Transport committee backs HS2 but call for serious consideration to be given to simultaneous construction from north and south

High Speed 2

The govenrment should give serious consideration to building the HS2 project from the north and the south simultaneously in a bid to speed up the construction of the high-speed rail line, a committee of MPs has said.

The transport committee report released today is a follow up to a report released by the committee two years ago, both of which support the case for HS2.

In today’s report, the MPs recommend the government should “look seriously at the case to build concurrently from the north towards the south as well as northwards from London”.

The report also calls for better communication that the cost of HS2 is £28bn rather than £50bn; a government strategy to ensure UK firms and workers benefit; and for local authorities to draw up economic development strategies that consider HS2.

Louise Ellman, chair of the transport committee, said: “We support the strategic case for HS2 published recently by the government.

“Having looked at this, and at new research by KPMG that examined the project’s possible regional economic benefits, we remain confident that construction of a new high speed line is the only way to deliver the step change in capacity on the West Coast Main Line needed to accommodate long-term demand for both passengers and rail freight.

“HS2 can also play a major role in promoting economic growth in the UK’s major city regions.

“We welcome the assurance given to us recently by Sir David Higgins, incoming Chair of HS2, that he will re-examine the case for building the line from north-to-south, as well as from London northwards.”

The report also calls on the DfT to identify quicker new service patterns that would be made possible through the capacity offered by HS2.

On this point, Ellman said: “If we are to spread the benefits from HS2 as widely as possible, it is vital we improve links between the conventional and high speed networks and bring forward projects to speed up journey times on the conventional network.”

But the MPs warned the committee’s support for the project was not unconditional, and that it could reconsider its position if the project drained spending away from other transport priorities.

“We would not accept a situation in which other vital transport projects were delayed because of HS2’s funding requirements and we remain concerned about how refinements - for example to incorporate a stop for Heathrow into the plans for phase 1 - may have an impact on the budget,” added Ellman.