The transport committee will launch an investigation into the cases for and against high speed rail

The Transport Committee has announced that it will undertake an inquiry into the strategic case for High Speed Rail. The committee will focus on the main arguments for and against the project.

Despite a number of concerns regarding the proposed route the rail line may take, the committee will not examine the precise specification of the HS2 route or how the route would affect individual landowners, businesses and residents in the vicinity of the route. These issues are expected to be dealt with at a later stage by a hybrid bill committee.

The issues the committee will examine are set out below:

1. What are the main arguments either for or against high speed rail?

2. How does high speed rail fit with the government’s transport policy objectives?

3. What is the business case:

  • How robust are the assumptions and methodology - for example, on passenger forecasts, modal shifts, fare levels, scheme costs, economic assumptions (eg about the value of time) and the impact of lost revenue on the ’classic’ network?
  • What would be the pros and cons of resolving capacity issues in other ways, for example by upgrading the West Coast Main Line or building a new conventional line?
  • What would be the pros and cons of alternative means of managing demand for rail travel, for example by price?
  • What lessons should the Government learn from other major transport projects to ensure that any new high speed lines are built on time and to budget?

4. The strategic route

5. Economic rebalancing and equity

6. Impact:

  • What will be the overall impact of HSR on UK carbon emissions? How much modal shift from aviation and roads would be needed for HSR to reduce carbon?
  • Are environmental costs and benefits (including in relation to noise) correctly accounted for in the business case?
  • What would be the impact on freight services on the ’classic’ network?
  • How much disruption will be there to services on the ’classic’ network during construction, particularly during the rebuilding of Euston?

Written evidence must be submitted by interested parties by Monday 16 May.