Politicians need to think over HS2 again
A REPORT which is highly critical of HS2 has been published by the House of Commons’ public accounts committee.
The report – ‘Lessons learned from major rail infrastructure programmes’ – looked at a number of rail projects including the proposed HS2 and HS3.
It was critical of the government for making decisions on transport without a long-term strategy in place and of the large contingency for HS2, which could hide cost overruns.
Commenting on the contingency, the report says: “This funding includes a generous contingency and we are concerned that, without appropriate controls, it could be used to mask cost increases.”
When you have the chairman of HS2 Ltd thanking a nine-year-old for spotting bad maths, it really is time to throw in the towel on this gargantuan vanity project. Over the past five years, the costs for HS2 have kept going up and with the official estimates still being based on 2011 prices they can only continue to spiral.
Last week, at the Commons HS2 committee, HS2 Ltd admitted that parts of the route where there are significant engineering constraints have not been designed yet, so how they can have been accurately costed is beyond me. When these designs are done properly, the costs will certainly go up, but HS2 wants to do this work after the hybrid bill has been passed, when it will be too late for anyone to stop this white elephant trampling through the countryside.
It is time for the politicians to think again, and it is certain HS2 will be a big issue at the general election. intrigued by the ‘Stop HS2’ placards which, from time to time, inform me and local residents of the potential cost implications of the high speed project. This hot potato will rumble on towards and beyond the coming election I’m sure.
With this in mind, I’d like to conjure up a theoretical future edition of ‘Downton Swakeleys’, the fictional drama set in Ickenham in late 2014 where I have taken on the role of drainage person.
A section of the Swakeleys Park has become a mini-river; some of my fellow Ickenham residents have voted with their pens and written to the transport secretary of their disapproval of HS2, as well as mentioning the many natural delights of their public park where you can see an array of wildlife and fauna whose habitat must be protected, like parts of the Chilterns on the mooted HS2 route.
The master of the estate beamed like the Blackpool illuminations when informed that the train project would be his legacy, but his subjects voiced their doubts and objections, saying that more affordable housing still needed to be built and the affected environment protected.
I wish I could help more, as I do wonder from time to time about the children who were in care.