Thursday, October 13, 2011

The high-speed rail project (HS2) in Great Britain

The battle over the HS2 continues in the UK.  We are watching.  It's another case, just like ours, of the government pushing an undesired project down everyone's throat.  I say undesired insofar as people have come to realize the realities of the cost, damage and other inflictions this project would entail.  

That's what's been happening in California as well, of course. Costs too much. Won't "deliver" what is promised. Irrational time scales. Funds could be better spent elsewhere. Vanity project. Use of the word "disaster."  Sound familiar?

We sympathize with our overseas cousins and imagine that they know what we are going through in California.  They call it a "white elephant."  We call it a "boondoggle."  Same thing.

High speed rail 'a white elephant'

Published on Thursday 13 October 2011 12:23

High Speed 2 (HS2) linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds would be a "monumentally expensive white elephant", out of date before it is finished, MPs were told.

The Government's £32 billion flagship transport project linking the cities with a new, super-fast rail line should be scrapped, with money invested in improving existing tracks, the Commons heard.

Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, whose South Northamptonshire constituency would be affected by the line, opened a debate led by backbenchers, saying: "We have to seriously consider whether spending £32 billion of taxpayers' money on a project that will deliver nothing until 2026 is worth doing.

"In my view it is not. It is monumentally expensive, the timescales are so long as to become satirical, and HS2, as a result, risks being a vast white elephant that is out of date before it is even completed."

She denied the scheme was visionary or environmentally-friendly and the Government claims that the project will close the north-south divide.

Labour former minister Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry NW): "It's the largest capital project this country will ever have engaged in and it is money, frankly, that could better be spent elsewhere."

Tory Tony Baldry (Banbury) said the Institute of Economic Affairs had warned: "There is a significant risk that HS2 will become the latest in a long series of Government big project disasters."

He claimed the scheme was a "vanity project" which Gordon Brown had hoped would win votes in Birmingham.

Labour's Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green) also labelled the scheme a "vanity project", and said: "I hope the minister will think again about this project because, if he goes ahead, I believe it will be a disaster."

Tory Esther McVey (Wirral W) backed the scheme, saying: "Without this infrastructure we will be stymied from the development we so very much need."

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