Once again, the only difference between Westminster and The Thick of It is that nobody in The Thick of It walks around saying ‘this is just like The Thick of It’.
Today Ben Wallace was asked about Boris’s HS2 decision, only to respond by saying “choo choo, choo choo, choo.”. As ever, there’s always a Thick of It quote. Wallace even shares quite a similarity with Steve Flemming…
Last year the Taxpayers’ Alliance announced the winners of the “Great British Transport Competition“ to find popular, better value for money alternatives to HS2. They found 50 transport infrastructure project ideas that were better value for money than HS2. The winning project ideas had construction costs came to £45.1 billion – which is less than half the under-estimated budget for HS2. Ahead of the Cabinet decision on HS2, Guido thought we would list the projects again… eagle-eyed MPs will note the constituencies that will benefit.
Many of the entries required only relatively small sums of money to achieve vast benefits for local communities with the potential for dramatically transforming the transport infrastructure nationally, not only in the Midlands.
|A1 – Dual Carriageway From Durham to Edinburgh||1,300,000,000|
|Reopen the Skipton-Colne Railway Line||100,000,000|
|Reopen the Beverley to York Railway||300,000,000|
|Ashington, Blyth & Tyne Railway||50,000,000|
|Britain’s S-Bahn Network: Leeds||1,000,000,000|
|Reopen the Keswick to Penrith Railway||110,000,000|
|Upgrade The Settle & Carlisle Railway||30,000,000|
|Reopen Blackburn to Hellifield||15,000,000|
|High Speed UK-North||18,100,000,000|
|The Whitacre Link||400,000,000|
|Reopen Stourbridge to Lichfield||120,000,000|
|Upgrade the Rugby to Birmingham Railway Line||1,500,000,000|
|Upgrade the A5 to expressway standard||500,000,000|
|Reopen the Sutton Park Line to passengers||100,000,000|
|Chiltern Main Line Electrification||1,000,000,000|
|Midland Main Line Electrification||5,000,000,000|
|Improve the Felixstowe to Nuneaton Freight Route||1,500,000,000|
|Reopen The March to Wisbech Line to passengers||110,000,000|
|A new station on the Bury St Edmunds to Ely Line||40,000,000|
|Extend Crossrail to Stansted Airport & Cambridge||4,000,000,000|
|Lower Thames Crossing||6,800,000,000|
|Brighton Mainline 2: Sussex Phase||500,000,000|
|Improve Connectivity to Bristol Temple Meads||125,000,000|
|Rebuild Cullompton Station||15,000,000|
|Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton||500,000,000|
|Reopen the Bodmin to Wadebridge Railway Line||25,000,000|
|Cross Cornwall Rail Link||125,000,000|
|Build cycle paths next to motorways & A-roads||1,820,000,000|
Many of these projects will take only 3 years or less to complete, providing concrete evidence of action on transport which can be delivered before the next election, unlike HS2. Not that Guido is cynically suggesting that electoral calculations should play a role, the projects stand on their own merits…
Download the full details of all the winning projects here.
The journalist who has managed to squeeze the biggest clue towards uncovering the Government’s HS2 decision is ten years-old Braydon Brent. In a sit down interview with the schoolboy, Boris said “in a hole the size of HS2, the only thing to do is keep digging.” Which isn’t quite the phrase…
HS2. Can you explain it please?
Yes I can. It’s a colossal railway line. Now the truth is, the people who did it spent far too much money, they were profligate with the way they did it. Do you know what I mean by profligate? They just wasted money. And the whole way it was managed was hopeless. So we’re in a hole. We’re in a mess. But we’ve got to get out of it and we need a way forward, so we’re thinking about how to sort it out now.
I’m sure with you as Prime Minister, I’m sure you’ll get out of it. Is it a deep hole or is it a small one?
It’s a … in a hole the size of HS2, the only thing to do is keep digging.
That’s what you’ve got to do. It’s a big hole.
Braydon, give Guido a call. we have job opening for a scoop getter like you…
Rumours and reports suggest the government is on the verge of affirming the go-ahead for HS2 before HS3 and blocking or delaying Heathrow’s third runway. This seems to Guido precisely the wrong order of priority. London’s airport capacity is way below what is needed, as anyone who has spent their time in a holding pattern flying around London after a long haul flight knows. HS2 is opposed by many of the new Northern intake of Tory MPs, many of whom would rather spend the billions on local transport projects fixing the lack of connectivity in the North, particularly East-West. Polling shows HS3 is far more popular with voters than HS2.
Guido can’t understand why travelling from Birmingham to London 20 minutes quicker is the priority. Unless Birmingham Airport is to effectively become London’s fourth airport…
According to YouGov, by 39% to 34% the public overall is opposed to HS2. Londoners, however, are keener on HS2 than Northerners. Perhaps Northerners are less keen on the £100 billion price tag for Londoners to get back home 15 minutes quicker…
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has this morning announced there will be an independent inquiry into whether HS2 should be scrapped, with a decision made this Autumn on whether the ludicrously expensive project will continue. In some estimates, the ballooning endeavour has been projected to cost over £100 billion. At least unlike HS2, this enquiry will be completed in an expeditious time frame…
The review, chaired by civil engineer Douglas Oakervee and deputised by HS2 critic Lord Berkeley, will look at whether the most expensive infrastructure project in Europe should continue, the benefits and impacts on the North and London, affordability, efficiency, deliverability and its relations with Boris’s planned Northern Powerhouse Rail. In the meantime, work on HS2 will continue in a more limited capacity. Hopefully this review will be the end of the line for Osborne’s vanity project.