Wednesday, 4 January 2012

HS2 – CPRE position

HS2 – CPRE Buckinghamshire’s position

We agree with the broad objective of improving Britain’s railway system by providing extra capacity to meet demand, with fast and reliable trains linking all major cities, thereby providing an effective alternative to road or air travel and assisting economic growth.

But we do not believe that the chosen HS2 scheme is the best means of achieving the above objectives. We believe that the scheme is seriously flawed, and that the desired objectives can be achieved more cost effectively.

HS2 is the wrong scheme because:

  • It stands in isolation, not forming part of a National Rail Strategy. There is no such strategy.
  • It is selective, and will benefit only a small part of the rail network, depriving many parts of the country of necessary rail investment.
  • HS2 is not good value for money; the objectives can be more simply achieved, and at much lower cost, by continued development of the established network.
  • The case for HS2 is made on the basis of projected passenger numbers and economic benefits which are hugely speculative.
  • The business case has been largely discredited, with many other potential rail schemes offering better Benefit Cost Ratio returns.
  • The chosen operating speed is too high, leading to excessive construction costs, route design inflexibility and high carbon input/CO2 output. Speeds of 225 mph are unnecessary for our small island. 
  • The priority given to long distance travel ignores the pressing need for improvements to overloaded commuter systems.
  • Major environmental issues have been treated as minor problems to be solved by mitigation, rather than key matters to consider at the start of the planning process.
  • Euston is a poor choice of terminus because of its inadequate onward travel facilities.
  • The consultation provided only one route for comment upon. The results of the consultation appear to have been ignored by the government. 

CPRE Buckinghamshire believes that, in the current financial climate, the government must spend its limited funds prudently and should not commit a minimum of £32 billion to a project which offers such poor value for money. We support investment in the rail network, but such investment must (i) benefit the whole rail network and (ii) represent good value for taxpayers’ money.

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