Socialist Worker

Commuters let down as the Tories scrap new rail lines

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2782

Deforestation along the route of HS2 in the Chiltern Hills, Oxfordshire.

Deforestation along the route of HS2 in the Chiltern Hills, Oxfordshire. (Pic: djim/Flickr)


The Tories faced public anger last week over their decision to axe sections of the high speed rail project, HS2. Ministers had promised HS2 would improve transport links for some of the worst connected places in Britain.

Socialist Worker opposes HS2 because of its devastating environmental consequences. But it’s urgent that transport issues are properly addressed.

The eastern section of the HS2 project would have seen trains run from Birmingham to Leeds and the east Midlands.

Bradford, the worst connected city in Britain, would have been a station on the line.

According to some reports, the city is also likely to be missed off the new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) line.

Bradford East Labour MP Imran Hussain said, “There are simply no publishable words that can describe my anger towards their Northern Powerhouse betrayal.”

He added that a “consolation prize” of improvements to travel from Leeds was no consolation, but a “deliberate two-fingers to Bradford”. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of how a privatised rail network is failing.

Earlier this year the Tories promised that trains to Bradford would run to London King’s Cross six times a day. But from next May the service will be reduced to once a day.

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Residents report that trains are already overcrowded and infrequent. Travel times are also significantly longer because routes to other destinations are only possible via Leeds.

The state the rail network is in across the country is shameful, and people are right to be angry that they are missing out on travel developments once more.

They should also be angry that the government prioritises a network that knocks just minutes off travel time for commuters journeying from Birmingham to London.

Phase one of the HS2 project is expected to be completed between 2029 and 2033.

But the project has already seen massive delays and is becoming evermore ludicrously expensive. The stretch of HS2 that is going ahead will primarily benefit big business.

In a statement, Stop HS2 spokesperson Joe Rukin said, “The cancellation of the eastern leg of HS2 is a vindication of everything we have been saying for a decade.

“You can deliver more benefits to more people more quickly for less money without the massive environmental impact by upgrading existing infrastructure.

“People need the reopening of old lines and sustainable local transport to get in and around the towns and cities where they live and work.

“They don’t need a fast train for fat cats that only ever got this far to prop up the powerful lobbyists from the construction industry.”

HS2 was never created to benefit ordinary people. We need a greener transport system designed for the majority.


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