How to oppose HS2: a beginners’ guide

Hate HS2? Dead against it? Happier in a 4-wheel drive?

Then our easy guide to how HS2 can be fought is for you!

First principles

You don’t need logic, facts or any flexibility of mind. Indeed, they don’t help us fight the cause. So throw aside all this baggage, and concentrate on the core message. Just say no!

The devil is in the detail …

… so it is said. In fact, some of the details don’t help us much. So ignore them — or change them.

For example: attract a large, grumbling audience instantly by saying that HS2 won’t help commuters. Actually, the promoters of HS2 keep claiming that it will, spouting some such nonsense along the lines of ‘HS2 will release capacity on existing routes, particularly the WCML, for more commuter trains’.

Well, we say pooh! to that. Is there anything in what they say? Maybe. In fact, probably. Oh damn it, almost certainly.

But it’s not our job to make that point. So don’t! Just stick to the message. It sounds convincing to people who don’t know the whole story, and we want to make sure that’s most people! Ignorance is strength!

Statistics are good …

… when you know how to use them.

For example: some intercity departures from Euston in the evening peak are only just over half full. We conclude: the West Coast Main Line is only operating at 50 per cent of capacity. Job done! (Some commuter trains are loaded to 150 per cent or more, but that really isn’t the point. At least, not a point we are going to make.)

Pick on a general statement — twist it a little — and pour scorn on it!

Let’s take a practical example. The transport secretary says “we spent £9 billion upgrading the WCML north of Rugby, and it still can’t cope”.

Well, really! By carefully asking the wrong people, we got the DfT to say that they don’t know the details of West Coast expenditure. (Network Rail does, but we won’t ask them.) And we suspect that not ALL that £9 billion was spent north of Rugby. We reckon that a few million was spent further south.

(Yes, yes, yes. It is true that the transport secretary’s point, taken as a general statement, was probably about right. But don’t worry about that!)

The advantage of cherry-picking the details

… is that we can choose all the best cherries for ourselves.

Try this one: Dutch High Speed rail has been a disaster. There are compensation claims galore! Yippeeeee! High Speed Rail is donkey dung!

(Actually, it was the trains which had the problems, not the line, but hey — that doesn’t matter. We said the devil is in the detail, didn’t we?)

Don’t worry about reality

We say that HS2 will mop up all the railway funding …

… well, it might. (Network Rail will be investing a measly £12 billion in enhancements like electrification between now and 2019, but they might not have done! It could have all gone terribly wrong! It could have been peanuts! So concentrate on those nuts!)

Stay beside the point! Twist those statistics! A misquoted fact is a helpful fact!

‘Toddlers will perish when a High Speed train passes within 50 miles of them!’
‘Electric railways are the tools of Satan!’
‘Earth will plunge into the sun unless HS2 is scrapped!’

(All suggestions gratefully considered.)

Silly posters bashing HS2
Nasty car stickers, ditto
A specially-compiled collection of the wise sayings of the anti-HS2 movement (not yet ready)
Pictures of elderly actors living in the Chilterns weeping over, er, something green

 PS: Cash your compensation cheque quickly — there’s more where that came from, so keep howling!

6 thoughts on “How to oppose HS2: a beginners’ guide

  1. I must admit, after reading all the anti stuff, I was starting to think that HS2 was really all about fracking in disguise…. I was nearly going to go out myself and join Swampy and his mates to save an old oak tree until I realised it has fallen down in the February storms, but I needn’t have worried, I’m sure another one has been speedily planted in the direct line between London and Birmingham……….along with a few newts chucked in a nearby ditch for good measure!

  2. The objectors really are grasping at straws. The “Centre-Right” think-tank report that took up so much time on Radio 4’s TODAY Programme suggested that Doncaster had improved HS rail services (has anyone told the citizens of Doncaster?) but that unemployment has gone up. No mention of the recession. No questions about other possible reasons.

    Similarly, domestic services in Kent (insisted upon by John Prescott to ensure HS1 funding) are used to illustrate the negative effect of the HS line, conveniently ignoring the current regeneration in Kent coast towns!

    With this sort of opposition, HS2 should win hands down

  3. Hahaha, some excellent points here. I have looked in to HS2 quiter a lot and have gathered a good amount of information on it, and I can say with confidence that so many of the anti-HS2 groups claims are totally wrong. HS2 Action Alliance created a really silly video on how bad HS2 was with John Bishop as the voice of the train (I’m surprised they didn’t use Piers Morgan or Camilla Parker-Bowles). They made absurd claims like HS2 would not increase capacity, despite HS2 planning to run 14 trains an hour in Phase 1 with over 1000 seats per train. If that doesn’t increase capacity and take some strain off Europe’s busiest stretch of railway (the WCML) then I don’t know what will. Granted, HS2 has many flaws. They need to work with serious groups like the Wildlife Trusts or the RSPB who oppose the scheme but have some sense. The Wildlife Trusts in particular have some great ideas on mitigating the environmental impacts of HS2.

  4. And if all else fails act like a Parrot and keep squawking – White Elephant …White Elephant and high court judges will be much impressed …..

    Oh and just stick two fingers up outside parliament when you see a railway magazine photographer !

  5. The antis clearly miss the point of how high speed rail could benefit the whole country, by creating immense opportunities for growth, just as it has in Spain! We just cannot afford to sit back and expect the country to compete with the rest of Europe, without spending this kind of money on adventurous projects. Furthermore, it is a huge benefit to the construction industry and to consultants.

  6. Pingback: A Beginner’s Guide On Opposing HS2 « The Anonymous Widower

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