The HS2 high speed rail line will deliver more than £2 of benefits for every £1 spent while offering massive economic benefits for the West Midlands, a new Government report revealed today (Oct 29).
Commenting on the Department for Transport’s ‘Strategic Case for HS2’, Geoff Inskip, chief executive of transport authority Centro, said it not only showed high speed rail to be good value for money but also its ability to provide badly needed capacity for Britain’s creaking rail network.
The strategic case shows a revised benefit to cost ratio for HS2 of 2.3. It highlights how alternative ‘patch and mend’ options to the existing network would cost billions and inflict years of disruption on passengers yet only deliver a fraction of the capacity of HS2.
Mr Inskip said: “Today’s report shows how important it is to press on and build HS2 to deliver jobs and investment and to address soaring demand for rail travel in the West Midlands.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of our location at the heart of the network, delivering fast direct services from the West Midlands to the UK’s major cities and Europe, as well as increasing local, regional and freight services.”
Today’s publication of the strategic case for HS2 highlights:
- A Birmingham city centre station integrated with both Moor Street and New Street stations.
- A Birmingham Interchange station next to the airport/NEC connecting towns across the West Midlands to other destinations.
- Birmingham to Paris in three and a half hours.
- Faster services to Scotland/North-West England, Yorkshire and the North East
- More capacity for commuter services on the Coventry – Birmingham route.
- More capacity for Coventry – London passengers
- More Nuneaton – London fast services
- Capacity to introduce Kenilworth services
The Government’s strategic case comes just days after West Midlands transport chiefs approved a £2 billion package of local rail, tram and rapid transit schemes designed to get the most out of HS2.
Centro research has concluded that the Local Connectivity Package would double the economic benefits of HS2 for the West Midlands securing, 51,000 jobs and a £4.1bn a year boost to the local economy.
The package, which was ratified by the region’s new Integrated Transport Authority Shadow Board last week, includes extensions to the Midland Metro tram system in Birmingham and the Black Country, new and upgraded rail stations, opening up rail freight lines to passenger services and the electrification of other key rail routes.
In approving the package, spokesman for the Shadow Board and leader of Wolverhampton City Council, Cllr Roger Lawrence, said; “With the right local transport connections we can double the benefits of HS2, benefitting people right across the West Midlands.
“We have already secured more than £320 million towards the package and that’s a great start. We will now continue to work closely with the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships and Network Rail amongst others to deliver the rest of the package.”
Phase One of HS2, connecting London with Birmingham, is scheduled for completion by 2026 and will tackle demand and congestion on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line – the busiest railway in Europe.
Phase Two will see the new line split into a Y shaped network north of Birmingham linking the West Midlands with Manchester in the North West and Leeds in the North East. That is scheduled for completion in 2033.
HS2 will cut journey times between Birmingham and Manchester from around 90 minutes to 41 minutes and a typical journey from Birmingham to Leeds of around two hours will be halved to 57 minutes.