High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Richard Baldwin (HSR 48)

1. I am responding to the Transport Select Committee (TSC) consultation on the strategic case for HSR on behalf of my family. Your invitation to comment covers a number of areas which I am not going to address in detail. I intend to provide only a few general comments on some of those areas which I hope will help you conclude that HSR is not a project that this or any other Government should pursue. Our national resources, such as they are, should be focussed on improving the other sorely neglected methods of transport in the UK such as our road network which I can say from first hand experience having travelled to five countries in the last three months is of a Third World standard.

2. Whilst I note that your enquiry does not seem to specifically concern the proposal for HS2, I must point out that never have I known a Government project produce such anger and antagonism from those all along the proposed route particularly within the Chilterns including local residents and Local Authorities.

3. Whatever the outcome of the consultation on HS2 you should recognise that whatever route is chosen, if any, the Electorate does not support the concept of HSR wherever it goes. The reasons for this are principally:

(a)  there is no business case for it;

(b)  there is no environmental case for it—it will cause a huge adverse environmental impact; and

(c)  there is no money to pay for it—with a huge public sector deficit resulting in reductions in public services such as healthcare, education, care for the disabled and elderly and roads that are more like cart tracks from the early part of the last century - how can we afford it?

4. In terms of Transport policy any available spending for transport should firstly be on our crumbling road infra-structure not "pie in the sky" rail schemes that have been poorly thought through. Secondly a perfectly adequate solution to the "rail problem", if indeed there is one, would be to upgrade existing lines not build costly new ones for which there is no business case.

5. I strongly object to the whole concept of HSR—we do not need it nor can we afford it! Given the financial mis-management of many major public sector capital projects in the past by successive governments one wonders what the real motivation is behind those in Government promoting HSR. In a time of financial crisis Government should be concentrating and spending the little money we have on more important matters.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011