The Secretary for Transport, Patrick McCoughlin, is so desperate to ensure that a 2011 report to government on HS2, the planned high speed railway from London to Birmingham and beyond, should be kept under wraps that he has invoked an emergency veto. This type of veto has only previously been used in matters of extreme importance where it is paramount that certain information should not become public, such as in the war with Iraq where national security was at stake. In the case of HS2 it has been used to overrule a Decision Notice issued by the Information Commissioner that the report should be released in response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act.

The government had previously denied that there was anything of importance in the report but tacitly admitted that some information in the report could be damaging. It now looks near certain that the report does indeed contain some damning information regarding the case for HS2. Bearing in mind that the decision to use such a veto has been made in respect of nothing more secret that a proposed infrastructure development, the veto action itself raises very strong doubts that there is any real case at all for the proposed high speed railway. So much for freedom of information, so much for democracy.

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Just a few weeks ago we had the farcical situation of a report produced by KPMG for the government being flaunted by the Secretary of State for Transport as justification for HS2 despite the report’s containing bold as brass admissions by the writers that there was no factual basis for the conclusions in their report. In Sunday’s Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan has now revealed that the DfT deliberately sat on another report on the economic case for HS2 by Tom Worsley, the man who developed the DfT’s own transport modelling. This report criticised KPMG and its method directly and by name, saying it produced “implausibly high” estimates of the effect of high-speed rail projects on the economy. However, even though the Worsley report reached McCoughlin before the KPMG report it obviously did not say what the Secretary of State for Transport wanted to read and was not published until some seven weeks after he had spent much of his time lauding the content of the valueless KPMG report.

Andrew Gilligan’s article additionally covers a long list of so many of the false and easily demolished arguments which the government has put forward in its efforts to justify the incredibly costly but clearly unsupportable case for HS2. Read the shocking article in full here.

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Eurostar hits 10m passenger target 15 years late

06-Jan-2014

On December 30th the Telegraph reported that Eurostar had at last hit its target of carrying 10m passenger a year – just 15 years later than planned. The accuracy of this forecast may well give some indication of the accuracy of the performance figures released for the proposed HS2 line. Read the full article by Nathalie Thomas in the December 30th Telegraph [...]

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HS2 benefits ‘essentially made up’

31-Dec-2013

An article in today’s Telegraph confirms, yet again, that the financial justification for the HS2 scheme has no real basis. In the article Henry Overman, professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics and a former member of Whitehall’s high speed rail advisory panel, is quoted as saying that he had quit the panel after he felt [...]

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So much for Democracy – Coalition Suppresses Information on HS2

17-Dec-2013

It is hard not to conclude that the coalition is suppressing information in order to preserve its grand design, says the Sunday Telegraph. Read why in the full story. What is the coalition trying to suppress? Again, read more details in the Sunday Telegraph. The “convinced MPs” now persistently claim that HS2 is “essential for the UK” but like [...]

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Mirror Exposes Misuse of Emergency Powers

11-Dec-2013

Yesterday’s Daily Mirror was one of several newspapers which exposed the incredible news that Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, is determined to block the release of a report requested under the Freedom of Information Act by using emergency powers. The report is from 2011 and the government appears to be trying to distract attention from their reluctance to release the [...]

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What the British Think of HS2

03-Dec-2013

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary who only a month ago claimed that the proposed HS2 £50 billion high speed railway which will run from London to the North was, “one of the most potentially beneficial infrastructure projects on the planet” has failed to convince the public that the project will be anything but a failure. A [...]

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Anything makes more sense than HS2

30-Oct-2013

So says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian today. His pithily amusing piece on HS2 will bring tears of joy and mirth to all those who oppose HS2 and, I suspect, tears of rage to any dyed-in-the-wool supporter of HS2. I confess I certainly enjoyed it! And every point he raises to lampoon HS2 is absolutely true. You can [...]

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Tricks of the Trade

17-Oct-2013

In September the Government announced its new compensation proposals for those affected by HS2 and described them as “generous and comprehensive”. But we cut our teeth on the previous proposals which were “the most generous ever” and are not taken in by this street trader language. The ‘lucky’ few who fall within the 120m boundary [...]

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Bank of England Boss on Investment in Infrastructure

04-Oct-2013

A short article in the Telegraph on 2 October reports an address by Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, in which he makes very clear that Britain’s economic recovery will depend on what happens in the country’s broader economy and that, important as London is, the recovery will be built on growth outside [...]

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