By omitting it from the recent Queen’s speech, the Government has quietly kicked their flagship transport policy, High Speed 2 (HS2), into the long grass. I’m reluctant to call the ditching of this policy a U-turn, as trains find that particular manoeuvre impossible.
HS2 was always destined to fail. Per mile, the £29bn cost equates to five times that spent by the French on the Paris-Strasbourg line in 2007. Money would be better used for electrification of the Midlands main line and improving our creaking road network. For Rugby, HS2 means reduced frequency of existing trains while it bypasses our town completely.
The arguments over transport speed and service are of course secondary to the massive destruction of the Warwickshire countryside HS2 would bring. Ripping asunder historic landscapes and obliterating communities as it goes, areas of outstanding natural beauty and historic woodland would be lost forever.
The imminent death of the HS2 project shows the power of democracy. Although the nation shows no enthusiasm for this vanity project of the metropolitan elite, the building of HS2 is still official policy for all three main political parties. Fortunately the power of strong, reasoned arguments seems to be winning out and HS2 is hitting the buffers.