Skip to main content

Will HS2 be redundant?

I suppose I can't resist saying something about HS2. At least it shows that, if the government wishes, it can find funds for infrastructure investment.  A plan B is possible. The public consultation about the proposed route was a farce. No environmental impact assessment had been carried out. So answering the questions was a stab in the dark.

HS2, we are told, will 'transform journeys'. HS2 is forecast to carry up to 5.4 million passengers every year who might otherwise have travelled by air, as well as potentially seeing up to 9.8 million passengers transfer from the national road network. Those are big numbers. It might help cut the carbon footprint.

I am not at all sure where they get these estimates from. Well I do really. They use an econometric model to project the numbers of air passengers, The Unrestricted Error Correction Model is one of them.  It has an equation that has a lot of Qs and Zs in it and a few bits of Greek alphabet. And it has been quite an accurate model. So I'll accept their projection, although with some doubts about whether it sufficiently accounts for changes in work and lifestyle; the way we live, where we live and work.

More freight trains using the space freed up on the existing rail network will reduce lorry traffic on the motorways and help improve air quality. And it will provide opportunities for development on under-used brownfield sites. It will provide jobs in its construction and maintenance. That is the argument. But do we need it? And is it the best way to generate growth?

I don't know the answers, but what I do think is that it will probably suck the economic life out of the Midlands and the North. Cutting journey times will extend the London commuter belt. Northern towns will become domiciliary for London workers. It will push up house prices just as it did in the South Eastern commuter belt. And it probably won't generate or regenerate the areas of greatest deprivation.

The fact that they anticipate it will 'free up space' on existing lines is worrying. It suggests they anticipate reduced service for passengers on the existing commuter routes. So I would expect reduced and poorer services; more crowded trains not less. Many towns will not be served by HS2 and the existing services are likely to be starved of funds for  essential upgrade.

And what of technology and changing work practices. Will it really be necessary for people to continue working in offices in London? Will more work and meetings be 'virtual'?

Much is made of the fact that it will be the first major infrastructural project since the Victorians built the railways. The railways made the canals redundant. By the time HS2 is finished, will it really be needed?

And meanwhile HS2 will carve through the countryside destroying precious woodland. I don't know. What do you think?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bad trade kills the planet.

One problem with the financial crisis of 2008/9 is that it focused attention on the banking system as if it could be separated from global economics.  It fostered the notion that all that was needed was to reform the banks and all would be well.  The underlying assumption was and is that global economics didn't and doesn't need fixing.  Everything works well but for the financial system.  Let's all keep calm and carry on.

Yet, the focus on a bad banking system hides an underlying economic malaise,  The economy depended on banks lending, and growth was predicated on debt, debt and more debt.  This was not simply a problem of the banking system.  It was, and remains a problem arising from the mythology of economic growth.

Politicians have long fostered the mythology of growth.  Growth became a  mantra.  Growth is good.  Good is growth.  Let's grow! Growth as and is presented as a miraculous cure.

Let's call this the first neoliberal myth.  The second neoliberal myth…

Hummingbird exposure to pesticides

Many have responded to the campaigns to stop the use of pesticides killing bees.  Bees are not the only animals affected.

Hummingbirds are noted as a species of conservation concern by Partners in Flight, and their populations are estimated to have declined by 60% between 1970 and 2014.



New research reveals that hummingbirds and bumble bees are being exposed to neonicotinoid and other pesticides through routes that are widespread and complex. The findings are published in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.

To measure exposure to pesticides in these avian pollinators, investigators made novel use of cloacal fluid and fecal pellets from hummingbirds living near blueberry fields in British Columbia. They also collected bumble bees native to Canada, and their pollen, and blueberry leaves and flowers from within conventionally sprayed and organic blueberry farms.

The researchers detected pesticides and related compounds in cloacal fluid and fecal pellets of hummingbirds revealing…

Brexit won't save the planet

Brexit isn't an ideal. It might break the cosy economic and political illusion that all growth and trade is good. But there is little thinking behind it. It won't lead to better trade. It won't save our planet.



No plan for Brexit The UK is  now just months away from leaving the European Union, yet still the government has no plan for Brexit. Sector after sector of British society are registering their concerns about the consequences of a 'no deal' Brexit.  The country is in the dark about what the future might hold.  Key issues remain unresolved, yet it is as if it doesn't matter.   Brexit, remember, means Brexit!  
Whether we are for or against Brexit we should be concerned that the government can't agree on what kind of deal they want with our biggest trading partner - the European Union.  
There is no idealism behind Brexit, and no vision for the future.  Instead, there is a blind hope that it will be 'alright on the night'.  That somehow a…