‘On the fast track to disaster’
Anti HS2 campaign group criticises government following latest release of passenger statistics
THE Government has been accused of gambling on the future of train services by ‘putting all its eggs in the HS2 basket’.
Campaign group Stop HS2 has claimed the controversial train line is on a “fast track to disaster” following the release of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) rail passenger statistics last week.
The group claims rail passenger statistics are polls apart from the Government’s forecasts, adding there has been an increase in short-distance commuting as opposed to the type of long distance routes that HS2 will take.
It also added the government’s decision to cancel a mass of electrification programmes in favour of dual-mode diesel trains is at odds with the concept of getting rid of fossil fuel-driven cars.
This raises questions about the forecast published as part of the HighLevel Output Specification (HLOS), which is used to predict where investment in the railways is needed.
Joe Rukin, campaign manager, said: “The overarching trend for rail passenger increases over recent years has been for short distance commuters, who will continue to face increasingly desperate crush hour conditions, as the actual rail passenger statistics are polls apart from the forecasts Government are using to predict where investment is needed.
“It is clear that HS2 delivers capacity where it is needed the least, but with the cancellation of the electrification projects last week, the Government has confirmed it will be putting all its’ eggs in the HS2 basket for decades to come.
“By announcing bimode electric/diesel trains instead of full electrification, many services will not get better as promised by Government, but will end up worse because heavier dual engine trains aren’t as fast as the current ones.
“By ignoring what is actually happening in the real world and betting the farm on HS2 and HS2 only, we are on the fast track to disaster.”
Penny Gaines, chair, said: These figures show that HS2 is the wrong investment in the wrong places. The big issue in rail is people commuting, not long distance travellers.
“HS2 will do nothing for the ordinary commuting, apart from suck investment away from the investments that could improve short distance journeys.
“We’ve already seen this earlier this month when electrification and other rail improvements for ordinary passengers have been dropped. It’s time that the Government looked again at HS2 and cancelled it, and used the money where it is needed more.
“With the government’s latest plans for improving air quality, its bizarre that they have dropped rail electrification. Replacing diesel trains with electric ones is entirely under the Government’s control, whereas replacing existing cars with electric ones is up to many millions of car owners.
“What’s more a massive increase in electric cars will also need a massive infrastructure investment in the national grid to get electricity to numerous new charging stations charging stations.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “HS2 will become the backbone of our national rail network – supporting growth and regeneration and helping us build an economy that works for all.
“HS2 will transform our rail network for the 21st century, creating more seats for passengers and freeing up space on the existing network.
“This will enable us to add more commuter services on some of our busiest suburban railway lines, leading to better journeys for passengers.
“We are keeping a tough grip on costs and the project is on time and on budget at £55.7bn.”
PRW Alstom’s concept train for HS2