Waterman helps the anti- HS2 campaign!

I don’t know if the Government is paying Pete Waterman to be it’s PR Manager for its plans to build a high speed rail link so that we can all get into London quicker and spend our money there, but if he is then Mr Cameron should be asking for his money back!

The performance by the eccentric millionaire on today’s BBC Breakfast News Show can only have helped those opposed to the scheme.  What the presenters presumably hoped would be a reasonable discussion became a blazing row between Waterman and the HS2 opponents – with the ex-record producer launching into a tirade of anger, shouting ‘rubbish’ as the other side tried to speak.

Personally I’m firmly on the side of sustainable rail investment.  But we need a proper and sensible discussion on this.  I’m yet to hear any decent argument for HS2 when the railway network all over Britain is crying out for investment.  Train times to London are already well down – you can comfortably get from Preston in Lancs to London in 2 hours – which makes a day visit perfectly practical.  Yet it takes almost the same amount of time to get from Blackburn to Liverpool, and almost an hour to make the fairly short trip from Blackburn to Manchester.

The basics are there – by spreading the £17 billion it is claimed HS2 will cost, across the rail network we could have a truly fantastic service – faster trains all over the country, better stations, and perhaps a halt to ever increasing fairs.  All of which would help the economy in general – as opposed to putting a bit extra onto the economy of the capital.

Everyone in every region knows of a local railway that can be improved so it wouldn’t take much research on the Government’s part to work out how else it could spend the money.  As things stand I won’t be backing HS2 but I am backing Jack Straw’s bid to get the Blackburn to Manchester track doubled – allowing half hourly services instead of the current hourly arrangement.  And I support schemes such as reintstatement of the Todmorden curve and the re-opening of the Skipton to Colne link.  The Government should show a bit of imagination – rather than the old fashioned London-centric model they are using.

Author: Damian Talbot

Damian is the Chair of Blackburn Labour Party. He was elected as a councillor for Mill Hill ward in 2007 and also works in the offices of Jack Straw.

2 thoughts on “Waterman helps the anti- HS2 campaign!”

  1. Damien
    At last some northern sense about HS2. having been born in south Leeds (sorry about that!)and now ‘southerner’ I like to see a down to earth aproach to HS2.
    Although I am in Bucks, yes those who are asked by Mr Watwernman’s campaign to give up my lawn for his jobs, I have looked long and hard about what was originally Lord Adonis’s pet project to spend £33billion of our money (the £17 billion is only for the London/Birmingham bit Damien) on a train set that will lose money- independent analysis shows between 60p and 9p return per £1 cost, and which will polute the environment. HS2 requires three times the amount of electricity compared with current classic trains. The forecasts call for a load factor higher than the present west coast mainline, which The Dept for Transport claim are already full!
    Meanwhile our health and scoial services go into terminal decline, our police numbers are hacked away, and our homeland security is threatend by savage cuts to our military defence capability.
    You are right to focus on current and local needs to create the right infrastraure, and if the Government really wants to improve this, and reverse the tend towards higher unemployment than they could use some of the £33 billion to dothis and start today. The west coast mainline could take the realistic forcasts of growth by adding 2 more carriages (jobs for Bombardier in Derby) and replacing under utilised first class carriages with standard class.
    In fact the claim of overcrowding on WCML was challenged and the actrual occupancy levels were requested under the FoI act by one research group Dft refused to give this info. when the actual boarding firgures were monitored under the suervision of a research company they were found to be 56% at peak times.
    There is clearly a hidden agenda as far hsHS2 is concerned, and its ‘infrastructure’ credentials are questionable. There is no connectivity at Birmingham, and the Coalition has canceld the Heathrow link (along with the third runway) connectivity to other London stations has not been thought through.
    The government has deliberately sought to limit information on HS2, whilst churning out spurios claims about the benefits in jobs, particulalry ‘curing the ‘north south divide’ wghile its own statistics show that if here are any jobs to be created, then 73% will be in London, not the north.
    There is mkor bad news about HS2 but this might be enough for now!
    Stan Mason

  2. I have recently travelled from Birmingham to Euston in 62 minutes on the 0741 with one stop at International. Non-stop this could have been 58 minutes. If these 140 mph trains were allowed to do 140 mph then journey time could be 53 minutes non-stop. Is the Government really going to spend £17BILLION to save FOUR MINUTES?
    I have been campaigning for twenty years to reconnect Ripon to the rail network for only £50M with a BCR of 1.2. HS2 now has a BCR of less than 1.0, ie of no benefit, but billions can be found for this. North/South divide? It is increasing.

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