This is a guest post by Jerry Marshall.
Groups campaigning against the HS2 High Speed Train proposal have published a paper on HS2 alternatives that they say will bring immediate benefits in jobs and growth.
“Spending up to £1bn in this parliament on planning High Speed 2 will do nothing for growth” said Jerry Marshall, Chairman of AGAHST (Action Groups Against High Speed Two), which represents 74 local and national organisations. “Instead, investing £2bn into current rail infrastructure would bring immediate growth and benefits. This will also meet our West Coast Mainline capacity needs into the second half of the century.”
The document, “A Better Railway for Britain” is available on a new website, www.betterthanhs2.org.
Phase 1 of HS2 – London to Birmingham – costs £17 billion, and delivers no benefits until 2026. After that, every minute saved in journey time will have cost half a billion pounds.
“HS2 only deals with routes into London from the North. These routes are already fast, not the most congested and have a high share of the market. The new paper looks at the broader needs for developing rail and encouraging modal shift and at direct alternatives to HS2,” explained Jerry Marshall. “These alternatives can meet forecast demand, aid economic growth, and benefit more people, more quickly, and at a much lower cost than HS2. We show how it is possible to triple standard-class West Coast Mainline capacity – and double peak commuter capacity – for a total infrastructure cost of £2.06 billion. This can be done incrementally, rather than the ‘all or nothing’ approach of HS2, reducing risk.”
As might be expected, groups which are lobbying for HS2 brought out counter arguments far faster then one would expect if they had read the document carefully. These seem to be based on spurious arguments: for instance the Campaign for HSR claimed alternatives like this would cause too much disruption on the West Coast Main Line. They don’t seem to have noticed that HS2 will mean 7-8 years (HS2 Ltd figures) disruption at the London terminus of the West Coast Main Line(WCML), as well as work on the WCML near Lichfield.
A final session of the Transport Select Committee, including evidence from the Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, takes place at Portcullis House on Tuesday 13 September.