YP Letters: We should celebrate HS2 as chance to transform regions

From: David Reed, Houses Hill, Huddersfield.

Do you suppot HS2 or should it be scrapped? Readers of The Yorkshire Post are divided.

DR David Hill (The Yorkshire Post, February 24) says HS2 is pointless scheme going nowhere fast, but the only things going nowhere are our vital East and West Coast Main Lines.

With a doubling of passengers since privatisation, and with continued growth forecast, our hugely important main lines from London to the North are close to breaking point.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Without HS2, the future is a drastically overcrowded and increasingly dysfunctional railway, and at a huge cost to our regional economy. Alternate ways of meeting the required capacity increase have all been found to be immensely disruptive and more expensive than a brand new railway.

Like many commentators, he overlooks the fact that significantly reducing the journey time from the capital to Manchester and Yorkshire will dramatically improve the Northern regional economy, just as HS1 in the South East has transformed the area it serves.

Imagine you are an inward investor deciding where to expand your business. What about the North? With a two-hour link to and from the all-important capital and three hours from Heathrow? No thanks. But what if the journey time from the capital is only one hour, and under an hour from Heathrow and the West Midlands? Suddenly the North is a much more attractive place for inward investment.

HS2 will free up a huge amount of capacity on the existing network for new commuter, regional, and freight services which cannot be provided today because there is not sufficient capacity.

HS2 will be immensely popular, just like the high speed railways in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. As in Europe, there will be a range of fares, expensive for the businesman booking at the last minute who wants flexibility, but very cheap, as today, for the leisure traveller booking ahead.

HS2 will pay for its running costs from fares revenue and make substantial repayments to the taxpayer, just as our current main lines do today (Virgin is in difficulty only because it chose to bid too high a premium to the Government for the East Coast route).

When we ran short of capacity on our A-road network, we didn’t tinker with the existing roads, we built motorways. HS2 is the M1 of the railways, a magnificent 21st century railway linking 12 of our biggest conurbations at high speed. Can we not just celebrate that, for once, we are investing for the future and catching up with the rest of Europe?