Today’s not been a good day for the anti hs2 campaign despite their high expectations. For some reason they’d convinced themselves that there was trouble on the horizon for Hs2 and that the Autumn spending review might even see Hs2 cancelled as the Government ran out of money for investment.
For days they’d been circulating nonsense comparisons such as ‘defense spending or Hs2’ or even ‘Police Officers or Hs2’. In the end the Chancellor made complete fools of them! Not only did he find new money for the armed forces and didn’t cut the police budget – he also confirmed extra money for transport investment including Trans-Pennine electrification and confirmed the Hs2 budget at £55.7bn in 2015 prices.
The poor anti Hs2 mob didn’t know how to respond. StopHs2’s Penny Gaines and Joe Rukin had been sitting by their keyboards, waiting to spin what they could, but found the cupboard was bare. They managed a few desultory tweets but Osborne had clearly wrong-footed them.
Once the news broke that the Hs2 budget had been adjusted they tried the usual daft spin to pretend that the budget for Hs2 is the same as the cost of Hs2. They were helped by one or two confused Journo’s who managed the same feat, so I must give credit to the BBC’s Paul Scoins (@paulscoins) who corrected a tweet when I pointed this out to him.
What wrong -footed the antis even more was the revelation that the updated budget also included the budget estimate for the Hs2 trains, meaning the increase was far smaller than they’d be trying to spin! What they’d failed to understand was the 2015 cost is simply the 2011 cost adjusted for inflation. Of course, if you’re going to adjust the Hs2 budget for inflation you also have to adjust the benefits of Hs2 by the same amount. Watch some of the antis really struggle with that little fact…
Meanwhile, in one of those wonderful ironies, whilst StopHs2 and a few other antis were trying to pretend that this is a real cost increase in Hs2, Hilary Wharf, a member of the other remaining anti Hs2 Group – Hs2aa – was with a group from Potter Row who were presenting their petition to the Hybrid Bill Committee. Wharf and Co are arguing for a fully bored tunnel under the Chilterns. Part of their argument was that the actual costs of tunnels can come in lower than initial budgets- a position in diametric opposition to their fellow travellers at StopHs2!
Worse was to come as details of Sir Peter Hendy’s report into Network Rail was released. This exposed the anti Hs2 mobs scaremongering on Hs2 sucking money from rail investment was complete nonsense. You can read the details on RAIL magazines website.