It’s disappointing to hear North Warwickshire and Bedworth MP Dan Byles say there is no economic evidence to back up HS2.
An independent report by KPMG concludes that HS2 will bring 22,000 jobs and £1.5bn per year to the West Midlands economy.
When pressed by the BBC’s Nick Owen on last night’s Midlands Today (Tuesday) Mr Byles said he was not sure business people in our region had understood HS2.
Business people in the West Midlands understand the situation perfectly.
They support HS2 because they know that the lack of capacity on our railways is a serious barrier as demand for rail travel increases.
They know that if we do not build HS2 there are no alternatives capable of providing the capacity we need.
As Steve Brittan, MD of BSA Machine Tools, told the BBC: ‘It’s a no-brainer.’
Of course, Mr Byles has a dilemma because HS2 passes through his constituency, but all three main parties including his own government have given High Speed Rail their unequivocal backing.
Only three MPs travelled to hand over the petition to Number 10.
StopHS2’s Joe Rukin repeated his mantra of ‘fast trains for fat cats’ and attempted to summarise his objections. We’ll deal with his objections in turn:
There’s no business case:
22,000 jobs and £1.5bn per year to the West Midlands, say KPMG. And if the business case is the problem why were opponents not protesting violently about Crossrail in London?
There’s no environmental case:
Opponents employ descriptions such as ‘devastation’ and ‘swathes of destruction.’ But HS2 is between 11 and 22-metres wide. It is not the ‘width of Wembley’ as they’ve tried to claim. It will take freight and passengers off our roads. When pressed on how we will deal with an increasing population that wants to travel many opponents simply refuse to engage in debate.
There’s no money to pay for it:
Crossrail costs around £2bn per year and benefits London. This budget would transfer to HS2 and benefit our regions.
It only benefits the rich:
As well as providing new capacity HS2 will release capacity across our existing network. It will provide fast, direct links between major British and European cities. It will boost business and leisure. It will allow us to improve local and regional rail. It will allow more freight traffic to use the railway, taking trucks off our congested roads.
Again, capacity is the opponents’ Achilles’ heel. They avoid it because they know they do not have an answer. As Philip Hammond said, RP2+ and other alternatives are a red herring.
They cannot cope with the demand we are experiencing.
But this does not concern opponents. They don’t consider the needs of the UK. Their wish is simply to see HS2 scrapped or, at least, built elsewhere.