One striking feature of the discussions on HS2 is the way so many organisations who advocate for HS2 don’t just want someone to spend the £33 billion that HS2: they also want a range of other improvements to transport services in their area as well.
For instance, transport leaders in Manchester told the Transport Select Committee that they want two HS2 stations for Manchester (a city centre one and an airport station).
But even having two high speed rail stations is not enough for them – Keith Whitmore, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said
“We are also making it clear to the Select Committee that the full benefits of High Speed Rail rely on the full delivery of the Northern Hub programme, which would improve and expand the ordinary rail network around Manchester and allow passengers to make their onward journeys.”
Writing in their blog that high speed rail is “not a panacea”, the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is a bit less enthusiastic about HS2. They’ve spotted that building a new high speed line has the potential to create new division in the country. If Manchester has a connection, but Yorkshire doesn’t, there will be a new East-West divide in the country, says Steven Leigh.
And like the Manchester transport bodies, the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce thinks that regional transport improvements are more important. They want “serious upgrades” to the East Coast Main Line, and improvements to the Trans-Pennine links.
“Our members have made it clear that the upgrading of regional rail services and particularly Trans-Pennine links are of more importance to business than would be a slightly shorter journey time to London and beyond.”
So there you have it: as we have said before, the people who are supposed to benefit from HS2 have other priorities.