Whatever the amount the government has paid outfits such as Westbourne Communications to try to ‘change opinion’ about building the HS2 railway, it seems not to have made much difference with the public. That’s if a survey for ITV’s Tonight tv show is any indication.
[High-Speed Rail: Is It Worth It? , ITV, 10 November 2016]
[In] an exclusive survey for the Tonight programme, less than 20% of respondents thought they would use HS2 when built, and only one in ten people thought the high speed rail link would benefit the majority of commuters.
Additionally, people felt it was mainly a project for London – with only a third of people feeling that HS2 will benefit the north.
The other results of our survey of 2,000 people were as follows:
23% not aware that HS2 is being planned
15% feel that HS2 is worth £56bn
58% don’t think it’s a price worth paying
77% of people would prefer that the money was spent in other areas, like the NHS
In a tragi-comic interview with reporter Jonny Maitland, HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins likened the project to bailing out a bank. Perhaps not the best way of selling the scheme to the public, when one remembers he was previously chief executive officer of Network Rail – an organisation which awarded bonuses to directors for failure, and which ran up derivatives trading losses of hundreds of millions of pounds.