Tag Archives: high speed 2

Who should be the public champion for HS2?

The difficulty with the Not-So-H-HS2 campaign is that has still to find its champion – someone who can wave the flag, force the big boys to cough up bucket loads of cash and enchant the good burghers of Great Missenden that property blight is good for them and their grandchildren.

Some have suggested that they need the equivalent of Seb Coe. This is difficult for the Not-So-H-HS2 campaign because Seb lead the Olympic campaign dance over a mercifully brief 7 years from the announcement in Singapore to the closing ceremony in Stratford when Russell Brand cavorted amongst the drug free athletes in a drug fuelled frenzy with his acolytes and assorted celebs.

Not so the Not-So-H-HS2 campaign who have the unenviable task of keeping that party going for a mere 30 years. There’s not a figurehead on earth who has that kind of staying power, not even Richard Branson, despite his recent foray into immortality technologies.

No, what Not-So-H-HS2 Ltd need is a mythical figure who can keep the troops rallied and on permanent message well after this, the next and probably the next 6 governments. Someone who will live on well after all of us have been laid up in the sidings.

So – here’s your chance to contribute to the urban myth that Not-So-H-HS2 is turning into. Answers welcome below!

Banging on about HS2: how can we help them prevent a PR disaster?

The HS2 team held a PR event in Liverpool recently where assembled movers, shakers and hangers on were invited to hear the latest news on the HS2 developments. About 50 of us gathered expectantly to hear what it’s really all about Alfie, and to get it straight from the horses mouth.

To say it was a non event would be kind to non events. There were a couple of short introductory speeches – the first of which apologised for the name of the project – HS2 – and made it clear that there would be nothing particularly HS about HS2 as it was much more about moving freight off the roads, on to the rails and down the current West Coast line. The need for the new line was as much about providing capacity for passengers to travel at speeds greater than 15mph – the average speed they would be travelling if they were stuck behind a mile long freight train carrying glass from St Helens to the city of London.

The second contributor marvelled at the current 15 apprentices who are currently were working on the designs of the line. He pointed out, this project could last their life time and it would be more than likely that they would be grandparents by the time the line was operational.

That fact sobered many of us in the room as it became clear that we were being asked to endorse a project which would outlive us, and perhaps even our children. The project will be alive and kicking when many of us in the room will be consigned to our graves, ashes urns or deep at the bottom of the sea – or even under the rails at Rainford for the enthusiasts amongst us.

The final contribution to the non-event was a glossy promotional video which showed a lighting fast cartoon train whizzing through an empty countryside in all its shiny happy people mode. The absence of people in the video emphasised one of the core problems to the HS2 marketing campaign. It doesn’t have any people in it who will be alive when the line supposedly opens. It’s emphasising its audiences mortality with a ya boo sucks approach – this project is more important than you here and now, and more important too than your children and grandchildren in the there and then.

What’s it all about Alfie is freight, freight and yet more freight trundling through the countryside at the dead of night, rattling by the graveyards of the movers, shakers and hangers on who are currently being asked to cough up in TB type spasmodic fits for its ever spiralling costs.

One way to prevent a PR disaster would be for the team to be honest about the purpose of HS2 and acknowledge that not many of us are going to be around to see the first train leave the new Manchester station which will be built just outside Skelmersdale some time in 2033.

Banging on about HS2 – a really meaty subject to bang on about

High Speed 2 – HS2 as it’s popularly known as in the UK (albeit not with a huge degree of popularity) – is proposed by the the UK government as being one of the most significant infrastructure projects to be produced in the UK since… Well, I don’t know, since ever.

As such, it is a perfect subject to bang on about given it will touch every raw nerve ending in English civic life: trains and the railways, urban regeneration, the North:South divide, town vs country, the nature of our national identity and every other political agenda item imaginable.

One of the exquisite features of this debate is that it will run and run well beyond the life time of any one political party’s tenuous hold on power – more than likely for the next 30 years. I may well be dead by the time we see its official opening. All the more reason to devote part of this blog to a subject which will transcend party politics, local and national allegiances and personal preferences for sitting in an aisle seat, a window seat, a quiet zone, facing the direction of travel or where you’ve come from.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, unborn children of the next generation, I give you my next blog subject: Banging on about HS2. Future posts are likely to be late, diverted via Crewe or cancelled. And certainly not likely to be completed before 2043. Your news and views are very welcome! The journey (dread cliche) starts here…