LABOUR’S shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has taken to calling the Camden-flattening HS2 rail link, “the new north south line”. This hoofish re-branding does not seem to have swept across the party, but Ms Eagle is sticking to it.
She explained to an audience of fringe meeting punters last week that her re-christening did not mean her support for the scheme was flaky. Her words on their own, however, seemed to concede at least that a large share of the public still needs convincing that the project really is the best use of £50 billion.
“I just think ‘HS2’, to sombody who isn’t a railway focussed person is meaningless,” she said. “It’s not even ‘High Speed Two’, but even if it was ‘High Speed Two’, what would that mean to anyone? It doesn’t say what it is. It’s simply about communicating. You get fixed into jargon that’s meaningless to people out there: you’ve actually got to persuade them that their money ought to be spent on this.”
Ms Eagle added: “So I thought calling it the ‘new North South rail line’ has the merit of saying what it is and opens up the argument about what it is for. ‘HS2’ doesn’t do that. So, it’s largely about better communicating to those who are going to pay for this what it is and what it means. I know that in some of the trade papers it’s been interpretated as meaning that it’s not going to be high speed and that I’m going to build a slow railway line. That is an overinterpretation of the phrase. It’s simple as that. I think if you’re going to build it, you might as well build it fast.”