Third anniversary of HS2 announcement

Thousands of campaign supporters today contacted Patrick McLoughlin and Simon Burns to remind them of their opposition to HS2 and why it is a bad deal for Britain. You can read their letter below:

Dear Secretary of State and Minister of State

High Speed 2 – three years on and the facts still show it’s a bad deal for Britain.

Its three years since Government first confirmed plans to proceed with HS2. I want to let you know that I remain opposed to this scheme.

In particular I believe HS2 is a waste of money and the wrong priority. At £35bn plus and rising the costs are staggering, over £1500 for every family, or equivalent to our entire annual defence budget. With so many claims on public funds, savage cuts to crucial services and surveys proving passengers aren’t dissatisfied with existing journey times, HS2 is the wrong priority. It will be a railway for the rich, but paid for by everyone including our children.

The business case is flawed. The benefits are exaggerated (relying on journey time savings that assume people don’t work on trains), and the forecast demand for long distance travel is over optimistic (according to the Public Accounts Committee) A realistic payback is more like 50p for every £1 of public money spent on this project.

HS2 can’t solve the North/South divide. The evidence from experts and your own department shows HS2 is a London centric scheme –even the regeneration around new HS2 stations will likely be just jobs relocated from the surrounding areas. HS2 is not needed for capacity reasons. Everyone now knows the Virgin intercity trains are only half full even in the peak. Improving the existing line is a more cost effective risk-free way to meet our future capacity needs which can be rolled out faster, benefit more people, and cost less than 10% of HS2. Even Network Rail accept the 51m alternative (of lengthening trains, reducing first class and resolving 3 pinchpoints on the West Coast Mainline Line) is feasible.

HS2 will be an environmental catastrophe. Ultra high speed is not “green”. Carbon emissions will increase with more than twice as many new travellers as will shift from car or air, and any freed-up landing slots used by more polluting long haul flights.

Irreplaceable landscapes and ecosystems will be lost forever if HS2 is built. HS2 blights homes and lives. Hundreds of thousands of residents have had their lives ruined overnight by the blight on their homes and communities. Promises of ‘generous’ compensation are pure spin. Current proposals would help some 2% of those affected and only 100 property owners have been helped since 2010. People should not be forced to contribute huge sums from their own personal assets for a project said to be in the national interest.

Please do the right thing and use this third anniversary to cancel this project without delay.

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