This morning’s headline on the Daily Telegraph website reports the supposed ‘hidden costs’ of HS2 which the Taxpayers’ Alliance has pegged at £28bn.
Typically, the evidence isn’t there to back these claims up. We’ve written on a number of occasions that HS2 opponents seem to counter their own arguments from day to day. They have been keen to make the environmental case, but then show support for road-building schemes (if it means no high speed rail).
We’re frequently told that HS2 will be a white elephant. Indeed supporters have even purchased a white elephant to tow around the UK making this point. No one will use HS2, they say.
However, there’s a convenient about turn in today’s Taxpayers’ Alliance report.
It seems now that HS2 will be so successful and packed with passengers that Euston will not be able to cope with the numbers. So antis state £10bn is needed for a new Crossrail route.
So, today HS2 is a success. Yesterday no one would use it, according to opponents.
The National Campaign for HSR has responded to this report. You can read their response here. Sadly, it’s not just inconsistencies. There are plenty of inaccuracies too.
Most concerning for those of us in the West Midlands is the attention given to Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is keen to bring high speed rail to North Staffordshire. Coventry stands to gain from 1400 jobs and a boost of £110m a year to its economy with HS2.
The proposed Birmingham Interchange station is approximately the same distance from Birmingham and Coventry city centres, so it’s puzzling that Coventry has been singled out.
However, opponents need a focus and they’ve decided to paint a picture in which Coventry is a poor relation and misses out on the benefits.
It’s simply not true. Consider the following:
- Coventry would have access to major UK and European cities via HS2 at Birmingham Interchange (approx. equidistant from Birmingham and Coventry city centres)
- Eight services an hour proposed between Coventry and Birmingham International/Birmingham (Centro)
- Coventry station would retain four services per hour to London (two fast and two semi-fast)
- Coventry would see 1400 new jobs and a £110m a year boost to its economy from the improved connectivity with HS2 – KPMG report
- Coventry would enjoy improved local and regional services from released capacity on existing lines; to destinations incl. MK, Liverpool, Stafford, Walsall, Leamington Spa
Of course, if HS2 is not built the situation could be grave indeed in terms of capacity. Constraints mean less local capacity between Coventry and Birmingham and fewer stops at Coventry on Birmingham to London services.
So Coventry has much to gain, despite what critics of HS2 say.