Thursday, February 1, 2018

News: Barron changes track on HS2

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Sir Kevin Barron, the MP for Rother Valley, has withdrawn his support for the HS2 project, telling a Parliamentary debate that he no longer has confidence in HS2 Ltd or the Government's ability to oversee it.

The long-standing local MP has criticised HS2 and the Government over its use of what he called "wobbly data" and says his constituency will suffer the impact of the proposed route between Birmingham and Leeds but receive none of the benefits of a direct stop.

Superseding a 2013 route with a station at Meadowhall, a 2016 option proposes that HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the new north-south high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line. These trains will also call at Chesterfield.

The fast route to Leeds through the East of Rotherham would affect Wales, Aston, Ulley, Brampton-en-le–Morthen, Thurcroft, Bramley, Ravenfield and Hooton Roberts. A new housing estate at Mexborough will also have to make way.

The latest bills required for the new railway line are currently going through Parliament.

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Barron spoke on the bill this week. He said: "I supported HS2 for many years. I truly believed that it would help to bridge the divide between the north and London in the south. I even defended the astonishing cost to my constituents, as I thought that it would benefit people in my constituency. However, I now believe that the case has become flaky at best, owing to a number of factors.

"A Public Accounts Committee report raised a number of serious issues. It said there was a "serious risk of fraud, corruption and error" due to a combination of poor financial controls and other systems. It highlighted the fact that HS2 was set up eight years ago with substantial Government backing yet still shows a lack of organisational maturity. Given the huge budget that HS2 has been provided with, this is truly concerning.

"The Government currently say HS2 will cost £55.7 billion to build. The costs originally started at £32.7 billion in 2010 and were last updated in 2015. Yet the National Audit Office stated in 2016 that HS2 was running £7 billion over-budget, which is not contested by HS2. This should put the official cost at £63 billion. I believe we can do so much more with this money, in particular on the electrification [of the Midland Mainline] that this Government scrapped."

Regional body, Transport for the North, recently published its thirty year plan, the first of its kind, which outlines how transport connections across the North of England need to be transformed by 2050 to drive growth and close the economic gap between the North and the rest of England.

The plan outlined its emerging vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North's six biggest cities and other economic centres.

Barron added: "Most business leaders believe that if the north is to thrive the links between northern cities need to be improved, not just by having another route to London."

The MP also discussed reports of unauthorised payments and his belief that the relationship between the Department for Transport and HS2 is an unhealthy one.

Barron concluded: "I no longer believe that HS2 is likely to fulfil the aims it was designed to achieve. I will therefore vote for the amendment declining to give the Bill a Second Reading. I no longer have confidence in HS2 Ltd or the Government's ability to oversee it."

Images: HS2 Ltd

1 comments:

Anonymous,  February 19, 2018 at 7:39 PM  

This White Elephant will end up costing over £300 billion after all the Kickbacks and bungs and will in no way benefit South Yorkshire

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