shows that completing HS2 is essential for smashing the UK’s north-south divide, and that the project will deliver improved rail services to far more towns and cities than is generally realised. It also finds the project is affordable, amounting to less than 0.4% of public spending and costing no more than the fuel duty freeze.
High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) have today published a comprehensive 54-page report titled “Why Britain Needs HS2”, as part of a submission to the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. The report sets out a number of key findings that all point towards one inescapable conclusion: that HS2 must be delivered in full. Without completing HS2, the north-south divide will remain and worsen.
The key findings of the report 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. Today a high speed rail journey would typically yield a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with flying the same route.. When electrical power generation is fully decarbonised, this will be a 100 saving%
- 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.
In addition to the towns and cities that will benefit from a new HS2 service, at least the following 22 places 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.
And 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.
On the issue of costs, the report finds 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.
The full report can be read here.
Jim Steer, HSRIL Director 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.
HS2 is an electrified railway, using power sources that are well on the way to becoming decarbonised. Its capacity will form an essential part of any national plan to tackle the climate emergency and reach net zero carbon.
“HS2 must be delivered in full. The evidence is overwhelming. There is no Plan B for tackling the north-south transport divide.”