Adding its weight to the debate about HS2, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) has produced a report which sets out its view of the full benefits of HS2.
In it, HSRIL claims that HS2 is the most affordable way to bring Britain back together, boosting the economies of the major cities in the North and Midlands with at least 22 towns and cities benefiting from better rail services, despite not being on HS2’s line of route.
HSRIL also sees HS2 as an essential component of meeting the UK’s net zero carbon targets.
The report, “Why Britain Needs HS2”, is part of a submission to the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. It aims to show that the project will deliver improved rail services to far more towns and cities than is generally realised and that the project is affordable, amounting to less than 0.4 per cent of public spending and costing no more than the fuel duty freeze. It concludes that HS2 must be delivered in full as, otherwise, the north-south divide will remain and worsen.
The key conclusions of the report include:
- HS2 will smash the north-south divide by bringing Britain’s towns and cities closer together and reducing the 40 per cent productivity gap between London and the north;
- City strategies and investments are predicated on HS2 – cancelling HS2 would leave those plans in cities like Birmingham and Leeds in jeopardy;
- Dozens more towns benefit than may be realised – some 47 towns and cities are either on HS2 line-of-route or will get better rail services using capacity released on the existing network;
- Pitting HS2 against Northern Powerhouse Rail is a false choice – HS2 itself delivers a key part of the NPR ambition so choosing between them would be akin to choosing between the M1 and M62;
- The costs are affordable and good value – at just 0.4 per cent of public spending and a comparable cost to the fuel duty freeze;
- HS2 is essential to achieving net zero emissions and tackling the climate emergency – a high-speed rail journey would typically yield a 90 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with flying the same route;
- HS2 is crucial to tackling the capacity crunch on north-south railways – every time it is assessed, HS2 comes out as the most effective and affordable way to do so;
- Cutting HS2 would cost thousands of jobs – 9,000 people work on the project already, with tens of thousands more set to do so.
In addition to the towns and cities that will benefit from a new HS2 service, at least 22 more are set to benefit from better services on existing lines using capacity released by HS2: Watford, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Wakefield, Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield, Doncaster, Retford, Newark, Peterborough, Stevenage, Shrewsbury, Telford, Wrexham, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Hull, Wolverhampton, Grantham, and Cambridge.
In addition, the following towns and cities will benefit from direct rail connections to HS2 hub stations: Slough, Maidenhead, Heathrow, Barnsley, Bangor, Llandudno, Holyhead, Bradford, Harrogate, Skipton, Scarborough, Rochdale, Bolton, Huddersfield, Runcorn, Blackburn, Burnley, Accrington, Barrow, Workington, Whitehaven, Dumfries, and Sunderland.
HSRIL director Jim Steer said: “Britain is today a divided country with alarming and unjust disparities in wealth and opportunity between our cities and regions. We can see the beginnings of an HS2 transformation already in Birmingham. As confidence grows in the project as a whole, a rich pattern of private sector investment and new job opportunities, with higher productivity will follow.”
“This report shows beyond question that HS2 is a great way to bring this country back together, with dozens of towns and cities set to benefit, even ones that will never see a HS2 train.