Railfuture, the organisation campaigning for better rail services, recently held a high speed rail conference at Bletchley Park.
The conference was held on 9 July 2011, chaired by Christian Wolmar with speakers from all sides of the argument.
The event found that ‘everyone’ agreed high speed rail can’t be ‘considered on its own’ and that ‘public transport generally needs to be improved first’.
A presentation was given by Railfuture on the changes it would like to see to HS2 to deliver ‘greater benefits for less cost’.
Professor Andrew McNaughton of HS2 Ltd said:
“I think this has been a fascinating Railfuture conference. I enjoyed being on the panel sitting with people with different views.
“Actually what it boiled down to was a couple of things. Firstly there is no such thing as black and white. There are a range of views that people have. But actually we have more in common than we have separating us. One of the problems in the past has been the polarisation of views which reduces things to being too simplistic.
“I am completely convinced that the government’s plans are the best plans and I only became involved in high-speed rail because I said ‘we’re only going to do it once if we do it at all. So if we do it once we need to do it as best as we can both for the people who use it and for the people it will pass by.’ I am absolutely determined that we will achieve this.”
Stephen Joseph, campaign for Better Transport said:
“I think it’s clear that a lot of the people involved have more common ground than has sometimes been presented. But I think it is also clear that everybody is agreeing that high-speed rail needs to be part of a much broader package involving the rest of rail and transport and also with land-use planning and economic development we’ve got to have that kind of broad strategy otherwise high-speed rail will just be a rich man’s railway.”
Lizzy Williams, founding member of StopHS2, the national organisation against HS2
“I am categorically opposed to HS2 on environmental grounds, economic grounds and priority grounds actually.
“I come from a construction background and in the proposal, which I looked at last year when it first came out, I found the paperwork extremely lacking, based on flawed data. It is not environmentally sound whatsoever.
“It is carbon neutral at best. I have come along today to talk to the Railfuture delegates at the conference in Bletchley Park about my concerns about HS2 and to try to encourage them to examine the detail and ensure that this level of investment in our country is spent prudently.”
Graham Nalty presented Railfuture’s suggested changes to the government’s HS2 proposal:
“I think high-speed rail is necessary for the country. We do need a lot more capacity but we do need better connectivity and we need to look at ways of achieving that.
“I do use rail for business and I find high-speed rail much better than travelling by air, so that I have some time to do work without the interruptions you get in the office. My vote goes definitely for high-speed rail but with good connectivity and good interchanges.”