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Stop H2S

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has taken the unprecedented step of contacting train drivers to bolster numbers supporting HS2 before the public consultation closes on 29th July.

A statement, titled “A message from Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP about the HS2 consultation”, has just been published on the employee-only East Midlands Trains intranet.

This step follows a recent mailshot from train drivers union ASLEF to all members, claiming that the creation of ‘jobs for all’ should not be prevented by a privileged few.

Stop HS2 chair, Penny Gaines, said:

“When Stop HS2 was sent this statement from Philip Hammond, I was appalled at his attempt to manipulate the public consultation process set up by his Department. For a government minister to act in this way is an abuse of his position and shows a complete contempt for the great many ordinary members of the public who are taking part in the HS2 consultation process in good faith.”

Stop HS2 campaign co-ordinator Joe Rukin said;

“For Philip Hammond to take this step at this stage shows quite frankly that he is desperate and it is clear not all train drivers agree with him or this private communication and one sent to ASLEF members would not have been sent to us at Stop HS2.”

“The worst thing is that his statement is full of things he knows are not the case. HS2 Ltd have already privately admitted that 18 high speed trains per hour is not feasible, as the best you can expect anywhere else in the world is 15, and these trains are meant to be going faster and train drivers will know this. They may also have spotted that HS2 was meant to carry 18 trains an hour before the links to HS1 and Heathrow were added.”

“We are amazed that Mr Hammond is still talking about what high speed rail has done in other countries, when all that has happened is financial failure due to soaring costs and predicted passenger numbers that never materialised. Portugal has been told to stop building high speed rail as a condition of the bailout, Spain has already cut services, in the Netherlands the company is almost bankrupt and they have given up on plans for a line from Amersterdam to Germany, in Taiwan the company has had to be bailed out by the Government and in China high speed rail is around $304 billion in debt and they can only just cover the interest on the loans of about $18bn per year.”

“Even in France, following a doubling of TGV ticket prices in the last decade, SNCF President Guillaume Pépy has said ‘The whole basis of the high-speed rail revolution – that the TGV should be the “normal” means of travel, not just something affordable by the business elite – is under threat.’ Here, HS1 in Kent should be carrying 25 million passengers by now according to the forecasts, but it hasn’t even managed 10 million. Why on Earth we are so desperate to follow these examples of massive financial failure?”

I pine for a more sensible approach to saving our forests

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