The questions about HS2 keep coming, from all parts of the country.
From the south of England, the chairman of Gatwick Airport, Sir David Rowlands, recently dismissed as ‘total nonsense’ the government’s claim that HS2 eliminates the need for a third runway at Heathrow. Sir David, the former chairman of the high speed project, is quoted as saying that ”a link to Heathrow does little for the high speed network, and the network doesn’t do much either for Heathrow”.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, Network Rail’s newly-appointed chief executive has been explicit about what the top rail investment priority is for the North. It isn’t HS2, but rather the ‘Northern Hub’ proposals to improve connections between Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Bradford. These improvements, he considers, are far more significant for the economic prosperity of the North than HS2. At the same time, there are claims that improvements to the East Coast main line to Newcastle can deliver similar journey times to HS2.
From Wales, the Cardiff Business Partnership argues for something similar to the Northern Hub. For them, the crucial rail investment for South Wales is improving the infrastructure within the region and connection to the electrified Great Western main line.
Even more damaging for HS2 are the results of an opinion poll undertaken by the Birmingham Post. Unsurprisingly, the results show that in Birmingham itself, the numbers are in favour of HS2. However, nearly everywhere else in the surrounding region, opinion runs strongly against the proposal. The newspaper comments that the case for HS2 appears to have run out of steam, and the economic benefits appear inflated.
These views show that opposition to HS2 is not confined to those living along the route. Moreover, the revised case presented by government at the opening of the public consultation seems to have done nothing to allay widespread concerns.
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