As Britain’s train lines suffer in the wake of St Jude, the political storm over high speed rail continues to rage. The government and Labour are playing footsie with each other. Labour’s somewhat left-field idea to re-open the Grand Central Railway — at an estimated cost of £6 billion, compared to £43 billion for HS2 — has been matched by a fear-mongering government statements about the implications of not building a high speed rail line. The coalition’s ‘updated business case’ claims that, if Britain did not pursue the high-speed solution, a ‘patch-and-mend job’ would be necessary, which would be almost as expensive and mean 14 years of weekend closures. It may be an effective argument, but quite a few people will be wondering if, given that the coalition has invested political capital into supporting HS2, the government can really be trusted to deliver a fair assessment of the alternatives. Labour, meanwhile, seem to be flirting with abandoning their support for the project, but don’t want to be accused of letting down the north.
All of which sets us up perfectly for the Spectator’s ‘Stop HS2 debate’ on Thursday. Making the case for HS2 will be Matthew Parris, Steve Norris of the Treasury HS2 Growth Task Force, and Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council. Speaking against them will be Nigel Farage, our Wiki-man columnist Rory Sutherland and Cheryl Gillan MP.
It could not be better timed, and tickets are going faster than bullet train. Buy yours now.
Nigel Farage, Matthew Parris, Rory Sutherland and Cheryl Gillan will debate whether the government should ‘Stop HS2!‘ on 31 October 2013 in Westminster. Click here to book tickets.