2 – what is the point?

A leak of the government review into HS2 has revealed that costs could escalate again to £106 billion, but is recommending that it goes ahead.

It is quite simply out of control. HS2 not only will cost the earth in financial terms, but also in terms of destroying the natural world causing, disruption, upheaval and devastation to communities along its path. The part which includes the line tearing through Woodlesford and Oulton in the Rothwell ward is phase 2b. The review recommends that work on phase 2b from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds should be paused for six months to investigate if it could be a mix of conventional and high-speed lines, according to the Financial Times, which has seen a copy of the paper.

Now the big question is what’s the point, is it worth it? To which most round here would say no. And I support them. But if it is to go ahead, then it shouldn’t be a bargain basement version for up north. It’s wrong to penny pinch and not spend money where needed to alleviate some of the concerns of our communities. If HS2 is to go ahead anyway,despite our objections, then we need to compensate local people properly. We need to invest in minimising the impact which means more tunnels and less viaducts.

However, both these things would make HS2 cost even more, be even more over budget, and deliver even less value for tax payers.

It’s a downright insult that down south people would get the supermarket equivalent of ‘Morrisons The Best’ whilst all we get up north is the ‘Morrisons Savers’ version (as usual) by saving money on tunnelling and such like. Well our communities are worth much more than that!

But what is the point? Is it really worth it? We know HS2 is a vanity project that will almost certainly be well be out of date by the time it’s built. It costs far too much and causes too much harm to outweigh any benefits. All this money on a vanity project when the rest of the north’s public transport infrastructure is crying out for improvement.

The irony is that a lot of people round here who travel to London by train go from Wakefield where the fastest journey is one and three quarter hours and standard ones just two hours. Local people who would be impacted by HS2 running through here would then face the further disruption and extra journey time of travelling in the wrong direction to Leeds to catch a train to London!

A huge part of the cost of HS2 is because it is ‘high speed’. This has nothing to do with the very real and practical problem of increasing capacity on the east coast. Increasing capacity could be achieved at less cost and with less disruption leaving lots of money left over to invest in better local transport infrastructure. What matters to people isn’t the speed of the journey from Leeds station to London station, but the overall journey time from their front door to the door they are visiting in London. HS2 potentially makes this worse, not better.

HS2 has been and continues to be a huge issue for the Rothwell ward.

I am personally opposed to HS2 and it is also the official position of Rothwell Labour Party to oppose HS2 for these reasons:

  1. Devastating impact on local communities, not just in Woodlesford, but in many communities all along the route.
  2. Escalating cost that could be better invested in other public transport infrastructure improvements including local trains and a mass transit system (e.g. tram) in Leeds and West Yorkshire; and better trans-Pennine rail connections the so called HS3.
  3. The technology behind HS2 could well be out of date before the trains even start running.
  4. Grossly incompetent HS2 management who even if the other three reasons didn’t exist couldn’t be trusted to deliver the project.

We must now wait and see what decision the new government will make. Any decision on the future of HS2, compensation and the route is now totally the responsibility of Boris Johnson’s new government and Alec Shelbrooke, our local Conservative MP. I am watching and waiting to see what our MP does to support and stand up for our local community.

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