A few days ago, StopHs2 ‘Campaign Manager’ Joe Rukin was given a platform by the Independent newspaper to spout his usual dishonest rubbish about Hs2 without the slightest challenge. There was no interview, just a polemic written by Rukin. In it, he doubled-down on some of his old lies, such as the claim that there will be billions of pounds worth of service cuts on the conventional network to fund Hs2. Here’s the quote.
Rukin knows this is a lie as it’s been pointed out to him over many years by many people. But he can’t resist retelling it, just like his many others, because Rukin will never admit his dishonesty and dishonesty is all he’s got left now their ‘campaign’ is up shit creek without a political paddle. I first exposed it here way back in February 2015. Of course, in those days, Joe claimed it was only £8.3bn! Here’s what I wrote at the time.
“Joe’s totally unsubstantiated claim that this means “£8.3 billion of cuts to classic services” might be considered suspect by the most innocent of readers. And they would be right. It is true that in the Economic Case analysis (table 9 on page 78) is a figure of £8.265 billion, labelled “classic line savings”. So what’s that all about? Well first, it refers to the full network in Phase 2, not Phase 1. Then, it’s a Present Value, that is, 60 year’s worth of annual sums all rolled into one. So the annual figure relevant to Phase 1 will be a lot – and I mean a lot – smaller. Which is why Joe doesn’t quote it.
But whatever it is, is Joe right to paint this as “cuts”? Got it in one, no he isn’t. Go back to the beginning, and remember that, apart from the new Curzon St services, the HS2 service for Phase 1 is basically the present Virgin pattern unplugged from the WCML at Handsacre and plugged into HS2 to Euston instead. So we have, for instance, an HS2 train every hour that runs from Liverpool, calls at Runcorn and Stafford, and then on to Euston on HS2. The cost in terms of fuel, maintenance, crew and fleet leasing should be charged to HS2, no-one would dispute. But that train replaces a Virgin service that calls at Runcorn and Stafford, then to Euston on the WCML. So of course the saving from replacing that train with the HS2 service should be deducted from the cost of running the HS2 train. Same stations, same destination, and faster. What has been “cut”? Nothing.”
Since Rukin first told this lie many new rail franchises have been let. Most recently the Greater Anglia, Northern Rail, SouthWest Rail, Transport for Wales, East Midlands Rail franchises and from today – the new West Coast partnership which will cover the west Coast Main Line and phase 1 of HS2 as the new franchise will run until March 2031.
So, where are Joe’s cuts? Not a single franchise that has been let since HS2 was first mooted has contained ANY service cuts. Exactly the opposite in fact, they’ve all introduced new services and new trains. In the case of Greater Anglia they’re replacing their entire train fleet! It’s the same with many others, who are expanding, not contracting their fleets! So, where are the cuts, Joe? Take this snippet from todays West Coast announcement. Some of these new services will be run by brand-new bi-mode trains!
Whichever way you look at the evidence, it’s clear that Rukin’s a serial liar who will say anything. Oh, you might have noticed something else. This new franchise covers the West Coast Main Line and HS2 phase 1 until 2031. Why would the Government let a franchise for a new railway that it’s about to cancel?
Joe has a big problem, he can lie as often as he likes about these things, he can ignore the facts – but the facts keep coming back to expose him for what he is – a man whose pants are perpetually on fire!