Transport Select Committee report says HS2 would prove affordable

There is a good economic case for a high speed rail network between London and the major cities of the Midlands, North and Scotland, MPs on the Transport Select Committee have said.

In a major vote of confidence in the government’s plans for High Speed Two, the committee’s report on its inquiry into high speed rail found that HS2 and further projects would prove relatively affordable over the next two decades.

However, the report admitted that high speed rail could have a “substantial negative effect on the countryside” and called for the government to set out its case more clearly as part of a comprehensive transport strategy.

Committee chair Louise Ellman said: “A high speed rail network, beginning with a line between London and the West Midlands, would provide a step change in the capacity, quality, reliability and frequency of rail services between our major cities.

“[It] offers potential economic and strategic benefits which a conventional line does not including a dramatic improvement in connectivity between our major cities, Heathrow and other airports, and the rest of Europe.

“High speed rail may be a catalyst for economic growth, helping to rebalance the economy and bridge the north-south divide. But the government must do more to promote local and regional growth strategies to ensure we get maximum economic benefit from high speed rail.”