MPs have criticised campaigners ‘crude attempts to detract from the real benefits that HS2 will bring’ and backed the coalition’s high speed rail plans, after a three month investigation.
In February Parliament’s all-party group for high speed rail pledged it would ‘end the question marks’ and make ‘100 per cent certain’ that HS2 was a good proposal.
Today (Wednesday) the pro high speed rail group published its findings – saying the rail network is close to being full, the alternatives to HS2 would not meet demand, and local services would not be improved if HS2 was scrapped.
Stuart Andrew, co-chairman of the group and MP for Pudsey, said: “In the last few weeks there have been increased moves to muddy the waters around HS2. These are crude attempts to detract from the real benefits that HS2 will bring.
“The findings of our inquiry serve to reiterate that a major injection of capacity, so desperately needed on Britain’s railways, is the driving force behind building the project.
“Politicians from all parties, including my own, must rally behind HS2 or face the deterioration of the railway network that built modern Britain, further alienating the prosperous South East from the rest of the country in the process.”
In response Penny Gaines, of Quainton, chairman of the Stop HS2 campaign group, said: “It’s no surprise that the All Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail concluded that high speed rail was the answer to the inquiry they set up.”
Ms Gaines accused the inquiry of looking at the issue through ‘a very narrow set of filters’ and said the report remained ‘completely oblivious to the growth in video conferencing’.
>The All-Party Parliamentary Group for High-Speed Rail is a group of 70 MPs. It received nearly 60 written submissions and held two oral evidence sessions with eleven witnesses. The key conclusions of the report were:
• The rail network is close to being full. At the current time, we are hitting passenger projections that were predicted in a decades’ time.
• Growth has continued despite the recession. The railways are seeing substantial growth at over 5% even in the midst of a recession.
• Alternatives to HS2 will not meet demand. These alternatives, known as Rail Package 2 or 51m’s “Optimised Alternative”, are unable to meet peak demand, and would do little to help local services or freight.
• Risk of under-providing is greater than over-providing. The risks to under-providing capacity are severe, and are far more serious than the risks of overprovision.