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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Imminent decision on HS2 ‘needs to be part of wider transport strategy’

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A broad coalition of campaigning groups is launching a new report on high speed rail, setting out what ‘still needs to be done by the Government to meet its commitment to local communities and the environment’.

When the Right Lines Charter, supported by environmental, transport, heritage and legal charities with over 600 combined years of involvement in the planning of major infrastructure, was launched in April 2011, then Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond said that:

“These respected organisations…should be assured that the Government is already acting on their points of concern.”

Over half a year later, on the verge of the Government announcing its decision on High Speed 2 (HS2), these organisations are launching a report to set out for the benefit of the new Secretary of State, Justine Greening, what still needs to be done.

Karen Gardham, Campaign Manager for the Right Lines Charter, says:

“The two transport policies the Government is clear about are that they want high speed rail, but they do not want a third runway at Heathrow.

“We strongly support the commitment to shifting intercity transport from air and road to rail, but so far HS2 has been developed in a vacuum.

“If HS2 is to meet its environmental or economic potential, it needs to be planned properly within a long-term national transport strategy that cuts carbon.”

Besides setting out the need for such a strategy by 2014, before phase two of HS2 is formally consulted on, the report outlines how changes are needed to the way the future is forecasted and how communities are engaged in consultation on major infrastructure proposals.

It also calls for ‘better recognition and protection of the value of the natural and historic environment’.

The groups are calling for the lessons from previous schemes, such as High Speed 1, to be learned from.

Karen Gardham added: “Justine Greening has shown her environmental credentials and eye for detail during the successful challenge to the third runway at Heathrow.

“Now she has been promoted to run the Department for Transport, we’re hoping she will once again secure the best outcome for communities and the country by improving the planning of High Speed Rail.”


  1. What this report really does is to attempt to kick High Speed Rail into the long grass, in the hope the entire project is abandoned. Also it appears to be unbalanced in proposing support for local protest organisations without any consideration of the greater good ie The National Interest.

    And let’s not forget that 26 million people in the UK voted for the main political parties who had all included support for HSR in their election manifestos.

    Furthermore, Justine Greening on 21st November met MPs objecting to HS2 to hear their views but guess what – only 20 attended out of a total of 650 !!!!

    Personally I have never supported Route 3, and would much prefer Route 1.5 with a GWR/M25/Hesthrow Hub on the GWML between Iver and West Drayton.

  2. Whilst making some very sound and resonable suggestions about best practice and principles, the authors of this report display a staggering naiviety when it comes to the motivations driving individuals and communities within close proximity of any major infrastructure project of this type. It would be wonderful, in a perfect world, if everyone could come to the table in a constructive and positive manner – the truth is very different.

    For example picture the scenario where Dept. of Transport or quango (such as HS2 Ltd) expert put forward a range of potential routes for consulation. There were in fact four such routes on the shortlist of HS2 candidates – you can see them here

    What would happen if these options were placed in the public domain for debate and consultation is blindingly obvious in its simplicity

    Everyone residing in close proximity to each of the four routes would, almost overnight, miraculously acquire expert status in the complex technical fields of passenger demand forecasting, rail corridor engineering/management and the black art of demographics. Suddendly these so called experts would discover all sorts of plausible, seemingly objective and evidence based reasons why each of the other three routes, ie. those nowhere near near their backyard, were eminently suitable in stark contrast to the route running in close proximity to them, which would of course be utterly impractical and result in effective environmental armageddon whilst simultaneously bankrupting the entire nation!

    These divided and conquer tactics, pursued relentlessly in a war of attrition, would result in stalemate, endless delay, hugely increased costs (to the public purse), property blight on all of the areas involved (rather than just the single candidate put foward in the case of HS2) and ultimate cancellation of 99% of all projects subject to this more open and transparent process.

    I agree that in theory this methodology should result in a more objective and rational decison making process but that outcome assumes constructive participation amongst the parties involved – in practice the process will quickly spiral into a negative mud slinging war of words, serving no one, least of all the wider national interest!!!


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