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HS2 and the Liberal Democrats

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Although many prominent Liberal Democrat politicians are ‘involved’ with the Centre Forum think-tank, it is independent from the party. In November 2013, the Forum published its ‘Build The Infrastructure‘ report, in which Quentin Maxwell-Jackson noted that “the current £50 billion plus price tag on HS2 would fund a large number of worthwhile projects if HS2 were scrapped”. And earlier in 2013, London Assembly Lib Dem member Caroline Pidgeon described HS2 Ltd as “appalling”.

However, the wider party seems to harbour different sentiments. While the Lib Dem Voice website reported that two-thirds of Liberal Democrat party members “now say yes to HS2” (26 Dec 2013), in Croydon, Lib Dems have led opposition to the London component of the ‘Brighton Main Line 2 (BML2)‘ rail project, using Nimbyesque arguments.

Croydon Lib Dems story on the 'disruptive' BML2

Croydon Lib Dems oppose BML2

[Croydon Lib Dems website]

No new junction here!
September 17, 2013

The Brighton Mainline 2 (BML2) scheme threatens homes, local businesses and allotments between South Croydon and Sanderstead stations. The junction would be likely to take more land than proposed for a station that fails to serve central Croydon. (See details at http://www.bml2.co.uk)

Proposals for a “Croydon Gateway” mega junction and train station in Croham have been condemned by Croydon Liberal Democrats and rejected by Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker MP.

The new rail line from Brighton to Canary Wharf would tear through the quiet suburbs of Uckfield, South Croydon and Lloyd Park in an effort to bypass central Croydon. The scheme would also rip up Tramlink from Lloyd Park to Elmers End.

These plans – promoted by a Brighton-based rail consortium – would see years of disruption for residents and commuters in South Croydon with little benefit for local commuters.

Campaigner John Jefkins dubbed this a “line to nowhere.”

“It fails to relieve passenger demand to reach Gatwick or central Croydon and even misses central London. Pointless,” Jefkins said.

“We instead back current Network Rail plans to enhance capacity through East Croydon by adding extra platforms, and by building extra flyover junctions north of it.”

That expansion of East Croydon capacity – preferred by Lib Dems – is planned after 2018 with longer trains planned in the meantime.

So the official Lib Dem position appears to be, ‘Build new rail infrastructure instead of upgrading existing infrastructure, even when it’s not needed’. But, ‘Oppose new rail infrastructure in areas where doing so might give the party a chance of getting elected’.

A pro-HS2 comment posted by 'John Jefkins, Croydon' in 2009

A pro-HS2 comment posted by a “John Jefkins, Croydon” in 2009

One of the most prolific supporters of HS2 on newspaper websites uses the name ‘John Jefkins’. Could the pro-HS2 and anti-BML2 JJs be one and the same person?

Croydon Lib Dems opposed to BML disruption in their backyard, with 'no benefit to local residents'

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Written by beleben

January 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, Politics

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