Many constituents have contacted me about scrapping HS2.
Britain desperately needs an increase in capacity on our rail network, to connect the biggest cities and generate economic growth. I believe HS2 represents the most effective way of both alleviating pressure on the current network and ensuring capacity growth.
Not only will HS2 significantly enhance intercity rail services, it will also drive regional regeneration and support job creation. It is supported by all the major conurbations that it will serve, as they recognise the key benefits that it will bring to their areas.
With rail passenger numbers doubling in the last 20 years, it is vital that Governments invest beyond the electoral cycle and plan for the future. HS2 will link up eight of our ten largest cities (connecting 30 million residents). With work well underway across 250 sites, HS2 is now supporting 9,000 jobs around the UK and is likely to generate over 30,000 jobs during peak construction and 3,000 when the line is running. The National Audit Office has found the strategic case for HS2 to be convincing. Indeed, HS2 will deliver more than £2 of benefits for every £1 of investment, representing good value for money.
I appreciate that points made to me that HS2 damages our countryside, but I am assured that the Government is committed to providing support for local communities while HS2 is constructed, first along the Phase One route. An overall £70 million funding package has been made available which will help enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside, and help improve road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 Phase One route.
I believe it’s essential that the UK can demonstrate that it can still deliver big infrastructure projects. Our engineering pioneers such as Brunel would be aghast at how this great nation of builders has become scared of its own shadow.
This being said, in my role as a member of the Transport Select Committee, I have had the opportunity to scrutinise how HS2 is being delivered and whether it is spending tax payers’ money wisely, and I will continue to do so.