Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, has told the Financial Times (July 27) it is misleading for people to focus solely on the London-West Midlands phase of HS2.
‘The proposition is to go to Manchester and Leeds,’ she said.
Here in the West Midlands we couldn’t agree more. The link to London is very important, but better links to the North West and Yorkshire are vital for the West Midlands too.
Birmingham to Manchester currently takes around 1h 31m. HS2 will slash this time to 41m.
Birmingham to Leeds takes two hours, but will be halved to 57m with HS2.
Of course, capacity is the key for our region and HS2 is being built from London-Birmingham to deal with congestion on the southern end of the West Coast Main Line.
Unfortunately, commentators often confuse the cost of the Y-network and the first London-West Midlands phase.
This is why the full Y-network cost of £32.7bn is often erroneously attached to London-Birmingham instead of the true cost of £16.3bn.
Ms Munro added the first phase was as much about solving capacity as the bigger transformative effects of high speed rail.
She said: ‘First of all, you’ve got to address the capacity problem but also high speed rail provides the opportunity for much greater benefits through bringing our cities closer together, broadening the opportunities business will face in terms of expanding their markets and their access to suppliers.’
Centro has already drawn up plans to utilise this released capacity which include better local and regional services, introducing routes such as Walsall-Birmingham Airport for example.