The development of HS2 between London, Euston and Birmingham is suggested to cost between £43 billion and £50 Billion which by anyone’s book is an awful lot on cash, Some suggest £300,000 per UK citizen(although that may be a vast exaggeration or only refers to those directly effected – a more accurate assessment may be closer to £3k per household). Suggestion that it will go on to Manchester and Leeds with aspirations to Glasgow and Edinburgh would surely require even greater funding although it may be than they run on the normal tracks at lower speeds. We have lots of political speak but actually a paucity of detail. Who is going to build the rolling stock and engines. On past record the contracts will go to Germany, France, China or Japan. Now let us go back to 2004 when the previous government signed up to a Euro Diktat, TEN-T. (Transport European Network – Trains) This encourages both High Speed train links and interpolarity within europe. It is of no surprise that on their map of aspiration we see the HS2 London to Birmingham route following the exact line of the route suggested by the european “masters”. What strikes me as faintly ridiculous is why this route does not connect up to the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Airport. Now that would make sense! What do I think of HS2? In France high speed rail travel has revolutionised the Chemin de Fer but actually the French countryside is relatively under populated. They had room to build it without that adverse an impact as HS2. Similar in other european countries. Now I would love a HS link between Inverness and Edinburgh, preferably stopping at the Highland Showground. However the chances of that are zero. As to a route that goes to Birmingham City Centre. The only thing that has come out of Birmingham is Range Rover and Jasper Carrot. Is this simply a convenience for BBC presenters to live in London and, via the extended line, work in Salford Quays? It simply does not make much sense and statistics of billions of pounds of benefit to Birmingham and the North’s economy are, in my mind, simply pipe dreams. The cost to those living on the route is extremely high but we have seen with wind farms our political classes simply don’t care. Yes, we have a new political elite, except they are not very elite mostly having PPEs from elite universities and very little grey matter between the ears. There is a terrible arrogance amongst the political classes where money is the God. How often do we hear them say we just have to get the Community Benefit right and everyone will welcome wind. They judge us by their corrupt standards as exemplified by the expenses scandal and the gravy train of jobs for the boys that exist in that rarified air in some parts of our capital city. They don’t understand that for rural dwellers, we don’t want the opera and expense account dinners on tap. What we want is quality of life! As I see the behaviour of our lords and masters I come to the conclusion that direct action is not that far away and with that comes anarchy and the break down of civilisation as we know it. And it will happen on these politician’s watch! So is HS2 a vanity project, a euro diktat or a statement of our engineering prowess. Certainly not the latter as, unlike in the days of Telford, we are following the crowd. Euro Diktat? The similarity to TEN-T 2004 suggests a certain connect with that and our Prime Ministers reluctance to challenge euro rules on so many matters, especially green energy costs. Vanity project? I think that whilst originally possibly the case it is now something that quite simply none of our politicians have the balls to say that this project is at an inappropriate time and too damaging to the environment and re-direct some of the funding to improving our permanent way. Like the busted flush of wind, they simply lack the bottle to admit that they have made a humongous mistake and pull the plug. And yes, I would love to see a high speed network up the spine of the UK, but I would also like my own executive jet and an Aston Martin, neither of which I can afford; in the same way that UK Plc cannot afford HS2. Jobs? The Hydro, which was supposed to bring jobs to the Highlands, was built with Polish, Czech and Irish labour. The Beauly Denny Line is built by contractors from Sunderland, The Glendoe Hydro scheme used predominately Polish labour. What makes us think that HS2 will be any different. Who will build the trains? On the record of wind and the Beauly-Denny infrastructure: Seimens and Mitsubishi. The Forth Bridge is built using steel from Finland, China and Spain. Will HS2 be any different? Does a leopard change it’s spots? As with wind we have seen a corruption of intent. Everyone sat in ivory towers with grand plans, centred often around carbon targets, but no one actually looked out the window. No one saw the little people that this would effect. And in their enthusiasm and wish to be the architect of the future, no one smelled the coffee. Now the little people are left to pick up the mess, the sleepless nights, the visual intrusion, the noise, the health issues and the loss of Quality of Life that can ever be regained. And the final hard and inescapable fact: The Cost. The little people cannot give themselves 11% pay rises, hidden behind crocodile tears. The little people can’t look forward to £100,00 pa sinecures after a brief time in prison. But the Politicians should remember that come election time the little people hold Damacles’s sword above political aspiration and this time they may well bring it down on so many of a political class with a terrific vengeance. The day of reckoning comes near! The Euro elections next year may be a traumatic experience for many who haunt the corridors of power.
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