I READ with interest your report on the HS2 roadshow when it came to town last week and couldn't agree more with many of the comments made by the people you interviewed.
The exhibition was certainly slick and professional looking, but did it have any substance behind it, did it answer people's questions, did it address their concerns? I'm afraid not.
Thinking back, it was a bit like Alice's journey through Wonderland. Once through the door, or should I say down the rabbit hole, all sense of reality ceased. Birds' twittering became louder than a high-speed train, we were told that HS2 would only use half the fuel of a normal train, that journey times would be slashed by as much as 20 minutes, that it would be good for the environment, and that it all made financial sense.
Let's start with the sound. There were listening booths where the sound of the train could hardly be heard above a cacophony of bird song - if it wasn't so serious it would be laughable.
Then there were the exaggerated claims. For example there was one chart giving the carbon dioxide emissions of various forms of transport, the lowest of all being Eurostar (no figure for HS2 was given). A curious figure to give, I thought. Surely this consultation was about HS2. Surely they were not claiming that HS2 had only half the emissions of a normal train.
No, an adviser told me, it was just an example (by the way, Eurostar has such low emissions because of French nuclear power).
It was, however, when I reached the section dealing with the business case where I really began to question what I was seeing. Proudly displayed was the claim that the scheme would return £2 for every £1 invested.
Not a bad investment, given interest rates are at the level they are, I thought. But then I remembered that the payback was over more than half a century and that many critics believed the payback was likely to be closer to 30p. Maybe it wasn't such a good investment.
And who would be making that investment, I thought. Us, of course, I recalled. Who else would accept that sort of return.
Who are the real fools if this proposal is allowed to proceed, I pondered as I left.
The consultation is now with us. We have the chance to stop this madness.
NIGEL SHEPHERD Chairman HS2 Amersham Action
Group; District and town councillor for
Amersham on the Hill