It is our view that the GLA Conservative’s report ‘High Speed Fail: An Alternative Plan to HS2’ contains a series of flawed arguments. It perpetuates the false choice of pitting HS2 against other major projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and Crossrail 2. The choice that has been presented between HS2 and better East-West links in the north is akin to suggesting that the M62 should have been built but not the M1.
HS2 is a pre-requisite for NPR, and NPR services on two of the most important regional links (Liverpool to Manchester; and Leeds to Sheffield) will in fact run on HS2 infrastructure. Regional leaders are in agreement on the importance of the completion of both schemes, reiterated at last Friday’s Convention of the North. Likewise, London First’s Infrastructure Conference last week made clear the unassailable case for HS2 and Crossrail 2.
Even the Assembly Conservative’s own report highlights the negative impact that cancellation of HS2 would have on the Old Oak Common scheme. The Old Oak Common and Park Royal Development Corporation in West London has ambitious plans to deliver 25,500 new homes with 65,000 new jobs, which would be in jeopardy if HS2 were to be curtailed.
Similarly, the report’s environmental arguments do not pass muster. If we are to deliver net zero emissions, HS2 is essential. Even on current estimates for 2030, with electrical power generation only partially de-carbonised, high speed rail has emissions that are a fraction of other transport modes – It is estimated that travelling on HS2 will emit almost 7 times less carbon emissions per passenger kilometre than the equivalent inter-city car journey and 17 times less than the equivalent domestic flight, based on projected carbon emissions in 2030.
We wholeheartedly support Lord Adonis’ assertion that you cannot pull up by the roots the delivery of a major infrastructure project agreed by both of the major parties.