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HS2 Rail Lobby At Westminster A Resounding Success

Author: Selina Short Published: 26th October 2010 16:05

The room at the HS2 Meeting in WestminsterThe room at the HS2 Rail Lobby in Westminster

Andrea Leadsom MP for South Northamptonshire’s High Speed Lobby Day today in the Houses of Parliament was attended by both Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport and Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport.

Over 150 people and 16 MPs, including the Speaker of the House John Bercow MP,  joined Andrea to listen to the speakers:

Theresa Villiers MP gave the Governments position on their support for a High Speed Rail project.  Theresa assured the room that there would be a long consultation period and that representations made during the consultation period would allow people to make a real difference to the project.

Chris Stokes, former Director of the Strategic Rail Authority, argued against the supposed business case for High Speed Rail.  Chris argued that the growth forecasts for Rail travel of 133% were unsubstantiated.  He showed that for example the actual growth for the channel tunnel rail was only 37% of what was forecasted.   He argued that the business case for HS2 is not yet proven, and at best marginal.

Professor Mike Geddes, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Warwick, spoke on the wider economic impacts of High Speed Rail.  He asked whether the case was deceiving the regions as many expert studies have suggested that it is in general the larger the local economy the more it will benefit.  So-called ‘agglomeration benefits’ flow primarily to the most economically powerful existing agglomerations i.e. London rather than the regions.  He felt the damage to the regions would far outweigh any economic benefit outside London.

Mark Sullivan, the Technical Director of CPRE Warwickshire who previously worked on HS1 in Kent and Joe Rukin, a convenor of StopHS2, then spoke on the HS1 Experience and ‘Speed is not Green’ respectively.
Philip Hammond then joined the meeting taking questions from both MPs and constituents.  A number of MPs spoke out against HS2 asking was it really financially viable.  Philip Hammond once more assured everyone that compensation would be available for anyone affected by the final route.  Representatives from HS2 attended but did not speak.

Andrea Leadsom says  “I am really pleased that people got the chance to air their views to a number of members of Parliament and Minsters. 

"There were some excellent points made in the presentations which raise significant questions about HS2.   Britain is too small and congested an island to accommodate such an insensitive project.”


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