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HS2 budget – so that’s what growth looks like

[23 Aug 2013] Institutional lying has become an insistent brain-throb for any British adult who follows the news with a sceptical mind. Companies and public bodies lie so much that lying has become almost synonymous with public relations. Like a poem in a strange language, every word has to be scrutinized for the real meaning.

It’s now clear that the high-speed rail link HS2, a vanity project of the previous Government and enthusiastically championed by the coalition, is going to cost squillions more than the original, false estimate that was put out to win applause and votes from the public. So the £32bn cost originally mooted in 2010 soon became £50bn and has now escalated to £73bn, according to Treasury estimates. And the total annual capital budget on railways is how much? Er, only £9bn.

On the country towns and villages in the corridor around the project, the effects of this desire to save 30 minutes on the short journey between London and Birmingham will be horrendous, with thousands of trucks lumbering daily to and fro for several years exporting loads of spoil and importing heaps of rock. Even worse, homes and businesses along the route will be bulldozed, causing anguish and misery to the defenceless folk who will have their lives so cruelly wrecked.

The only people who want the scheme now are a few government ministers trying to look bullish about economic growth and the companies who stand to make a killing from the work.

Alistair Darling, chancellor in the previous government, has today come out against the scheme, saying in a Times article: ‘The facts have changed. The case for HS2 was just about stateable in 2010. I don’t believe that it is today.’ He also points out that the new line won’t connect with the existing high-speed line from St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel. Instead it will go to the already overcrowded Euston station and won’t connect to Heathrow.

Interesting that Darling says the case was ‘just about stateable’ in 2010. Hardly the ringing endorsement he gave it when he was using it as a vote-winner before the last election. [cont]

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