Julie Hilling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the rate of growth in the number of rail passengers travelling into major UK cities over the last (a) 10 and (b) 20 years. 
Stop HS2 says:
On numerous occasions, Government ministers and others have said that a fundamental reason for building HS2 is that the railways, especially the West Coast Main Line, are about to run out of capacity.
However, if they do not know how and where passenger numbers have been growing, they can not make forecasts about future growth with any accuracy.
HS2 is a high risk project, because the whole of Phase 1 needs to be built before any new capacity is available. That means a wait of at least thirteen years, and spend of more than £17 billion – but if the Department for Transport does not have even a “robust estimate of the rate of growth” then they may have picked the wrong strategy.
A package of smaller schemes can also release capacity, both regionally and nationally, with each part of the work providing extra capacity as it is finished.
Using a package of improvements is much less risky. If it turns out the growth forecasts were wrong – because there was no “robust” data to base them on – than the package can be changed and re-targeted.