I have a wonderful memory of Wendover from a couple of years ago, sitting on the cricket pavilion watching Billy playing cricket. As a long term ex-pat living in a city surrounded by desert, it’s a quintessential image of what you would like England to be. Ernest young boys in cricket whites, green lawns, oak trees and further off, the rolling wooded hills of the Chilterns. Which is why it’s so distressing to hear that the government is going to ram the high speed rail line through the town.
There is something about high speed rail which seems to attract big government statists. Obama in the US has similar plans for throwing billions at high speed rail too. Yet a report from the Tax Payers Alliance shows that this could become a white elephant, saving only 30 minutes from the London to Birmingham journey. They argue that the estimated £30bn in HS2 expenditures would be better spent on updating the existing crumbling commuter network or on other more productive activities. Indeed they argue that the project destroys 4 jobs for every 1 created. However despite this, the government is still going ahead. Witterings From Witney suggests that the government is just following EU policy. He argues that transport is a shared competence with the European Union and that the government is merely following European plans for a unified transport network. This was defined in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which first laid the plans for a Trans European Network – Transport (TEN-T).
“Establishing an efficient trans-European transport network (TEN-T) is a key element in the relaunched Lisbon strategy for competitiveness and employment in Europe. If Europe is to fulfil its economic and social potential, it is essential to build the missing links and remove the bottlenecks in our transport infrastructure, as well as to ensure the sustainability of our transport networks into the future. Furthermore, it integrates environmental protection requirements with a view to promoting sustainable development.”
And he argues that High Speed Rail is an essential part of that program. You can read what they say here. Especially given that TEN-T’s High Speed Rail network seems to miraculously mirror the Conservative’s plan for HS2.
Hey Ho. Billy’s cricket field is a small price to pay when you consider the glory that is a Unified European Transport Policy.
If it’s true, did anybody vote for this?