High-speed trains at London St. Pancras. Photo: Flickr; J. Curnow

Plans for new high-speed railway scrapped

The economic case for High Speed 2 (HS2), a planned high-speed railway, has fallen apart, a leader of the Green Party claimed at this year’s Warwick Economics Summit.

Natalie Bennet, the Green Party leader, answered questions concerning energy and transport as part of a panel of politicians, which also included Chris White, Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, Lorely Burt, Liberal Democrat MP for Solihull and Jim Cunningham, Labour MP for Coventry South.

In response to a debate related to the HS2 project, Ms Bennett stated: “The economic case for HS2 has fallen apart. One of their initial claims was that business people don’t work on trains. Then, the HS2 consortium’s own figures showed 72 percent of its journeys would be into London.”

Ms Bennett clearly felt the project would not benefit the businesses of the North as she argued that HS2 would not help to “rebalance regional development towards the North and the Midlands”.

While she acknowledged that the UK needed to invest in transport and communications, Bennett suggested that this should be based around “local ‘active’ transport” such as walking and cycling.

She also added: “We need good local and regional bus and train services, and links between the West Midlands and other regions, not just links centred on London.”

Other panel members echoed Bennett’s concerns about the rail project. Conservative MP Chris White noted: “We are a south east centric economy and there is a fear that the development of HS2 will simply add to this focus”.

Ms Bennett viewed the West Midlands as an important area for the future of this country as she has visited the region several times since being elected.

HS2 will provide faster rail links between London and major Northern and Midlands cities.

The journey time between London and Birmingham will be cut to just 49 minutes from the current one hour and 21 minutes.

Saveena Mangat, a first-year Economics student, disagreed with Bennett’s stance: “The HS2 scheme is a brilliant mechanism for the i tegration of the West Midlands to London and other major cities which will increase labour mobility and reduce unemployment in the area.”

However, Ms Mangat agreed that priorities should be given to local transport links: “Compared to London where there are buses every five minutes, Coventry and Leamington buses are a nuisance: the council needs to improve the long waiting times and perhaps introduce a scheme like the Oyster Card.”

Comments (1)

  • Albert Trinker

    So what’s been scrapped Connor? Sadly the Green Party saying it should be scrapped isn’t the same as it actually being scrapped!

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