Spin and hot air hides the impact of HS2

From: Andrea Hall, Church Fenton.

I THINK we are being completely sold a pup. The numbers we are quoted are totally made-up and we’re being told it’s “fact”. It’s not – they have no idea how much money HS2 will benefit the economy by, in the same way they have no idea how much it will really cost to build it.

Not only is HS2 detrimental to our environment, I think it’s going to be massively detrimental to our regional economy too. History has proved that in other countries with HS trains, the regional economies have been sucked to the larger cities.

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It’s going to mean some services between towns and cities in our region will have to go to make room for it. One example; the northern extension to York will take up two of the existing four tracks where it meets the existing line at Ulleskelf into York, and this means that Ulleskelf will likely lose its station all together.

Another example; passenger services to London will be moved to HS2 to make room for more freight on the ECML, meaning some towns will completely lose their direct connections to London. Think about it – some passengers who currently get on a local direct service will have to make an additional journey to Leeds, Sheffield or York, and in the case of the first two cities, once there, take another trip across town to a new station to get on the, what will undoubtedly be more expensive, services.

How is this a good thing? How will this benefit us? Surely it’s a step backwards. It’s about time the region woke up and realised the glossy spin from the DfT and HS2 Limited is just that – a marketing exercise based on hot air, and paid for by the taxpayer.

The every day reality will be far less attractive than they make it sound. In removing connectivity and making it more difficult for people to travel around in the north, it will actually widen the North/South divide and make us even less attractive to inward investment, regardless of whether we can get to Birmingham and London or they can get to us.

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What would benefit this region more is to have the money spent elsewhere. We need to be leading the world in innovation – not simply following other countries by copying their failed HS projects.

From: Andrew Suter, Station Road, Ampleforth, York.

WHILE I would not claim to be clever enough to comment on the political debate over HS2, I do feel competent to comment on the practicalities as follows.

The Settle to Carlisle railway took six years from start to finish. There was no real mechanisation at the time – it was cutting edge technology for example putting a track across a bog on Blea Moor past the fantastic Ribblehead Viaduct.

The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has said we can no longer continue to patch up the rail network. Fine, but they have been doing it with the roads since Margaret Thatcher left office.

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In 20 plus years will we need to travel at high speeds given technology? I would suggest video meetings will fill our needs more than adequately.

To look at it another way, our Queen wasn’t on the internet 20 years ago! I am currently writing this letter on my sister-in-law’s wi-fi. Business people do just the same with their time on a train. This is not non-productive.

A few minutes saved on a journey time is neither here nor there.

HS2 will not be suitable for goods trains. Yes, the capacity for train movements is becoming chocked so build more lines in these areas. If nobody has noticed, rail is a very expensive mode of travel, and given the cost of HS2 it is set to get dearer and dearer.

From: Steve Wilson, Lenton Villas, Idle, Bradford.

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Cynicism from the general public – aside from those not wishing trains to destroy their countryside – may be driven by the reality that the Government has yet to put a clear and persuasive case in favour of HS2 (Yorkshire Post, October 26).

Allied to the general distrust of politicians from all sides and the likelihood that costs will spiral, this project has a long way to go.

The Yorkshire Post is right to point out that the spending is a continuation of existing spend, but whether HS2 is the best use of those billions is far from clear, nor whether the main benefits remain with London. Cue yet another KPMG report?

From: Ralph Wilkinson, Kirkhead Road, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria.

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FROM where does Austin Mitchell get the figure of £50bn as the cost of building HS2 (Yorkshire Post, October 26)? The official figure is £28.2bn, to which has been added an unusually generous contingency reserve of over 50 per cent (£14.4bn) to give a total of £42.6bn.

the depths

From: ME Wright, Grove Road, Harrogate.

WHILE not yet Rome, Sheffield does have seven hills and lovely fountains.

Leeds alas, is another matter. First we had the ‘70s stagnant “water feature” in Lands Lane. Then came the most attractive arrangement in City Square – but not for long; rumour had it that health and safety hysteria killed that off. Only the Eastgate roundabout fountains remained – very pleasing when they worked, which wasn’t often, and now I see that defeat has been admitted. Why does Yorkshire’s major city have such a problem with water technology? Dare I suggest that, before Eastgate is totally condemned, a team be sent southwards for expert guidance?