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View from the street: HS2 is a waste of money needed for education and NHS

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 February 2018

Archant

Back in 2010, they said it was about connecting Glasgow, Scotland to England, then they said it was about saving 11 minutes on the journey from London to Birmingham (really? that was worth £56billion?), then it was about capacity, but they would only have to add more carriages and make the platforms longer, so then it was an “engine for growth” regenerating the north and creating jobs.

But to stimulate the economy and create jobs they would only need to upgrade and electrify the existing tracks, build the trans-pennine, install in-cabin signalling for efficient timetabling as well as safety. You don’t need to build another railway to London through an area of natural beauty like the Chilterns, destroying ancient woodlands.

Why waste over £100billion (Michael Byng) on HS2 when we need the money for the NHS and the education system? The House of Lords Economic committee declared the business case not made, but were ignored.

The truth is we wouldn’t even get a high speed railway the nation could be proud of – it is old technology and will be entirely out of date before it is finished in 2033.

And while they are constructing it air pollution and traffic congestion around Euston and Camden will get even worse with an extra 650 heavy goods vehicles on the roads every day.

Without yet having a station design, nor having published a viable scheme for bringing high speed rail into Euston, HS2 Ltd is evicting people using compulsory purchase orders without paying any compensation at the time of eviction just two weeks before Christmas, and felling the trees around Euston, St James Gardens laid waste by New Year.

They seem keen to demolish the whole area around Euston where 17,000 people live, ready for the developers to make a profit – it is not brownfield ripe for regeneration like around Kings Cross.

The community has been badly let down by democratic processes such as petitioning the select committees, responding to consultations, supposedly experiencing “engagement” from HS2 which is after all the Department of Transport, our government.

Our taxes are used to pay spin firms to portray us as rich nimbies denying the north their jobs – whereas our communities live on the estates around the mainline railway stations that have become desirable real estate, suffering austerity and inequality while developers build high rise office blocks, shopping malls and luxury flats for foreign investment.

So why are they going ahead with HS2 despite the cost, disadvantages and lost opportunities outweighing any national benefit, undeterred by the failure of neo-liberal economy or the exposure of dishonest rationales?

In this post democratic system with democracy hollowed out, it is the vested interest who steer our politicians, driven by the billion pound lobbying machine. Through revolving doors the politicians become company directors, while the corporations take the roles of civil servants, and we citizens have no voice.

Sign the petition to cancel HS2: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200793

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