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HS2 – population growth to blame

The £33bn high speed rail plan is proving controversial because of its vast cost in an age of austerity and the impact on the countryside.

Some of the reasons given in its favour are difficult to measure.  How much working leisure time will really be saved by faster journeys, when we can work and play on laptops and mobile devices, make phone calls, or even catch up our reading, on the train?

Will it really spread/ rebalance the economy from south to north, when the internet and skype mean that, for most, face to face meetings are ever less necessary?

The more quantifiable benefits – limited existing train capacity and the need for construction jobs – are driven by the demands of population growth.  The project is yet another example of how population growth is driving unnecessary projects and an increased cost of living.  We can see this in energy, water, waste, housing and a range of other transport projects, from roads to rail to air.

Commented Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, “Unless we act to prevent the UK population rising to 70 million and beyond, we are condemning ourselves to ever more expensive and otherwise unnecessary projects, just to keep up with ever growing demand.  England is already one of Europe’s most densely populated countries.  We need to move migration to a position of balanced flows and encourage smaller families as we all live longer.  If we do not, at what point does the government think population growth will stop?”