The High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) group has said that completing HS2 is essential for “smashing the UK’s north-south divide” and urges that cancelling the project would leave some cities in jeopardy
The HSRIL’s latest report “Why Britain Needs HS2” is part of a submission to the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. The report suggests that completing HS2 is essential for obliterating the UK’s north-south divide, and outlines how the project will deliver improved rail services to far more towns and cities than is generally realised.
The report sets out a number of key findings that conclude: that HS2 must be delivered in full. It warns that without completing HS2, the north-south divide will remain and worsen.
HSRIL’s key findings include:
- HS2 will smash the north-south divide by bringing Britain’s towns and cities closer together and reducing the 40% 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; choosing between them would be akin to choosing between the M1 and M62
- The costs are affordable and good value – at just 0.4% 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 two-hour high-speed rail journey results in 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared flying the same route, even with today’s electrical power generation mix. When electrical power generation is fully decarbonised, this will be 100%.
- HS2 is crucial to tackling the capacity crunch on our 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 – 9000 people work on the project already, with tens of thousands more set to do so.
On the issue of costs, the report suggests that the project will only amount to 0.4% of public spending, and that the costs are comparable to the £50bn+ that the fuel duty freeze has cost the public purse since 2010.
Councillor Judith Blake CBE leader, Leeds City Council and chair of the Core Cities Group, said: “Core Cities welcomes HSRIL’s detailed and evidence-based analysis of HS2. We believe HS2 is both vital for our country’s future and should be seen as a bold statement of ambition at a crucial time for our nation. We echo HSRIL’s arguments that it will help us raise our country’s productivity and boost our city economies.
“We see HS2 as a stepping stone towards high-speed rail for the whole of the UK and it is a sign of our commitment that cities not directly connected to HS2 under its current route plan are fully in support of the project.
“HS2 is more than just a railway line, it is unlocking future jobs, training and regeneration opportunities that will benefit many of our 20 million citizens. Its construction is key to the success of future infrastructure projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Rail Hub that will boost productivity and help us decentralise the UK.”