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HS2 or gigabit internet?

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Should we fund HS2 or free gigabit internet connections to every household and business in the UK
HS2
14%
 14%  [ 1 ]
Free gigabit internet connections
57%
 57%  [ 4 ]
Something else
28%
 28%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 7

PDR
1376723.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:44 pm Reply with quote

I'll keep the phrasing neutral to disguise my own views.

So the motion before the house is:

This house proposes that the UK should scrap the pointless HS2 vanity project and use the money saved to provide free gigabit internet connections to every household and business in the kingdom.

PDR

 
PDR
1376724.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:47 pm Reply with quote

Hmmm...

I attached a poll, but it doesn't seem to show up. Don't we do polls any more?

PDR

 
AlmondFacialBar
1376725.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:47 pm Reply with quote

Is that even a debate? If so, how?

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Brock
1376727.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:09 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
I'll keep the phrasing neutral to disguise my own views.

So the motion before the house is:

This house proposes that the UK should scrap the pointless HS2 vanity project and use the money saved to provide free gigabit internet connections to every household and business in the kingdom.

PDR


In what sense is HS2 a "vanity project"? It was first proposed by the Labour government in 2009.

 
PDR
1376728.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:59 pm Reply with quote

Are you suggesting that the two propositions are mutually exclusive?

PDR

 
crissdee
1376729.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 5:01 pm Reply with quote

If I'm being scrupulously honest, I can't say I particularly favour either of them. I doubt I will ever use the train, and I am not so intense a user of the interwebs that my current connection isn't entirely adequate for my simple needs. I have no dog in the fight.

 
barbados
1376731.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 5:08 pm Reply with quote

I'd suggest that had one party, or the other pursued the idea, then you could say it comes under the "vanity" banner, but for both to, it looks more like it is something that is useful (was going to suggest required, but given the changes to working practice currently that may not be the right word).

It's a bit like the M6 toll, for those that use it - it is a great idea - it shaves x minutes of the journey, which for some is a need rather than a desire. But those that don't make the journey with that sort of time constraint it is something that can be done without.

 
suze
1376733.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 5:25 pm Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
It looks more like it is something that is useful (was going to suggest required, but given the changes to working practice currently that may not be the right word).


This is certainly an important part of the discussion. When HS2 was first proposed, we weren't really sure if we needed it, but some part of society wanted to have it.

As time moved on, it became ever clearer that we actually needed it - but no longer. Will the business person in Leeds or Manchester ever again find it necessary to come to London to visit her client in person? Possibly not.

Mind you, "free gigabit internet connections to every household and business in the kingdom" was derided as a stupid idea when it was proposed by Jeremy Corbyn. I have not yet seen any of those who found it entertaining to suppose that any idea which came from Mr Corbyn must necessarily be bad turn around and say "Well actually ...".

So I may be with crissdee here, and vote for "neither".

 
PDR
1376734.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 5:40 pm Reply with quote

I suggest it's a "vanity project" because it is being promoted by a geographical faction mainly to show that they are getting some attention rather than to meet an actual need, and certainly not a business case that shows any meaningful cost/benefit or return on investment.

We have just gone through a period which may well result in a paradigm shift in working practices wherein even travelling to a place of work might be a minority thing, let alone business travel between cities. More and more people could well be working from home, but to facilitate this gigabit internet connectivity in every home would be a basic necessity rather than a luxury, and not having it could disenfranchise the masses far more than a 20-minute reduction in journey time to London ever could.

So I put it to the house that we should stop HS2 now and divert the spend to something of far greater value to far more people. As AFB says - is it even a debate?

PDR

 
barbados
1376735.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 5:40 pm Reply with quote

Thats the problem isnít it. The world has changed immeasurably in the last 12 months you canít answer the question. In 2017 when the free gigabit internet was put forward by Jeremy Corbyn the problem was not that the idea was ridiculous, it was the funding of it, particularly when there was no real need for it. Fast forward 3 years, and we all have the benefit of hindsight telling us it is something that is required.
However, to ask if the money is better spent on introducing super fast broadband to all homes rather than finish off a project that is 11 years down the line really is a waste of the money that has already been spent

 
PDR
1376739.  Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:28 pm Reply with quote

Very little of the HS2 money has been spent - as far as I can establish we have spent around £15Bn of a projected £80-£110Bn and some of that is recoverable (eg selling the land.

"Because we've already spent £15Bn" is rather a weak argument to spend over £70Bn on something we no longer need.

PDR

 
Awitt
1376742.  Sat Mar 13, 2021 3:16 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
Quote:
We have just gone through a period which may well result in a paradigm shift in working practices wherein even travelling to a place of work might be a minority thing, let alone business travel between cities.


In my Melbourne newspaper today is an article on this very topic, and given we have largely been free of the virus since last year, vaccines are starting to be rolled out, but according to this article, just 34 % of public servants have returned to the office, and not all are there five days a week.

And city cafes, shops etc are losing trade from people who would normally be there for work, after already hurting from our 3 month lockdown last year.

A pedestrian sensor at the end of one of the CBD malls recorded 570 people between 8-9am on Friday, but in 2019, this figure was double that.

 
barbados
1376746.  Sat Mar 13, 2021 4:13 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
Very little of the HS2 money has been spent - as far as I can establish we have spent around £15Bn of a projected £80-£110Bn and some of that is recoverable (eg selling the land.

"Because we've already spent £15Bn" is rather a weak argument to spend over £70Bn on something we no longer need.

PDR

So why spend it on free internet for all, when there are more deserving things to spend it on?

 
PDR
1376748.  Sat Mar 13, 2021 4:18 am Reply with quote

In the two year period 2017/2018 I spent well over two hundred and fifty nights in hotels, and averaged over 600 miles of business travel per week (mostly by air) to do my job on diverse company sites. In the period 2005-2014 I averaged eight international business trips per year not to mention those within the uk.

This was how we did business even for engineers like me. I suspect we will never return to that. The expectation will be that people collaborate electronically rather than in person. The basic facilities to do that exist now, but they will need to improve a lot to be effective for more than just status reviews. That will need more internet bandwidth as a basic expectation, because effective collaboration needs high-fidelity, very high resolution video (so that people can read body language nuances) and probably stereo audio.

If we assume that in two years time we are no longer constrained by pandemics I strongly suspect we will be in a world where the majority of people who do not need to physically touch a product or process will go into a place of work somewhere between one day a week and one day a month. We could be in a world where all teams behave like national sales teams - communicating electronically most of the time and meeting for a 2-day "conference" in a hotel somewhere once every 5-10 weeks for the team-maintenance stuff.

In such a world we don't need choo-choos or even airliners to anything like the extent we do now, so huge investments in either infrastructure should be switched off as quickly as possible in much the same way that we are drastically switching off the production of infernal-combustion engines.

If Tony Seba and Adam Dorr are right we won't be forced into inconvenient and pandemic-promoting public transport solutions for energy/environmental reasons and the lack of "tidal flows" of people going to work will make them inefficient as solutions anyway. So we would be able to revert to personal transport as our primary means of mobility for our more sporadic travel needs. All of this says we should switch off major travel infrastructure investment NOW, whether it's HS2 or additional runways.

If you espouse this message in the corridors of power you get push-back, but not because you're wrong You get push-back because it would upset the northerners because they would feel left out. Not because they need the facility, but just as a matter of pride. So I come back to my suggestion that the >£100Bn spend on HS2 is just a vanity project to smooth the ruffled feathers of the soft northern jessies...

PDR

 
Brock
1376749.  Sat Mar 13, 2021 4:20 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
I suggest it's a "vanity project" because it is being promoted by a geographical faction mainly to show that they are getting some attention rather than to meet an actual need, and certainly not a business case that shows any meaningful cost/benefit or return on investment.


Thanks for the clarification. When you said "vanity project" I initially thought you meant one of Boris Johnson's fantasy projects like the failed Garden Bridge or the proposed bridge to Northern Ireland. This isn't really the same thing - it's a project that was originally proposed more than a decade ago, for a rather different purpose from the one for which it's now being promoted. A lot of people seem to have forgotten this.

The original idea was for the line to form part of the Regional Eurostar service connecting Paris and Brussels with the midlands and north of England. At the time that the Channel Tunnel was proposed, these were seen as one of its main economic benefits. Part of the reason for siting the terminus of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now HS1) at St Pancras rather than Waterloo was to enable it to link up easily with the proposed future HS2. The original plans included such a link, partly in tunnels and partly along the existing North London Line.

I've never got quite to the bottom of why the link was scrapped, but Wikipedia says:

Wikipedia wrote:
The proposed HS1-HS2 link was subject to some criticism and concerns were raised by Camden London Borough Council about the impact on housing, Camden Market and other local businesses from construction work of the link. Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, recommended that the Camden railway link should be omitted from the parliamentary bill, stating that HS2 passengers from the North of England would easily be able to transfer from the HS2 terminal at Euston to St Pancras by London Underground, to continue their journey on HS1 to continental Europe. He also recommended that alternative plans should be drawn up to link the high-speed lines. At the second reading of the High Speed Rail Bill in April 2014, the link was omitted from the final proposals.


So, apparently because of objections from Camden Council, services are to start from Euston, a mere 0.4 miles from St Pancras, with no link between the two beyond tubes, buses, taxis or walking. Which to my mind destroyed the whole point of the project, and effectively turned it into a gigantic white elephant. I was also amused to read that:

Quote:
Following this decision, London mayor Boris Johnson expressed the opinion that an HS1-HS2 link should instead be provided by boring a tunnel under Camden.


Perhaps if he'd got his way on that one, HS2 wouldn't be anything like as controversial!

PDR wrote:
So I put it to the house that we should stop HS2 now and divert the spend to something of far greater value to far more people. As AFB says - is it even a debate?


Unfortunately a lot of different factions have now seized on HS2 as something that can be easily scrapped in order to pay for whatever cause they think is more deserving of public money. There was someone on the Today programme a few days ago who put a very good case for raising NHS pay, but rather undermined it by saying that the Government was wasting money on HS2 - "a very fast road". She clearly hadn't taken the trouble to find out what HS2 actually was, she just knew it was costing a lot of public money.

When I was younger it was fashionable to say that Trident should be scrapped to pay for this, that and the other. Why do we never hear that now? I'd much rather have a fast railway line than a so-called "deterrent" that we're never going to use.

 

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