Today the New Economic Foundation has published a report into Hs2 that calls for the railway to be at best ‘re-evaluated’ and at worst scrapped in favour of spending the money in the North and on smaller rail schemes around the UK.
To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davis, “well, they would say that, wouldn’t they”?
Why? Well, one only has to look at who’s behind the report. It was commissioned by Friends of the Earth whose antipathy to Hs2 is well known. It was written by Andrew Pendleton, a Policy and Advocacy Director at NEF, along with Prof Paul Salveson and Emmet Kiberd, an ‘analyst’ at NEF. Wait, hang on – Paul Salveson is a long-time opponent of Hs2! So one of the three authors is less than impartial and the other two have no actual knowledge or experience of the subject!
Meanwhile, the back page of the report lists “thanks to Allan Dare, Nicola Forsdyke, David Prescott, Chris Stokes and Peter Thwaite for their input and comments that have helped shape this report”.
Great, so who are these ‘experts’ and what are their fields of expertise, or backgrounds? Oh, and wait a minute – Chris Stokes? The same Chris Stokes who was paid a six-figure sum by the 51m group of local councils to come up with their widely discredited and unworkable ‘alternative’ Hs2? – and the same Chris Stokes who’s just given some less than straight and unbiased evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Ctte on Hs2? The very same…
How on earth can the NEF claim this report is anything other than compromised due to the people who’ve been invited to author it and are quoted as witnesses? Where are the people with actual technical knowledge of the modern railway (never mind high-speed railways) to provide it. Now, I know Prof Salveson. I would consider him an expert on Community rail, as he’s the father of it. But I doubt even Paul himself would claim to have any current operational railway experience or expertise in the subject – even if he has a (strong) opinion . So who are the others? We’ve no idea as the report doesn’t give anything about them other than their names.
I’m not the only one smelling a rat. William Barter (who certainly does have the technical expertise to ask and answer these questions, see link) also smells a rat and has asked some rather pertinent questions of one of the reports authors via Twitter.
Did William get an answer? No. The opposite. Pendleton compromised himself with this tweet, where he endorses this truly awful attempt at an Hs2 hatchet job in the Guardian (which quotes the NEF) and then dismisses William and myself as ‘grumpy rail nerds and Hs2 trolls’. Presumably we’re not the right kind of expert for him as neither of us oppose HS2…
I’ll critique the actual report in another blog. Right now I’ve more pressing matters. But if anyone has any idea on who these other ‘experts’ are, feel free to contact me.