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Exclusive: HS2 Bill won’t be passed by the next election, Transport Secretary admits

5 March 2014

3:52 PM

5 March 2014

3:52 PM

In this week’s Spectator magazine, James Forsyth interviews the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. McLoughlin admits that the government is unlikely legislation to get the HS2 Bill through Parliament before the next election — which could leave a major threat over the project in 2015.

‘There are a bevy of Tory MPs opposed to having HS2 run through their patch or a new runway built in their backyard. But McLoughlin has agreed to tolerate dissent. ‘You have to accept that certain people, certain constituencies are heavily impacted by a piece of national infrastructure,’ he says. ‘Those MPs have got a duty to stand up for their constituents and make the case for their constituents. You’ll never hear me criticise that.’

‘McLoughlin admits that the HS2 legislation won’t be through parliament before the next election: ‘I think one has to accept that perhaps through all its stages within the next 12 months is slightly ambitious.’ It will, he says, have ‘started its parliamentary progress’. When I ask if it will be done, he answers ‘no’.

‘This means that it could still become an election issue — Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, makes occasional forays against it.’

Read the full thing here.


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Show comments
  • Peter Jarai

    reopen the old Great central railway line it wood only cost us £6 Billion and HS2 wood cost £50 billion which one wood you go for

  • derekemery

    Do we really need yet another London-centric project? High Speed trains benefit the hub city most of all i.e. surprise surprise that is London. Who would have guessed?
    Is the only point of UK existence to make London as rich as possible at the cost of the development of the rest of the country?
    One company that said it would not invest in HS2 and said the rest of the country would benefit far more by links between major Northern cities.

  • Nicholas_Keen

    From the chap who killed the proposed 80 motorway limit and is now floating, via the Highways Agency, trial balloons for a 60 limit on extended stretches of rural motorway to meet EU emissions regulations. The man from Derbyshire West who has seen his home county’s well aligned rural A roads blanketed by a near universal 50 limit (e.g., A515 Ashbourne to Buxton).

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    We must not forget that the construction budget for this project is a mere (unchanged) £28bn on a twenty year program. The costs then double due the financing model, CPOs, fees, backhanders. In essence the news today confirms there is no lid on the additional outgoings.

  • starfish

    Great. Scrap it now and save the debt burden it would have created

  • mopdenson

    Blimey its like a poison chalice relay! lets hope the next party in get tired of this vanity project, drop the baton and Stop HS2.

  • mariandavid

    I must confess, having in a previous incarnation been British, being utterly appalled at the glee with which some view the possible collapse of the only significant transport innovation in the Kingdom (I exclude of course yet more tunnels created purely for London).

    Added to that the unimaginable time and cost a perfectly straightforward piece of engineering requires in present-day Britain. In the time the UK debates, questions, qualifies, diverts and contemplates HS2 any other European country, or China, or Japan or even Russia would have completed it in half the time and half the cost. Little, petulant, limited, NIMBY cloaked and blinkered England seems here to stay and I am regretful.

    • HookesLaw

      Bigoted self interest rules. Typical kippersesque behaviour.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …massive spending and debt for socialist projects with absolutely no business case support… typical socialist Camerluvvie madness.

  • perdix

    Nimbys will be pleased. No moving into the 21st Century.

    • realfish

      I think most of them are KIPpers and given the demography, most of them will have ‘passed on’ by the time HS2 is due to be built, selfishly leaving their grand kids with a country that doesn’t work.

      • HookesLaw

        A level of perceptiveness rarely seen n these blogs.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …yes, the level of perceptiveness of a socialist nutter like you.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …as opposed to leaving their grand kids with the massive debt you socialist nutters are feverishly piling up on such boondoggles as this?

    • starfish

      Hmm
      Railways are so last century (before last)

    • HookesLaw

      The nimbys in question never moved beyiond 1946

  • Smithersjones2013

    McLoughlin admits that the HS2 legislation won’t be through parliament
    before the next election: ‘I think one has to accept that perhaps
    through all its stages within the next 12 months is slightly ambitious.’

    I bet Dave is so disappointed that that baby has been passed to Miliband and won’t result in more horrendous Tory splits stories before the election.

  • Mark McIntyre

    NO2 HS2 – whenever the election !

  • RichardWH

    Any delay which allows for proper scrutiny for a £50b white elephant designed to ease congestion on the second quietest inter city routre in the UK can be no bad thing.

    • realfish

      £28bn

      • Alexsandr

        + rolling stock

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          wheelbarrows?

        • HookesLaw

          If you want to improve capacity you will still need the rolling stock anyway. Not that you are remotely interested in the nation’s transport infrastructure.

    • HookesLaw

      Poor old Isombard Kingdom Brunel – all that scrutiny he had to endure.
      By the way Nigel (you sad bigot) – if you are looking in – he was the son of an immigrant.

  • CharlietheChump

    Don’t like trains. So 19th century.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      Scrap Crossrail NOW then, you nutjob.

    • mariandavid

      Never left Britain have you? Elsewhere it is planes and cars that are so 20th Century

  • In2minds

    McLoughlin – “Those MPs have got a duty to stand up for their constituents and make the case for their constituents. You’ll never hear me criticise that” –

    I’ve heard him do just that!

  • Colin56

    The hapless McLoughlin “might have to accept’ that common sense will prevail and this ludicrous scheme will never see the light of day. He must one day realise that it is fiscal folly to propose spending £50bn we haven’t got on a rail scheme that has a business case about as robust as the Dawlish rail line. The sooner he “accepts” that, the sooner the many thousands of constituents whose lives are blighted by the scheme will be able to move on, Whoever owns up and backs down will win a lot of votes.

    • Frank

      He really is “hapless”.
      Agree about votes there to be won. It would also save quite a lot of money if it was dust-binned at the first opportunity.

    • realfish

      £28bn (plus a Treasury imposed contingency) paid for over 40 years.

      • Alexsandr

        + rolling stock. a railway with no trains aint much good.

        • rtj1211

          £36bn including rolling stock.

        • realfish

          True but new rolling stock (given the timescale) was always going to be needed at some stage, whether it was HS or not.

          • Alexsandr

            but HS2 stock will be different. it will not have standard UK floor height so its all a bit of a mess. Bloody EU regs again

            • realfish

              But if HS isn’t built, money will need to be spent on other rolling stock (to cope with the capacity problems on the WCML and possibly replace aging Pendolinos)

              • Alexsandr

                but nothing like £36m. and the benefit will be spread across the system, not on 1 route. Cos when they are spending that money on HS2 there will be all sorts of excuses for not spending on the existing system, which will suffer.

    • rtj1211

      It is spending the same annual budget as Crossrail has. That is of course totally unaffordable isn’t it?? Course it isn’t because your darling Boris is its champion.

      You do need some lessons in basic accounting, which are that the cost of something today is unaffordable if the same cost in the future is unaffordable.

      The lesson all sane people have learned is that nothing is unaffordable if the SE say they want it, but everything is unaffordable if they don’t want it.

      • Colin56

        The business case for Crossrail is rather more robust than for HS2. The agglomeration effect of London is a key factor. (That is why they are even now looking at plans for Crossrail 2.) Also, a substantial portion of the cost is being met directly by London businesses through the business rates etc. That puts it on a rather different footing from HS2, where the business case is more fragile and based on more arguable assumptions (as has been amply demonstrated elsewhere) and the cost is being met from general taxation / government borrowing.

  • Alexsandr

    Good. It needs a mandate. They need to justify this vanity project.
    Euston has the lowest load factor of any London terminal in the evening rush hour.
    If they need something doing to increase capacity then look at the lines out of Waterloo

    • fozz

      How would you use Waterloo to increase North South rail capacity?

      • Harold Angryperson

        Has it occurred to you that, for Eurostar routes, St Pancras is also pointing the “Wrong” way?

        • realfish

          Eurostar was always pointing the wrong way…even back in 1997 when Prescott cancelled the ‘North Of London’ Eurostar service (which wouldn’t have required one mile of new track).

          I well remember London and the South’s anguish, at the time, that people north of London might get a piece of the Channel Tunnel action.

          HS2 needs a high speed connection to HS1 to capture some of the international journeys (getting on for 2 million airline passengers between Manchester / Brum and Paris) and even more, if there was an international railhead near Aylesbury for Bucks and Oxford.

      • blairf

        why do you want to increase North South capacity when the capacity problems pretty much all relate to London?

        • fozz

          HS2 = North South capacity increase. Yes?? Anyway I hope it never gets built. Biggest white elephant ever.

        • rtj1211

          Have you ever commuted in the North of England?? Because if you had, you would realise the utter ignorant stupidity of your statement…….

          • blairf

            why yes i have, frequently. But I do ‘science’ for a living so to reach conclusions I look at the data. I suggest you do the same.

          • Alexsandr

            .If you listen to radio 2 traffic news you will know the northern motorways are always in trouble, A decent rail alternative would help.

    • realfish

      92% of all rail infrastructure spending is in London and the South East. Next in line is the demand for Crossrail 2 from Wimbledon to Seven Sisters.
      Time for some of that spending to head to the Midlands and North

      • Alexsandr

        absolutely. OK they are going to electrify manchester-leeds-york, but the route needs modernisation for more capacity and higher speeds. Mancester-Sheffield needs a real improvement. And more capacity for locals between Brum and Cov

        and MK/northampton/rugby area needs a link to the e mids and the north east.

        and if they do need more WCML capacity, how about a link to send the tring stoppers down crossrail, and put in a flyover at Hanslope/Roade so fast trains to Northampton can cross without crossing other lines on the flat.

        • rtj1211

          Electrifying it won’t actually do much good because the speed constraints concern uphill travel, curves to gain ground etc. The only fast bit of line is from NE of Leeds to York.

          What they needed was longer trains from Manchester to Leeds, whose trains in the rush hour were as crowded as trains leaving from Waterloo.

          • Alexsandr

            with electrification they will be replacing 3 car diesels with 4 car electrics. and electrics have higher power so can accelerate better.

            • realfish

              Correct

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