Speaking at a campaign rally outside the Department for Transport yesterday (28 November), Green Party Co-leader Jonathan Bartley has called for high-speed rail project HS2 to be abolished.
Addressing an audience of Green Party candidates, activists and other Anti-HS2 campaigners, Bartley said: “HS2 is an act of ecocide and must be stopped. It will bulldoze huge areas of natural woodland and cut wildlife habitats in half. HS2 would come at eye-watering costs to both the taxpayer and our environment.”
The high-speed rail network, which is set to connect London, the Midlands and northern England with trains running at 250 mph, is estimated to cost £88 billion – £30 billion more than the government’s original budget.
Although no tracks have been laid, £7 billion has already been spent on preparations for the rail line. Significant delays have already been confirmed – transport Minister Grant Shapps admitted in September that the first phase of the project, which will link London to Birmingham, may not be completed until 2031, despite a target date of 2026. The second phase, to Manchester and Leeds, is likely to be delayed by seven years to 2040.
A green transport revolution
Bringing an end to HS2, the Greens intend to revolutionise the UK’s transport system by decarbonising vehicles and investing in local and regional trains and buses.
Bartley explained: “Instead of allowing this huge environmental disaster, the Green Party would invest in local and regional transport infrastructure, particularly in the North, Midlands and South West of England. This will include upgrading and electrifying rail networks, new lines, re-opening closed stations, providing new, cheaper bus transport and spending £2.5 billion a year on new cycleways and footpaths.
“Whilst a handful of MPs have stood up against HS2, reacting to the threat this will pose to their communities, it’s deeply concerning that the policies of the three biggest parties commit to going full steam ahead with it.
“Only the Green Party would scrap HS2 and give the country the public transport revolution it truly needs.”
The Green New Deal for transport, as laid out in the party’s manifesto, will encourage the use of public transport by reducing the costs of travelling by train and bus. The Party also pledges to bring all railways back into public ownership over ten years.
Despite HS2’s environmental consequences, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have committed to completing the high-speed rail network, with Labour pledging to extend the rail line through to Scotland.
You can read the Green Party’s manifesto in full on the party’s website.