High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Pamela Taylor (HSR 89)


I feel extremely angry that the Government are considering a high speed train to operate between London and Birmingham when all public services are being squeezed, stretched, reduced and shelved. It will be many years before our economy starts to grow and improve, yet Ministers are considering spending billions and billions of taxpayer's money on a project that is not necessary and is being built on a false premise. I am sure all those loyal soldiers, airman, sailors, nurses, policemen and local government employees who are about to be made redundant will be thrilled to learn that their lack of a salary is helping to fund a project that will not benefit them in the slightest. It is a kick in the teeth and the Government should be ashamed.

2.1  The need to travel by train for business or personal use is that of choice taken by the individual. But the need to export and import goods, which have an economic value to GDP, to and from Port is by and large limited to road and rail. Unless HS2 can effectively carry freight then the excessively high cost of this proposed train will be an extravagant vanity project that will benefit the few and not the many. I think one major road in particular needs consideration. The expansion of the A14 has effectively been shelved due to the current economic client, yet Felixstowe Port Authority is building a deep water container bay to accommodate some of the world's largest container ships, which inevitably means more containers to be transported. A minimal amount of those containers will travel by rail, a vast majority will use the A14, yet the government is reluctant to improve this road, relying on a private funding initiative which may never happen. It is vital that consideration is given to what is more important to the economic wellbeing of the UK: a high speed train that reduces travel time by a mere 11 minutes [Birmingham to London] or keeping our imports and exports moving that will benefit our GDP? Should it be decided that HS2 will carry freight it will have absolutely no benefit to the many haulage companies that rely on the A14 for business, and it is both naive and wrong to believe that HS2 will solve all our transport problems. £1.2 billion will improve the A14. £17 billion rising to £35 billion will reduce one journey by 11 minutes! HS2 is not a proven case.

5.1  The north south divide is an interesting question. What exactly is meant by the north south divide? Is it a cultural identity, a social or economic barrier which sounds patronising and meaningless in this multicultural country in which we live? How will HS2 bridge this divide if it really does exist or is it a phrase that currently suits politicians as a justification for this proposed high speed train? To justify this expensive project the cost of tickets must be affordable to everyone and not just to the business traveller. Unless the economy greatly improves over the next few years, small to medium businesses will not be able to afford to pay for expensive train fares when it is more economic to travel by car, and the same will apply to the individual traveller. HS2 will not bridge gaps, real or imaginary. A recent public consultation in the north of England carried out on behalf of Action Alliance were not concerned with the north south divide concept but coined the phase fast train for fat cats.

5.4  It would be unacceptable to ask local authorities to contribute to the cost of HS2 when they are under extreme pressure to reduce their working budgets which has an impact on all local services. The condition of roads in and around my locality of South Northamptonshire is a disgrace which Government should be ashamed. Given the choice of decent roads that are safe to drive on, or a very expensive train that will benefit no one in South Northants, it goes without saying that the repair of roads would win hands down. I feel very strongly that Government should get its priorities in order and think about what is more important to both the voter and taxpayer. Is HS2 a priority? definitely not.

11 April 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011