REPORTS about HS2 are coming along with increasingly tight headways just at the moment.
If nothing else, they give anyone bored with the imminent festivities something different to read on Boxing Day, and today we have another one.
This is from the Commons Transport Committee, which is broadly confirming its support for the scheme, subject to one or two qualifications.
The suggestions from the Committee include the possibility of starting work in the north and building towards the south, which is apparently going to be considered.
As so often when these reports are published, various third parties have been making their own comments, including Labour’s shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh, who said: “Labour supports HS2 because we must address the capacity problems that mean thousands of commuters face cramped, miserable journeys into Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London. However, three years of Government delays and mismanagement … [etc.]”.
The reference to commuters is the one which matters, because it has caused the mighty focus of opinion which is the HS2 Action Alliance (known to its friends as the rather more jaunty HS2AA) to roar defiance.
Somebody called Richard Houghton, speaking for HS2AA, offered these thoughts in response to the Labour Party statement:
“This shows astonishing ignorance about what HS2 is all about. HS2 is a high speed railway between London and Manchester; it will do nothing whatsoever to relieve commuting problems into these cities for the millions of commuters who live within only a few miles of one of these places and who travel in every day.
“The Labour Party should be supporting local people in their everyday commutes, not a Tory transport project that is not wanted by the British people. Why is the Labour Party propping up the Tory-led Coalition and this disastrously expensive and out-of-control project, against the wishes of the people?”
Well, Mr Houghton, there may be some astonishing ignorance being displayed here but not, perhaps, by the Labour Party.
HS2 will absorb most (not all) intercity traffic between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire, leaving a lot of spare capacity on the West Coast Main Line (in particular).
What can we do with this capacity? Well, we can run more trains of a non-intercity type, including commuter trains as well as freight.
That’s the deal. More commuter trains. Fewer cramped, miserable journeys. Easy, really.
And if this explanation has done anything to combat astonishing ignorance, then so much the better.
Happy Christmas, one and all.