With so many conflicting viewpoints the debate about HS2 can easily be lost in a haze of sensational headlines, soundbites and myths. But there were plenty of interesting comments in Tuesday’s (September 13) Transport Select Committee. Here are some of them.
First from the Transport Secretary:
A conventional speed railway only costs 10-15% less than a 250mph network, but the benefits are vastly diminished.
£2bn pa is spent on Crossrail. £33bn over 17 years will be spent on HS2 – almost exactly what the completion of Crossrail makes available.
It’s not all about connectivity to London. Birmingham to Leeds is 2h5m down to 1h5m and will create significant opportunities.
HS2 Ltd chief executive, Alison Munro, also had some interesting points to make:
In the last 15 years there’s been a doubling of growth on the railways.
We’ve seen 5% growth pa, but we’re using 2% to forecast demand, although it’s showing no signs of levelling off. It’s a cautious approach.
HS2 Ltd’s chief engineer, Andrew McNaughton, said that motorway routes had been ruled out due to cost and longer journey times. He also commented that:
The width between overhead masts is 11m. Fence to fence is 22m, but less in urban areas.
A lot of spoil is created, but HS1 used 95% of spoil locally to mitigate.
These concise points counter many of the myths circulating around HS2. The tracks will not be the width of Wembley, there will not be millions of lorries carrying spoil and people don’t just want to travel to London.