As expected, Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead for HS2, following the Government's review of the project. The decision has dismayed many who see this railway project as one of the biggest white elephants in British History. It is certainly going to be one of the most expensive with estimates rising from £39bln in 2009 to an incredible £106bln today. To put that into some sort of perspective, that is £3300 paid by every single household in the country. Around three times the cost of the Brexit divorce bill.
When first proposed, it’s main selling-point was that passengers would be able to get from London to Birmingham 22 minutes quicker than current journey times would allow, and this, the Government assured us, was ‘desperately needed’. It was not clear by whom, or why, this was important, but it was.
HS2 was the Brainchild of Lord Andrew Adonis who went on to do other sterling work such as trying to deny the British public its democratic right to leave the EU and angrily sneering at Proles for wanting a say in it at all. He proposed it during his time as Transport Secretary under Gordon Brown, went on to become chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission and has now been given a position on the HS2 Ltd Board. Today he has been all over the media extolling the virtues of his ‘brilliant’ idea, and all with that customary aggressive tone that he deployed so well during the Remain campaign.
The project was considered by Gordon Brown to be part of his legacy, but if it had not been him in office, any socialist Prime Minister would have signed if off because it ticks two very big boxes in their playbook: Trains and spending money, lots and lots of other people’s money. Socialists of any flavour; new, old, Trotskyites and Marxists all share one thing in common; the belief that the workers should use trains (or, more accurately, should not have cars, because cars represent personal-freedom, something we most definitely should not have in their eyes). Take a look at any Socialist Dystopia around the world in the last 100 years and they have all moved their workers around using trains, whilst cars were banned for use by the workers, or out of the reach of most who could only afford a bicycle. Labour have always had an obsession with trains. Were Corbyn ever to take power the renationalising of railways would have been top of his list.
Trains are a relic from the Victorian era. An invention that came before the Penny-farthing, HS2 may be sleek-looking and powered by electric, but the appeal for Adonis, Brown and others was that Trains are always at the heart of a Socialist infrastructure. It would appear then, that the Cost vs Benefit equation, that should have been done to death before a single sleeper was laid, was just not done at all. What we got instead of facts and figures were vague notions of ‘bringing prosperity to the North’, ‘freeing up capacity’ and making the north a ‘power house’. But really what Labour were saying was ‘Trains are the answer, now what is the question?’
Futurologists describe a very different world by 2040. By then transport will be driverless electric cars on smart-roads. ‘Face-to-face’ meetings will be by holographic video-link, goods will be moved by underground magnetic rail-pods and drones will drop off packages to your door via a central control hub. Unlike HS2 all of these things are being developed right now by the private sector. It would definitely not need £106bln to deliver them.
Darren Birks for Vision News Online
Photo of Lord Adonis by ROGER HARRIS - https://members-api.parliament.uk/api/Members/3743/Portrait?cropType=OneOneGallery: https://members.parliament.uk/member/3743/portrait, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86624357