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Last week's poll: communicating high speed rail

With the publication of the route for the northward branches of HS2, the scheme remains controversial, with contrasting claims and counterclaims over its benefits and effects. How well do you feel the strategy behind HS2 has been communicated?

The debate over High-speed 2 remains lively in the pages of The Engineer, with many aspects of the project being questioned. As many questions crop up several times, we wondered how well our readers thought that the HS2 organisation was communicating the strategy behind the project and the way its technical aspects, such as routing, station building and rolling stock, are being planned and executed. The largest group of respondents, 48 per cent, felt that they had a clear grasp of what HS2 is supposed to achieve, with 28 per cent feeling that the thinking behind the project seemed uncertain. Almost as many, 24 per cent, felt that they had no idea what the HS2 organisation was up to, giving a narrow majority to those who were unsure about how HS2 — now the largest civil engineering project in the UK — is being communicated.


Do you feel that HS2 should get its message across more clearly? Is there confusion in the project planning? Is media spin and competing lobbying preventing the message from coming across? Do you feel that the project is being debated fairly? Let us know what you think of this issue below.

Readers' comments (4)

  • The message from Government concerning the case for HS2 is only too clear and that is the business case is clearly not made. When Government believes that a project should go ahead, regardless of cost, impact or case being made, it will champion the case relentlessly and will seek to overrule all counter argument. The suggested economic benefits cited for HS2 for the UK routes proposed are grossly overstated and do not stand forensic analysis in a small island nation that is the UK. The Nation is more and more being spilt into two halves, the major cities whose prominence is progressively overwhelming the interests of the remaining half, i.e. the rural community who value the countryside and the English way of life, the latter which is under great threat from steam rolling attitudes whose main aim is a 'Me too' project as if to suggest UK is maintaining a leading commercial role in the world. The premise is false and the case badly flawed. The cost is astronomical financially and the effect on our Nation - beyond price! It will either come to grief as a project or, it will be swallowed up in the incessant changes of Government we suffer every 5 years or so due to the fickle public who cannot settle their minds on what true value of life really is.

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  • When my kids were small, but growing as fast as small kids do, they never wore out clothing; they just grew out of it. Every parent knows that period in their life cycle and, in this rich society, we are lucky to be able to afford new clothes to fit, even though the old ones have wear left in them, quite unlike some impoverished communities and societies around the planet. Nevertheless, we used to say sometimes to the kids “Please stop growing!” One day a very upset little girl cried back “I don’t know how to!”

    Now cut to the national case: we don’t know how to stop growing. We are tumbling in and out of recession at the moment but so what? Over the previous dozen or so decades we have grown enormously, and will do so again, but we are still wearing the same suit of transport clothing that the Victorian era bequeathed us. What a brilliant job they did, but now is the time to admit, finally, that the suit is wearing out and needs replacing. In a very short time the remaining shreds won’t be long enough to maintain even a pretence that they still fit. So, worn out and too small, we need some new clothes to see us through the next dozen decades.

    The difference is that when we finally do the rebuild, we know beyond peradventure that the product will not last 120 years with only the occasional application of matchsticks, chewing gum and string to suppress some of the worst evidence of wear and tear.

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  • In the past it was canals first, then railways boomed because the economy was booming, and because they provided a much cheaper means of bulk transport of goods than was available before their existence. Building HS2 will only create wealth for those who build it. Look at the Humber bridge, which was promoted in exactly the same way, was budgeted at £180million, ended up costing £800million, is still in debt, and has done nothing at all for business in East Yorks or North Lincs. Last year we were told it was the building industry that was the "barometer of the economy" giving rise to the belief that stimulating the industry would stimulate the economy. Government needs to learn that forcing the needle round on the "barometer" will not improve the economic weather! HS2 is irrelevant.

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  • I don't think that HS2 will serve the communities it claims to serve. HS2 will pass within 5km of where I live, but I will have to travel 40km on three buses (at least 2 hours) to board it. A 15 min bus ride will take me to my local "legacy" station from where I can get a normal train to take me to London in a little over 2 hours. Time for a nice snooze, do some work, or look at the scenery passing at a more leisurely pace. I imagine that that the HS2 fares will be considerably more than present legacy system fares and if more than one person is travelling it would be cheaper to drive anyway. The danger is that HS2 will only be used by the Concorde crowd. I seem to recollect that that particular project didn't exactly work out either.
    By the way, will the equipment used for the bored tunnels be British? Oops, sorry, I forgot, we lost our last surviving tunnelling equipment company when the Channel Tunnel was completed. Apparently the government didn't think that industry had any future in Britain- just banking, eh?

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