CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Coronavirus renders HS2 scheme an utter nonsense

07 August, 2020

‘The so-called benefits of HS2 have always been questionable’

• IT is bizarre that the HS2 high-speed rail link is seemingly immune to seismic changes affecting many aspects of our society and economy caused by Covid-19, when many of its side effects (such as increased air pollution and environmental ruin) have been highlighted as causal factors in the spread and severity of the virus, (I could be blinded by HS2 dust, July 30).

The so-called benefits of HS2 have always been questionable. For example, the government’s own calculations conclude that carbon emissions from construction and operation could exceed potential savings, even over the railway’s projected 120-year lifetime.

Increases in capacity could be achieved through running double-deck trains and/or bringing the original Grand Central Railway back into use (both of which would be far cheaper and less destructive than HS2).

Plus there is the opportunity cost of throwing £106billion-plus at HS2, instead of investing in improving or reinstating regional and local railways, which could help communities recover from the shock of Covid-19.

Whatever long-term means are developed for managing the virus, it seems highly likely that there will be less need for high-speed work and leisure travel, and more focus on living sustainably together.

Labour leader and Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer accepts that HS2 will go ahead because it has been signed off by parliament.

Yet the government is rewriting many of its decisions because of the impact of coronavirus. Surely this rethink should include one of its most expensive and wasteful projects, which is a legacy of a pre-Covid era.

DEE SEARLE
Willes Road, NW5

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