November 2013: Where we stand on High Speed 2

01 November 2013

There seems to be some confusion about our policy on national investment in a truly modern railway across the whole of the UK with infrastructure and traction fit not just for the 21st century but for a greener, integrated system that meets the needs of both passengers and freight.

Those of you who have heard me speak know our view is that privatisation has failed because, other than the forced investment, post-Hatfield, of £30 billion, investment has come centrally, from government or via Network Rail, and there is no long term strategy in place.

We have highlighted the disproportionate spend per head in the south-east against the investment elsewhere and the lack of joined up thinking around procurement that has left us with rolling stock that is, on average, 35 years old and cascaded to the regions.

Talking at every forum we can, and to politicians from all parties, we have highlighted the need to grow capacity not only for the forecast population and passenger growth but for the year-on-year growth in freight that, in the north alone, is forecast at 3% between now and2030, without any modal shift from road.

Our policy on HS2 was based on socio-economic reasons initially as, post-recession, it was the only major infrastructure project proposed and would generate thousands of much-needed jobs. The business case became stronger with the inclusion of the north-east and north-west hubs.

We would, ideally, like to see HS2 running the length of Britain, building from Scotland and the south at the same time and meeting in the middle, linking into HS1 and going via Heathrow. Our vision is not shared but we welcome all investment. It is not enough, we need more long-term thinking, and we should have started years ago!

Finally, I urge you where you can to support fellow workers in Unite, FBU, CWU, NUT, NASUWT and the NHS in their struggle for their future and our services!

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