Is Judicial Review the end of the road for HS2’s opponents?

IT doesn’t really matter how much spin the anti-HS2 campaigners put on the outcome of their Judicial Review.  The result was a disaster for them. Their only achievement has been to secure a re-run of public consultation on compensation to be paid to those affected by the new line. But their principal objective was– and, listening to their subsequent comments, still is – to stop the project going ahead at all. 

The HS2 Action Alliance’s objection to how the Government consulted on compensation proposals was only included in case they were unsuccessful with the Judicial Review. But they were confident they would win their case and put an end, or at least seriously delay until after the next general election, the project that they hate.

But as Malcolm Dowden, of law firm Charles Russell, says: “The result should not delay the process as the objectors failed on nine out of ten issues. The element they succeeded on relates to the arrangements for compensation on compulsory purchase of land along the route.”

No doubt that is why Mr Justice Ouseley made HS2AA’s compensation challenge tenth – and last – in the list of issues he said he had to rule on.

The objectors didn’t really want anyone to be paid compensation – because they didn’t want HS2 to proceed at all, arguing their Optimized Alternative could deliver all the benefits.  But the Judge rejected all the reasons they could find for claiming the Government and Department of Transport had acted improperly in planning the scheme in readiness for an Environmental Impact Assessment, to be published soon ahead of a Hybrid Bill being placed before Parliament later this year.

Justice Ouseley spent eleven days listening to the objectors’ arguments and then almost another three months considering them and preparing his judgment– which ran to 259-pages. And he stated: “It will be apparent from the [ten] issues which I have outlined that it is not my task in this judgment to reach a view one way or the other on the merits of HS2.”

After delivering his determination on 15 March, the Judge granted the objectors leave to appeal against his nine rulings in favour of the Government. But legal experts do not think there is much chance of success.

‘Very difficult to overturn on appeal’

Charles Russell’s Malcolm Dowden said: “A judicial review ruling based on extensive argument heard between 3 and 17 December 2012 would be very difficult to overturn on appeal.”

Another infrastructure law expert, Patrick Twist of Pinsent Masons, said: “It is almost certain that there will be an appeal, but the fact that this verdict has gone so comprehensively in favour of the Government means that the timetable remains on track and the judgment gives no scope for siren voices to call for a delay and rethinking of the project.”

One of his colleagues Chris Hallam added: “Of course, the anti-HS2 alliances are unlikely to give up their battles so we should expect a few more hurdles to come, but if the UK is serious about being able to punch its weight internationally we need to have infrastructure that makes the UK a great place to do business and which links our main commercial centres.”

In a democracy, where Parliamentarians, not judges, make the law, what is so surprising is that the anti-HS2 groups spent so much time (and money) on pursuing their objections through the Royal Courts of Justice– rather than preparing to lobby and petition MPs when the detailed Hybrid Bill begins its complicated passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords, starting at the end of this year.

As lawyer Malcolm Dowden says, the Judge’s rulings should not delay the HS2 Bill process as the objectors failed on all but the compensation issue. And he added: “That issue has very limited effect because the government has undertaken three consultation exercises on compensation so far, the most recent of which ended on 31 January and proposed arrangements for HS2 that go beyond the basic entitlements under general compulsory purchase law.”

Mr Dowden’s advice was: “The key message for anyone with property interests affected by the project is to prepare to take part in the petitioning process once the Bill has passed its second reading in Parliament.

“The procedure allows anyone affected by the project to petition. Crucially, petitioners need not object to the whole scheme. Most seek specific protection over and above the basic statutory scheme.”

Hybrid Bill is next stage

They shouldn’t have to wait long, now that the way is clear for the Parliamentary process to get into full swing.

According to Rail Minister Simon Burns: “HS2 is the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times and a project the country cannot afford to do without. The judgment ensures that nothing now stands in the way of taking our plans to parliament.

“We will now move forward as planned with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017 and delivering enormous benefits for the country.”

Emphasising the cross-part support for HS2, Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, called on the government “to speed up legislation to make HS2 a reality.”

And Alan Reid, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Transport Parliamentary Committee, said: “This is a fantastic investment in our infrastructure and will help to build a stronger economy. The first phase will support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs, while phase two will support around 100,000 jobs across the country, regenerating areas around the route and bringing new services and amenities for local communities.”

UKIP, however, remains opposed to the scheme, claiming Justice Ouseley’s judgment as “a major victory for campaigners and for those whose lives and property values would be blighted by this rail line which would cut mere minutes off journey times between London and Birmingham.”

Describing HS2 as “a multi-billion pound EU vanity project,” transport spokesman Mike Nattrass said: “UKIP will continue to oppose HS2 and campaign for this whole, flawed project to be scrapped.”

The Green Party remains the only party with a representative in Parliament to be opposed to the scheme. The party conference came out overwhelmingly against HS2 on 26 February. But the party has made no comment since Mr Justice Ouseley’s judgment was announced on 15 March.

23 thoughts on “Is Judicial Review the end of the road for HS2’s opponents?

  1. Oh dear, they really did shoot themselves in the foot, didn’t they? Sounds to me that they got carried away over the WCML franchising cock-up and assumed the same thing happens in all judicial reviews. And after banging on and on about how the judicial review will definitely expose government incompetence, they’re really running out of options.

    The judge’s statement that it’s not his position to take a view one way or the other on the merits of HS2 sums up the situation rather well. It is, quite right, not the job of unelected judges to change government policy – that is the job of our elected sovereign Parliament. They should have gone through the correct procedure of persuading enough MPs to vote the Bill down. In principle, that option is still open, but they’ll have a hell of a job talking any MPs round after spending over a year effectively taking the position that they don’t matter.

    Ultimately (and this applies to most contentious issues) people have got to realise that democracy is not the right for you to always get your own way. The checks and balances between the executive, legislature and judiciary are there for many good reasons, none of which are about entitling you to veto government decisions no matter how wrong you think the government is.

    • I am not anti HS2, it’s the way it is planned that is the issue. We live in a unique place in the world that is England. It is small, highly populated and at the same time it has retained its natural beauty and most of its heritage and historical structures. We have so far managed to combine the areas required for commerce and industry with the necessary agricultural, green and wooded areas and also retain the charming villages with their tranquil life. This is what makes England unique in the world.

      The planned route of HS2 has not been considered with any sympathy for people or places where they live. It is ramrod straight and as flat as a pancake. You could not think of anything worse for a country so populated. A razor slash across the Mona Lisa would cause less of an outcry.

      To say it needs to be so the trains can travel at 400Km hr, one wonders why. A speed of 350 would enable the track to undulate and curve more, better able to blend in with the topography and be more sympathetic to people, places and everything else that we hold so dear about England.

      • ‘The planned route of HS2 is ramrod straight and as flat as a pancake.’

        The HS2 distances between Leeds and London, and Manchester and London, aren’t much different from the existing lines.

        And HS2 would not be very flat. The gradients would be much fiercer than the existing lines. They would cause huge amounts of electrical energy to be wasted, and make cost-effective freight operation non-viable.

      • Colin
        1. The 400km/h speed threshold is a design feature built in to provide a degree of future proofing – I’m happy to see this aspect – this helps to avoid short sighted corner cutting, which only leads to additional (huge) future costs. Trains are predicted to operate at maximum speeds between 320-350km/h when the line opens, unless there are major technological (energy efficiency) improvements between now and then.

        2. Where would you put the NEW line – please don’t come back with phrases that include either alongside the WCML/ECML or an existing motorway because both options would have ended up costing more and/or causing more disruption in terms of residential housing/business premises affected.

        So, taking into account these precluding parameters, where would you put HS2 – no line of this type or scale can avoid everyone, everywhere – it’s physically impossibility!

  2. “The objectors didn’t really want anyone to be paid compensation – because they didn’t want HS2 to proceed at all, arguing their Optimized Alternative could deliver all the benefits.”

    Mr Marshall’s report is inaccurate. Judicial review proceedings were launched by 51m, HS2AA, Heathrow Hub Ltd, Aylesbury Park Golf Club Ltd, and two landowners.

    Heathrow Hub Ltd,,Aylesbury Park Golf Club Ltd, and the two landowners did not argue that the 51m Optimized Alternative could deliver “all the benefits”.

    Different schemes have different costs, and different benefits. HS2 performs poorly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, decongestion, connectivity, cost-benefit, and capacity utilisation,

    The Y network doesn’t even perform particularly well in terms of speed, against the existing East Coast Main Line. 208-minutes London to Edinburgh is perfectly possible with pendular trains. Bradford, Huddersfield, and Halifax to London would also be quicker with direct ECML tilting trains.

    • As I’m getting tired of the same sweeping statements being made unchallenged, I think I need to take issue with one sentence.

      “HS2 performs poorly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions”

      Or, more accurately, according to some calculations, HS trains use approximately 20% more energy per seat than conventional trains. (Other calculations put them about the same.) Both are still massively below the greenhouse gas emissions for road and air travel per seat, and set to fall further as electricity becomes progressively less fossil-fuel based.

      One would have thought that it antis were so bothered about CO2 emissions, they would spend a lot more time campaigning for, say, cutting the speed limit on motorways to 50mph, or even enforcing the existing 70 limit. That would deliver a massive saving.

      “decongestion,”

      How does adding more tracks to the same route increase congestion?

      “connectivity,”

      The current service plan connects London to most of the stations already served by the WCML. Most of those that don’t stand to get improved services when trains that don’t stop with trains that do.

      “cost-benefit,”

      2.5 is reasonably good. The made up figures by HS2AA are poor, but they’re made up so it doesn’t matter.

      “capacity utilisation”

      18 tph London to Birmingham Interchange, 11 tph Manchester branch, 9 tph Leeds branch (more if the Leicester – Edinburgh plan goes ahead). Very few double-track railways manage that much.

      “208-minutes London to Edinburgh is perfectly possible with pendular trains.”

      … if you axe all the stopping services. Good luck explaining to the people of Durham their station is closing for the greater good Beleben-style.

      • “Or, more accurately, according to some calculations, HS trains use approximately 20% more energy per seat than conventional trains. (Other calculations put them about the same.) Both are still massively below the greenhouse gas emissions for road and air travel per seat”

        Um, not “more accurately”. If a train runs at 400 km/h, it uses 3.2 times as much energy (and produces 3.2 as much ghg) compared to running at 200 km/h (says Systra, for Greengauge 21).

        See also former rail engineer Prof Roger Kemp’s diagram of energy by mode on the London to Edinburgh run.

        It’s also important not to forget the embedded (construction) carbon in HS2.

        “capacity utilisation”

        “18 tph London to Birmingham Interchange, 11 tph Manchester branch, 9 tph Leeds branch (more if the Leicester – Edinburgh plan goes ahead). Very few double-track railways manage that much.”

        Plenty of railways manage 15 – 20 trains per hour. But there’s no point running trains 80% or 90% empty. Unfortunately, that’s part of the HS2 proposition. The HS2 “Leicester – Edinburgh”, Heathrow, and Europe services are all basket cases. On more than half of the HS2 network, about three quarters of the capacity would be unused.

        “How does adding more tracks to the same route increase congestion?”

        HS2 is not the “same route” as the WCML, or ECML, and would have minimal decongestion effects. On the WCML corridor, locales connected include Watford, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Coventry, Oldbury, Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield, Stafford, Runcorn, and Stockport. None of those would be served by HS2. The scope for classic train service reduction is minimal, because of the disconnectivity effects that would arise.

        “if you axe all the stopping services.”

        There’s no requirement to “axe all the stopping services”. The idea that the ECML lines would be saturated by just three 225 km/h trains an hour, is nonsense. Even HS1 manages to operate a mix of stopping and non-stopping services, and its trains aren’t speed-compatible.

        • The problem with your arguments is that you rely heavily of theories and try to extrapolate it to match the conclusion you want, when reality often does not back up your claims.

          So, let’s start with your table on energy consumption vs speed. I prefer to read sources data comes from and make up my own mind rather than be told which table to look at. This particular table I see you got from a report from Greengauge 21. I haven’t yet had time to go over the whole report and take in everything, but one quick glance tells me you’ve ommitted a lot of other important factors, such as the energy savings from lack of curves and eliminating start-top conditions, the fact that HS2 trains won’t be going at 400km/h (a 400km/h line is only keeping options open if this becomes viable later), it will only be going at top speed for part of the route, and – most importantly – the conclusion that overall HS trains work out a lot more energy efficient than cars and planes. Looks very much like cherry-picking to me.

          I can’t comment on the Roger Kemp chart because I don’t know where this came from. In isolation, this chart doesn’t make sense because 1) electric trains don’t have fuel you can measure in litres, and 2) TGVs don’t run from London to Edinburgh. But if we skip over all this theorisation and look at real energy consumption of real trains on real journey on real tracks, I think you’ll find HS vs non-HS is about the same.

          Now, for this claim that plenty of railways manage 15-20 trains per hour, feel free to give me an example. As it is, I make it 11 tph on the fast lines of the WCML, 9 tph on the MML, and 10 tph on the ECML. The only railways I know that do 15-20 are metro services such as Crossrail (when it starts), where running fast services is out of the question.

          “Basket cases” is a wonderful phrase because it allows to to dismiss ideas out of hand with absolutely no need to back up your claims with any evidence whatsoever. Come back with evidence before you argue that Leicester-Edinburgh, Heathrow and Europe can’t be done.

          Decongestion: theorise all you like, but the fact is that I count 275 services per day coming out of Euston on to the West Coast Main Line (excluding the DC tracks). Under the proposed “Do Something” service pattern for phases 1+1, this falls to 208 services per day. (This is mainly achieved by rendering the WCML Liverpool service and the LM fast services to Milton Keynes obsolete.) Even if you think more trains need to be laid on to compensate for the drop of service to Stoke/Macclesfield/Stockport, that’s still a considerable reduction. Facts don’t back up theory again.

          Yes, HS1 does have a mixture of faster and slower trains – at 6tph, and that’s just between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet where the top speed is lower and there is less speed differential. The ECML is a different matter. They published a capacity review recently, and the fact this was published at all means the situation isn’t good. But enough theorising – if you’re so convinced you can add three extra limited stop trains without harming current services, show me your service plan. Either before or after your service plan for diverting Birmingham trains to the Chiltern line which I’m still eagerly anticipating.

          • “So, let’s start with your table on energy consumption vs speed.”

            It’s *Systra’s* table that shows that a train travelling at 300 km/h uses ~1.96 times as much energy as at 200 km/h.

            And it’s HS2 Ltd’s own figures that show Heathrow trains would be, at best, ~80% empty.

            Sources and diagrams for claims can be seen on the Beleben blog.

          • “It’s *Systra’s* table that shows that a train travelling at 300 km/h uses ~1.96 times as much energy as at 200 km/h.”

            I am not disputing the figures you quote – only the conclusion you draw from it. It is correct that a faster train uses more energy per mile if all other things are equal. They are not. High-speed lines also have less curves and less need to accelerate and declerate trains and this works the other way. You are quite happy to selectively quote one table from a report that suits your argument, but you are refusing to acknowledge other bits of the same report that don’t, or the conclusion.

            Even if you did create a case that slower trains are more environmentally friendly, that would, at the most, be a case for building a new line at a lower speed. Which would almost certainly take a very similar route.

            “And it’s HS2 Ltd’s own figures that show Heathrow trains would be, at best, ~80% empty.”

            No, your own calculations show they will be 80% empty based on unfounded assumptions. For a start, a seat capacity of “up to 550″ is a maximum, not an absolute figure (200m of a Pendolino works out as 448 seats). There is no obligation for all trains to be 200m long, and if it’s clear demand on the Heathrow trains will be a lot less, the trains will probably be shorter, just like they can do on HS1.

            And you are cherry-picking Heathrow and trying to pass this off as a reflection of the entire network. The way things are going, HS2 Heathrow trains may never even exist. The forecast averaged over all trains on the HS2 lines is nearer to 50%, and that assume growth stops dead in 2037. Dispute these figures if you like, but implying HS2’s own figures say all trains will be 80-90% empty is highly misleading, if not outright lying.

            “Sources and diagrams for claims can be seen on the Beleben blog.”

            Not good enough. The onus is on you to back up your claims when challenged, not blame people who disagree with you for not trawling through the hundreds of pages on your blog to find the source of your claims. I would not expect any HS2 supporter to dismiss an opponent’s argument out of hand for not reading ever page of HS2 documentation for beginning to end, so I don’t see why you should dismiss challenges to your claims on the basis that they’ve not read every page of your blog.

            And quite frankly, given how easily I can spot your cherry-picking, I have better things to do that trawl through page after page of sweeping statements in the hope of finding the occasional fact.

      • The internal aircraft in the UK are basically used by Flybe (owned mostly by BA and flying transferred BA routes) and use the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turbo prop 78 seater STOL aircraft. Its carbon foot-print is calculated LESS (yes less) at its cruising speed of 667 km/h than the proposed trains running on HS2 at 400km/h. Its footprint would be LARGER if the trains ran at 350km. High Speed rail is not green. And as you know from observing your cars performance, most energy is used in acceleration not cruising.

        • “The internal aircraft in the UK are basically used by Flybe (owned mostly by BA and flying transferred BA routes) and use the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turbo prop 78 seater STOL aircraft. Its carbon foot-print is calculated LESS (yes less) at its cruising speed of 667 km/h than the proposed trains running on HS2 at 400km/h.”

          Skipping over fact that the trains aren’t going to run at 400 km/h unless some future imprevement makes this more efficient, I’d love you to enlighten me on this source, because every source I have read comes to to opposite conclusion by a long long long way.

          “And as you know from observing your cars performance, most energy is used in acceleration not cruising.”

          And HS rail vastly reduces acceleration by removing the stop-start conditions that plague overcrowded main lines, as well as relieving start-start conditions on the main line itself. What’s the problem?

  3. Is the end of the road for anti-HS2 campaigns?

    No such luck!

    Let’s be brutally honest here – the groups bringing the judicial review (JR) are a motley crew brought together only for the purpose of challenging the minister’s decision, rather than any shared ideological opposition to HS2.

    Heathrow Hub want to bring High Speed Rail to Heathrow so we can eliminate them from our enquiries – they probably have the resources to carry on with their challenge but really their case is a sideshow to the main event.

    HS2AA, Aylesbury Golf Club and 51M group are opposed for very obvious reasons of trying to remove the threat posed by HS2 to their immediate localities, plain and simple.

    In that respect the JR can be viewed as a first skirmish in a wider campaign – they might come back with an appeal but that would be throwing good money after bad and given the source of some of their funding (Council Tax Payers in Bucks, Oxon, Warks?) could lead to an electoral backlash?

    A far more likely outcome will be for Martin Tett, HS2AA, STOPHS2, AGHAST et al, to take stock and fall back to the next barricade, which will be the Hybrid Bill legislative process.

    See link to leaflet explaining the Hybrid Bill process
    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/l05.pdf

    A key feature of any Hybrid Bill is the potentially pivotal role played the Select Committee, who are charged with the task of considering arguments advanced from both sides, petitioners against and promoters – in this instance that means the usual suspects from amongst the anti-HS2 community petitioning and DfT / HS2 Ltd ministers/officials promoting

    Whilst there is widespread consensus supporting HS2, a number of MPs are conspicuously opposed, again in many instances driven by geographical proximity to the approved/planned route, ie. a small but vociferous group of their constituents – should these MPs somehow manage to lever themselves on the aforesaid Select Committee that might herald s a series of delaying tactics?

    In the end that’s what the anti-HS2 community is now left with – a rearguard delaying action, trying to throw spanners in the works at every opportunity in the hope that some kind of major event, such as the premature implosion of the current Coalition administration, will ride to their rescue in proverbial “Cavalry over the Hill” fashion?

  4. The paradox is that a Conservative led coalition Cabinet pushed through a project their advisors considered flawed and it was flawed.
    Lord Adonis introduced it 2/12 prior to an election that was predictably to be lost.
    HS2 as planned became a foundling and its has not been properly considered or nurtured despite huge expenditures.
    It was nearly rejected last summer but has metamorphosed by the Coalition as the new saviour for the economy. It is now a tool of propaganda and political aspiration, consuming funds better spent on detailed review.
    HS2 is like the first planned HS1 before it was radically revised. We have seen the evolution of the termini along its course (revision,revision cost, cost)
    HS2 has poor connectivity, limited distribution and will be difficult to extend to other areas East and West, areas far more in need of HSR than Leeds or Birmingham.
    At present it is serving selected Nthrn Cities in one of four nations and about 20% max of that population. It will be a conduit to London and HS1. There is dissent about which cities are served. Whereas 100% of four nations are paying for it one way or another.
    The claim for need has been made for the North, the main problems to be resolved are in the South where it has limited utility and no connectivity .
    The sensible solution would be to plan and build the North/Birmingham Y and to integrate that to Nthrn Wales and Scotland and the West Country if that can be agreed and to work on how this will access London Heathrow and HS1.
    Birmingham is a open site and could be a Hub and a slightly slower high speed but more flexible route could then complete the limited residual journey and connect up properly. I doubt if Birmingham would object. Euston is no-where ready and Crossrail 2 is an unaffordable pipedream at present.
    Tunelling through the AONBs, SSI and special areas should be everyones belief. Choosing the shortest/best routes through the AONB and other issues of connectivity would be much easier at a reduced high speed. One issue of concern is the Y with all its proposed extensions and capacity is funelling into one line Birmingham to London. As proposed this would run at near capacity when the Y is opened (every 2 minutes at UHSpeed). Cross connectivity is also poor

    If it really is to be a boon and to be used and be connected up to Scotland Wales and the West then the single track entry to London seems a limitation especially at Ultra High Speeds. UHS is also very costly in fuel (electricity) and I doubt it will be run at speed unless one has a very buoyant economy and source of power.
    I expect that extensions to the route have been badly thought through and that this was in thruth a stand alone project. Certainly the brief and project has been designed as such.

    • “The paradox is that a Conservative led coalition Cabinet pushed through a project their advisors considered flawed and it was flawed.”

      Says who – please provide some evidence to back up this bogus claim?

      “It was nearly rejected last summer but has metamorphosed by the Coalition as the new saviour for the economy.”

      What you really mean is that certain vested interests hiding behind a Spectator Magazine editorial hoped it might be undermined by spreading rumours – in fact preparations carried on regardless.

      “It is now a tool of propaganda and political aspiration, consuming funds better spent on detailed review.”

      In other words, let’s try to delay, procrastinate, cogitate and endlessly deliberate – hopefully postponing any meaningful activity until we (the anti-HS2 naysayers) can figure a way out to torpedo the scheme once and for all. HS2 project has been deliberated and debated to the umpteeth degree – time to quit contemplating and start building!

      “HS2 has poor connectivity, limited distribution and will be difficult to extend to other areas East and West, areas far more in need of HSR than Leeds or Birmingham. At present it is serving selected Nthrn Cities in one of four nations and about 20% max of that population.”

      Complete and utter codswallop – HS2 connects Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, South Yorkshire and East Midlands (Leicester/Derby/Nottingham), serving East and West Midlands, NW.England and Yorks-Humber Regions – that’s approx 20 million UK inhabitants or virtually one third of Britain’s population – you might like to pretend that HS2 will develop in a vacuum, in order to mislead and deceive public opinion but in reality, by the time it’s in operation a plethora of integrated transport links will connect the aforesaid Regions firmly into a burgeoning High Speed Rail revolution

      “There is dissent about which cities are served.”

      No, there are clumsy attempts, orchestrated by anti-HS2 campaigners, to sew seeds of dissent as they seek to fracture public confidence in this long overdue project.

      “Whereas 100% of four nations are paying for it one way or another.”

      HS1 was underwritten by ALL UK taxpayers – but almost exclusively benefits London and the South East. I don’t recall any howls of anguish from the Chilterns when HS1 was on the drawing board – I wonder why?

      Your narrative amounts to little more than a mendacious, mean spirited attempt to foster discord – simple divide and conquer tactics, risible in the extreme and worthy of our outright derision and contempt!

      • Where does HS2 connect “Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, South Yorkshire and East Midlands (Leicester/Derby/Nottingham), serving East and West Midlands, NW.England and Yorks-Humber Regions” to?

        The answer is: London. 80%+ of journeys would have London as origin or destination. Though why anyone in (for example) Hull would travel to London via Leeds_HS2 is hard to fathom.

        “HS1 was underwritten by ALL UK taxpayers – but almost exclusively benefits London and the South East.”

        Most people in London and the South East do not use, and have never used, HS1. And 95% of Southeastern train operating company journeys do not involve HS1.

        • “80%+ of journeys would have London as origin or destination.”

          Under latest proposed service pattern, 16tph start/end at London, and 6tph start/end at Birmingham for places other than London. That’s 72.2%, or 75% if you assume the two Heathrow services will go to London instead. Either way, that’s not 80+%. You massively undermine your credibility when you make such sweeping statements that can be debunked in 30 seconds.

          “Most people in London and the South East do not use, and have never used, HS1. And 95% of Southeastern train operating company journeys do not involve HS1.”

          And 71% of journeys from Ashford to London, in case you were trying to mislead people into beleive no-one wants to use high-speed trains. (Destinations beyond Ashford are about the same.)

        • The answer is: London. 80%+ of journeys would have London as origin or destination. Though why anyone in (for example) Hull would travel to London via Leeds_HS2 is hard to fathom.

          Are you, for example, saying, more than 10 years in advance, that no one will board a classic compatible train in Newcastle and get off in Leeds?

          Not only are you extrapolating theories to the nth degree and arriving at bogus conclusions but now you’ve added crystal ball gazing to your growing skill set?

          “Most people in London and the South East do not use, and have never used, HS1. And 95% of Southeastern train operating company journeys do not involve HS1″

          A wonderfully nebulous statement – guess what most people in any given UK Region have never used HS1 – but I tell you what – I’m prepared to put a fiver of my money right now on a claim that, sorted by UK Region, the greatest % of travellers on HS1 reside in London and South East England – geography certainly isn’t your strong point?

  5. It was interesting that after the JR result there seemed to be a much better media response from the DfT than has previously been the case. The immediate Twitter comment and the availability of Simon Burns for interview at the RCJ was definitely an improvement on previous efforts. The ‘anti’ groups have definitely been much stronger on the public opinion war in the past, especially when the stage 2 aspect of the route was announced.

    However the project does seem to still be dogged by issues which lead to question the competence of HS2 Ltd. I was very surprised at the apparent volte-face over the Euston redevelopment. Allowing the potential change to appear in a local paper with the MP able to comment that costs had been underestimated by up to 40% is very problematic (not necessarily true of course). Changes are always going to happen is projects of this scale but for them to appear in the public domain in such a manner is concerning. Changes to Euston are not a problem as such but if they were announced formally with supporting reasons not seemingly prised out the damage would be less severe.

    As a ‘pro rail’ person who has been a regular user of High Speed trains in Europe I am certainly not set against the project. However I do think that HS2 Ltd need to run a much tighter ship, especially in the PR area, for the project to thrive. In the past it has been hard to avoid the conclusion that certain aspects of the project have been distinctly amateur…

  6. I think the compensation argument and possibly the environmental review were the only ones they stood any chance with. The rest of it seems to have been very nimby focussed (it’s going to ruin the Par 5 over the lake, apparently).

    I think the biggest threat to HS2 is now the strength of the business case as the cost estimates start increasing, particularly now that it seems that there’s a genuine risk of having to pay out realistic compensation thanks to the JR. I wonder whether there’s a fundamental rethink needed on the other side of the equation. How can the benefits be maximised on paper?

    It seems to me that Rail has historically been a key to creating great cities. If the reason we’re building high speed rail is to spread wealth throughout the country, why not…. ummmmm…. actually spread it throughout the country, rather than reinforcing existing concentrations?

    The very fact that places like Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham became the vast population centres they are today, is because they were relatively small (compared to today) industrial towns that became well connected, by canals initially and then ultimately by rail.

    The economic benefits of HS2 have to be quantified on a time and volume basis but
    Given that industry’s historical reliance on being physically close to the source of the raw materials is no longer much of a consideration, isn’t the volume part of the argument maximised by creating new centres of wealth, commerce and population, ie by taking the line to places that aren’t already well served?

    And time-wise, Rather than cutting 20 minutes off the already rapid London to Birmingham journey, why not take an hour off the route to Bristol and then on to South Wales and Cornwall? Or Norfolk and Lincolnshire?

    An effective high speed link will promote growth around the hubs. But it isn’t going to double the size of Sheffield, or if it does, it’s going to present Sheffield with a load of congestion problems which in turn reduce the pay-back per £ invested if they’re accounted for in the sums (which I assume they are).

    Doubling the size of Swansea, or Norwich or Plymouth seems a realistic proposition, and a far more manageable, commercially beneficial and worthy objective. Better long term value for our collective £350000000000, I’d suggest.

  7. There’s a thousand twists left to this story. There is still some court action to come although it probably won’t eventually be successful. I wonder if the ‘direct action’ mob will then take over. They try (legally) of buy up bits of land and then sell it to a hundred people. It clogs the compulsory purchase system up. Then there is the ‘dig a tunnel’ in the path of the construction and live in it, or the build a tree-house in a tree to be cut down. There’s also the game ‘find the Pipistrelle bat’ or ‘Great Crested Newt’. The Councils may also join in with putting a 7 tonne weight limit on all local roads to delay large deliveries of materials. I think Railnews will not be short of stories over the next few years. The success (or lack of) of UKIP in this years local elections in Tory areas where this line goes may also be a deciding factor.

    • Happy to call their bluff on those threats. Legal challenges and aiming to derail the Hybrid Bill is fair game, but once people start trying to delay the scheme on such fivolous grounds such as the ones you suggest, Parliament will simply change the law to stop those stunts (and quite justifiably – when laws get abused by people who aren’t getting their way, it is right to stop the abuse of the law).

      Also happy to call their bluff on another swampy. The turnouts on anti-HS2 demonstrations are at best unimpressive, so if they’re having trouble rally people to do that, the chance of finding people prepared to live in a tree-house for three months seems remote. Almost all the long-term protests I’ve seen are about wars and/or bankers. Contrary to what Buckinghamshire seems to think, most people have HS2 a long way down their list of priorities. In any case, no-one ever calls off a construction project in progress because of this – every goverment know that if you give in to this once, you open to door to more of the same for all construction projects.

      I suppose that UKIP’s threat to the Conservatives might have some influence, but the Conservative would massively lose confidence in businesses if they allowed that was so blatantly down to political pressure. And let’s face it, the way things are going, after 2015 it won’t matter what the Conservatives think.

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