HS2 is the right scheme at the right time – Transport Secretary

Transport Secretary Justine Greening at the Transport Times conference, pic courtesy of DfT

“HS2 will slash the journey times between Birmingham and Leeds by half.”

It was great to hear the Transport Secretary outlining benefits for the West Midlands and North and proving claims that HS2 is London-centric are nonsense.

Ms Greening was speaking at the Transport Times event: Making HS2 Happen in Covent Garden yesterday.

Many critics of HS2 suggest it is all about London. Birmingham city centre to London has been reduced to 45 minutes and this will bring tremendous benefits. But the West Midlands will also benefit greatly by improving capacity and journey times with the East Midlands, South Yorkshire, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester.

When Phase 2 is completed the times between Birmingham and the northern cities are greatly reduced (current times in brackets).

  • Birmingham to Manchester 41 minutes (current 1h 30m)
  • Birmingham to Liverpool 1 hour (current 1h 34m)
  • Birmingham to Leeds 57 minutes (current 2h)

Of course, HS2 also releases capacity for local, regional and freight services on existing lines, so these services can be greatly improved.

The Transport Secretary reminded opponents that £32bn was the cost of reaching Leeds and Manchester, not building from London to Birmingham.

Ms Greening also continued to make the case for capacity: “We’ve been putting carriages and trains on our tracks, but common sense is that we cannot keep going on forever.

She also had words for opponents to the project:

“It’s simply not good enough to criticise schemes like HS2 unless there is an alternative, but these suggested alternatives fall short.”

Ms Greening also challenged repeated claims that internet technology would supersede the need for high speed rail.

“’Mobile and internet technology has been transformed in the last 15 years and people have never travelled by train more.”

“Some people question the size of our ambition, but this is the right scheme at the right time,” she added.

Ms Greening also confirmed her support for transport projects connecting into HS2 in the West Midlands.

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One Response to HS2 is the right scheme at the right time – Transport Secretary

  1. James Avery says:

    I would take these regional claims a little more seriously if there was a right hand turn outside Curzon St, allowing a fast link onto the Bristol line. Obviously, for through linking, electrification would be needed at least as far as Temple Meads – but I fear this kind of connection has been forgotten by the beancounters as it won’t meet their cost benefit rules. Running cross country routes through Curzon St (why not from Reading aswell) would also release more space in congested New St, and a parkway station at Worcester (as the through line doesn’t serve FS / SH) could also bring more connections.

    Otherwise, these new faster times will still just be for the benefit of the few passengers on this particular axis. Still no sign of a station for Stoke or Stockport / South Manchester, and ‘West Yorkshire’ is no substitute for Sheffield City Centre. East Midlands Parkway has also shown that vague, middle of nowhere (not even connected to the airport) stations are not the way to go – town centreas are best, otherwise edge of town with good bus links for non-drivers.

    Without this kind of ‘joined up’ (excuse the pun) thinking, HS2 will just create a massive split in the cross-country network, which already relies on having Birmingham at its heart.

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