‘On the fast track to disas­ter’

Anti HS2 cam­paign group crit­i­cises gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing lat­est re­lease of pas­sen­ger statis­tics

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by TOM HER­BERT tom.her­bert@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

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

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